Ruth Stanat, CEO of SIS International Research in Fort Wayne, Indiana, sees a need for infrastructure worldwide. "Many countries are focused on improving their infrastructure," says Stanat. "This creates opportunities for small companies that qualify to be a part of infrastructure construction."
Leigh Phipps of ARCADIS Geraghty & Miller, a global environmental and engineering consulting firm in Denver, shares that view. "Outside the Third World and developing countries, almost every nation is dealing with the issue of replacing aging infrastructure," says Phipps. While developed countries need services such as building prisons or treating waste water, Third World countries tend to skip steps. (For example, residents use cell phones rather than waiting for improved wired phone line service.) Consequently, it's risky to work with these countries.
The key to success is specialization. A number of countries look to the United States for firms that offer advanced technology and specialization. Phipps says her international company uses smaller, specialized companies all the time. "Even a company as large as ours isn't going to have people with every single specialty," she explains.