As a member of the architectural and engineering giant Dewberry &
Davis, Dewberry Design Group bears little resemblance to HTB, the
company it merged with nine months ago.
As CEO of Dewberry Design Group, Larry Keller faced the task of
shaping a new image and leaving behind the rocky past of HTB, where
he was a former partner.
Keller, 55, left HTB in 1995 to work for Dewberry & Davis in
Washington after 12 years with HTB. HTB formed in 1942 and developed
a reputation for its work on the expansion of the Will Rogers World
Airport and a strong international presence. But then allegations
surfaced over the design and construction of the $52 million Oklahoma
County Jail, which HTB designed with RGDC.
An Oklahoma County Grand Jury investigation in October 1995 placed
blame on both the firms and county officials for a lack of
communication that contributed to the problems.
Last summer HTB put its office in the old Maywood Presbyterian
Church up for sale, and started to look for a larger partner for a
possible merger. RGDC changed its name to Triad Design Group in May.
Dewberry Design Group acquired HTB's stock and took over the
corporate structure. HTB's 90-person staff shifted into 24 in
Oklahoma City, 40 in Tulsa and 58 in Arlington and Fairfax, Va.
Staff in each of the offices send architectural documents back and
forth through the Internet.
"This is not unusual in architectural and engineering companies
because of transition problems and other things," Keller said. "It
wasn't one of these things where it was everybody gnashing teeth.
I'm not saying there weren't ups and downs, and there are still
things that need to be worked out, but it was more of a gradual
meshing together of the two rather than wholesale change, which I
don't think works very well."
The new company has many of the same technical employees of HTB,
but a new management team, corporate philosophy and marketing
"Every company has its different modus operandi, and management
changes change the company," Keller said. "Obviously we don't have
much relationship with the old HTB. When that management went that
all changed. We ended up with a couple things different. Number
one, we ended up with a very financially stable firm."
The result, Keller said, is an entirely different corporate
"We want to be known as a firm that if you hire us, we're going to
take care of it and we're going to take care of it promptly," Keller
said. "Another thing that the Dewberrys do is we stand behind our
work, and that is something that I think may have been a little bit
of a change."
Dewberry & Davis specializes in institutional, educational,
medical and transportation architectural and engineering work. When
Dewberry Design Group formed, Keller set out to establish the firm in
Oklahoma City, but most of the largest public works contracts, those
for the nine entertainment and sports complexes included in the MAPS
projects, were already awarded. …