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Bergmann designs for growth

Rochester Business Journal
March 21, 2014

Bergmann Associates is growing through diversification and acquisitions that have expanded its geographic reach, its leader said. Among the Rochester-based firm’s current projects is overseeing environmental compliance for the $3.9 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, north of New York City.

Bergmann’s contract on what has been billed as the largest construction project in the country is worth $2 million. The company, led by Kenneth Avery, its water resources director, is working with the state Thruway Authority on project aspects that range from fish and wildlife monitoring to noise studies.

The project represents one of several areas in which the firm is looking to increase work, said Thomas Mitchell, president and CEO.

“We are well-balanced and have a broad spectrum for growth,” Mitchell said.

The company logged sales of $57 million in 2013, up from $52 million in 2012. It has a 95 percent client return rate, officials said. The firm’s goal is to reach projected revenue of $100 million by 2018.

Bergmann ranked No. 1 on the most recent Rochester Business Journal list of engineers and third on the list of architectural firms. The company has 375 workers, including 198 employees in downtown Rochester.

Founded in 1980, Bergmann has 13 offices, including five in New York. Additional offices are in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The company is focused on growing through a strategic plan and recently added a leadership position to implement that. In January, Bergmann named Andrew Raus, a seven-year company employee, as vice president of strategy and business development.

In his new role, Raus oversees marketing, monitoring implementation of the strategic plan and helping to evaluate growth and business development opportunities. He will continue to function as the firm’s principal planner, overseeing the planning and landscape architecture capabilities.

Advances in technology, the impact of the most recent global recession and changes in state and federal funding for projects have contributed to changes in the architectural-engineering industry, Raus said.

“It caused (the industry) to get more creative,” he said. “My goal is to evaluate opportunities and help position us for growth.”

Diversification has helped Bergmann navigate the recent industry challenges. Its business is evenly divided between public and private projects.

Recent local projects have included architectural services at the Windstream Corp. building and Rochester Institute of Technology’s Institute Hall, renovations at Eastview Mall and the Mall at Greece Ridge, and Eastman Business Park revitalization. Bergmann also has been involved with 113 LEED-certified projects.

Raus is looking at technological changes, including advances in 3-D printing and how it can best be used at Bergmann.

A challenge the firm faces is finding top talent, particularly as the baby boomer generation enters retirement, he said. Firms are competing for top job seekers. Raus is mentoring new workers and says that competitive compensation packages and work-life balance are keys to Bergmann’s ability to recruit a new generation of workers.

The company has positions open in part because of the recent uptick in the release of government money for public projects but also because of growth in the private sector, including the retail industry.

Any work Bergmann secures at its locations ultimately has a positive impact on its Rochester base, Raus said.

Mitchell said Bergmann needs to understand the industry changes and not only react to them but stay ahead of them.

Raus, who last year led the firm through its strategic process, is a good person to lead the effort, Mitchell said: He is intelligent and curious about the business and its clients’ needs.

“He’s done a great job developing our planning business,” Mitchell said.

Bergmann expanded its geographic footprint last year when it added an office in Atlanta.

The company also has grown through acquisitions. At the end of 2012, Bergmann acquired Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte, N.C., its second acquisition in three years. In 2010, Bergmann added the Ledy Design Group to its Lansing, Mich., office.

Additional growth is expected in Florida, where Bergmann has had a presence for some 15 years, Mitchell said. A focus there is on the rail sector, with Bergmann working on a project called All Aboard Florida. The intercity passenger rail service—being developed by commercial real estate developer Florida East Coast Industries Inc.—will give business and leisure passengers another way to travel between South and Central Florida.

Research and manufacturing opportunities are on the rise in North Carolina and Michigan, Mitchell said, noting that people have been added to the Charlotte site recently to keep up with the demand.

“The focus is on organic growth, using acquisitions to fill in,” he said.

3/21/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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