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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.”

The power firms in heritage consulting

Engineering News-Record recently released its list of The Top 200 Environmental Firms. Published annually, this year’s list is based on 2011 revenue.

Rank Company Heritage Services Revenue (million)
1 CH2M HILL Ltd. Yes $3,835
2 URS Corp. Yes $3,362
3 Veolia Environnement SA No $3,294
4 Bechtel Corp. No $2,731
5 Tetra Tech Inc. Yes $2,050
6 AECOM Technology Corp Yes $1,768
7 EnergySolutions Inc. No $1,752
8 The Shaw Group Inc. Yes $1,559
9 Fluor Corp. No $1,236
10 Kiewit Corp. No $1,160

Half of the top ten firms on the list provide in-house compliance services for heritage resources. On a similar list of design firms, seven of the top ten firms were in-house providers of heritage services.

Unfortunately, what most people want to know about these firms isn’t available:  how much of their overall revenue comes from their heritage consulting activities. While most of these companies are publically-traded companies and report their financials, the filings are not fine enough to go down to the level of heritage services. Read more…

Another look at employment and market share

A very thoughtful comment was made about HBJ post Employment: Multidisiplinary firms vs. heritage-only firms (18 Feb 2012):

“Large multi-service firms tend hire and terminate for each project because their offices rarely have enough local work to retain technicians. They tend to have centralized full time labs and production centers that do not have positions for techs for after fieldwork tasks. Whereas many hertiage-only company like CRA use full-time technicians in a variety of tasks. The ability to live near a company’s office(s) to come in and do post-fieldwork tasks is the key to full time work. In addition the ability to move techs and other staff between offices reduce the need for temporary project specific techs except for the largest field projects. Plus in any given year we receive enough cold call applicants from technicians with good resumes that simply working the resume file drawer eliminates the need for an ad for most projects.”
Steve Creasman and Kay Simpson

A high turnover of technicians in multi-service firms could easily explain why there are more job advertisements from these types of companies than from heritage-only firms. To explore this more, I also took a look at senior positions (e.g. principle investigators, senior archaeologists, office/regional managers) for the same 2011 data set. Of course titles are not standardized across the sector and names can be misleading, but a full 46% of the job advertisements reviewed asked for 10-25 years of experience and 55% asked for 5-9 years of experience (a slight overlap with some asking for 8-12 years). The job descriptions and requirements (years of experience, permits, etc.) firmly place these jobs in the top levels of employment regardless of title. None of these jobs mentioned temporary employment but that does not mean it is not. However, asking for 20 years of experience for a temporary job would be rare but not unheard of (or it should be in my personal opinion). Out of 79 job postings, 61 of them mentioned their employers (some of the job postings have been removed making it impossible to see who was the employer). In this data set the breakdown is even more lopsided in favor of multi-service firms

Heritage-only firms may look for their top-level workers through other means than advertisement such as internal promotion or through professional networks. A lack of lower level positions in multi-service firms may make it hard for them to recruit internally. What these data do show is that the majority of job advertisements for archaeologists at all career levels was dominated by multi-service firms in 2011. Does this mean they get the majority of business? That can not be determined from these numbers but employment may indicate strong growth prospects.

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