Parametrix and the City of Sumner have grown up together. The engineering, environmental sciences and architectural company that is celebrating its 30th anniversary in business this year has been one of the fastest-growing businesses in one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas.

Sumner was a sleepy, small town with big aspirations when Waite Dalrymple and George Capestany decided it was the perfect place to put down the roots of their venture. Though some distance from where most of the potential customers were headquartered in Seattle, Sumner was close to their home, had a potential client base of its own and was a considerably less-expensive place to do business than cities farther north.

The City’s downtown core looks much as it did when Parametrix’s original staff of three first took up residence in the Old Cannery Building, says Capestany, but the City has undergone significant changes in its infrastructure.

Many miles of new roads have been built to serve new subdivisions, he says, and arterials have been dramatically upgraded over the years. Many of the most significant changes in infrastructure are invisible, he says. The City upgraded its wastewater treatment plant and sanitary sewer conveyance and water systems.

Some improvements were in response to regulatory demands, but many others were necessitated by the City’s growing population base and its eagerness to attract business and industry. Seattle became a destination for Americans from all over the country looking for new starts and an opportunity to enjoy the beauty and resources of the Northwest; many already in Seattle began migrating from the ever-more-costly Seattle area to the south Puget Sound. Farms surrounding Sumner began to disappear, supplanted by new homes. Sumner was being transformed from a small town into a suburb.

Parametrix, which moved its offices to space above the Police Station in 1974, has been involved in many of these changes—even high-visibility projects.

The Daffodil Valley Sports Complex, for example. The Sumner Rotary had anticipated the growth spurt that has been transforming its community for more than two decades and began raising money to build a sports complex that would serve several municipalities, as well as unincorporated areas of Eastern Pierce County. Finally, in fall 1998, the Sports Complex was dedicated.

It is designed to accommodate the recreational needs and interests of 75,000 individuals annually for the next 100 years, says Capestany. Amazingly, the complex was built entirely through donations from individuals, businesses, and civic-minded organizations. More than $2.6 million in cash and in-kind donations was raised by the Sumner Rotary to complete this project, one of many to which Parametrix has contributed corporate time and talent.

Next to the complex, St. Andrew’s Catholic Church is nearing completion. When it undertook that project, St. Andrew’s parish chose to support two local businesses, hiring Merritt+Pardini Architects, which became part of Parametrix as a result of a merger in 1998, to design the 13,000-square-foot, 600-seat facility, and Absher Construction in Puyallup to serve as general contractor.

Commuter rail that will connect Seattle and Tacoma, with stops in communities such as Sumner, is slated to begin operation by the end of 1999, and Parametrix will have a hand in that as well since Sumner’s commuter rail station has been designed by Merritt+Pardini.

“It feels like Sumner and Parametrix have grown up together,” says board Chairman Capestany. Today the company has 90 employees and a headquarters it built nearly 15 years ago at 1231 Fryar Ave. And most of the employees live in the market area served by Sumner, he boasts.

“They enjoy participating in the community in which they work,” he says. “From stomping on reed canary grass to improve habitat for Salmon along Salmon Creek to donating time to the Sumner Rotary to build the Daffodil Sports Complex, we are committed to continuing to be a good neighbor.”

By Laura Kramer for the Business Examiner