Stephen Cole was employed as a geotechnical engineer at Jordan Gorrill Associates (JGA) when in 1978 the company closed its offices in Presque Isle and Bangor. Some employees had the opportunity to move to the firm’s Portland office, but Steve made the decision to strike off on his own and Steve and Wendy Cole started S. W. Cole Engineering, Inc. S.W.COLE landed the first project in May 1979.
It wasn’t long before one project grew to two and then many more and he needed help. Liz Champeon joined the firm as a Geologist that summer. Bruce Gray, a colleague at Jordan Gorrill Associates who had initially made the move to Portland, was hired in December. In time, additional JGA colleagues joined him, including Dean Larrabee, a field technician in the construction testing division, and Don Gordon, who joined S.W.COLE to run the construction materials testing laboratory.
The firm set up shop in the back of a building at 2001 Hammond Street in Hermon, Maine, just outside Bangor. While each employee had expertise in their respective disciplines, everyone pitched in where needed. It wasn’t uncommon for any of S.W.COLE's employees to be found running laboratory tests in the evening or weekends to get the job done. Steve Cole established a culture from the beginning that emphasized hard work, responsiveness to clients, ethics and practical solutions.
The firm continued to grow - albeit at a slow, conservative pace - and in 1984 the company moved to a new building on Liberty Drive in a recently opened business park. In 1985, the firm added an office in Caribou, in part to serve the many projects at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. That office was located in the former accounting office of the Colby Starch plant and continues at the same location today. The firm's environmental business started to grow as well. The firm opened a third office in Gray, Maine in 1990 to support the many southern Maine projects. In 1999, the firm acquired the former Winslow, Maine operation of Morrison Geotechnical Engineering and hired several former employees of MGE. That same year an office was opened in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The firm moved its Gray office in 2000 to a new location further south on the Portland Road. The building, a former church, was expanded and converted to our laboratory and offices. Also in 2000, the Londonderry office moved to a small location in Somersworth, New Hampshire (which eventually moved to a larger, stand-alone building in 2007) and the firm moved its Winslow office to Augusta, Maine, in the former location of the Uncle Henry’s office.
The firm has seen a good amount of growth in the past several years. The Manchester, New Hampshire office, was opened in 2012 to better serve our clients in central and western New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts. Our most recent office addition is the White River Junction, Vermont office, which opened in March 2013. In August 2013 S.W.COLE acquired Summit CMT from CES, Inc. and merged the Summit CMT operation with our Augusta and Gray, Maine offices. Today, more than 80 S.W.COLE employees work on projects throughout New England from our seven offices.