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Weekly Briefing: March 18-22, 2024

Week of March 18, 2024

The Federal Reserve Decides to Hold Interest Rates Steady in March Meeting

  • The Federal Reserve convened its March 2024 meeting and announced that it will hold interest rates at a range of 5.25% to 5.5%. This decision comes amidst concerns about escalating inflation and aims to temper economic expansion to prevent overheating.

  • The Federal Reserve's rate decision is poised to impact construction spending dynamics within the AEC industry. If interest rates are lowered, it could stimulate borrowing and investment, potentially leading to an uptick in demand for construction services and infrastructure projects as financing becomes more accessible.

  • The Federal Reserve Chair stated that this should be the "peak" of the Fed's tightening cycle and that policy can be expected to loosen later this year.


Government Officials and Oil CEOs Debate Energy Transition at CERAWeek

  • At the CERAWeek conference, government officials and oil and gas executives clashed over the speed and breadth of the energy transition. Key points of contention centered around the urgency of shifting towards cleaner energy sources and reducing dependence on fossil fuels to combat climate change effectively.

  • Oil and gas industry leaders, including the CEO of Saudi Aramco and the CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute, defended the continued importance of their sector, emphasizing its role in meeting current energy demands and supporting economic growth.

  • In contrast, U.S. Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, emphasized the imperative for swift action in accelerating the transition to renewables and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

March 18, 2024

Gannett Fleming, Inc. (Gannett Fleming), a Pennsylvania-based infrastructure consulting services firm, backed by OceanSound Partners, has acquired  DEC, a Texas-based civil engineering firm with expertise in transportation, water, wastewater, and hydrology. The acquisition expands Gannett Fleming's presence in Texas and allows it to serve transportation and water clients on a larger scale. Michael Maksoud, CEO of DEC, who will join Gannett Fleming as senior director of Texas operations, commented, "Through this strategic partnership, our clients will continue to work closely with the local leaders they know and trust while receiving the resources and expertise of a larger engineering firm."


March 18, 2024

Pape-Dawson Engineers (Pape-Dawson), a Texas-based civil engineering, surveying, GIS, and environmental services firm, has acquired RaganSmith, a Tennessee-based civil engineering, surveying, land planning, landscape architecture, transportation, and environmental services firm. The acquisition expands Pape-Dawson's portfolio of services and geographic reach. Gene Dawson, President of Pape-Dawson, commented, "RaganSmith shares our commitment to excellence in engineering and promotes a culture that encourages growth, giving back, and industry leadership. Our similar values were a key factor in our decision to pursue this partnership."


March 18, 2024

Langan Engineering & Environmental Services (Langan), a New Jersey-based integrated land development engineering, environmental consulting, and digital solutions firm, backed by Towerbrook Capital Partners, has acquired JPH Land Surveying, Inc. (JPH), a Texas-based civil land development surveying services firm. The acquisition bolsters Langan's technological offerings and presence in key Texas markets. David Gockel, President and CEO of Langan, commented, "Joe Hoebelheinrich and his team have been working with Langan for years, so they will seamlessly integrate into our Texas practice in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and Tyler. This acquisition aligns with our strategy to accelerate growth across the country by adding only best-in-class firms to Langan."


March 20, 2024

Salas O'Brien, a California-based engineering and technical services firm, backed by Blackstone, has acquired HCS Engineering (HCS), an Alabama-based engineering firm providing mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, controls, civil, and structural solutions for the public and private sectors. The HCS team will continue to be managed by its current leaders and adopt the Salas O'Brien name after a transition period. The addition of HCS creates a combined presence of over 80 offices and 2,800 team members across North America. Darin Anderson, Chairman and CEO of Salas O'Brien, commented, "Manufacturing, chemical production, and life sciences are vital for the American economy. I am so pleased to welcome HCS to Salas O'Brien and we look forward to advancing these important markets as one unified team."


March 21, 2024

Apex Companies, LLC (Apex), a Maryland-based consulting and engineering firm specializing in water, environmental, H&S, compliance, and infrastructure, backed by Morgan Stanley Capital Partners, has acquired PBS Engineering and Environmental, Inc. (PBS), an Oregon-based engineering, surveying & UAS, health & safety, and environmental services firm. PBS will operate as PBS, an Apex Company, within Apex's West Region Business Unit, which will be led by Brian Stanford, President and CEO of PBS. The acquisition enhances Apex's geographic reach and suite of services. David Fabianski, President and CEO of Apex, commented, "PBS brings to Apex a highly capable management team, an impressive and diverse talent base, and a reputation for excellence in client service and technical execution. The combined capabilities of PBS and Apex, along with or aligned values and culture, provide us an even stronger platform for delivering excellence to our clients, and growth and value creation for our employees and investors."

Brown and Caldwell is accepting applications for its 2024 scholarships, aimed at diverse groups including the Navajo Nation, LGBTQIA+, Minorities, Women, and Tribal Nations in STEM. The scholarships, which include a $5,000 Women in Leadership scholarship, are part of the firm’s commitment to representation and community impact. By investing in the education of young, diverse talent, the firm is fostering the next generation of industry leaders, thereby driving innovation and growth in the AEC industry. Applications are due by March 31, 2024.


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