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IT firm renews commitment to water management agencies

January 7, 2021

With the start of a new year and new decade, we at KISTERS envision giant leaps as we build on steps of lasting change and progress.

Since 2010, our North American team has more than doubled in size to support over 150 clients across Canada and the United States. New water utilities continually contact us to form long-term partnerships like those we’ve developed with water managers who are resolving difficult environmental challenges with evidence- and science-based decisions.

Understanding ambitious climate resilience goals and earning the trust of both data managers and data consumers, we have identified three critical areas which guide our mission for improvement in the new decade:

    • FieldNotes app extends knowledge sharing
      As senior staff train new employees or turnover, the extent of their knowledge is best captured and shared by efficient metadata management. Handwritten notes hinder in-field decision support, O&M, and capital planning.
    • Key partnerships reduce uncertainty
      To make more holistic climate- and weather-related decisions, public agencies have access to new tools as global leaders in meteorological, drought, and hydrological data and modeling build up KISTERS innovations.
    • Platforms retain your control over data
      A perfect storm of cybersecurity initiatives, emerging technologies, and IT talent shortage is brewing. Whether your KISTERS system, in its present or future form, is installed locally or in the cloud, we’ll ensure that you retain control over your data and have options to easily share information, internally or externally.

In this new decade, KISTERS remains eager to celebrate our customers’ success. Founded in 1963 as a consulting engineering company, KISTERS is committed to developing and supporting water technology that increase data integrity, analytical capacity and water sustainability among its existing clients and new customers.

a record-setting pace of mergers

A record-setting merger activity within the past five years years as “many Baby Boomer owners put off retirement because of the recession (and) saw the strong market as a good time to exit,” Alex Miller, Managing Director of FMI Capital Advisors Inc. commented to Engineering News-Record.

Heightened demand for technical expertise in addition to growth and service expansion are primary drivers. Analysis of 2018 acquisition trends revealed that new geographic presence and new service lines (e.g. design, construction.) were the highest motivations.

    • As early as 2014 AMEC (UK) completed purchase of Foster Wheeler (Switzerland), forming Amec Foster Wheeler plc.
      The decline in oil and gas sectors led to crippling debt, priming for a buyout by wood plc (Scotland) before the end of 2017.
    • In 2014 GHD (Australia) merged with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates or CRA (Ontario), creating a combined global workforce of 8,500 employees
      -– the sixth-largest employee-owned engineering consultancy in the world, at that time.
    • In 2014 WSP Global (Quebec) purchased transportation engineering and management organization Parsons Brinckerhoff, resulting in one of the world’s largest professional services firms.
      Shortly after, it announced plans to expand to 45,000 employees by 2020. Acquisition of Opus International Consultants (New Zealand) added 3,000 employees including Opus DaytonKnight Consultants Ltd. (British Columbia). Louis Berger Group swiftly added 6,000 employees, and ecology and environment, inc. or E&E (New York) added 500.
    • Woodard & Curran (Maine) expanded its national footprint to 12 states with RMC Water & Environment (California) in 2016,
      strengthening its position as a top wastewater firm in the U.S. and within the top 20 consultants for water resources and supply.
    • Dewberry (based in Virginia) has made multiple “strategic” acquisitions of regional engineering firms in recent years:
      in 2018 J3 Engineering Consultants Inc. (Colorado), in 2016 Preble-Rish, Inc. and in 2013 Bowyer-Singleton & Associates, Inc. (both of Florida).
    • In 2018 Golder (Ontario) acquired Pastor, Behling & Wheeler, LLC or PBW (Texas) to expand its “geographic footprint and resources in key markets in the U.S.” and
      highly complement “existing resources in Texas,” commented Dr. Hisham Mahmoud, Golder’s Global President & CEO.
      (In April, 2021 WSP acquired Golder which had about 7,000 employees.)
    • In 2018 TRC Companies, Inc. (Connecticut) acquired Vali Cooper & Associates or VC&A (California) to add nearly 600 employees with expertise in infrastructure construction management.

Vertical integration of service providers
is becoming common as design-build project delivery receives more acceptance. Contractors are more willing to accept off-site responsibilities beyond traditional building construction, in order to reduce uncertainty in the supply chain.

Another market differentiator are technology assets: either the introduction of third-party software platforms within these companies or the commercialization a product developed in-house. Added technology capabilities can offer new project modeling and visualization options, providing more accountability and delivering more value to clients.

    • Jacobs Engineering Group (Texas) purchased CH2M Hill (Colorado) in 2017 to obtain infrastructure and government-services market segment.
      Less publicized was the company’s divestiture of its energy, chemicals and resources (ECR) business line to Worley (formerly branded as WorleyParsons).
    • Another high profile merger is the Stantec Inc. (Alberta) agreement with international water and natural resources firm MWH Global, Inc. (Colorado) in 2016,
      propelling the firm into the world’s top three design firms. Less notable was the divestiture of the MWH construction division.

M&A activity is expected to continue at a slower pace. The integration of assets including new staff and services is estimated to take one or two-years before impacting regional and national markets.

Again, as we start another new year and new decade, our customers and partners can expect is KISTERS remaining a privately-held, family-owned corporation that leverages its niche expertise in water sciences, engineering, data science and IT development to help organizations harmonize diverse data and formats to help communities increase climate adaptation.