Although started by two brothers, Schnabel Geostructural Design & Construction and Schnabel Engineering are two distinctly separate companies and are not affiliated in any way.
Harry and Jim Schnabel were two of three brothers, the third being Robert. (All pictured opposite.) Growing up in Washington, Harry and Jim always enjoyed engineering and so both attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to get their engineering degrees, graduating in 1950 and 1952 respectively. After graduating from RPI, Jim spent three years in the Navy as a Civil Engineer Corps officer, then attended graduate school at Harvard to study soil mechanics under Arthur Casagrande.
During that time Harry worked for several years in Morocco, Detroit and New York before returning home to head the Washington office of Spencer, White & Prentis (SWP), a leading New York firm that specialized in the design and construction of earth retention systems and underpinning. Harry and Jim reached the conclusion quite early that they should start their own company specializing in excavation support, but first, they would start a test drilling firm in the Washington area to allow Jim to become known to the local construction industry and become familiar with the subsurface conditions in that region.
The drilling company was incorporated in June 1956 and called Foundation Test Service Inc. Soon after in 1959 they also founded Schnabel Foundation Company together and after 5 successful years, in 1964, the two brothers decided to split the companies so each could follow their preferred career path. Harry had a passion for design/build construction and Jim preferred consulting. They made an even trade for each other’s shares, which resulted in Harry taking ownership of Schnabel Foundation Company and Jim taking ownership of Foundation Test Service, Inc., which later became Schnabel Engineering Inc., and that is the abridged tale of the two companies called Schnabel. In 2019 Schnabel Foundation company changed it’s name to Schnabel Geostructural Design & Construction, a name that better reflects its modern day capabilities as not only an excavation support company, but a proven design/build contractor to the sector.