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U.S. heritage compliance industry flat since 1990

A new analysis of data for the United States heritage compliance industry presented at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in April 2014 shows that the industry grew at a mean annual rate of 1.6 percent since 1990. Despite decades of nominal growth, real growth has remained relatively flat for the last 25 years (Figure 1). Real growth is non-inflationary growth. The U.S. heritage compliance industry is currently estimated to be just over $928 million in size and expected to reach $1 billion in 2015.

Nominal and Real Growth

Figure 1: While nominal growth has been increasing, real growth has been flat since 1990.

During the 1970s and particularly during the 1980s, real industry growth hovered around 15 percent annually with the exception of 1979 and 1980 which had low, but still positive, growth (Figure 2). There have been only four years since 1971 with real negative growth: 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2009. An abrupt, but currently unknown, change took place in 1990 and marked the end of two decades of aggressive industry growth. Since this time, growth has remained in the low single digits.

Real Industry Growth

Figure 2. Since 1990, mean annual real growth has been only 1.6 percent.

There are many ramifications of this new information, not least of which is the ability of the industry to attract investors as an entire generation of founding owners are divesting for retirement. New investors seeking a competitive return on their investment are likely to be reluctant to take equity stakes in firms in an industry without significant growth.

This new analysis was presented in a paper by Dr. Christopher D. Dore, a heritage business consultant and Adjunct Professor in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, entitled “The Two Greatest Business Challenges Heritage Consulting Firms must Solve for Future Success.” Dr. Dore’s paper was in a symposium entitled “40 Years of CRM (1974-2014):  Accomplishments, Challenges, and Opportunities”. Dr. Dore stated that “while I’ve been tracking industry metrics for nearly a decade, this new analysis caught me by surprise.” He continued “we have known that some individual firms have been struggling to add value over this period as heritage services have been increasingly commoditized. To see this expressed at the scale of the entire industry, though, was unexpected.”

 

Merger and consolidation of heritage compliance firms continues

Pie Slice

Working for a Bigger Slice of the Pie

Consolidation of heritage compliance firms in the United States continues as more and more owner/operators seek retirement and firms struggle to gain market share. Today, the largest heritage-only firms only hold approximately 1-1.5 percent of market share of the compliance sector, now at $928 million annually and forecast to grow to $1.25 billion by 2020. Yesterday, Heritage Business Journal (HBJ) received this press release from ASM Affiliates and Rechtman Consulting announcing a new merger. Company news can be submitted to HBJ from the “Submit Press Release” page.

HILO, HAWAII – DECEMBER 3, 2013 – Rechtman Consulting has been acquired by ASM Affiliates (ASM). Going forward the company will operate as ASM Hawaii.  Bob Rechtman will be leading ASM Hawaii as Managing Director for its Hawaii and Pacific operations. The transaction involved the assets of Rechtman Consulting including its existing contracts and proposals. All the current employees have joined ASM Hawaii. Henberger served as the exclusive advisor to ASM. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Rechtman Consulting’s reputation, its book of business and Bob Rechtman’s desire to join a larger entity, thereby allowing him to focus on his work and his clients, attracted us to this opportunity,” says ASM’s COO Bill Graham, who spearheaded the initiative. “To better serve our existing clients we had been looking for a while to expand our geographic footprint to Hawaii and the Pacific. The addition of Bob Rechtman and his team will allow us to accelerate our ability to meet the needs of our clients,” added John Cook, CEO of ASM.

“I am excited about the opportunities this acquisition provides to me and my employees,” says Bob Rechtman, Managing Director ASM Hawaii. “The cultural resource management industry today requires marketing and financial resources that, as a small operator, Rechtman Consulting was no longer able to afford on its own. I believe that ASM’s values and mine are closely aligned. Together we will be able to better serve our existing clients and expand into new markets that we were previously not able to enter.”

Slowdown coming in UK government construction and associated archaeology

Charles Mount has been following construction activity as a proxy variable for commercial archaeology work in Ireland (Mount 2012).  His data show that a slowdown in construction results in a reduction in commercial archaeology, a well known trend around the world. Applying this concept to the UK we can look at the construction industry as a proxy for possible commercial archaeology activitiy. In this case, the The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is used. The results show that while construction was very strong at the beginning of the year, especially March, the index has been falling in the last couple of months. It is currently flirting with contraction, a reading of under 50, and it is unlikely that commercial archaeology, as a whole sector, will have seen lots of growth in the last few months.

Taking a longer view of the sector shows some clouds on the horizon. The UK government is now providing pipeline views of new construction projects anticipated over the next couple of years. These are big projects, £10 million plus, but these projects indicate a drop in government construction projects over the next few years. Government construction projects make up 40 percent of the construction sector.

Count of Entries Sum of 2011/12 (£m) Sum of 2012/13 (£m) Sum of 2013/14 (£m) Sum of 2014/15 (£m)
Flood 38 £224 m £289 m £273 m £251 m
Health 158 £590 m £1,066 m £983 m £807 m
Housing & Regeneration 47 £1,789 m £1,100 m £1,281 m £1,552 m
Justice 14 £203 m £254 m £280 m £78 m
Transport 68 £3,596 m £3,411 m £3,622 m £4,001 m
Waste 35 £594 m £1,090 m £1,407 m £803 m
Education £2,504 m £1,640 m £486 m
MOD 90 £396 m £732 m £627 m £592 m
Police Authorities 132 £216 m £14 m £15 m £03 m
Home Office 6 £13 m
Nuclear Decommissioning 24 £313 m £275 m £360 m £449 m
Research 10 £13 m £23 m £14 m £11 m
Further Education 1 £17 m £153 m £59 m £01 m
Culture, Media and Sport 4 £1,098 m £467 m £425 m £117 m
FCO Embassies £42 m £64 m £69 m £65 m
Coal Authority 2 £06 m £07 m £08 m £08 m
Grand Total 629 £11,614 m £10,586 m £9,908 m £8,738 m

This could pickup as more projects are proposed and more money is allotted to large government construction projects. However, there needs to be a 25 percent increase in money allotted for proposed projects by 2014/15 to keep the supply constant. It looks as though construction will not see large growth in the next few months and there are head winds for the future. This means that commercial archaeology is probably in a similar setting. Do not expect a large contraction, but there is unlikely to be a large pickup either.

As should always be noted, a large catastrophic event make all projects redundant.

Mount, C. 2012. Indicators suggest that archaeological activity in Ireland continued to decline in the third quarter of 2012. The Charles Mount Blog, 4 October 2012. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=960

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