While he was not there when the engineering and design company was founded in 1951, Don Harris, P.E. did serve 14 years at URS Corporation – first as the Georgia Road and Bridge Department Manager, and finally as Vice President and Office Manager for Georgia. He was there in October 2014 when AECOM Technology Corporation, the world’s number one ranked engineering design firm, acquired URS for an astounding $6 billion. Today, the newly evolved company designs, builds, finances and operates infrastructure assets in more than 150 countries around the world across a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government services. Recently heralded by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies, AECOM now employs nearly 100,000 people with URS as its wholly owned subsidiary. An acquisition of this size was unprecedented in the industry. With a little more than 50,000 employees at URS and a little less than 50,000 employees at AECOM, the transition was not without its challenges. However, since both companies had grown in a similar manner through a series of acquisitions on both sides, the integration has been relatively smooth. Additionally, the benefits far outweigh the challenges with full service capabilities in design, financing and construction; the development of new business; the opportunity to get to know and work with a broader range of people of integrity; and extraordinary opportunities for employees. In his new role at AECOM as Vice President and Area Manager for Georgia and Alabama, Harris has a few words of advice for companies seeking a similar evolution through merger or acquisition – before, during and after the transaction. “There’s never a one-size-fits-all template for mergers and acquisitions,” insisted Harris. “It’s important to maintain focus on performing quality work. Continue to execute and keep clients and projects at the forefront of everything you do. Make certain your customers and employees understand the transition, as well as the benefits it will bring. Reassure them that the people they are comfortable working with will still be there. As the integration moves forward, continue to reach across both sides in order to achieve a blending of cultures for the best of both worlds. Once the transaction is complete, take advantage of the benefits the acquiring firm has to offer – such as improved access to resources, larger customer base, greater reach and growth potential for employees.” WANT TO LEARN EVEN MORE ABOUT MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS? HERE’S SOME SUGGESTED READING: “How to Avoid Value-Draining M&A Pitfalls” by Brien Betkowski, Atlanta Business Chronicle, February 2015 “What a Deal” by Alan Joch, Engineering, Inc., November/December 2014 Bonus Pick: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins (A Must-Read Suggestion from Marsha Anderson Bomar)
Published by American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia. View All Articles.