Article: As Seen on San Francisco Business Times – Zenith scales top of engineering niche
By Alisha Green
Feb 14, 2020, 3:10pm EST
When Nikhil Choudhary and Senthil Puliyadi saw an unmet need for engineering catered toward contractors, they also saw a business opportunity.
Most large engineering firms target developers and architects, which provided a niche for serving contractors that Choudhary and Puliyadi sought to fill when they started structural engineering firm Zenith Engineers in 2009.
At first they focused on working with contractors, who can have a substantial need for engineering when building big projects, said Puliyadi, Zenith’s chief technical officer. Zenith helps with the engineering details that fall on contractors after a bid is awarded. Zenith designed the temporary supports, for example, for the glass panels at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s new headquarters before the roof was installed.
Over the past decade, Choudhary and Puliyadi have grown the bootstrapped, Hayward-based company beyond targeting general contractors and subcontractors. Zenith now also serves developers, architects, owners, and manufacturers with three divisions spanning residential, commercial and seismic.
Jumping on the business opportunity was made easier by Puliyadi and Choudhary’s backgrounds, which include a mix of contracting and engineering.
“We understood the speed with which contractors operated, and we could match that speed,” said Choudhary, Zenith’s CEO. The fast speed and intensity that most contractors work at can be hard for traditional engineering firms to keep up with, he added. The Zenith team uses technology to track every detail of projects, he said, which makes it easy to keep up.
The two founded the company as an impulse during the Great Recession, Choudhary said. Since then, Zenith already has offices in Hayward, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Encino, and the team plans to open two new offices this year in Seattle and Las Vegas.
The success has come in part thanks to figuring out the right cash flow through a balance of residential and commercial work, Choudhary and Puliyadi said. Residential projects provide immediate cash flow to keep the business afloat day in and day out, Puliyadi noted, and it is essentially recession-proof.
“People don’t remodel as much when there is a recession, but there is always something somebody wants to knock down,” Puliyadi said.
What it does: Structural engineering
Co-founders: Nikhil Choudhary and Senthil Puliyadi
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