Our Legacy – Celebrating 25 Years

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For 25 years, we’ve dedicated ourselves to engineering excellence

At SOTO Consulting Engineers, we believe that a successful organisation is built on a foundation of continuous improvement. For 25 years, our team of experienced engineers have been dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive great value and the best possible service.

Soto engineers see themselves as being embedded in the businesses and industries they serve. This long-term view and partnership approach, combined with a passion for solutions that are imaginative and creative, provides the platform for outstanding outcomes. We understand that building strong relationships is key to delivering quality services. We work closely with our clients to understand their unique needs and requirements, and we pride ourselves on our ability to provide tailored solutions that meet those needs.

A thermal Energy Storage System for industrial applications. Photo courtesy 1414 Degrees.

It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it that matters.

Our philosophy centers around the importance of how we do business, not just what we do. With 25 years of experience, we have built a reputation for understanding and fulfilling our customers’ needs, building trust, finding common ground, and providing a unique service. Our approach has allowed us to become involved in local heavy industries and be at the forefront of renewable energy solutions. As a company, we invest in community-based initiatives to show our commitment to shared values and the needs of the community. We are also strong supporters of a number of industry networks, promoting the region’s industrial capability to local, national, and international markets. Our focus on building strong relationships has led us to join industry boards and government-appointed committees to advocate for funding and investment in the region.

“25 years of good value solutions to clients. We’ve got a really good reputation out there. Lets look at what we need to do to sustain this momentum… I’m just driven to produce great design engineers, and that will be the legacy”

Frank Soto – Managing Director

25 years young: a passion for innovative design still strong

As SOTO Consulting Engineers celebrates its 25th anniversary, founder and owner Frank Soto reflects on the business’s origins and growth.

25 years strong: healthy relationships underpin business success

Celebrating their 25th year, SOTO consulting engineers would empathically say it’s the latter. The company, founded by its namesake Frank Soto, has become a success story for small-to-medium enterprises in the Illawarra.

Mentoring next-generation engineers

The pathway to a successful engineering career begins with bridging the gap between theory and application. A path that can be expedited with the proper guidance.

Defining a bold history of greatness


Beginning of Frank Soto & Associates

The office is established in Unanderra.  With Two Engineers (including me) and 4 senior & highly experienced design draftspersons.

Initially providing Mechanical & Structural design solutions to clients like Lysaght’s (BlueScope Steel Coated Products), Local Coal Mines and the Boral Berrima Cement Works.  There remained a strong connection and relationship with the location refractory suppliers and installers that provided opportunities, jobs and projects in the heavy industrial & refinery industries.


Innovative Growth & 3d

Client Base had increased to include product manufacturers and the team continued to deliver bespoke design solutions to a range of industries outside the Illawarra region.  More than 50% of the work was from interstate-based companies in the heavy industry and resources sector.  The team had increased to include structural engineers and drafters. The team produced many of its solutions and designs in 3D models which at the time was new and innovative and added value to the clients that could realise their projects in 3D for the first time.


Expansion through Structure and Process

The management team had been increased to include general manger, HR and BDM to establish the foundations of the business and permit its future growth potential.  Apprentices and trainee engineers were added to the team to be trained and mentored under the direction of senior and experienced design engineers.  Bulk materials handling projects were also becoming more interesting and complex, this necessitated the addition of bulk materials engineers to service the needs of miners and conveyor equipment manufacturers. At this time new capabilities was added to simulate bulk materials handling using Discrete Element Methods software which was very unique and still in its development.


Advanced Analysis plus a growing reputation

Refractory, manufacturing and resource companies are providing additional opportunities and increased scopes and scale of projects.  The addition of advanced analysis team members provided a unique capability and permitted the undertaking of complex engineering tasks and designs that required computational analysis to analyse the designs.  Opportunities from within the mining sector lead to opportunity projects with leading Explosive manufacturing companies such as ORICA and Downer.


A founding member of i3Net

Soto is proud to have been a founding member of the Illawarra Innovative Industry Network – or i3net – an initiative started in 2009 to bring together the regions’ engineering firms, manufacturers, and industrial suppliers to collectively drive innovative products, services, and develop new markets. As a partner on projects that often involve multiple other firms, SOTO understands that the sum of parts is indeed greater than the whole when achieving a common goal, underpinned with goodwill and a desire to see the region prosper.


Expanding capabilities to Bluechip compaines

Alumina refinery refractory work provided an opportunity to build on existing skills and capability and establish the firm as an engineering and detail design service company to these Australian bluechip companies.  The first large scale process development project was undertaken for Queensland Energy Resources (QER) for the development of a full-scale commercial shale to oil retort. R&D and product development for clients was also a key capability that was available to clients, one notable project that was a clean sheet design to a full build was the next generation of ORICA Mobile Processing Units. Also in 2010 the company rebranded to SOTO Group Pty Ltd


SOTO acquires the LE Otton & Associates an engineering design consultancy

SOTO acquires LE Otton & Associates an engineering design consultancy that had an established reputation in the same heavy engineering and resources sectors.  This ensured that the legacy of LE Otton would continue in the SOTO engineering DNA.  The SOTO Team had expanded again with the addition of project managers to handle the ever-increasing pipeline of jobs and projects.   Frank Soto Jr joined the team as a mechanical engineer after completing his degree at UoW.


Projects ramp up

Significant jobs and projects had been implemented and executed for many blue-chip clients such as BHP, RIO, South32, BlueScope Steel.  Business improvements and productivity gains were realised by continuing to invest in internally trained engineers and designers whilst adding to the engineering software and hardware that helped deliver our high standard of in house detail design. 

This was followed by a period of significant new clients and projects that included Sydney infrastructure road tunnel project work, Grain Handling and storage projects in NSW, Cotton Seed facility and a new Hard Rock quarry processing plant for Heidelberg – HANSON Australia.  


Renewables Energy Markets

Begins a new opportunity to start working in the renewable energy sector, SOTO commences to work with start-up companies 1414 Degrees and Wave-Swell Energy.  This year is also a hallmark year where the SOTO team joins the Worsley Alumina (South32) Calcination team to provide engineering and design across the 6 calciners, power station units and liquor burner plant.


Enerything Engineered

SOTO rebrands to better reflect its positioning in the marketplace and to provide our clients with insight into the culture and vision of the for the future of the business.  SOTO starts to explore opportunities in defence and in particularly in Naval Sustainment. SOTO engages the Adroita team to help with the defence journey.


SOTO sets an ambitious growth strategy

SOTO sets an ambitious growth strategy to ensure the future sustainability of the business and to improve and increase the services and skills within the business.  SOTO is awarded its first Navy project on HMAS Choules and signs an MoU with Halliday Engineering, Chillflow and Marinav.  BlueScope Steel commences the feasibility engineering phase for bringing its No.6 Blast Furnace back online and SOTO is invited to participate in engineering packages where our capabilities in Blast furnace, Bulk Materials Handling, Digital Engineering and refractory engineering will be deployed over the next few years until No.6 is blown in. A new start-up in the renewable sector Green Gravity partners with SOTO to provide technical advice and engineering for the new technology.


A great place to work

We are proud of the inclusive culture and the progressive work environment we have created for our new staff to assimilate and embrace everything engineered. The office has been expanded to permit the continued growth of the team and the business and we continue to invest in developing the talent within the team and increasing our intake of apprentice draftspersons and trainee engineers.

Creating a strong culture of

What truly sets SOTO apart is our focus on building long-term relationships with our clients. We believe in becoming embedded in our client’s businesses and industries, working collaboratively to achieve shared goals. This partnership approach, coupled with our passion for innovative and imaginative solutions, provides the foundation for exceptional outcomes.


We believe that inspiration is key to innovation and progress. We foster an environment that encourages creativity and fresh thinking, driven by the challenges our clients face. Our team of experts constantly explore new ideas to push the boundaries of what’s possible, aiming to achieve remarkable outcomes that make a real difference in the world.


We prioritize imagination at SOTO and encourage our team to develop imaginative solutions that exceed conventional approaches. By combining imagination with technical expertise, we deliver exceptional outcomes for our clients, staying ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving industry.


At SOTO, we prioritise creativity to develop innovative solutions for complex challenges. By leveraging our technical expertise and imagination, we aim to exceed our clients’ expectations and drive progress in engineering.

Always putting the greatest attention on our community

We are committed to creating positive social impact through our work and are dedicated to giving back to the communities we serve and live in. We actively seek out opportunities to engage with local organisations and initiatives that align with our values, supporting causes that make a meaningful difference.

Our team members are encouraged to get involved in their local communities and volunteer their time and expertise to create positive change. We believe that by putting the greatest attention on our community, we can create a better world for everyone.

“We’ve been mastering our craft for over 25 years, but in a way it feels like we’re just getting started with our vision for the future.”

Jim Allen – Chief Operating Officer