On June 21st, 2013, Partner Engineering and Science, Inc. (Partner) finalized the acquisition of most of the assets of Birdsall Services Group (BSG) as part of its planned growth and expansion in the tri-state area. The purchase includes BSG’s accounts receivable, physical assets, select contracts, existing project files, select intellectual property, and license agreements.
Most importantly, through this acquisition Partner has retained many of Birdsall’s expert and dedicated staff.
“We recognized an opportunity to complement our services with the deep experience of the Birdsall team,” commented Joseph Derhake, PE, president of Partner.
BSG is known for its 90-year history of providing engineering design services on numerous major public and private projects within New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Some of BSG’s flagship projects include:
Since last fall, BSG was also very involved with post-hurricane Sandy relief work including the rebuilding of the Belmar Boardwalk. Many of the staff also volunteered their personal time towards the rebuilding efforts.
The Merging of Two Engineering Firms
Partner will now have the added depth of BSG’s multiservice engineering design talent and client base, while BSG will benefit from Partner’s strength, stability, resources, and national footprint.
“Both Partner’s and BSG’s clients will benefit from our added depth and breadth of services and expertise sharing across business lines,” said Partner’s director of East Coast operations Frank Romeo. “Our firms also have a common philosophy on client relationships — providing a high level of service, understanding our clients’ businesses and being solutions-oriented. Our cultures fit together very well.”
Completing over 15,000 projects annually, Partner is known for having one of the largest engineering and environmental due diligence practices in the country.
“Depth of experience really matters in due diligence, especially when things get complicated,” says Derhake. “It’s important to have a team that understands the fundamentals of a problem in order to offer the most effective solution – for example if we find a problem with a building’s mechanical systems during a property condition assessment, we will be able to quickly put the client in touch with our MEP design professionals to quantify a solution. Partner has always had a strong building science team but with the acquisition of Birdsall, we’re expanding our depth dramatically.”
An instrumental figure in the acquisition has been Ralph Orlando, PE, a veteran of the New Jersey engineering industry who came on board as President and CEO of BSG at the end of last year after the firm became embroiled in legal troubles.
Romeo reflects that “Ralph has made heroic efforts to right the ship over the last year, stepping in at the end of his career to save a great firm. He had nothing tying him here except his tremendous commitment to the Birdsall team and clients. In return, he inspired a great deal of loyalty both from staff and clients. We are incredibly lucky to have him continue on at Partner.”
Orlando will now serve as the division president of Partner’s engineering design practice in New Jersey. “As this agreement closes, we begin a new chapter in the nearly 90-year history of BSG in the State of New Jersey,” said Orlando. “Regardless of the circumstances, our staff has never wavered in their commitment to creating solutions to engineering challenges in communities throughout our state, and becoming a member of the Partner team positions us to continue to do so with unprecedented strength.”
“We have been particularly pleased by the response of many of BSG’s clients, who have committed to stay with us and are excited about this transition – truly a testament to the caliber of work that the BSG team has delivered,” noted Romeo.
Anthony Bastardi, chairman and chief executive officer of Strategic Development Group, a real estate development firm based in Fairfield, NJ commented that “[Orlando and his associates] have an unbelievable grasp on all aspects of land use and site development, including site/civil engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, landscape design, and the fine art of navigating through the maze of regulatory authorities and agencies.”
Birdsall’s Legal Trouble
For the last year, Birdsall had been embroiled in legal woes stemming from alleged illegal campaign contributions by former employees. When Partner’s New Jersey team heard of BSG’s troubles, they recognized an opportunity.
“I thought ‘What a shame that this is happening to such a well respected firm.’ There are a lot of really good people there that are still doing great work,” said Romeo. “But I realized that we could do something about it.’”
When their pay was furloughed in March, 80% of Birdsall’s staff came in and worked not knowing whether they would be paid for their time.
Derhake noted that the people at Birdsall are some of the most dedicated, honest and talented people he’s met. “Working without pay during the crisis was more reflective of the character of these professionals than the alleged misdeeds of the few that got the company in trouble. They’ve been riding this out heroically and we’re really excited to offer them a new home at Partner. That is actually Partner’s mission statement, ‘To be the best home for talented professionals in our fields,’ so it is fitting that we are welcoming this utterly competent team.”
While Partner will continue to pursue government contracts in the region, Partner’s leaders have stated plainly that it will steer far clear of the political contributions that started Birdsall’s troubles. “We are not going to engage in any pay to play,” remarked Derhake. “If we can’t win the work based on merit alone, we don’t want that work.”
The bankruptcy process protects Partner from liability associated with alleged misdeeds by former BSG employees or the company.
The combined firm will offer many services, including: