firm profile

East-End Pearl Street Mall, Boulder
Drexel Barrell began as Frank Drexel Surveying in Boulder in 1949. During the 1970’s, our offices were at 1425 Pearl Street, at what is now the east end of the Pearl Street Mall (our offices were in the taller building in the photo).

Drexel Barrell’s History

Frank R. Drexel, PLSDrexel, Barrell & Co.'s "Point of Commencement" occurred when Crawford, Colorado-born Frank R. Drexel, PLS (1925-2008) opened his Boulder, Colorado surveying practice in 1949.

Frank was assigned to the Army Signal Corps in World War II, and after the war he applied his Army training and experience to the profession of land surveying. His aptitude, skills, and drive rapidly earned him the reputation as one of Colorado's most knowledgeable and experienced land surveyors.

Frank served as the Boulder County Surveyor for 20 years and as a result, assembled the most comprehensive collection of survey records in the County. Our records date back over 150 years and form the basis for much of the surveying in Boulder County.

Robert F. Barrell, P.E. Our "True Point of Beginning" was July 31, 1964, when Frank joined forces with his ex-University of Colorado roommate and brother-in-law Robert F. Barrell, P.E. (1921-2003) of Findlay Ohio and incorporated Drexel, Barrell & Co. The duo formed Drexel Barrell to provide quality civil engineering and surveying throughout Boulder County and across the Front Range.

Bob served in the US Navy (radar and electronics) during WWII. After the war, he earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering (at CU Boulder) and a masters degree of business administration (University of Buffalo).

Two of the Company's landmark projects during the Drexel and Barrell era were the annexation, surveying, and engineering of the 4,500 employee IBM Plant site, a new addition to the City of Boulder in 1965 and the engineering of the Pearl Street Mall in 1976.

In land-locked Colorado, both men somehow developed a passion for long-distance ocean sailing. Frank and his wife sailed from San Diego through the Panama Canal to Key West Florida and back, a leisurely trip lasting two years. Bob and a friend sailed a Parker Dawson 26 from San Diego to Fiji via the Marquesas and Tahiti, a trip of over 6,000 miles. The Fiji expedition garnered national press coverage for the sense of spirit and adventure. Drexel retired in 1979, and Barrell in 1986.

Richard G. Settergren, PLSRichard G. Dick Settergren, PLS joined the company in 1964 and advanced through the ranks to eventually become a co-owner and president of the firm. In addition to carrying on the excellence in surveying established by founder Drexel, Settergren was active in community service in the Chamber of Commerce and a YMCA board member.

One of his most noteworthy projects was the survey and annexation plat of the 24,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch in Colorado Springs. This was one of the largest surveys ever in Colorado, and effectively doubled the size of the City. Dick retired in 1995 and lives in San Antonio.

John Common, P.E. In 1971, Bob Barrell hired a young engineer named John Common, P.E., who thought he was merely making a "stop" on his way to California. "JC", as he was known, served as Chief Engineer and followed Barrell's footsteps in business management. With the retirement of Bob Barrell in 1986, Common became a co-owner with Settergren. Some of JC's notable projects included Interlocken Business Park in Broomfield, a 963-acre project adjacent to Rocky Mountain Regional Airport, Cheyenne Mountain Ranch in Colorado Springs, Coors Technology Center in Golden, the Steamboat Springs Base Village, Lake Catamount Ski Resort, and the Aspen and Snowmass Ski Companies (all were decades-long endeavors).

John was passionate for competitive sports (he once played baseball with Pete Rose), and led the company's basketball and baseball leagues. He later developed that same passion for golf, and was the driving force behind an annual company-sponsored golf tournament widely received by clients and the community.

Brockman, Middleton, Wright, WeissIn 1994, Dick Settergren retired, and Clifford R. Brockman, P.E., (1949-2007, back-left), Michael D. Middleton, P.E. (back-right), William K. Wright, PLS , and Barbara N. Weiss, P.E. became owners with Common. In 1999 Common retired and continues to live in Colorado. Brockman, Middleton, Weiss, and Wright purchased Common's remaining shares, and continued as the third generation of employee-owners.

Weiss was a life-long Drexel Barrell employee who worked her way up the engineering ranks to become a Principal. She was the engineer of record of hundreds of projects in Boulder County and throughout Colorado. Milestone projects included Coors Tech Center, Blue Heron Estates and Atlas Valley in Lafayette, and Prospect New Town in Longmont, the first and still one of the largest New Urbanism projects in Colorado.

Cliff was Drexel Barrell's hydraulics and water resources expert and introduced this technical expertise to the firm. Some of his signature projects included the Pike's Peak Highway Erosion Control and Sedimentation Study for the City of Colorado Springs (part of this project included the first GPS survey of the summit); Drainageway "A" for the City of Louisville (which removed large portions of downtown from the 100-year floodplain); rehabilitation of Horseshoe Reservoir in Walsenburg and Bonny Reservoir in Yuma County, the design of Harrison Avenue Levee Extension and floodplain modeling for Boulder Community Hospital-Foothills Campus, and water features in Aspen, Westminster, Cherry Hills, and Greeley.

Brockman retired in 2004 and Mark H. Hageman, LEED AP a veteran employee became a shareholder and was promoted to the position of Associate and later to Associate Principal. Barbara Weiss retired in 2006. In 2012 Hageman retired from our company after 37 years, at that time setting the record for longest-tenured employee (since surpassed by Principal Bill Wright, who started in 1977).

Michael D. Middleton, P.E., Principal William K. Wright, PLS, Principal

Today, Drexel, Barrell & Co. continues the third generation of employee ownership, co-owned by engineer Middleton and surveyor Wright.

One of Colorado's Most Experienced Consultants

Drexel Barrell has been continously serving our Colorado clients for 70 years. To our knowledge, this may set the record for longest tenure of any Colorado surveyor / civil engineer (at a minimum, it certainly puts us into the top two or three!). During this time, we have completed more than 25,000 projects for our clients across Colorado and neighboring states.

Because we are both surveyors and engineers, our company is able to provide complete services, from field to office to field. Our surveyors collect existing ground, infrastructure, and boundary information upon which our engineers prepare design plans, specifications, and construction cost estimates. Our surveyors stake the design improvements, ensuring a quality product. This continous feedback loop provides quality control checks and balances from multiple angles and perspectives.

29th Street Retail (former Crossroads Mall)

Drexel Barrell "Benchmarks"

Year Benchmark
1949 Frank R. Drexel, PLS opens for business in Boulder
1964 Robert F. Barrell, P.E. joins and Drexel, Barrell & Co. incorporated
1960's IBM Boulder Campus
1971 Colorado Springs office opens
1970's Designed Cheyenne Mountain Ranch (Colorado Springs), Pearl Street Mall, Steamboat Springs Base Village, Snowmass East Village, proposed Lake Catamount site for 1974 Winter Olympics bid
1978-1993 Interlocken Office Park design, Broomfield
1997 Greeley office opens, within two years becomes largest civil / surveying firm in Greeley
1997-present Flatiron Crossing Mall, Broomfield
2003-present 29th Street Development, Boulder
2005-2012 Operated Steamboat Springs office, redesigned Base Village / Steamboat Unbridled
2007-2013 Operated Grand Junction office, designed numerous Mesa County transportation projects, surveying and staking for Riverside Pkwy and St. Mary's hospital expansion, Fruita Reservoir No. 1
2008-2011 Operated Denver office
2014-present Downtown Westminster Development (ex-Westminster Mall site), S. Platte River Trail, Burgess Creek LOMR, WCR 49 ROW Mapping, Leprino Greeley expansion, York St. Improvements, Fontaine Blvd, Golden Lane Bridge, and more