Madrid Engineering Group has opened an office in Panama City. Knowledge of it was made public by President Larry Madrid at the Committee of 100 meeting of Jan. 11. The announcement came during that part of the proceedings where representatives from the various businesses and organizations brief others of developments occurring in their particular businesses and/or industries.
The expansion into a new market, said Madrid at a later interview, is something that he and members of MEG had been exploring the past several years, and were stepped up within the past year.
“About six to nine months ago we hired a driller, James Spoon,” said Madrid. Spoon’s background included having worked for a major geotechnical engineering firm, and had done a lot of drilling on bridgework projects, added Madrid. “He approached me and said he’d like to market us in rock coring.”
Spoon was given the go-ahead and almost immediately landed a project for MEG in the Panama City area. Another company had fallen behind on a bridge project because it had hit a rock base that had proven difficult to core. Because Spoon had a reputation as being one of the best drillers in the state, and because he was in the area, the company approached him and MEG for help.
“They asked for a rig,” said Madrid. “We sent them two.” He added that as a result, MEG was able to help the other company get practically back on schedule.
While there, Spoon, who is well known to members of the Florida Department of Transportation Divisions 2 and 3 (which covers the area from the Panhandle to Jacksonville) was told by them Madrid Engineering might want to seriously consider having a facility in Panama City.
“Basically, the indication was if we had an office, it would show we have a long-term commitment to the area,” said Madrid, “And we do.”
MEG’s Panama City presence is currently inside a 4,000-square-foot warehouse on the grounds of the former municipal airport, which was decommissioned by Panama City leaders when it proved inadequate for larger aircraft because the main runway could not be extended. After a donation of approximately 700 acres to the city paper manufacturer, by St. Joe’s, for the creation of a new airport, the old airport was sold to a developer who, said Madrid, plans to create a community similar to Lakeside Village in Lakeland; Lakeside Village is a mixed-use development that included residences, hotel and shopping in a village-like setting.
At present, the Panama City is staffed by two men, one of them being Spoon, and that is soon to change.
“When we get our first job, there will be four,” said Madrid, who added that Spoon would be the foreman. Eventually, prospects are likely Panama City will become self-autonomous. While at its current site, most of the space will be converted to offices. Having a single bay, one of the two rigs will be stored inside. Another part of the warehouse will contain a lab.
Because the region is experiencing growth, Madrid expects it will be involved in a number of projects, beyond just roads and bridges. Tindall Air Force Base is in the region, and Panama City Beach, in which there are a number of high rises, is not far away. The former airport is also a prospect Madrid hopes to be part of when redevelopment moves forward.
Panama City may not be the only site of expansion of Madrid Engineering Group, said its president, who further stated the key to future growth and expansion lay in two possible directions, which can be done simultaneously. One is diversification of services. The other is expanding the territory.
“About two years ago, I started to realize the work we were doing was becoming concentrated,” said Madrid. Much of it was tied in to sinkholes and the insurance industry. “I felt we were too concentrated.” He added that as recent as two years ago as much as 90 percent of what Madrid Engineering focused upon was sinkhole-related. That number now comprises only 60-70 percent.
Madrid Engineering Group, he continued, has the staff and the capabilities and offers a wide array of services. It has worked on site remediation and assessments on a number of closed phosphate mines, as well as on structures.
“We have all the capabilities,” he said. That included single as well as multi-story buildings, heavy industry and the power sector, to name but a few. Madrid is particularly pleased about his company’s involvement on two local projects. Due to the company’s expertise, it is fulfilling a major role in the connector road currently under construction, part of which will run alongside the Bartow Ford dealership. Madrid Engineering Group is also laying down the foundation at the Polk State College site that is on State Road 60 in the Clear Springs area of Bartow.