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Texas Engineering Firm Marks 75 Years, Looks to the Future

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Dannenbaum Engineering has built a reputation as an innovative problem-solver during its 75 years as a Texas-based civil engineering firm.

Since its founding in 1945, the company has focused on making communities better by working with leaders to understand their challenges and help find sustainable solutions.

“We’ve always been much more than your traditional civil engineering firm,” said Michel Maksoud, company president and CEO. "We have experience in forming complex solutions to tackle big challenges like subsidence, flooding, storm protection, and reliable water supplies. Does an implementing entity need to be established? Will it require enabling legislation? Are there funding sources? All of this begins long before an engineering project is defined.”

The company’s philosophy began with founder Joseph B. Dannenbaum, Houstonian, engineer, and World War I veteran. One of their first projects was starter housing for returning G.I.s at the end of World War II. A decade later when Dannenbaum saw 50,000 residents in the Acres Homes community living without safe drinking water and sanitary sewer, he worked with entities to identify funding for a public works project to serve the historical African American community, now within Houston city limits. Fostering a culture of innovation

“Making communities better through innovation has been part of the Dannenbaum Engineering culture since it was founded,” said Honorary Chairman Jim Dannenbaum, Joe’s son and company president for more than 50 years. “During the post-war boom in the 1960s, we suggested the idea of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to ease growing traffic congestion on Houston freeways. That’s just one example.”

In the 2000s the company formed a joint venture to develop Houston’s North Line light rail transit project. It also developed a new highway funding concept used by clients to fund projects engineered by the company across Texas.

Beginning in the 1980s, Dannenbaum Engineering worked with dozens of municipal utility districts and others to identify a reliable surface water source for the fast-growing region. It took two decades to create a nonprofit corporation, secure funding for a study, and pass state legislation to establish the West Harris County Regional Water Authority.

Today, Dannenbaum Engineering is the program manager for a team of engineering firms that have designed more than $1 billion in new infrastructure to provide surface water to up to 750,000 people.

Building on a legacy of innovation

Drawing on the strengths and expertise of its staff, Dannenbaum Engineering helped organize and now is working with the six-county Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District to evaluate how to protect coastal communities during tropical storms.

Dannenbaum Engineering was the project manager for the Upper Texas Coast Storm Surge Suppression Study, which assessed current and future risks associated with tropical storms. The study recommended solutions to mitigate risk and became the basis for the current U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study. Looking to the future

Maksoud said, “We’re proud of our project performance, which has benefited our clients and the communities where we work. As we mark our 75th anniversary, we celebrate our past and work to build an even stronger Dannenbaum Engineering rooted in a culture of trust, respect, and excellence.”

Today the employee-owned company is managed by an executive committee with broad experience. Maksoud said the leadership is focused on continuing to strengthen leadership development, two-way communication with clients and employees, and internal policies and procedures. Original article published in the Business Journals.

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