> San Dieguito Engineering

Small-business Agility Doesn’t Equate To Small Abilities

Small businesses in San Diego are not likely to be less innovative simply because of their size. In fact, as Annie Aguilar of San Dieguito Engineering (SDE) knows, the opposite is often true. Due to their agility, SDE has, in fact, tackled many large projects with early-to-market technologies that larger firms haven’t yet adopted.

Aguilar, who has worked with SDE since 2000 and served as President and Principal Engineer since 2011, has seen plenty of changes during her nineteen years with the company.

While there were few changes for nearly a quarter of a century after the company began in 1974 in Rancho Santa Fe, technology has swiftly evolved the company since her arrival, becoming an award winning firm since 2014, when SDE was awarded SBA Woman Owned Small Business of the Year.

It’s easy to see innovation from the standpoint of technology when examining the changes SDE has experienced.From hand-drawn plat maps to full adoption of AutoCAD to the introduction of the even more robust Civil 3D and MicroStation, SDE’s engineering practices have become more precise and systematic.

The company upgraded their accounting practices in the early 2000s from Excel spreadsheets and simple accounting software to Deltek’s Vision.More recently, we have utilized drones to supplement the myriad of tools we use for topographic surveys and aerial photogrammetry.

To grow with San Diego, which nearly doubled in size since the founding of SDE, the firm has evolved in multiple ways. After the recession, the focus of SDE shifted from private development to public works and won some large projects that kept the company busy while others languished.

In 2014, SDE was recipient of the APWA San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter Utility Project of the Year award for the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 Landside Expansion. In 2016, SDE was recipient of another APWA Project of the Year Award for SDG&E Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan Project.

Aguilar was the 2016 APWA Award recipient for Outstanding Service in the Private Sector and San Diego Business Journal (SDBJ)’s Top Woman-Owned Businesses for 2016.

This year, in 2019, Patricia Urquiza was recognized as a finalist for the CFO of the Year award with SDBJ as well as two other awards, APWA Project of the Year Award for the SDCWA Pipeline 3 Relining Lake Murray to Sweetwater Reservoir project and ENR Best Manufacturing Project for BioLegend Campus.

SDE also set themselves apart through their relationships with clients. Precision and accuracy must also be applied with communication, education, and service. SDE continues to evolve into the infill land development niche, kicking it off with the award-winning BioLegend campus.

In addition to WMBE, WOSB, and SLBE designations, SDE is recognized at the state and local level as a Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, providing feedback to Caltrans District Directors on how to improve accessing local firms to work on their projects through the Small Business Council Meetings.

As a small business, SDE does have advantages: The company cross utilizes employees for them to work in different disciplines of the projects, i.e., engineering and surveying, resulting in employees with enormous breadth and depth of knowledge on projects. Anytime a client calls, they speak with the principal engineer on their project.

Small-business agility doesn’t equate to small abilities. San Dieguito Engineering, under the direction of Annie Aguilar, introduced technology rarely used on the West Coast—subsurface utility engineering or SUE—when they mapped over twenty miles of corridor for the city of San Diego for the SDG&E Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan.

While other areas of the country have used SUE for years, San Diego was just beginning to use SUE. Aguilar has been asked to share her expertise with other firms and agencies through various speaking engagements.

As SDE moves forward in the 20th century, the company continues to innovate and evolve to add new business lines and create the corporate culture that will sustain itself for decades to come.

San Dieguito Engineering

[email protected]
San Dieguito Engineering, Inc. 462 Stevens Avenue, Suite 305 Solana Beach, CA 92075

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