This article is featured in the Spring 2021 issue of LAND magazine. Click here to find out more.
Delivering technical expertise and bold creativity in every phase of its all-encompassing design-build services, Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering stands alone in the field of western land development.
“Ten years ago when we founded Western Heritage, Ryan and I vowed to create a firm where our clients could dream big—and our team would have the skills, experience and grit to make those dreams a reality,” said Rikki Altenburg, who co-owns the multi-faceted firm with her husband Ryan.
She continued, “We’re experienced, common sense land specialists who do what we say we’re going to do, which is. . . envision, design and build.”
To serve its clients’ needs, WH Companies has multiple divisions throughout the West. Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering handles the natural resource engineering, while WURX LLC is the expert for construction. While most of the company’s projects are located in the American West, Western Heritage has a global capacity.
“Over our first decade, we’ve learned to stick with what we do really well and that is full-service land development,” Rikki said. “We’re highly specialized—and we’re going to stay that way.”
The company provides a wide array of services including civil engineering, structural engineering and design-build construction. The team tackles a host of natural resource projects ranging from irrigation and water development to corporate farm development and ranchland restoration and development. Most of the company’s clientele are private landowners looking to improve their land.
“We are a ‘one-stop shop’ for land projects,” Ryan, who earned an agricultural engineering degree from Texas A&M University, said. “We assist in the ‘buy and sell’ of properties with our real estate division, walk and talk through the vision with the landowner and then make it all happen.”
The team uses a stress-free process to help the clients discern and verbalize the goals for their land. Every ranch and every landowner is different, but they are all driven by a vision for the future.
“What sets us apart from other engineering and construction companies is that we’re visionaries, too,” Ryan said. “We help the owner create the vision—and our business model is literally designed to take the vision and execute it from start to finish.”
Once the plan is agreed upon and set in motion, the Western Heritage team identifies the synergies, overcomes any challenges including permitting and regulatory hurdles, and moves forward at a steady pace. The holistic approach allows progression of project phases to advance concurrently and reduces the overall project time requirement. To keep communication open and direct, clients have one point of contact.
“There aren’t a lot of companies like us, with extensive natural resource experience in both engineering and construction,” Rikki said. “Because of our experience, wide-ranging expertise and vast network of professionals, we can alleviate many issues during the design phase that often arise during construction.”
Western Heritage approaches each project with the goal of “creating our clients’ vision with as few headaches as possible for them,” Ryan said.
While much of Western Heritage’s success can be attributed to its technical prowess, the team understands they are ultimately in the people business.
“Our greatest measure of success is the number of clients who have become lifelong friends,” Rikki said. “It’s amazing how a project can bring people together.”
Grit and Passion
While the Western Heritage team thrives on the challenges inherent in each type of project, their shared passion for the outdoors and private land stewardship make farm and ranch development and improvement favorite undertakings.
“It’s extremely hard to understand land, farm and ranch improvements and transformation if you’ve never actually farmed or ranched,” Ryan said. “That life instills a special sort of grit.”
Unlike many engineering and construction firms that are ensconced in concrete, the Western Heritage team operates against the backdrop of nature. Team members are grounded in agriculture, wildlife management, hunting, fishing and other natural resource-based pursuits. The team is trained to understand the different aspects of the business from the ground up.
“We grew up in the agriculture industry which gave us a deep respect for hard work, good people and natural resources,” Rikki said. “Collectively we’ve worked hard to be educated stewards of the land.”
She continued, “It is important, especially in land development, to understand all of the facets of the natural resource puzzle. The best way to gain knowledge of land and its connected ecosystems—all of which are essential for successful projects—is by working in the field.”
Our team brings a level of passion, grit and hands-on experience that I believe is unmatched in the industry.”—Ryan Altenburg Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering
And when it comes to natural resources, it’s impossible to know everything because Mother Nature is ever-changing. Each new piece of knowledge and every mastered experience is an invitation for more learning.
“Our team brings a level of passion, grit and hands-on experience that I believe is unmatched in the industry,” Ryan said.
Rikki concurred, “We have an amazing, intelligent and gritty team of people who are always learning. I can’t say enough good things. They are top-notch. We’re privileged to work beside them each day and proud to have them on our team.”
Land and Legacies
The Western Heritage team’s roots run deep in rural America; they understand that well-managed land is a lasting legacy.
“On almost all of our projects, a statement is made about future generations,” Rikki said. “Our clients—and our staff—see beyond current ownership and conditions and work towards a productive, sustainable goal.”
In some cases, landowners are intent solely on conservation and preservation. The ecosystem-wide improvements implemented by Western Heritage will deliver ecological benefits for years to come. On other properties, landowners are seeking a backdrop for their passion. For some it’s hunting and fishing, for others it’s a family gathering spot where memories are made horseback.
The Western Heritage team designs and develops properties with conservation and land stewardship components. These foundational elements allow clients to express their passion and enjoy the satisfaction of leaving the natural world better than they acquired it.
The Western Heritage team savors landowner satisfaction. Improved, productive land entrusted to caring and capable hands is the company’s legacy.
“Land is our heritage, history and passion,” Ryan said. “At Western Heritage, we bring vision to reality by improving and restoring what God and our forefathers gave us. We’re privileged to leave a lasting, sustainable imprint on the land.”
Since its inception, Western Heritage has existed to provide a common-sense approach to engineering in an efficient and effective manner. Every client that buys a piece of land, big or small, has a vision or dream in their mind of what they want. The team at Western Heritage takes that dream and makes it a reality. They are highly experienced in construction and engineering, and their team members have agriculture, hunting, fishing and outdoor passions and experiences that allow them to bring real-world understanding to each project. Find out more→ WesternHCE.com
Ryan is the Co-Owner and Principal of WH Companies. Having worked in natural resources for over 20 years, utilizing his Agriculture Engineering degree from Texas A&M University, Ryan works to combine engineering principles with biological and agricultural sciences, allowing him to develop systems and processes that help improve water and natural resource systems and how they are managed and operated. He has passion for helping landowners define their vision, then he and his team create it. When Ryan isn’t working, he enjoys fishing, hunting, roping and spending time with his wife and two young children.
Rikki, Co-Owner of WH Companies, holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Colorado Mesa University and brings 20 years of management and client relations experience in leading WH Companies’ daily operations, with the company culture being built around her customer service standards, honesty and integrity. Rikki is a licensed real estate agent and strives to bridge the gap between the property closing, through the design and construction phase, to the final reality of a client’s vision. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, lake life and barrel racing.