Founded on an Idea

by Mary Ellen Eagan

“HMMH solves complex problems affecting our environment.”

This is our firm’s mission statement and guiding principle. As we celebrate our 30th year, I think it is helpful to recall that HMMH was founded in 1981, when the aviation industry’s most vexing environmental challenge was clearly noise.  At that time, more than five million people lived within DNL 65 dB contours throughout the US.  Today that number is about 250,000, and JPDO projects it to be just over 100,000 by 2025.

Noise-Impacted Population v. Enplanements (Source: FAA, 2011)

What are the most pressing environmental challenged facing airports today?  They are many, and include: air quality, energy, sustainable design, climate change adaptation planning, to name a few. Noise is still a sporadic issue, but limited mostly to situations where changes have occurred or are being contemplated, like the implementation of Performance Based Navigation procedures and other NextGen technology.  HMMH is now active in all these areas.

I’m often asked to explain why HMMH has expanded its services over the past few years, and I point to the need and desire to help our clients address these 21st century environmental challenges.  We have learned much from our noise experience, and have added technical expertise in other scientific disciplines.  We believe we have much to offer.

There is an article in last week’s Economist analyzing IBM at 100.  The author attributes IBM’s success over the last century to being built around an idea rather than any particular product or technology.  IBM’s strategy of “packing technology for use by businesses” has allowed it to make multiple wholesale technology shifts as the market and world changed.   The author compares IBM to product-based firms such as Dell and Cisco, which are struggling to move beyond their core technologies.

So if I had one wish as we come to the close of our fiscal year and look toward the future, it is that people could see HMMH beyond it’s reputation as “noise experts” and more as trusted advisors who are passionate about solving complex problems.

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