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Like many great businesses, SWCA has humble beginnings.

In 1980, Dr. Steven W. Carothers (the “SWC” in SWCA) was working as Curator of Biology at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff when the museum suffered budget cuts and eliminated his department. Not wanting to leave clients hanging, Steve got permission to complete outstanding projects, including extensive research on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. Steve needed an office, and his friend John Running, a renowned photographer, offered him an empty closet in a corner of his studio on San Francisco Street. From that tiny space, Steve’s client list grew.

Take a look at how the company has grown over the years:

SWCA Through the Years

SWCA Steve Carothers History


A Man, a Plan, and a Closet

Dr. Steven W. Carothers left the Museum of Northern Arizona and started a small ecological consulting business in Flagstaff. Steven W. Carothers & Associates was born. The first office was housed in a supply closet inside a photographer’s studio on San Francisco Street in Flagstaff, Arizona.

SWCA Environmental Consultants


Steven W. Carothers & Associates became SWCA, Inc.

By 1984, with several employees in Flagstaff (having moved from the closet to a stand-alone office on Humphreys Street), Steve decided to incorporate his fledgling business as SWCA, Inc. Environmental Consultants. Later that same year, a Tucson office was opened and several additional staff were hired. While the Flagstaff office continued to work on federal projects, the Tucson office was more oriented towards private sector work, primarily biological studies for land development clients.

Cultural Resources 1988 SWCA


Cultural Resources Joins the Family

By 1988, the company had grown to approximately 20 employees. While SWCA was offering a suite of natural resource consulting services, we continued to subcontract cultural resources work to other firms. Later that year, the opportunity presented itself when the Museum of Northern Arizona terminated its archaeology program. SWCA quickly hired archaeologists from that program (and others). The modern SWCA was complete; and while we hadn’t yet developed our tagline of “Sound Science, Creative Solutions,” the sentiment was established. 

SWCA employees ESOP


Becoming Employee-Owned

SWCA’s reputation was now firmly established throughout the Southwest. By 1991, the company expanded to offices in Albuquerque, Austin, and Salt Lake City; and we recorded $5 million in annual revenue – 10 times the revenue we earned just five years before. The client base continued to expand to include projects across California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah necessitating office openings in those states. In 1998, SWCA began the transition to employee ownership, and by the year 2000, the company was 100 percent employee-owned.

SWCA logo


Adopting a New Logo and Tagline

As the company grew, we modernized the look of our logo and added the tagline that we still use today:

Sound Science. Creative Solutions.

California Paleontology SWCA History


SWCA Acquired RMW Paleo Associates

RMW Paleo Associates – a paleontology and cultural resource firm in Mission Viejo, CA – was acquired, establishing SWCA’s first office in California.

Portland Environmental Services SWCA


Expanding to the Northwest

Looking to expand into Portland, SWCA acquired the well-established firm of Fishman Environmental Services.

San Luis Obispo


Acquisition in San Luis Obispo

In 2008, SWCA acquired the San Luis Obispo-based Morro Group, specializing in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance.

SWCA Hawaii Environmental Consulting


Pacific Expansion

Having already taken on projects in the Pacific, SWCA established its presence by acquiring the Guam arm of PHRI, a cultural resource consulting firm based in Hawaii.


Sustainability Services Added

In 2009, SWCA acquired Environmental Performance Group, which allowed SWCA to offer sustainability services.

SWCA Environmental Planning San Francisco


San Francisco Bound

SWCA expanded its West Coast presence in 2014 with the acquisition of Turnstone Consulting, an environmental planning firm in San Francisco.

Stream Restoration Work Massachusetts


SWCA in the Northeast

In 2016, SWCA acquired NEE Inc., in Amherst, Massachusetts, expanding our operations to the Northeast for the first time and growing our services to include ecological design, soft engineering, and landscape architecture.

Greater Boston Office


Expanding in Massachusetts

SWCA further expanded in the Northeast with the addition of a Greater Boston office, allowing SWCA to better support our eastern New England clients and continue to attract talent from a wider geography.

Solar Panels North Carolina


SWCA Expanding in the Southeast

In 2019, SWCA expanded its presence in the Carolinas by acquiring REAP, a renewable energy and historic preservation firm. This acquisition expanded SWCA’s capabilities in renewable energy and cultural resources, and allowed the company to better serve clients throughout the Southeast and MidAtlantic regions. 


Growth in Key Markets

2021 saw the key acquisitions of Sycamore Environmental in Sacramento, California and Onsite Environmental Consulting in Jacksonville, Florida. As SWCA expands into the Southeast and continues to grow in the West, we bring more environmental experts into reach for our clients across the country.


Planet, People, and Partnerships

SWCA continues to pursue a positive environmental and social impact for our employees, clients, and communities through sustainability, inclusion & diversity efforts, and strategic partnerships with diverse subcontractors.


Strategic Response in the Mid-Atlantic

SWCA’s presence and service offerings in the Mid-Atlantic have expanded significantly with the addition of an established group of environmental consulting professionals in the Philadelphia area who have worked together for more than 20 years and bring more than 200 years of combined Strategic Response Management and Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) experience.



Early in 2023, SWCA acquired Terra Verde Environmental Consulting, a well-respected firm based in San Luis Obispo, California. This acquisition expands SWCA’s central California footprint and natural resource services including biological surveys and monitoring, ecological scent-detection dogs, habitat restoration, and environmental training, permitting, and compliance.


SWCA Global Expansion

In 2023, SWCA acquired ALO Advisors LLC, an international management consulting firm focused on sustainability advisory services for clients across a wide range of industries. This acquisition strengthens SWCA’s position as a strategic advisor and expands our presence globally. Together, we provide end-to-end, full lifecycle support to our clients from strategy to science to implementation.

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