Consolidation Among Environmental Consulting Firms Is Booming

Natick, Mass. - Mergers and acquisitions among environmental consulting firms is still raging at fever pitch, according to a firm that tracks and facilitates that type of activity.

"In eight months, we've already done more than 183% of our 1995 goal for merger and acquisition work," said Fred White, senior vice president of Zweig White & Associates, a management consulting and publishing firm which works for both buyers and sellers, conducting acquisition searches and developing options for firms that want to be acquired.

Zweig White & Associates attributes the continuing boom to several factors including the fragmented nature of the industry.

"The engineering and architecture industries are still largely 'mom and pop' businesses," said White, "There are 50,000 or more firms out there and most have fewer than ten employees. This is a business ripe for consolidation."

Also driving the mergers and acquisitions is the slowdown in growth for environmental consulting firms, according to White. The boom that caused massive growth in the industry in the past has resulted in marginal firms that now must cut back or be absorbed, White said. Another factor is that design and environmental professionals are learning how to make acquisitions succeed.

Finally, a steady economy continues to drive acquisitions, White said.

"This has been a very long growth cycle for the economy. That's given firms the courage to go out and make these acquisitions," said White.