C+S January 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 1 (web)

involves an early outline and playbook for each acquisition that covers organizational structure, accounting, branding, marketing, sales, etc. Having a mutually agreeable timeline for implementation – early in the process – helps to avoid differences in expectations downstream. Also, having an executive team (mainly our COO, Ben Strong) that appreci- ates this process in a proactive manner is essential to getting through known-unknowns that inevitably arise during transitional periods. C+S: You’ve talked about becoming a $1B company. How do you do that without an IPO? Bill: We will achieve this goal on or before 2030. Funding to get to $1B in revenue is indeed a challenge, unless several attractive MOEs present themselves. We have self-funded our growth to date, and we are proud of that fact. However, we would be foolish to rule out an IPO option. If we get to the point where we feel that an IPO is necessary to meet this goal, we would present that option to our employee-owners for consideration. C+S: What’s been the firm’s best project in the last five years and why? Forensics: In Forensics we measure this in terms of our client base – we are currently working for top property and surety carriers (Trav- elers, Zurich, Liberty, AIG, Chubb, etc.), top construction law firms (Watt Tieder Hoffar & Fitzgerald, Peckar & Abramson, Fox Roths- child, etc.), top AEC firms (Jacobs/CH2M, Tetra Tech, etc.), and top construction companies (Clark, Turner, Kiewit, etc.). Engineering: Four Seasons Puerto Rico, Mandarin Oriental Grand Cayman, Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Construction: Boston University Data Sciences Center (Boston), In- dependence Plaza (Denver), US Military Transient Quarters (Bahrain). Age – 50 years Spouse – Kelley McConnell Children – Tessa (13) and Shelby (10) Hobbies – Golfing / Reading / Spending Time with the Family Last Book Read – Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich Favorite Food – Sushi / Italian Best Vacation Spot – Nantucket MA Music – Jack Johnson Bill McConnell at a Glance Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (concentration in construction management), University of Colorado, Anticipated Graduation 2020 M.S., Civil Engineering, Columbia University 2014 J.D., Sturm College of Law, University of Denver 2011 Entrepreneurial Masters Program, (Birthing of Giants Program), Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Young Entrepreneur’s Organization 1999 B.S., Civil Engineering, University of Maine 1992 • Expert witness for construction disputes, has testified over 150 times • Professional Engineer (PE) – Civil, State of AZ, CO, FL, IA, IL, MA, MD, MI, NC, NE, OR, TX

Bill McConnell, co-founder and CEO of The Vertex Companies, Inc.

schedules to slip, and the taxed workforce has led to a rise in quality- related issues. C+S: What kind of damage can a lost court case do to an engineering firm? Are most firms properly insured or not? Bill: Claims against design firms generally involve alleged standard of care violations, which often lead to a negligence cause of action. Fortunately, resultant damage due to negligence is typically covered by professional liability insurance. However, it is not unusual for smaller design firms to carry insurance limits that range from $500K to $2M, which can present an under-insurance problem on larger claims. Larger design firms often carry excess policies that cover larger losses. Proj- ects with wrap policies can address insurance limit issues. C+S: Vertex went to a full ESOP in 2013. Six years in, what’s the head- line? Bill: The headline is that we have had record revenue and income growth since transitioning to an ESOP, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision as this is creating long-term wealth for our employee- owners. Being an ESOP is a differentiator for Vertex, and differentia- tors are a key to success in the competitive AEC marketplace. C+S: Vertex has had a location in Mexico for 10 years. What’s the market like there, and what are the long-term prospects? Bill: The key to a successful business practice in Mexico is to achieve local self-sustainability and to not rely exclusively upon work from outside the country. Doing so avoids the drastic swings in revenue caused by geopolitical issues. C+S: M&A is in Vertex’s DNA. What’s the secret to successfully inte- grating firms? Bill: Vertex is laser focused on embracing a defined integration process at this point in our lifecycle. We understand that integration can be difficult for large and small AEC firms alike, and that it’s always a work-in-progress due to constant changes in how AEC companies op- erate (new technologies to leverage efficiencies, etc.). Our process now


january 2020


Made with FlippingBook Annual report