Engineering firms KJWW and TTG merge

Comparable in size and compatible in culture, the companies unite to present clients with greater “scale.” 

October 06, 2015 |
Engineering firms KJWW and TTG merge

Logos courtesy KJWW

Two of the nonresidential building industry’s leading engineering firms have joined forces to leverage their similar sizes and market strategies.

KJWW Engineering, based in Rock Island, Ill., and TTG Engineers, based in Pasadena, Calif., will continue to operate under their own banners, but within a newly created holding company with common management.

Ranked 11th and 14th, respectively, on BD+C’s 2014 Engineering Giants list, the firms’ combined revenues last year would have elevated them to No. 4.

The merger unites two companies with a combined 860 employees working in 25 national and five international locations. “The merger gives TTG and KJWW a larger presence throughout the U.S. and strengthens our collective dominance in the healthcare, higher education, government, entertainment, industrial, and transportation markets,” said Zareh Astrouian, PE, SE, president of TTG. Paul VanDuyne, PE, KJWW’s president, added that the merger “allows us to build on those strengths with greater geographic mobility.”

In an interview with BD+C, VanDuyne—who will be CEO of the holding company, with Astrouian its chairman— said the two firms would spend the next 15 months integrating their operational infrastructure, such as accounting, IT, etc. Over that period, the companies will keep their engineering teams intact, while integrating similar practices. VanDuyne was quick to note that the merger is not a prelude to staff reductions. “Human capital is at such a premium right now, and we would be very happy to go through this process without losing a single person.”

VanDuyne believed this merger would allow both companies to serve national end-user clients more effectively. TTG should gain from KJWW’s strengths in such areas as medical equipment planning and architectural lighting, while KJWW should benefit from TTG’s expertise in the entertainment sector. “We feel this is a great opportunity to take a look at a brand new organization. That’s a little bit extraordinary for two $50 million companies,” he said.

The firms’ executives have been discussing this merger for about a year, said VanDuyne. “It started with a phone call about getting together. We met at [KJWW’s] offices in Chicago, and it went on from there.”

KJWW and TTG announced their merger less than a month after Thornton Tomasetti merged with Weidlinger Associates. While VanDuyne didn’t think these events necessarily presaged more consolidation among engineering companies, he did note that “scale” is becoming more important for firms to be relevant to clients in such areas as BIM and sustainability.

It hasn’t been determined whether the firms would eventually operate out of a single headquarters. That seems unlikely, at least in the near future, especially when Van Duyne said “I don’t think this is the last time you’re going to hear from us about expanding across the country.”

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