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Higher education projects drive engineering firm’s 20 years of success

Jenny Peterson //August 12, 2022//

Higher education projects drive engineering firm’s 20 years of success

Jenny Peterson //August 12, 2022//

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Twenty years ago, RMF Engineering, a national full-service engineering firm, formed its first South Carolina office in Mount Pleasant with six team members and an eye on providing services for higher education institutions.

A new chemistry teaching lab at the University of South Carolina is among the higher education projects RMF Engineering has made into a successful niche for two decades. (Photo/Gary Matson/McMillan Pazdan Smith)“Two projects really kicked us off. One was the Medical University of South Carolina central energy facility and the other was the HVAC renovation of historic Tillman Hall on the Clemson University Campus,” said Dave Crutchfield, vice president and secretary of RMF Engineering. “Higher education has made up a large portion of our design portfolio since the inception of RMF and continues to be where the majority of our work is today.”

RMF Engineering’s South Carolina firm, now headquartered on Daniel Island, handles energy efficiency and code compliance, full-service mechanical, electrical and plumbing design, infrastructure, underground utility distribution, commissioning and master planning.

Recent completed projects include the Clemson New School of Business and the University of South Carolina Public Health Research Center. The firm’s latest project at The College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina is expected to open in August.

Nationwide, RMF Engineering has more than 250 employees over nine states and has found niches in providing highly localized engineering services for large health care, higher education and Department of Defense projects.

The firm started with three employees in 1983 in Baltimore. That same year, it was awarded its first project with the Johns Hopkins Hospital, which kickstarted “the beginning of our long-standing relationship with The Hopkins system,” according to the firm’s website.

As RMF Engineering expanded throughout the country, the firm focused on fields of health care, defense, government buildings and the USDA — “a significant relationship for the firm that has continued until present day,” according to the company.

The Charleston team, which now has 30 employees, has spent the last two decades working a higher education niche throughout the state to modernize college campuses and higher education facilities.

The Charleston firm works closely with Clemson University on engineering internships to provide a pipeline for its future workforce — a vital part of its success over the past two decades.

“We have a robust internship program with Clemson with between one and four Clemson internships each semester,” Crutchfield said.

“We owe our success to the many excellent engineers who have worked for us over the years, many of whom are still with the firm.”

His advice to others interested in starting an engineering firm? “Make sure you have a group of excellent folks around you to maintain the highest level of technical excellence.”

The team celebrated its 20th year anniversary in Charleston and the completion of its latest project on July 28 at the Cooper River Room at the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park with a pig roast, band and beverages for its employees.

“The most rewarding part of the job is seeing work that we design get built and then used by the owner and public. It’s great to drive around and see buildings you designed full of people enjoying the facility,” Crutchfield said.

“In our work, there tends to be a lot of stakeholders, from end users to maintenance folks to the folks who fund the project. They all have slightly different goals, so managing their expectations is very important to ensure that everyone is all smiles at the ribbon cutting.