TZL 1342 (web)


ON THE MOVE SCHNABEL ENGINEERING ACQUIRES DEERE & AULT CONSULTANTS, INC. Schnabel Engineering announced the acquisition of Deere & Ault Consultants, Inc. , a water resources, civil, and geotechnical engineering services firm with locations in Longmont, Colorado, and Boise, Idaho. The addition of these two locations will expand Schnabel’s national presence, increasing the companies’ capabilities, and benefit clients and partners. Founded in 2005, Deere & Ault is sought-after for water resources, geotechnical, dam, tunnel, and mine reclamation expertise. Led by industry veterans with decades of experience, the company provides investigation, analysis and design solutions for challenging projects. Deere & Ault brings a diverse portfolio of clients to Schnabel’s footprint, expanding the company’s skill set and encouraging new opportunities for the combined firms within the Rocky Mountain

and the Western regions for Schnabel, as well as the East coast for Deere & Ault. “I have known and respected Schnabel Engineering for many years. Over that time I have admired their technical and business capabilities and their many project accomplishments,” said Don Deere, chairman of the board at Deere & Ault Consultants, Inc. “I am excited at the merger of our two fine organizations and I am certain that we will continue to serve our clients well and accomplish many great things over the coming generations.” An ENR Top 250 design firm and Top 10 dam and reservoirs firm, Schnabel Engineering provides specialized expertise for the planning, study, design, and construction of geotechnical, dam, and tunnel engineering projects in the U.S. and abroad. The employee- owned company has worked in more than 140 countries since its founding in 1956 and

has pioneered the use of new technology and design approaches for foundation systems and dam designs, as well as for managing risk and solving all sorts of complex infrastructure challenges. Headquartered in Glen Allen, Virginia, Schnabel’s workforce exceeds 400 people in 21 locations. “Occasionally something comes along that just feels right from the onset,” says Schnabel Engineering’s CEO Walter Rabe. “The merger of our two firms is one of those occasions. We are extraordinarily similar to one another, and there is a very strong cultural alignment between our two firms. We are both incredibly committed to our employees and we are both passionate stewards of our communities. Together as one bigger and stronger firm, we will work side by side with our clients to improve many lives in the communities in which we work.”


conditions may be unsustainable if heightened claims activity continues. 8) Don’t overlook opportunities for premium credits. When asked what information supplied on the professional liability application might result in premium credits, 100 percent use of written contracts was noted by all insurers; most also identified fees attributable to feasibility studies, insured subconsultants and abandoned projects as areas where credits can be applied. Also, longevity with the same insurer was cited by some as an area that might qualify for credit. In addition, most insurers indicated that direct reimbursables are fully excluded for rating purposes. 9) Insurers’ insights on impacts of technology. When asked to consider technology’s impact on the AEC industry over the past decade and in the next 10 years, insurers pointed to the the compression of project timelines as well as the role of automation and technology in the insurance sector, facilitating a greater focus on data/analytics. They also cited potential opportunities for the future application of artificial intelligence and robotics. 10) For AEC firms, sound risk management remains key. Adopting and adhering to sound internal risk management protocols are essential, including due diligence when contemplating a merger and acquisition, which would include analysis of the firm’s practice areas, project mix, and loss history. Lastly, be aware that high-risk services have a propensity for claims, which could result in substantial future premium increases. As design professionals work through the various challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, they should recognize that practicing sound risk management will continue to be an important element of their ongoing success. To obtain a complimentary copy of the Ames & Gough Survey, PLI Market 2020: As Claim Costs Grow, Insurers Eye Targeted Rate Increases , email JOAN DELOREY is senior vice president and partner at Ames & Gough. JARED MAXWELL is vice president and partner at Ames & Gough. Joan DeLorey can be reached at Jared Maxwell can be reached at

targeted, rate increases in 2020. Most planned to target higher risk disciplines, projects, and even geographic regions for rate adjustments. 4) Concerns grow over higher risk disciplines. In terms of their underwriting assessments, nearly all insurers surveyed cited structural engineering as the top discipline in terms of risk; many insurers also pointed to mechanical engineering, geotechnical engineering and architecture as having significant risk. Even when the crisis ends and the U.S. economy begins to recover, insurers likely will continue to be especially careful in underwriting design firms with these disciplines. Good recent and historical loss experience, as well as sound and effective risk management practices, will be key differentiators in obtaining more favorable coverage terms, pricing, and conditions. 5) Insurers watching construction complexity and costs. Insurers surveyed expressed growing concern about these issues, along with design resiliency as it relates to climate change and state laws adversely impacting design firms. Insurers have begun factoring some of these areas into their underwriting decisions; notably, project mix has been under increasing scrutiny as insurers have assessed the risk profiles of individual design firms. AEC firms should keep in mind that changes in their project mix may affect their professional liability insurance pricing, terms, and conditions. 6) Insurers wary of social trends. Some insurers surveyed are watching how “social inflation” and “litigation funding” are affecting claim severity. This is an industry-wide phenomena not limited to professional liability insurance and may ultimately factor into insurance pricing and coverage decisions across all lines. 7) Mounting questions over rate sustainability. Insurers are aware of a correlation between the increases in claims and the supply of the AEC workforce as compared to the demand in the construction industry. Although the continued competition in the professional liability insurance marketplace for AEC firms has kept rate increases to a minimum, many insurers are beginning to feel those

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