Insights into SAIC’s Acquisition of R.W. Beck for $155M—and Beck’s Strategy in Energy, Water

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will be joining the Energy, Environment, and Infrastructure business unit of SAIC, led by J.T. Grumski. But the Beck Disaster Recovery division will be joining a different SAIC business unit—the Homeland Protection and Preparedness unit headed by John Ferriter. Both SAIC business units are part of the Infrastructure, Logistics, and Product Solutions Group (one of four), led by Joe Craver. Stepp says in the near term, R.W. Beck will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of SAIC, and he will remain its president.

Some quick history and stats: R.W. Beck was founded in Nebraska in 1942, but only incorporated in 1995. It has grown to about 550 employees spread among 24 offices in the U.S. and an office in Singapore. The company employs about 125 people at its Seattle headquarters. Its customers include utility companies, government entities, and financial institutions.

Stepp, a civil engineer by training, joined R.W. Beck about 11 years ago to help the firm expand into water and wastewater consulting. He had previously worked at CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based environmental and construction consulting firm. In 2005, R.W. Beck was looking for a new chief executive, and Stepp was promoted from his senior management role. “Beck was still operating as an incorporated partnership,” he says. “We needed to make some changes.”

So Stepp led the firm’s renewed push in energy and water infrastructure projects, among other areas. In recent years, R.W. Beck has provided consulting services for King County’s Brightwater project to build a wastewater treatment plant, Sea-Tac Airport’s permitting effort for a third runway (involving groundwater issues), and several of Puget Sound Energy’s capital projects, to name a few. “We do independent engineering and translate that into a financial plan so investors can get a return on investment,” Stepp says. “We are true consultants, providing the expertise from both a technical and financial perspective.”

And Stepp’s leadership clearly seems to be paying off. He says that over the last three years, R.W. Beck has doubled its revenue. “We’ve been very fortunate in the marketplace,” he says. Which brings us to the firm’s acquisition by SAIC—why do it, and why now?

As Stepp explains, “SAIC provided for us an option to allow us to expand our … Next Page »

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