Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Franceschini to hand over reins at Stantec

I heard this not too long ago, but didn't get confirmation on it until I noticed this morning's post on the CEOWORLD Magazine web site. Stantec's board of directors announced earlier today that Robert (Bob) Gomes will succeed Tony Franceschini as the company's next president and CEO, effective May 15, 2009. Franceschini, who has led Stantec since 1998, will remain with the firm as a member of its board of directors.

Gomes joined Stantec in 1988, ascending through the ranks until becoming vice president of Alberta North, Stantec's largest region, in January 1999. In that role, he led all Stantec activities in the Edmonton office and in northern Alberta. In 2005, Gomes took over as senior vice president for the industrial and project management group. By the end of 2007, according to a press release issued by the firm, he had more than doubled the revenues of that group, making it one of the fastest growing practice areas within Stantec.

Franceschini, who joined Stantec, then known as Stanley, in 1978, took the $100 million firm in 1998 and through both organic growth and the acquisition of more than 50 companies, Stantec moved into new regions in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Through Franceschini's leadership, the firm became publicly traded in August 2005 on the New York Stock Exchange. PSMJ named Franceschini the Outstanding CEO of the Year in the large firm category in 2005.

As the AEC industry navigated its way through the M&A boom over the past few years, Stantec adopted the philosophy of changing the names of the firms it acquired to Stantec. Other acquiring firms either left the seller's name intact or took longer to integrate the firm names, but if you buy the assets, why not leverage your firm's strengths by changing the selling firm's name? Seemed sensible to me.

On a personal note, I've met Tony and his wife on more than occasion at different industry events and had the opportunity to interview Tony on the phone for various newsletter articles over the years. The two things that strike me are his unrelenting work ethic and his love to travel. They are related. I often spoke with Tony at different airports while he was waiting to board another plane (perhaps on his way to acquiring another firm?) He was always insightful and went out of his way to get me whatever information I needed. His departure is a blow to this industry.


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