How do multi-firm partnerships flourish? Shreveport is our shining example.

February 05, 2024

How do multi-firm partnerships flourish? Shreveport is our shining example.

When Bonton Associates was awarded the Clean Water Shreveport (CWS) program in partnership with Burns & McDonnell in 2019, it was our largest project win to date. CWS is a multi-year effort that helps protect Shreveport’s environment and improve its water and sewer infrastructure, in compliance with EPA and Louisiana DEQ regulations.

From the beginning, we knew that our success would depend on our ability to quickly form solid working relationships with multiple professional firms, local design and construction companies, and the Shreveport Office of Water & Sewerage. In this last installment of our four-part series, we’ll hear from the two firm principals leading Bonton’s CWS efforts from our Shreveport office, where partnership and collaboration are critical to nearly every aspect of our everyday routine.

Bonton Senior Project Manager Steve Vercher, PE serves as the CWS Engineering Manager, a key leadership position with significant oversight of the Shreveport Sewer Consent Decree Clean Water Program. The CWS program has reminded Steve, a seasoned professional with more than 30 years of experience, why and how multi-firm projects succeed. “Serving the citizens of Shreveport with reliable water and sewer infrastructure has only been possible because of the healthy partnerships between our firm, the CWS team, and our designer/contractor partners,” he says. “And that requires communication, relationship building, hard work, leading by example, mentoring, teaching and supporting partners in delivering on our shared client’s goal.”

He continues, “I believe Bonton has been such a good partner, both as a prime/lead and supporting contractor, because we want what’s best for the client. Our depth of experience, technical ability and commitment to excellence all work together to serve our project partners very well.” His assessment was validated when Burns & McDonnell named Bonton Associates a 2022 Partner of the Year.

In his time serving CWS, Steve has seen Bonton’s capabilities and expertise grow, particularly in the areas of project delivery, operations management, and water and sewer problem solving. This experience is being applied across Louisiana, where Bonton is currently working with multiple municipalities to provide quality drinking water and reduce the environmental issues related to sanitary sewer. “Many of our state’s cities and towns are similar to Shreveport and facing aging water and sewer infrastructure,” he says. “We’re proud to be working with various partners to address this widespread challenge.”

In Shreveport, Steve depends on the leadership and support of Bonton Associates Project Manager Ethan Sizemore, PE, a colleague whose attention to detail, promptness and professionalism have earned Steve’s respect. “Ethan’s skills have grown exponentially over the past three years,” he says. “He is always looking to learn and teach, and his work with multiple partners has kept our project schedules and budgets on track.”

Ethan sees communication as a key driver of success with the CWS program. “The good working partnership between all project firms and the city has helped us quickly identify challenges or problems and move quickly to mitigate those issues,” he says. “Good communication helps ensure that production or progress isn’t slowed due to a lack of timely support or assistance.”

As a young professional, Ethan’s time on the CWS team has been filled with opportunities to learn and grow by collaborating with and serving many project partners. “I’ve been able to work on and manage a multitude of water and sewer infrastructure projects,” he says, “as well as assist with the city’s Consent Decree Program and prepare data and responses for the U.S. EPA and DOJ, and the Louisiana DOTD, DEQ and Department of Health.”

What makes Bonton a good fit for projects that call for a partner approach? “We promote strong working partnerships among our own employees,” Ethan explains. “It’s how we operate internally, so that’s how we’re wired to operate with partners and clients. We also hire people who work hard, mentor and support each other, and communicate very well.”

“Having Steve Vercher as a mentor has significantly grown my engineering and construction knowledge, as well as my project management ability,” he continues. “He communicates well, is always willing to share what he knows and make time for others, and has a deep understanding of the challenges that all the CWS project partners face. He is a strong asset to Bonton and to every partner firm we engage with on client work.”

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