Windsor-based TRC Cos., whose projects have included the installation of solar panels at the Pentagon (above), has made ZweigWhite’s list of “hot” firms for the second consecutive year.

The development of new energy sources for the Pentagon, the cleanup of environmental contamination in New York City and work on oil pipelines across the country are among the profitable projects that have landed Windsor-based TRC Cos. on ZweigWhite’s list of “hot” firms for the second year in a row.

ZweigWhite, a Natick, Mass.-based research firm, last week named TRC the second-fastest-growing architectural, engineering and environmental consulting firm in the United States.

“The firms that made this year’s Hot Firm List should be proud,” said Mark Zweig, president and chief operating officer of ZweigWhite, in a prepared statement. “They’ve achieved what many of their competitors could not. It’s really great to see the management of these companies is still committed to growth despite the uncertain economy of the past three years.”

The company, which has installed solar panels at the Pentagon, helped build oil pipelines from Wyoming to Texas and cleaned up the site of an old power plant in New York City to make way for high-rise apartment buildings, more than doubled its revenue from 2000 to 2003, according to ZweigWhite. TRC pulled in about $171 million in 2000 and $315.6 million in 2003.

TRC has been around for 50 years, but the quick growth it is now experiencing didn’t start until 1997 when the company hired new management, said Chief Executive Officer and President Richard Ellison.

“We decided that we wanted to be a growth firm because it makes it much more exciting for us and our employees,” Ellison said, adding that the focus on growth was also good for shareholders.

‘A Strong Group’

That change in focus is not the first the company has experienced since its beginnings in 1955. TRC Solutions began as Travelers Research Center, a division of Travelers Insurance, Ellison said, when the insurance company began to offer hurricane insurance. The company needed research on hurricanes and on the likelihood of different cities across the United States being hit by a hurricane, so it assembled a team of meteorologists to do the research.

The team eventually finished that research, but Travelers Insurance had assembled a talented group of scientists and didn’t want to let them go.

“When they had [their research] accomplished, they still had a strong group,” Ellison said.

Travelers started charging other insurance companies to have the group do research for then and eventually spun the Travelers Research Center into its own company, dubbed TRC. Because of the focus on meteorology, the company’s focus shifted to air quality, Ellison said.

TRC expanded in the early 1990s and the company began conducting cleanup work on large, contaminated sites. Today, TRC has offices all over the country and continues to do environmental cleanup work, pipeline design and national security planning while also concentrating on other areas. According to Ellison, it tries to combine the company’s technological base with risk management.

Ellison credits some of the company’s success to its foresight. Several years ago the company began looking for trends that were just beginning – such as the deregulation of energy – and at how to address the needs that sprang from those trends, Ellison said.

“We would try to be there first,” he said. “We also clearly recognized that everything you do reaches maturity in three to five years.”

TRC now is successful in offering services from air quality to water resources management for independent power producers. The work on power plants has led to work on pipelines, liquefied natural gas plants and transmission distribution. Ellison hopes his company can address and prevent problems like the August 2003 blackout in the Northeast. In fact, the company had assembled a team to address the possible bottleneck in electricity distribution two years before the blackout, Ellison said.

One of the developments that helped spur growth was a new service introduced by TRC called Exit Strategy. The service is for developers who want to build on a contaminated site, according to the Exit Strategy Web site. Because the process is usually costly and arduous, developers have historically steered away from contaminated sites, which are also known as brownfields. But many state laws have changed to make remediation easier and TRC has taken advantage of that by introducing Exit Strategy. If a developer buys the service, TRC does all the work to clean up the site and guarantees the cost, according to its Web site.

The service also allows developers to transfer sites faster and to begin construction sooner than if they had to do the cleanup themselves, Ellison said.

“If you don’t take care of the environmental [component], the economic investment won’t take place,” he said.

Ellison is proud of many of the company’s high-profile projects. One of his favorites was the cleanup of the brownfield property in New York City, he said. TRC handled all the remediation for a nine-acre site on the East River, just south of the United Nations headquarters. The old power plant that was on the site had contaminated the area, but TRC cleaned it up, which allowed for new apartments in one of the biggest residential developments in Manhattan, Ellison said.

“Our staff has played a major role in allowing that transformation to occur,” he said.

TRC is performing a similar service in Camden, N.J., a city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, by helping developers transform old industrial and commercial lots into new uses, Ellison said.

“Over time, that will change the entire face of Philadelphia,” he said.

The company also does national security work. Employees are currently writing a master plan for security at the Port of Houston and will be involved in the design and construction of many of the security projects.

TRC also planned, permitted and oversaw construction for solar panels and fuel cells at the Pentagon, which allow the huge building to generate part of its own electricity, Ellison said.

ZweigWhite is not the first to recognize TRC. In 2003, Forbes Magazine named it one of the nation’s best small companies.