Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finding the right match fosters a win-win transaction

PSMJ advises on LaBella acquisition of CECO Associates

Finding the right match is one of the biggest frustrations of both buyers and sellers of A/E firms engaged in the M&A game. While there are many facets to the nebulous term of “the right match”, one fundamental piece of it is a clear alignment of each firm’s motivations for the transaction and expectations after the deal is closed.

The recent acquisition of CECO Associates (CECO) of Scranton, Pennsylvania by LaBella Associates (LaBella) of Rochester, New York is an example of two firms that did their homework to understand and articulate the motivations and expectations and build a winning transaction around that.

PSMJ Resources served as an advisor to LaBella on this transaction. “These are two firms that have a lot to offer one another,” stated Brad Wilson, CMA, a Senior Consultant with PSMJ’s M&A team and the lead consultant on this engagement. “Most importantly, both firms went into this with a crystal clear definition of what success would look like and, accordingly, both firms will reap the benefits of this transparency as they bring the two cultures together.”

Originally established in 1973, CECO provides civil and environmental engineering services to clients in northeastern Pennsylvania. In a recent announcement of the transaction, CECO Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Pocius stated "This was just to put an orderly transition in and secure CECO's future. It's a marvelous opportunity.”

LaBella, with 140 employees, provides architecture and engineering services from offices in New York and Pennsylvania. Commenting on the underlying drivers for the deal, LaBella CEO Sergio Esteban stated that establishing a presence in Pennsylvania was a strategic objective for LaBella.

With the transaction complete, 30-person CECO will retain its name, employees, and location. The firm will operate as a division of LaBella.

To keep tabs on the latest M&A news from the A/E industry and transactions like this one, subscribe to the M&A Insider— PSMJ’s free weekly e-news on the latest transactions and the tips you need for successful M&A strategy. Learn more and sign up today by visiting

About LaBella Associates: LaBella Associates, P.C. was originally established in 1978 and, since then, has grown to become one of the leading engineering and architectural firms in the Rochester, New York area. The firm has received architectural and engineering design awards both at the local and national level. One such recognition was as one of the top 100 fastest-growing firms in the Rochester area by the Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Rochester, LaBella maintains offices in Hornell, NY; Ithaca, NY; and Coudersport, PA.

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