Chester Engineers 100 years and growing

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“Imagine 2020,” is the new slogan for Chester Engineers as they celebrate 100 years. With its new world headquarters located in Pittsburgh and 11 other offices throughout the United States, Chester Engineers President and CEO Robert O. Agbede says his company is blending and transforming by expanding its reach to international markets in the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa and West Africa. As a way for the company to grow the firm’s operations regionally, nationally, and globally, Agbede announced that Chester Engineers Board Chair George Miles duties will expand to executive chairman with the responsibilities to guide, lead and coach for the global journey. Miles is the former president and chief executive officer of WQED Multimedia.

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FRIENDS AND BUSINESS PARTNERS—Newly appointed executive chairman of Chester Engineers, George Miles commends his longtime friend, Robert O. Agbede on 100 years and counting. (Photos by Diane Daniels.)

Considered a leading engineering services firm, Chester Engineers, a member of the ATS Group provides water and wastewater engineering solutions to public and industrial clients globally. Its services include water and wastewater engineering, water supply engineering, water resources engineering, groundwater strategies and solutions, municipal public works engineering, industrial solutions, construction management and inspection, science and technology solutions, environmental and air quality management, geographic information systems, information technology and data management as well as transportation.

Chester Engineers, according to Agbede is the largest African-American-owned environmental and engineering design firm in the United States and the largest water and wastewater treatment plant design and management firm in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania.

Agbede established Advance Technology Systems, Inc., which provided engineering, design and construction management services in 1987. Chester Engineers was founded in 1910 as Chester & Fleming Consulting Engineers specializing in designing water treatment and disposal of sewage facilities. Upon several occasions the two firms collaborated on projects until 2003 when ATS acquired Chester, which had undergone several name changes. Since that time, under Agbede’s leadership the firm has been ranked number 268 on Engineering News-Records’ Top 500 Design Firms and ranked on its Top 200 Environmental Firms list. Locally The Pittsburgh Business Times honored Chester as a Pittsburgh 100, distinguishing it as one of the 100 fastest growing companies in the region. The National Conference of Black Mayors designated Chester Engineers its “engineering firm of record” and Program Manager for member communities.

“Bob represents the American story,” described Miles during the ceremony celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Chester Engineers and the open house of its new world headquarters in Moon Township. “He is an immigrant now living his dream.” Considering him his good friend, Miles labeled Agbede as a good businessman that gives back to the community.

A University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering graduate with Bachelors and Masters Degrees, Agbede is said to have developed a work culture that emphasizes the importance of giving back, viewing corporate social responsibility as good business. Chester engages with small/minor­ity businesses and students in areas of mentoring. The Robert O. Agbede Scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh benefits African-American students pursuing engineering degrees. Also at the University of Pittsburgh, the Robert O. Agbede Annual Diversity Award encourages recruitment and retention of African-American faculty and students. Chester endowments at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, presently valued at over 3 million dollars, support African-American student enrollment and retention primarily in Engineering and Sciences.

A Lagos, Nigerian native, Agbede reflecting over his life journey said he appreciates the people that have helped and stuck by him throughout the years and his career. He acknowledged the Ford Foundation for establishing the school he attended in Lagos and his teachers and guidance counselors for their direction. Calculating his Butte, Montana experience as an introduction to the United States as preparing him for his Pittsburgh voyage, he acknowledged many entities for assisting him in reaching the success he has. Agbede thanked his staff for their faith and belief and dedication since ATS, his board members and children. “This is not the end. This 100 years marks the beginning of a brand new day for Chester engineering,” he said. Committing to continuing to reach out and be an example, Agbede said new leaders need to be produced. His 2020 vision is to reach out beyond the US and to continue to assist young people through the colleges. “The urgency is now and we are pressing toward the mark,” he said.

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