History of GBA

The history of GBA (Geoprofessional Business Association) is one of innovating for our members’ success.

That history began when principals of ten consulting geotechnical engineering firms – then known as soil and foundation engineering firms – met in a Chicago airport hotel in December 1968 to resolve a common problem that threatened their companies: Professional-liability claims were at an all-time high and professional-liability insurers worldwide refused to cover them.

The ten formally launched what is now GBA as Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers, Inc. (ASFE) in May 1969 to identify the causes of professional liability claims and losses and to develop programs and materials to help geoprofessionals avoid such exposures in the future.

Within one year of its formation, GBA launched a new contract provision called limitation of liability. Its inclusion in proposals prompted representatives of GBA-Member Firms and their clients to discuss project risks during the contract-formation process. One result was agreement about the maximum amount for which a firm would be liable as a consequence of its negligence. Another was a review of why such limits were appropriate and the actions clients and their geoprofessionals could pursue together to manage risk. Today, limitation of liability is a common element of contracts developed by all types of design and environmental professionals nationwide.

In 1973, GBA created the construction industry’s first new alternative dispute-resolution (ADR) method since the 1870s, and went on to champion several other new approaches to resolving disputes.

In 1977, GBA brought organizational Peer Review to the design professions, and then helped the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) develop programs based on the GBA model. Through Peer Review, firms enhance the quality of their performance by having their methods and materials reviewed and critiqued by experienced peers.

GBA-Member Firms underwent a transformation in the mid-1980s, as they expanded their staffs and service mixes to provide expertise to the then-emerging field of hazardous waste remediation and attendant environmental services. They have continued to evolve, and today provide geotechnical, geologic, environmental, construction materials engineering and testing, and related geoprofessional services.

It was GBA-Member Firms’ broadened focus that impelled the organization – then well-known by its “ASFE” acronym – to formally change its name first to ASFE, Inc. and later to the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA), a name that immediately connotes what GBA is all about: Business.

No other entity admires, respects, and supports geoprofessionals more than GBA and the individuals who comprise it. GBA is the only organization dedicated solely to helping geoprofessionals meet their unique business challenges, and it does so by doing the one thing it has always done so well: Innovate. Innovative resources available to Member Firms as benefits of membership include:

  • Effective strategies to overcome the spurious testimony of “hired-gun” experts;
  • Professional development seminars that provide convenient, high-quality instruction to employees;
  • Model contracts, reports, letters, memos, proposal and report inserts, and extranet waiver language;
  • Audio-education programs for office and field staffs;
  • Video-training programs for group and individual application; and
  • Books, manuals, guides, monographs, and other printed guidance materials.Join us. Get involved. Succeed.

Learn about the important events in GBA history in our Timeline and see a list of our Past Presidents.

Join us. Get involved. Succeed.