RESPEC Celebrates 50th Year in Business

From Local Start-up to Global Reputation in 50 Years

Founded in 1969, RESPEC, Inc., is a globally recognized integrated solutions firm with expertise in water science, geoscience, engineering, and data and internet technology. RESPEC recently celebrated its 50th anniversary at its headquarters in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Since its beginning as a small engineering firm in the Black Hills in 1969, RESPEC has steadily grown over five decades to become a leader of innovative engineering and advanced technological solutions, with 22 locations across North America. RESPEC is an employee-owned company that has over 300 employees and annual revenues above $50 million.

“Throughout our history, we have tried to keep our approach to business simple: it begins and ends with hiring talented and caring people. You get that right and everything else comes together,” said Todd Kenner, CEO and president. “We are excited about our future and are confident that the next generation of leadership will continue to build upon the history and success of RESPEC.”

For much of the 1970s and 1980s, RESPEC was primarily focused on solving one of our nation’s greatest challenges: developing a scientifically sound deep geological waste repository. Research efforts of the early RESPEC team were instrumental in the licensing of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Through these efforts, RESPEC developed a world-class reputation for salt rock mechanics.

RESPEC serves both government projects and commercial business, with international reach across a broad spectrum of industries and with clients in 26 countries. In North America, RESPEC has served on numerous city, state, and federal projects. Clients include the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, and commercial partnerships with Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and many others.

With a world-renowned reputation for solving the world’s most difficult problems with science and engineering breakthroughs, RESPEC’s accomplishments are many. Over the past 50 years, RESPEC’s achievements include innovations in the fields of high-speed precision measurement, predictive mapping, water modeling, underground mapping, video monitoring, remote reporting, cyber resilience, and the integration of heightened security with advanced IT for large-scale operations.

Among numerous awards and citations for excellence, RESPEC is a past recipient of the prestigious American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Grand Award for Engineering Excellence as well as the South Dakota Engineering Society’s Outstanding Achievement award.

At RESPEC’s 50th anniversary celebration, RESPEC’s original founders were honored, including Dr. Paul Gnirk, PE, past president and principal consultant; Floyd Matthew, PE, consultant (deceased); Dr. Earl Hoskins, consultant; Dr. James Russell, consultant (deceased); Dr. William Reuter, consultant (deceased); and Michael DeMersseman, Esq., corporate attorney. Other long-time RESPEC staff were honored, including Dr. Leo L. Van Sambeek, PE, vice president and principal consultant; Thomas J. Zeller, PE, former president and CEO; Dr. Gary D. Callahan, PE, former vice president of engineering and principal consultant; Kirby D. Mellegard, PE, former manager of the Materials Testing Laboratory; Dr. John D. Osnes, PE, former manager of geomechanics and principal consultant; and Julie Annicchiarico, former corporate director of resources and information, along with current leadership and CEO and President Todd Kenner.

To learn more information about RESPEC, visit


Founded in 1969, RESPEC is one company, with 22 locations in North America and strategic alliances worldwide. A global leader in water science, geoscience, engineering, and data and internet technology, award-winning RESPEC has a 50-year reputation of technical excellence in meeting client goals for businesses and organizations in water, natural resources, mining, energy, infrastructure, and IT and data technology services.

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