Day & Zimmermann Inc.
Day & Zimmermann Inc.
1818 Market St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
Fax: (215) 975-6806
Sales: $600 million
SICs: 8711 Engineering Services; 8741 Management
Services; 8712 Architectural Services; 8742 Management Consulting Services
Day & Zimmermann Inc., among the nation’s 300 largest privately owned firms, oversees a wide variety of engineering and management projects through its three divisions: engineering and construction, defense systems, and management services. D & Z, Inc., the 2,500-employee engineering and construction group, served as construction manager for dozens of city airports around the country, built a plant for Pepperidge Farms Inc., built and operated a recycling plant in New Jersey, and managed construction of the Alamodome sports complex in San Antonio, Texas. The 5,000-employee management services group provided security personnel for nuclear plants, federal installations, and large companies, including General Electric, the Philadelphia Power Com.’s nuclear power plants, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Day & Zimmermann’s defense systems group, with 4,500 employees, ranked among the nation’s 100 largest U.S. military contractors, operating munitions plants for the military and providing millions of tons of ammunition annually. This division provided about 40 percent of the company’s revenues.
Day & Zimmermann traces its ancestry back to two companies: Dodge and Day, founded in 1901, and H.L. Yoh Company, founded in 1940. In 1901, two young men just out of college joined forces to start their own company. Charles Day, an electrical engineer, and Kern Dodge, a mechanical engineer, formed Dodge & Day and were hired to modernize machine tool drives for Link-Belt Engineering Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The following year, Jeansville Iron Works hired the young firm to help update its facilities by converting belt-driven machine tools to motor driven ones, designing power plant steam heating and electrical systems, and supervising installation of machine foundations and equipment. In 1903, Dodge & Day won a contract from Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company to evaluate new equipment. In 1905, Dodge & Day added an architectural department and construction force. By the following year, the firm needed more work space and moved from its offices at the Link-Belt Company to facilities in downtown Philadelphia.
The company continued to grow, expanding its services to include electric railway engineering and construction and expanding its territory to include North Carolina as well as its home base of Pennsylvania. John Zimmermann, a former classmate of Day, joined the firm in 1907, bringing his expertise in finance and operations, and, in 1910, the firm’s name was changed to Dodge, Day & Zimmermann. The company’s long history of contracting services to the U.S. government began during this time, when the government hired the company to evaluate efficiency at naval yards. In 1912, Dodge resigned, and the company’s name was again changed, to Day & Zimmermann, under which it was incorporated in 1916.
During the 1920s, as U.S. involvement in World War I became inevitable, Day & Zimmermann’s services were in demand to help companies convert their facilities to wartime production. Charles Day also became a member of the Council of National Defense, which was formed to advise the government on the mobilization of U.S. resources in the event of war. The United States entered World War I in April 1917, and the following year Day & Zimmermann took over design, engineering, and construction supervision of the army’s giant quartermaster terminal in Philadelphia.
Another project Day & Zimmerman had taken on in Philadelphia during this time had to be postponed until the end of the war. The city had hired the firm to build the 685-foot Bensalem Bridge, an important part of the city’s proposed traffic network. The war interrupted construction, and by the time construction was resumed, inflation had doubled the cost of labor and materials. Nevertheless, Day & Zimmermann fulfilled the terms of its original contract, completing construction and absorbing immense losses that nearly bankrupted the company. The company eventually recovered and continued to accept new work from the city; the Day & Zimmerman name appeared on many bond issues proposed by the city for engineering and construction projects.
In the late 1920s, Day & Zimmermann formed Penn Central Light & Power and the Municipal Service Company as umbrella organizations under which to operate electric utilities and rail transportation services in the eastern part of the country. For a short time, Day & Zimmermann became a subsidiary company when John Zimmermann became president of United Gas Improvement Company, the state’s largest utility company, bringing Day & Zimmerman under its umbrella. This lasted only a year, however. In 1928, W. Findlay Downs and Nicholas Roosevelt bought Day & Zimmermann back from UGI and reestablished it as an independent, privately-held company offering consulting, engineering, and management services.
Day & Zimmermann weathered the 1929 stock market crash and the Depression that followed, to a large extent because of its involvement in utility projects, including construction of electric transmission lines to support rural electrification following the completion of Boulder Dam.
By the late 1930s, the U.S. economy was recovering, and the threat of another world war was imminent. Day & Zimmermann designed and built a 1.5 million square foot aluminum reclamation area in Cressona, Pennsylvania, which it would operate during World War II to produce artillery for the U.S. Navy. Other wartime contracts included design and construction of the Iowa Ordinance Plant, which was built in a record 11 months and operated by Day & Zimmermann during the war years. During peak production years during the war, the company employed 18,000 men and women.
In 1951, the company began its operation of the Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant in Texarkana, Texas. The plant encompassed 16,000 acres, contained more than 900 buildings, and was serviced by 160 miles of roads, 40 miles of railroad, 90 miles of electrical distribution service, 45 miles of water mains, and 25 miles of sewers. Day & Zimmermann continued to operate the plant for over 40 years, and during this time, in 1965, the plant was awarded a presidential citation for outstanding contribution to greater economy and improvement in operations.
During the 1950s, Day & Zimmermann undertook projects all over the country and abroad, including a feasibility study of Lincoln Center in New York and a survey of electrical power requirements in the Republic of Vietnam. By the end of the decade, Day & Zimmermann was operating four major departments: reports, industrial engineering, management service, and engineering design and construction.
In 1961, Day & Zimmerman was acquired by the engineering firm of H.L. Yoh Company for about $2.5 million, creating one of the largest technical firms of its kind in the United States with 3,300 employees. The H.L. Yoh Company was founded in 1940 by Harold L. Yoh for the purpose of war production and training. Yoh was the son of Ohio farmers whose ancestors had emigrated from Holland in the 1700s. Upon graduation from the Wharton School in 1929, he became a partner in a tool-designing firm. After 11 years, he formed the company that bore his name, and, largely because of his determination, the firm grew quickly. By 1953, the engineering division employed more than 500 engineers, draftspeople, architects, and industrial planners.
Upon acquiring Day & Zimmerman, Yoh decided to retain the name of the larger company, with H.L. Yoh Company becoming a subsidiary. In the four years following Yoh’s acquisition, the company more than doubled in size, employing more than 8,000 people involved in evaluation, planning, engineering, construction, ordnance development, and management. Day & Zimmermann continued to do substantial work for the U.S. military. In 1967, at the request of the Navy, the company provided engineering, procurement, and construction services for two airfields in Thailand to support U.S. operations in southeast Asia. The next year, the company completed modernization projects at the Philadelphia and Portsmouth naval shipyards.
The 1970s brought further expansion. Day & Zimmermann opened the Kansas Division to operate the Army’s munitions plant in that state. Moreover, the company acquired Cole*Layer*Trumble Company, one of the largest mass appraisal companies, and MDC, which became part of Day & Zimmermann’s infrastructure services division. Also during this time, Day & Zimmermann was hired as the construction inspector for the $50-million Veterans’ Stadium complex in Philadelphia.
Further projects included conducting a property valuation of the entire railroad system of Penn Central Transportation Company, when that rail company declared bankruptcy; the project, which amounted to a $2.1 billion valuation, was ongoing until the early 1980s. Under contract for the U.S. Railway Association, Day & Zimmerman developed a system plan for the government-sponsored ConRail. After serving as project manager for the new airport terminal in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company played a key role as master contractor in the three-year modernization program for the U.S. Postal Service and supervised more than 300 architectural and engineering firms throughout the eastern region of the postal system.
The 1970s also brought a change of ownership. Yoh Sr., who had run Day & Zimmermann since its acquisition in 1961, retired and sold the company to his son, Harold L. “Spike” Yoh, Jr.—who had worked with his father since 1958—and five other executives who offered $16 million for the company, outbidding two other investor groups. Upon retirement from Day & Zimmerman, the senior Yoh moved to Florida, where he bought a restaurant; he died in 1976, a year after selling Day & Zimmerman.
Growth through acquisition and internal expansion continued into the 1980s. In a joint venture with the Frank E. Basil Company, the Day & Zimmermann/Basil Corporation began operating the Hawthorne Plant, an army facility in Nevada. Located on 236 square miles and featuring more than 2,800 buildings, the plant represented the largest ammunition storage depot in the world, housing 400,000 tons of ammunition. In the early 1990s, with the cessation of the Cold War, Day & Zimmermann personnel would also become responsible for demilitarizing much of the munitions stockpiled at the Hawthorne Plant.
Day & Zimmermann helped to staff a Du Pont office and provided further management through its Day Engineering division in the 1980s. The acquisition of SEACOR in 1982 gave the company the necessary marine engineering skills to serve naval and commercial ship operators. Acquisitions later in the decade included the Wagner Group, Delta Associates, NPS Energy Services and NPS, Inc., Aquidneck Data Company, and Barry Services.
In 1983, the company’s property appraisal services were retained by the state of West Virginia for a state-wide property revaluation. A year later, Day & Zimmermann introduced a new technique for mass real estate appraisal—Landisc—which utilized both computer and laser-video technology to create a property image useful to the tax assessors, police and fire departments, and real estate offices. Other services in this area included analysis of hardware and software needs of clients, training, disaster planning, offsite backup storage, and computer time sharing, as well as public education programs to support assessors as they conducted revaluations.
At the onset of the 1990s, Day & Zimmermann restructured, forming D & Z, Inc. to coordinate efforts in engineering, design, construction, operation, and maintenance, and SEACOR Services, Inc. to manage international and base support projects. During this time, Day & Zimmermann provided a wide range of services to foreign and domestic clients of military, industrial, and municipal natures. Yoh Jr. continued to head the company and was the principal owner; his fellow investors from the 1976 buyout eventually retired and sold their interests to him. The company was owned by Yoh and one other executive who held less than a ten percent interest.
Day & Zimmermann’s roots were in pioneering engineering techniques, and it continued to modernize engineering techniques in the 1990s. Engineers helped manufacturers to incorporate statistical process controls, computer-integrated manufacturing techniques, and vision-capable robotics in order to streamline the production process. The company also designed air circulation and filtration systems to meet stringent requirements for contamination control in the manufacture of foods, beverages, and health care products.
Despite cuts in defense spending, Day & Zimmermann continued to contract work with the U.S. military and its allies. The company was involved in demilitarizing and destroying obsolete weaponry; making conventional ammunition items from primers and detonators to fully-assembled bombs and missiles; and providing clients in other countries with consulting services in setting up manufacturing systems.
Day & Zimmermann also looked forward to continued non-military contracts with the federal government. A new $40 million, five-year contract with the Resolution Trust Corporation called for Yoh’s company to appraise the thrift’s furniture and equipment inventories.
With governments at all levels taking a serious look at the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, Day & Zimmermann looked forward to continued growth by providing services for the expansion of roads, railroads, bridges, water and sewer works, and airports. For more than 50 years, Day & Zimmermann had served as a consulting engineer on many water and sewer authorities, and its services included construction management support services, and direct contact operation services. Day & Zimmermann was also a leading consultant on airport construction, having worked for more than 90 airports or airline clients. Its services included noise abatement studies, economic analysis, and environmental impact statements.
In rail transportation, the company provided systems integration services and assistance with improvements to control systems and equipment. The company also developed a program management oversight concept for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration to help its staff evaluate major transit projects and determine the efficiency of their use of federal grant money.
The nation’s growing concern for the environment also fueled growth at Day & Zimmermann. The company worked on technology for plastics recycling, often in conjunction with state, county, and municipal governments, to reduce the amount of solid waste being hauled to landfills around the country. Furthermore, the company worked with Rutgers University to turn waste products into carpet, containers, construction materials, and automotive parts.
For owner and chief executive officer “Spike” Yoh, the company’s key values were safety, quality, and integrity; he maintained that “without those three values we have nothing.” Of course, a fourth key, profits, was also necessary, and continued growth was essential to the company’s success, according to Yoh. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “If I have one problem, it is making sure we grow. Whether we want to or not, I say we have to grow.” Attributing much of the company’s success to its talented staff, Yoh maintained that it was important to find openings at the top for the brightest, and the way to ensure that was through growth.
D & Z, Inc.; Life Sciences International; H. L. Yoh Company; Cole*Layer*Trumble Company/Landisc Systems; Lone Star Division; Kansas Division; Munitions Technology Division; Systems Engineering Associates Company; NFS Energy Services, Inc; Day Data Systems; Protection Technology.
Binzen, Peter, “This Family Firm has Grown Up a Lot, But it’s Not Done Yet,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 6, 1992, p. 3D.
Day & Zimmermann Inc., A History of Quality and Excellence, Philadelphia: Day & Zimmermann Inc., 1993.
—Wendy J. Stein