Indianapolis headquartered consulting firm Beam, Longest & Neff (BLN) is celebrating 75 years of service to federal, state, and local clients.
The firm’s founders were Purdue University-trained engineers working for the Indiana State Highway Commission (the predecessor of today’s Indiana Department of Transportation [INDOT] which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019) when Pearl Harbor was bombed. In 1942, Civil Engineers wasn’t even a category in the Polk’s Indianapolis City Directory. Each founder registered for the draft in 1942 and, following victory in Europe and discharge in 1945, those engineers reunited to form one of the first civil engineering firms in Indianapolis.
Eleven years before construction began on the Eisenhower Interstate System—a network of controlled-access highways that formed the backbone of our national defense system—our founders were designing infrastructure across Indiana. 75 years later, BLN continues to provide services for the expansion of that interstate highway system.
Hubert Longest Sr. became president of BLN in 1966, upon the merger of his firm, Highway Surveys, with Pierce, Gruber & Beam. His grandchildren, brothers James B. Longest, PE and Thomas C. Longest, are third-generation owners steering the firm through a national growth strategy. Few family businesses thrive into the third generation—less than 12 percent—and Jim attributes the firm’s longevity to the human element. “To be in business 75 years is a testimonial to the dedication of our employees and the trust and loyalty of our clients,” he said. At BLN, taking care of relationships is job one. The firm’s first client, INDOT, continues to select BLN for work throughout Indiana, including high-profile projects like I-69 and the Ohio River Bridges.
Soon after the merger, BLN began growing in two directions. Predating the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and environmental movement in the U.S. by nearly a decade, BLN began providing design and consulting services to water utilities. At the same time, the firm began working for the West Virginia Department of Highways, a relationship that would lead to the opening of the firm’s first regional office. In 2016, BLN began working for Michigan Department of Transportation providing right-of-way acquisition and demolition (D4) services for the Gordie Howe International Bridge, a project considered to be the most complex parcel assembly in Michigan history. Following the devastating back-to-back 2017 hurricanes Irma and Marie, BLN began providing D4 and disaster recovery services in Puerto Rico.
Today, BLN is a multifaceted consultant offering a broad range of services to federal, state, and local agencies. Traditional engineering services are complemented by in-house environmental, right-of-way acquisition, D4 management, and disaster recovery services. The firm also provides advisory services related to program funding and prioritization. These integrated offerings expand the firm’s reach and ability to solve challenging problems of civilization and create solutions that make life easier for everyone.
BLN leadership launched its 75th anniversary by celebrating first with employees at a year-end company lunch in Indianapolis. “Our employees really are at the heart of our success. They are deeply committed to the BLN Way,” says Tom Longest. He describes The BLN Way as driving innovative solutions, investing in relationships, and leading with honor and integrity. “Those two things,” he says, “are integral to quality.”