Seventy-one percent of architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms plan to conduct a merger or acquisition in the next five years, according to “2009 Merger & Acquisition Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms,” a recent study by ZweigWhite, a source of business-management services for architecture, engineering, and environmental-consulting firms. Promises of geographic expansion and adding new clients are motivating potential buyers to grow through acquisition, the survey found. With firm valuations down from their pre-recession highs and firm owners of the baby-boom generation nearing retirement age, many firms are finding that this is an opportune time to buy.

“Right now, an acquisition makes good business sense, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy,” Gregory Hart, a consultant with ZweigWhite who specializes in merger and acquisition advisory services, said. “In fact, some experts estimate that more than half of all mergers or acquisitions either fail to meet expectations or actually diminish shareholder value, so it’s crucial that firms do their homework before going through with a deal. That means understanding and articulating the strategic context, getting the most mileage out of due-diligence efforts, and following through on integration. This may sound ominous or overwhelming, but it shouldn’t. Through in-house and outside resources, building a solid team of trusted advisors can make the process go a lot smoother.”

Hart’s free white paper, “Beating the Odds: Five Proven Strategies for Seeking Growth through Mergers or Acquisitions” is available for download. The "2009 Merger & Acquisition Survey" provides data on the state of merger and acquisition activity in the design and environmental consulting industry.