Our Story

KHAFRA was started in 1986 by partners who shared the dream of creating an engineering consulting firm that rivaled the best to be found anywhere in the U.S.  Today, KHAFRA is one of the nation’s largest minority-owned engineering consulting companies with offices in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL; Buffalo, NY; Dallas, TX; Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY.

What is in a Name?

The KHAFRA name and logo are derived from the name of an African king who was Pharaoh of Egypt around 2500 B.C.  KHAFRA was the builder of Giza’s second pyramid and the temple along the east-west solar temple axis.  He was perhaps best known because his face was the model for the Great Sphinx.  Our firm chose the name KHAFRA because the pyramids are one of the seven wonders of the world, and an engineering marvel that has withstood the tests of time, and was built by people of color.  Similarly, our company also strives for such unparalleled success and engineering excellence.

Our Success Story

KHAFRA was incorporated in May 1986 by founding partners Valentino T. Bates P.E., James M. Davis P.E., Dwight H. Jones P.E., and Daniel H. Nall P.E. for the purposes of providing civil site and environmental water and wastewater engineering, based upon the expertise of its first employee Valentino Bates.

Upon successfully securing electrical, instrumentation and control engineering assignments for the Brown Water Treatment Plant, Williams Water Treatment Plant and the Farrington Road Wastewater Treatment in 1987, KHAFRA added three employees, including current partner, Waymon Jones.

Word of client satisfaction was spreading quickly and in 1988 KHAFRA doubled their staff size upon obtaining process and structural engineering assignments for the Fulton County, GA Camp Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Design and the City of Atlanta Chattahoochee Water Treatment Plant Complex Improvements, as well as multiple major pulp and paper design build assignments with McBirney Contractors.  Three of the four new hires are still KHAFRA team members, including Principal Michael Leung, P.E., Principal Elias Zewde, PE and Dean Mitchell.

The growth trend continued for KHAFRA, doubling its staff again in 1989 and 1989 and opening its 1st branch office in Birmingham, AL.  Growth continued to be mandated by the Firm’s success obtaining projects including the Birmingham Airport Expansion and Parking Deck addition, Atlanta Hemphill High Service Pump Station, Atlanta Water Master Plan, additional pulp and paper design assignments with Kone Wood, civil site work assignments with Turner Associates at the Atlanta Housing Authority, the Delta Ground Support Vehicle Maintenance Facility, and the Grady Hospital Parking Deck Design Build project.  The 1989 staff additions included future and present Principal, Brandon Hewitt, P.E. During the same year the Department of Commerce Region IV and the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council honored KHAFRA as the Minority Design Firm of the Year.

Building upon the previous bond that had been established while working together on various water and wastewater facilities while employed at CH2MHill, a new team of ownership was born.  In 1990 Brandon Hewitt, Waymon Jones, Elias Zewde, Michael Leung and Valentino Bates purchased the stock of Dwight Jones, Daniel Nall and James Davis, resulting in the firm becoming 100% minority-owned.

In 1991 KHAFRA became 8a certified with the Small Business Administration, sparing further growth in the areas of facilities management O&M, environmental engineering and process engineering.

By 1992 KHAFRA had grown to 32 employees, operating 3 offices, with the addition of an office in Louisville, KY.  Big things were happening for this budding firm. The firm secured the Wastewater Action Plan of the 90’s from the Louisville and Jefferson County Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District along with design work at the Morris Foreman and West County Wastewater Treatment Plants.  Based upon the Firm’s track record in water and wastewater treatment plant planning, design and construction management and the historical operations experience of its founding principal Valentino Bates, KHAFRA entered into a 50/50 Joint Venture with Envirotech Operating Services (now Veolia North America) and secured the operations and maintenance contract for the Atlanta Fulton County Water Treatment Plant, employing a collective 20 full time, on-site operations and maintenance technicians, mechanics and electricians.  In 1992 the Joint Venture wins its first of numerous Operations Excellence and Safety Awards for its work at the Atlanta Fulton County Water Treatment Plant.

During this time The City of Atlanta was on the cusp of unprecedented growth upon the announcement that it had been selected as the site for the 1996 Olympic Games.  KHAFRA was well positioned and selected to lead assignments for the International Concourse E at Hartsfield Airport, the Delta Crown Room at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport as well as program management consulting assignment for the Olympic Games temporary and portable facilities; the civil site design for the field hockey venues at Morris Brown College and Clark Atlanta University; and the Cycling and Archery Venue at Stone Mountain Park.

From 1992 to 1999 KHAFRA continued its growth and development via the completion of the aforementioned design and construction assignments, quickly approaching a staff size of 100 and securing additional civil and electrical assignments related to street scape designs for the Olympic venue corridors on International Boulevard.   Additional projects of significance included:

·         1992- KHAFRA secures the Federal, Mobile US Army Corps of Engineers IDIQ contract.  This was KHAFRA first prime engineering/architectural assignment and led to numerous local and state IDIQ/open ended contracts and a major private commercial contract.

·         1993- KHAFRA was selected for the Federal Facilities Management of the 65 acre farm and laboratory for the US Centers for Disease Control.

·         1994- KHAFRA contains the Federal Region IV EPA Oversite Contract, enabling KHAFRA to hire numerous scientific experts in environmental air and water pollution.

·         1994- KHAFRA earned assignments with the Department of Commerce performing design review for projects in Gabon, Africa, Santiago, Chile and the Czech Republic.

·         1995- KHAFRA earned a prime contract with the Birmingham Water Works Board to renovate the 1880’s steam pump station into a museum and conference center, resulting in award of a design excellence achievement award for the project in 1997.

·         1999- KHAFRA secured an annual contract with BellSouth to perform IDIQ environmental and engineering design.  KHAFRA won a BellSouth Design Excellence Award for this project in 2001.

·         1999- KHAFRA expanded it Louisville office when it was selected for its first major prime contract with the Louisville Water Company to design 13,000 lineal feet of 30” water transmission main.  This project experience led to subsequent prime water transmission main projects for Charleston Public Works and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

Since 2000 KHAFRA has continued its growth as a prime consultant, leading water, wastewater and environmental design, while expanding to be a major contractor for consent decree programs east of the Mississippi River, including the following assignments:

·         Program Manager for the Atlanta SSO/CSO Consent Decree

·         Program Manager for the Louisville Pond Creek Watershed

·         Design consultant for the Baltimore Wet Weather Consent Decree

·         Design consultant for the Nashville SSO/CSO Consent Decree

In addition KHAFRA becomes a major contractor in construction engineering and inspection services for the GA, AL, TN and MD Departments of Transportation.

KHAFRA evolved into a full service engineering and architectural firm performing architectural design for the administration buildings, maintenance buildings, return sludge/waste sludge pump stations and high service pump stations of water and wastewater facilities.  KHAFRA entered the architectural market in 1995, and received its first architectural design award in 1997.  KHAFRA was then able to later acquire design assignments for libraries, schools, fire stations, public housing and other commercial, industrial and public assembly buildings.  In 2010, Charles W. Raine, AIA became an Associate Principal of the Firm and Director of Architecture.

Furthermore, KHAFRA has built upon its 1994 work with the U.S. Department of Commerce to perform major design feasibility studies for water resource facilities in Ghana, Senegal and Ethiopia incorporating impoundments, distribution systems and treatment facilities in the under developed parts of these countries.  These water resource developments have brought industrial development, spurred employment and alleviated water born disease in these countries, along with enhancing trade of US good and services to these countries according to the plans KHAFRA developed with the US Export Import Bank.

In 2013, KHAFRA made its first acquisition, acquiring a 97 year old design firm in Buffalo, New York.

From its humble beginnings in 1986, KHAFRA has grown to 90 staff members, from seven office locations.