Gene Sieve, vice president, Burns & McDonnell


Gene Sieve has led growth of the Minneapolis-St. Paul office of consulting engineering and construction firm Burns & McDonnell to more than 90 employees in the decade since he opened the location.

The office recently received the 2017 Firm of the Year Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota (ACEC/MN).

Sieve, a past ACEC/MN board member and chapter president, attributed the recognition to his office’s role in encouraging support of the energy industry in the Upper Midwest.

After beginning his career with Burns & McDonnell in 1991 Sieve left to return to his native Minnesota in 1998.

Declining to relocate when Burns & McDonnell sought to rehire him, Sieve responded with a plan to establish a Minneapolis-St. Paul office. While Burns & McDonnell, founded in 1898 and based in Kansas City, Mo., had done work in Minnesota since 1913, it had no permanent location in the state before 2007.

Sieve expects the office’s staff to more than double in the next 10 years, with Burns & McDonnell’s employee-ownership model aiding recruiting and retaining employees.

Regional clients include Mayo Clinic, Target, Xcel Energy, the Minnesota Department of Veterans, Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota. The office here also supports projects across North America and abroad.

Sieve also oversees offices in Duluth and Sioux Falls, S.D. He has a mechanical engineering degree from South Dakota State University.

Q: What differentiates Burns & McDonnell from other firms?

A: In this marketplace, we are tremendously broad in the work that we do. Arguably there’s no other firm that probably has [our] depth of expertise. We’re unique in the consultant engineering and environmental consulting world in that we have the ability to provide construction as well. Over half our annual revenue is as a builder.


Q: How does offering construction services benefit clients?

A: What Burns & McDonnell brings is an engineering-led design build vs. a general contractor-led design build. We’re letting the technical solution drive construction outcomes rather than maybe an aesthetic or a particular cost-driven solution.


Q: What are some advantages of the firm’s employee ownership?

A: Every one of our 5,700 employees is an owner in the firm. Our clients like to work with owners of the firm. Our clients will comment that they see the difference. [It] gives everyone the opportunity to have a little skin in the game. That, hands down, is one of the most significant cultural influences on Burns & McDonnell.

Todd Nelson