Engineering From Concept to Completion |

Engineering From Concept to Completion

Photo submitted by SCOGrass Valley Police Station
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Ask Ed Sylvester about civil engineering, and the affable engineer says simply, “Stuff flows downhill; that’s all you’ve got to know.” Ask him how old the profession is and he starts talking about pyramid builders. Ask him the definition of a civil engineer, and he says “Someone who didn’t have enough personality to become an accountant.” Not his problem, though, as he ‘s got the savoir-faire to have been chairman of the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Nevada County Business Association, and is presently a director of West American Bank. Besides working for a living, this 67-year-old runs marathons around the world.

Along with Planner Dale Creighton, Sylvester owns SCO Planning & Engineering in Grass Valley. The projects they’ve worked on nearby are the 3 million dollar rehabilitation of Mill Street, Richardson Street relocation, the new hotel, the South Hill development, and the outpatient and cancer center for the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Farther away, in Truckee, two large resorts are under their wing.

“We go from concept to at the end of the day giving the keys to the customer,” Sylvester says. In between they do planning, layout, work with about two dozen agencies, do council presentations, design, and financing, then put the project out to bid, and finally work with the contractor. Through all of this they build a team, bringing in when needed such professionals as soil engineers, water specialists, architects, and biologists.

“The difference with our company (as compared with other civil engineering firms),” says Sylvester, ” is that we have a planning component, because we feel we should be in the planning process (when the project is still just a twinkle in the client’s eye) and understand it. Many firms are, in fact, moving in this direction.”

When the stuff is flowing right, SCO really moves fast. A good example of this is the Grass Valley Police Department building, which they did in a record time of nine months.

This business of 39 years has ten employees, consisting of planners, support staff, and engineers””The best staff, half of whom grew up here,” he says. As a team they’ve built an excellent reputation, one reason being that they keep their eyes on sensitive issues. “We accept only 60% of the projects that are brought to us,” says Sylvester. “Over the last ten years we’ve seen a rise in quality demanded by cities and counties who are more sensitive to the environment and taking care of problems up front. We’re well positioned to do that.”

A famous person SCO has recently interacted with is one of the greatest golfers of all time Jack Nicklaus. “He’s in his mid 60s, still playing, and gets $80,000 to show up and say ‘Put that over there,’ says Sylvester. Nicholas did just that up in Truckee at a new golf resort named Old Greenwood, which SCO is helping build.

SCO Planning & Engineering

140 Litton Dr., Suite 240,

Grass Valley

(530) 272-5841

Web site:

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