Sustaining Excellence: MPR Associates, The First Fifty Years

One of our company history books, Sustaining Excellence tells the story of an unusual engineering consulting firm and to trace the development of its corporate culture. Services included:

  • Research in client records
  • Extensive photographic research
  • Oral history consulting
  • Close and regular consultation with multiple senior managers


MPR Associates originated in the U.S. Nuclear Navy. Afterwards its engineers branched out into high-tech services ranging from work for the nuclear power industry, naval safety, and product development. Previously, insiders had written down the company legend and lore. But as MPR approached the 50-year mark, its leaders looked to a professional to produce a powerful and cohesive story.


Dr. Durr formed a team, including historian Dr. Will Thomas and book designer Hank Isaac. Next, the team met with MPR leaders to establish content and design expectations. Dr. Thomas handled the oral history project and he and Dr. Durr split the research. They combed through government records, decades-old technical reports, and strategic plans. Meanwhile, Dr. Durr met regularly with MPR leaders to refine his story concept. He rooted firm’s culture in the nuclear navy and the first generation of leadership. He identified the company’s record of associate autonomy and promotion from within as the context within which successive generations evolved the MPR “plankholder” culture.

As MPR Marketing and Communications Manager Alexandria Bassett recalled, “Ken’s team took direction which included about seven different perspectives and found one succinct voice to produce a product that we still reflect upon and cherish today. The project was managed well, orderly steps were taken to reach benchmarks, suggestions and direction was consistent, and there appeared to be a genuine interest and care in the project.” Along the way, Ken translated complex engineering concepts into laymen’s terms and developed so that readers could share the sense of challenge and fulfillment experienced by the firm’s own engineers. “MPR’s story was difficult to tell,” said Bassett, “it’s a niche company to say the least, and to put it into words that have meaning and don’t ramble is an art.  Not everyone has that talent—but Ken delivered.”

Project Specifications

  • 9″ x 9″
  • Case bound
  • 124 pages
  • Full color, Glossy pages, Timeline page spreads
  • Multiple images per page