Business Achievement: Large Firms (more than $100 million)


Gold MedalGolder Associates (Atlanta, GA) for achieving a significant growth rate of 20% percent in 2012, ending the year with $1 billion in net revenue. Golder's revenue growth was spread across all operating regions, with double-digit growth in all areas, including Europe, despite the variability of market conditions there. Golder enjoyed growth across many sectors of the industry, from natural resources to urban development and infrastructure to power and manufacturing. Last year, Golder added staff as well, expanding to more than 8,900 employees, with a 10% increase in full-time employees. In addition to establishing Golder Associates Kazakhstan LLP (GAK) in Atyrau on the Caspian Sea to better serve clients' long-term needs for oil and gas development in that region, Golder opened offices in Ghana and near the Bakken shale gas region in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Estevan, Saskatchewan. Growth was also achieved through strategic acquisitions, including Geotechnical Consulting Group (Asia) Ltd., one of the Hong Kong region's leading consultancies in geotechnical and foundation engineering.

Silver MedalConestoga-Rovers & Associates (CRA; Waterloo, Ontario) for growing revenue by approximately 13% in 2012 and for sustaining high profitability compared with other firms generating more than $250 million in revenue on the list of companies represented at the Environmental Financial Consulting Group’s (EFCG) 2012 CEO conference. CRA, which employs about 3,000 people in approximately 90 offices, primarily in North America, aims for modest, 10% annual growth, achieved primarily organically (in 2012, the company exceeded this mark in part by acquiring the remaining 50% interest that it did not already own in a Canadian firm). Under its business model, CRA places emphasis on ensuring that its owners—its principals and associates—remain dedicated to working as professionals rather than as business managers; the principals and associates ’ billability is about 67% on average, whereas for consulting and engineering firms of CRA’s size, average billability is typically more in the range of 5 to 10% for the top managers. The company has enjoyed positive revenue growth ever since it was founded in 1976, with the exception of 2010, and it has been profitable every year throughout its 36-year history.

Bronze MedalTetra Tech, Inc. (Pasadena, CA) for achieving a record year in financial performance, increasing gross revenue to more than $2.71 billion and net revenue to $2.02 billion-a 13% increase over FY 2011. Based on net revenue, international business is now Tetra Tech's largest client sector and its fastest growth market. Tetra Tech ended its fiscal year with record backlog of $2.14 billion, up 10% from the previous year. Recent expansions into Brazil and specialty oil and gas markets provide a solid foundation for continued growth in 2013. Performance was driven by strong demand for Tetra Tech's water-related services provided to mining, energy, and industrial clients. Among its largest wins for the year was the $700 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights (STARR) program contract to help improve security of property rights and access to land and related natural resources in developing countries. Other important 2012 contract wins included: a $108 million watershed protection program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); a $19 million USAID Colombia clean-energy development program; and $32 million in contracts to support EPA in its efforts to reduce global emissions of methane.

Bronze MedalO'Brien & Gere (Syracuse, NY) for executing a turnaround that has resulted in 8 to 10% average annual revenue growth over the past three years, and even higher rates of growth in profitability and backlog. O'Brien & Gere employs about 900 professionals in four market areas-environmental, water, energy, and facilities and infrastructure-and attributes its turnaround success in large part to its integration of skills and talent across all of these areas in specific projects-a differentiator that has substantially contributed to margin improvement, according to the company. Other factors in the company's success have included improved cash and balance sheet management and some key investments, but the management team points in particular to the close attention the firm pays to surveying client and employee satisfaction and responding quickly and effectively to client and staff needs, which has led to a high level of client and employee loyalty. Another critical factor is the development of a rigorous, "rolling" and adaptive strategic planning process, called COPAC-"Checking Our Progress, Adaptive Change"-that engages employees at multiple levels in a process that implements ongoing adjustments to the company's strategic plan in response to changing market conditions.