Long International Inc

For many companies, the construction process is not always an easy one, where conflicts can arise and cooler heads don’t always prevail. But Long International Inc. focuses on helping its clients avoid those painful headaches, President Andrew Avalon says.

Based in Denver, the firm specializes in construction claims and project management consulting on large engineering and construction projects worldwide. Often, Avalon says, the company takes part in arbitrations and litigations. “If needed, we will prepare expert reports [for] arbitrations and court hearings to help the parties determine who is responsible for project management performance problems, cost overruns or delays,” he says.

CEO Richard J. Long founded the company in 1996 after working for oil companies, engineering & construction firms, and in the consulting industry for many years. With his background as a chemical engineer, Long says he was often called upon by owners and large engineering and construction firms who needed his expertise.

When Long initially started the firm, he was its sole employee. Today, Long International employs a staff of 35 who are stationed in such locations as Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Virginia, North Carolina, Spain and Qatar. “We keep adding each year to the organization,” Long says.

Avalon adds that Long International also employs an experienced staff, allowing it to provide strong expertise to its clients. “On average, our senior personnel have about 35 years of experience in the industry,” he says. “Because of their extensive backgrounds, they’re able to understand the kinds of problems that result in cost overruns and delays, and have the ability to testify on those issues.”

Doing Good Work

Along with growing the size of its staff, Long International has grown the size of its customer reach. Today, the company’s clients include such firms as Chevron, BP, Dow Chemical Co., Eastman Chemical Co., ExxonMobil, Kellogg Brown & Root, King & Spalding, Lloyd’s, Petrotrin and White & Case. “We’ve worked for clients and on projects in over 35 countries, six continents and the majority of the United States,” Long says.

He adds that half of Long International’s work is for repeat clients. “We focus on performing high-quality work, and by producing high-quality work products, we get repeat business,” Long says.

Often, Long International encounters schedule delays and cost overruns on its clients’ projects, Long says. “Those are the headaches our clients have, and that’s why they come to us – to perform detailed analysis and determine who is responsible for all these delays and for all the cost overruns,” he says. “The answer typically is not one party. It is usually multiple parties. The challenge is allocating the responsibility or cutting up the pie.”

Additionally, the company often takes part in insurance claims related to property damage at a large plant. “For example, if there is a large explosion at a refinery, [our work will] involve the cost of rebuilding the plant, or how long it should take to rebuild,” Avalon says. “The facility owner might be required, by code, to make certain types of upgrades, which may add to the cost and schedule of the rebuild.”

Long International’s recent projects have included a $200 million insurance claim on the construction of a tar sands facility and upgrader unit in the Canadian province of Alberta. “That was a case where we played a significant role in helping the parties reach a resolution,” Avalon says. “[We] testified in [a] deposition as a CPM scheduling expert witness in support of the ICC Arbitration in Canada.”

The company also worked with the owner of a refinery in Trinidad who was having difficulties on major projects with five separate contractors. “We were able to settle these issues by sitting with the contractors and negotiating equitable settlements,” Avalon says. “It was better [having all] parties involved instead of having it go all the way to an arbitration hearing.”

Strong Expertise

Before starting Long International, Long held such positions as the senior vice president of contract administration for an electrical and mechanical contractor. There, he was responsible for technical management and the preparation and resolution of construction claims.

In addition, he managed the construction claims practices of two large consulting firms for 13 years, and worked for oil companies and large EPC firms during his first 13 years as a process engineer and project manager. After all his time in the consulting business, Long says he still enjoys the work. “It’s very interesting and challenging work,” he says.

Long notes that the problems of his clients keep him engaged in the work. “There’s always something new going on that can go wrong [on] a project,” he says.

Avalon, who has more than 28 years of engineering, construction management and claims consulting experience, praises Long for his leadership. “I have the highest respect and admiration for Richard Long,” he says. “He [has been] a good friend and partner of mine.

“He has tremendous integrity, caring for the quality of his work,” Avalon says. “I think Long International has the excellent reputation that it does because of the amount of care Richard puts into the work he performs.”

Long also praises the work of the firm’s suppliers. “We look at partnering with firms that can add value to what we provide, what we perform and what our clients might need,” he says.

“We recognize there might be other expertise out there [that we don’t have],” he says. “[We] often bring in people who might have more appropriate experience. It’s a good thing, as opposed to doing it yourself.”

Avalon also highlights the company’s partnerships with PROMIS – Project Management Engineering Systems in Dubai, UAE, and Acu­men PM, based in Austin, Texas. 

“[Both] are helping to broaden our market capabilities,” he says.

Built Internationally

As it grows, Long International plans to continue consulting for clients internationally, Long says. “Most large industrial and energy projects today are built outside the United States,” he says. “They are often built or owned by U.S. firms, but they are built in other places in the world, where you’ve got oil and gas. We’ve been very successful and I think that is going to continue to be the marketplace.”

Avalon agrees, noting that the company sees steady growth overseas. “When I began in 2006 as president, approximately 50 percent of our work was international,” he recalls, noting that number has since grown to 75 percent.

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