2016 Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Women_OwnedThis Civil Engineering Firm is building a strong case for Small Business in Rhode Island

Patricia Steere, Founder and Owner, Steere Engineering

Patricia Steere earned her Bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering in 1979 and her Masters from in 1981, both from the University of Delaware. Upon graduation she went on to design nuclear power plant containment structures.

By the early 1990’s her interests had changed and were guiding her toward bridge engineering. She studied, she learned, and by 2002 she was the Bridge Department Manager for the Providence office of Maguire Group. While with Maguire Group she was the lead bridge engineer for the $600 million I-195 relocation project and the lead engineer for the Iway Bridge.

These years of experience were vital in her growth as both and engineer and leader and when the project finally came to an end she had all the tools she needed to start her own business. Patricia opened the doors to Steere Engineering in 2010 with one employee, herself.

Steere Engineering began as a civil engineering firm performing bridge and building design. By 2012 the business began to grow quickly adding four structural and one civil engineer as well as a 3D CAD technician. This influx of employees had boasted the team to 10 members by years end. With the influx of talent Patricia began training five of her employees to perform National Bridge Inventory System (NBIS) Bridge inspections. This allowed her to begin offering bridge inspection services opening a new line of business.

In 2013, she added five additional employees to account for emerging opportunities as well as demand. 2014 proved to be a steady year for Steere Engineering and much of the year was spent concentrating on putting the infrastructure in place to further the business’ growth.

By 2015 Steere Engineering was capable of performing NBIS bridge inspection, bridge ratings, highway and traffic design, 3D CAD, construction services, as well as highway, civil, traffic, and environmental permitting capabilities to become a full service civil engineering firm. When asked on when she decided to add these capabilities to her firm she explained, “You have to be flexible, if your original business plan isn’t working quite the way you thought it would you have to look for other opportunities.”

Steere equates her firm to a “small firm with the experience of a large firm,” and her track record speaks for itself. Seven of her engineers worked together on the Iway project, the largest in RIDOT’s history. Steere Engineering is also the only Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) headquartered in Rhode Island offering full service transportation in the state.

Entering the Steere Engineering office you are whisked into a large main area with desks throughout, no walls, no cubicles, and no limitations. This open bay concept allows her employees to constantly communicate and bounce ideas off each other. A collaborative working environment promotes innovation and growth and that is just the way that Patricia likes it. She is confident that this environment will continue to propel Steere Engineering forward and one day allow them to grow to a regional civil engineering firm doing Department of Transportation assignments from here to New York.

Although extremely dedicated to her business Ms. Steere also finds time to volunteer for the Rhode Island Urban Search and rescue, serving as one of seven Structural Specialists on the team. She has deployed with the team on multiple occasions including the 2010 floods and Hurricane Sandy. Patricia also serves as Chair of the Civil Engineering Advisory Committee for the University of Rhode Island, and is the member of the Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force. For all of the talents the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Patricia Steere, owner of Steere Engineering 2016 Rhode Island Woman-owned Small Business of the Year Award.

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About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.