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company culture that employees want to be a part of is key,” Stephenson says. He believes that strong retention is a product of creating a differentiated employee experience, starting with adopting a proactive mindset where you give people reasons to want to come and stay versus working to avoid giving them a reason to leave. This starts with identifying a few key areas that are most important to your staff to prevent falling into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. Once you know what those are, you commit to them, making sure employees can see and feel the organization’s efforts to build, enhance, and improve in those areas. Employees are loyal and committed when they feel valued and like their input matters. For CHA, coupling a foundation of competitive compensation and benefits with clarity around growth and development opportunities and highly effective leadership has the firm focused on the areas its employees have said are key to their engagement and longevity. “We pursue acquisitions where we see opportunities to fill service, geographic, and end-market gaps and add talent to broaden and deepen our capabilities and better serve clients.” A TARGETED APPROACH. And when employees are happy, the business is happy. As a private equity-backed company, achieving consistent, profitable growth is a core objective. At CHA, leadership have built a team with deep expertise and experience in all phases of the M&A process from sourcing opportunities to due diligence, transaction execution, operational integration, and growth synergy realization. To ensure they remain focused and disciplined, they’ve developed a strategic growth plan built on pursuing a balanced approach of organic acquisitive growth strategies within each of the firm’s operating sectors. The plan is focused on identified end-markets and services while pursuing innovation as a differentiator. “We pursue acquisitions where we see opportunities to fill service, geographic, and end-market gaps and add talent to broaden and deepen our capabilities and better serve clients,” Stephenson says. When looking to acquire or merge with a firm, CHA seeks well-run, well-managed, and profitably growing firms that:

1. Align with CHA’s strategic plan and fill a specific gap and growth opportunity; 2. Culturally align with CHA’s approach to business and respect for its employees; and 3. Have demonstrated a differentiated position in the market, so coming together allows both firms to realize tangible outcomes and synergies beyond what can be done individually. As part of its growth and strategic plan, CHA is continually looking to leverage best-in-class technology solutions to enhance the delivery of its projects. Its digital and cloud platforms allow project stakeholders to receive and act on data near real-time during the design process. “Our shift to digital review platforms has allowed our teams to deliver projects faster while improving quality,” Stephenson says. Using AI and machine learning to manage the tidal wave of data that is now inherent with all engineering projects is critical to exceeding the requirements of its customers. One example of project execution heavily reliant on technology is CHA’s work in Intelligent Transportation Systems. It’s using big data aggregation and analytics to optimize traffic flow and improve congestion and safety in some of the largest metro regions in the U.S. by collecting large amounts of data which is then analyzed in simulations and used to manage systems at signalized intersections on heavily traveled corridors. Its bridge engineers are also on the cutting edge of innovation. They most recently designed a unique steel straddle bent for a bridge in Connecticut that has become a game-changer in bridge design. CHA designed a unique and innovative triple I-girder configuration that can provide load path redundancy, thereby eliminating the fracture- critical designation and the special long-term inspection requirements. Several states are now adding this innovative design as a key tool in their steel bridge toolbox. TOOLS FOR SUCCESS. Stephenson says that as he looks ahead to the rest of 2023, there are four major drivers of change in the engineering industry that he foresees in terms of the work itself. There’s an acceleration of the energy transition and electrification toward clean energy, driving utilities to modernize the grid and accelerating the acceptance of alternative energy sources. There’s also unprecedented federal funding from the IIJA See CREATING LASTING CHANGE , page 8




OFFICE LOCATIONS: 47 offices in 21 states and Canada








Engineering design



Construction management

Technology services

AWARD WINNER: Ranked No. 61 on ENR 2022 Top 500, CHA is a leader in aviation, transportation, water resources, building design, fire protection services, land development, project management and construction management, sports, advanced energy and manufacturing, asset management, and utility infrastructure

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ARCH 6, 2023, ISSUE 1479

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