As we close out our 50th year in business, we want to reflect on how it all began.
The year is 1968. A few years earlier, computers were being introduced into enterprise operations, mainly supporting financial applications. Process-oriented systems companies predicted that computers would significantly improve industrial and utility operations. By collecting data in “real-time” they could use it to determine how their processes were performing, present information in an organized and meaningful fashion to the personnel who operated the facilities and in specific cases take action in controlling the facilities.
A group of these early technologists, working to develop applications for these rudimentary real-time systems, recognized that public utilities, transportation agencies and private industrial firms might benefit from subject matter experts who understood both their operating needs and how computers might be applied to improve operations. They also believed that end users would need these experts to assist in formulating a statement of requirements, in assessing whether these new tools could achieve their vision and in requiring a host of related services that would enable them to procure and commission this new technology.
Macro was born from that idea and was founded in April of 1968 by five senior software managers:
- John Chang
- Ed Cooper
- Dan Rossiter
- Brad Schultz
- Sy Skomick
Their first projects included Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems at steam power generation plants and electric utility transmission and generation systems. They rapidly added further project management and software talent over the following years. The northern Philadelphia suburbs were rich in process control system suppliers like Leeds & Northrup, GE, Honeywell and Fisher & Porter, to name a few, and most of the new employees came from those companies.
The 1970s and 80s
In the early 1970s, Pennsylvania Power and Light contracted Macro to assist with the planning, procurement and installation of a new Energy Management System (EMS). Bill Wynne and several other electric utility power system engineers were hired to provide expertise with electric network analysis and optimization functions. As software services became price competitive and contracted, the electric power EMS practice grew, reaching approximately 40 full-time consultants during the 1980s.
Macro’s Transit consulting practice got started in the late 70s, first in the rail industry, and then in the late 80s in Bus Transit management. Similar to Macro’s central control focus in the Electric Power industry, their transit practice originally focused on control center facilities and systems including train control, traffic management, and power management SCADA central office systems, and Transit Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) including Computer Aided Dispatching and Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) systems for fixed-route and paratransit bus systems
Macro’s transit practice steadily ramped up through the 80s. As the 90s approached, Macro had become well established in the transit industry. Early Macro rail consulting projects included train control systems for Baltimore and Los Angeles’s first rail lines. Early Macro ITS projects included CAD/AVL systems for Trimet, VTA, and Samtrans.
Throughout the 1990s, the Electric Power utility practice grew internationally with multiple, major projects in Australia, Egypt, India, New Zealand and South East Asia. Macro’s transit practice hit its stride becoming the preeminent consulting engineering firm for rail and bus dispatch central control systems and control center design. Scheduling system consulting was added to Macro’s suite of transit systems expertise.
In 1996, Macro was purchased by KEMA, Inc. and shortly thereafter moved to its current offices in Chalfont, PA. Shortly after its acquisition, Macro’s electric utility industry specialists were absorbed into KEMA. The Macro name was retained and became the exclusive home of Macro’s transit practice. Macro subsequently acquired a radio communications engineering company, reducing Macro’s dependence on sub-consultants and enabling Macro to enter the public safety communications market and provide consulting services to rail and bus transit clients for their internal wireless communications infrastructure.
The 2000s and Our Fifth Decade
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Macro was engaged in over 75 significant consulting projects for the rail and bus transit industries. Major rail projects included control center design and train control systems for SEPTA, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, San Diego Trolley, Toronto, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, and Caltrain. Major bus dispatch projects included CAD/AVL systems for Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oakland, New York City, Westchester NY, Honolulu, and Hampton Roads. Scheduling system projects were undertaken for Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
During the 1990’s and 2000’s Macro grew its public safety consulting practice to include many statewide, countywide and major metropolitan cities. Macro has designed and supported the implementation of multiple police, fire and EMS communication networks. Networks include dispatch systems, radio, microwave, fiber and distributed antenna systems for underground and in-building use. Major clients include the Port Authority of NY & NJ, City of Boston, State of Maine, SEPTA, State of Rhode Island, State of Illinois, State of Arizona, San Mateo County and City of San Francisco.
Ross & Baruzzini acquired Macro in April 2013 and the acquisition has proven beneficial to both entities. Macro’s control center work was strengthened by access to architectural and mechanical, electrical and fire protection practices at Ross & Baruzzini and Ross & Baruzzini has been able to apply the transportation and communications expertise of Macro to its technology projects. With the successful integration of Macro as a model, Ross & Baruzzini has subsequently added other specialized technology consulting firms to its portfolio.
Macro continues to grow and has incorporated Ross & Baruzzini’s ITS practice into the expertise of Macro. This positions Macro to be a leader in the new changing mobility landscape across transportation and public safety.
Here’s to the next 50 years!