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Pittsburgh-area Civil & Environmental Consultants makes largest acquisition with Texas firm

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 10:18 a.m.
Teams from Civil & Environmental Consultants and KBGE pose for a photo in Austin, Texas, after completing a deal that sold KBGE to Civil & Environmental Consultants. This is the largest acquisition for the Pittsburgh-area firm.
Civil & Environmental Consultants
Teams from Civil & Environmental Consultants and KBGE pose for a photo in Austin, Texas, after completing a deal that sold KBGE to Civil & Environmental Consultants. This is the largest acquisition for the Pittsburgh-area firm.
Civil & Environmental Consultants headquarters in Robinson.
Civil & Environmental Consultants
Civil & Environmental Consultants headquarters in Robinson.

The oil and gas industry makes up much of the business of Civil & Environmental Consultants, a Pittsburgh-area consulting firm with offices scattered throughout the country.

But the firm does no work in the energy hotbeds of Texas and Oklahoma.

“That's kind of the next step,” said Ken Miller, president and CEO of Civil & Environmental Consultants.

The Robinson-based firm announced Wednesday it acquired KBGE, a civil engineering firm headquartered in Austin, Texas, with an additional office in Oklahoma City. It is the largest acquisition in Civil & Environmental Consultants' history and adds KBGE's 35-person Austin office and its five-member team in Oklahoma City to the company's 800-plus employees.

KBGE worked on Facebook's new offices in Austin, an inland surf park and other large developments. The firm started as a team of two in 2011, according to the Austin Business Journal .

Miller would not disclose details of the acquisition, which was finalized Monday. No employees will be relocated to Austin or Oklahoma City, but Miller said he hopes some will choose to move on their own as work in those areas expands.

Miller first met with people from KBGE about three and half years ago. There was talk of a buyout then, but both sides decided against it.

“They still needed to be entrepreneurs and get the business as far as they could,” Miller said, remembering his early impression of the firm. “And then only sell if they felt they could take the business further.”

Gabe Bruehl, a principal at KBGE, told the Austin Business Journal that his firm always wanted to be like Miller's when it grew.

Miller said that as KBGE grew, it found it was spending more time dealing with HR or IT issues than working with clients. Civil & Environmental Consultants can handle those issues for KBGE, Miller said, leaving the offices to focus on what they do best.

Miller hoped the acquisition would help his firm plug a hole in its energy portfolio. His firm has considered opening an office in Oklahoma City for some time. KBGE gives him that office. The acquisition also will allow Civil & Environmental Consultants to expand its presence in Texas, Miller said.

The oil and gas industry makes up about 30 percent of the firm's business, Miller said. Civil & Environmental Consultants works with EQT, Consol/CNX, FirstEnergy and other prominent energy companies.

Clients of Civil & Environmental Consultants also include U.S. Steel, AK Steel, Republic Services, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Oxford Development, Burns & Scalo and CBRE. The firm worked on the construction of PPG Paints Arena, The Waterfront development in Homestead, Westinghouse's headquarters in Cranberry, Rivers Casino, PNC Tower and Pittsburgh International Airport's development master plan.

In 2016, Civil & Environmental Consultants sent drones, pilots and LiDAR scanners to Volterra , a city of about 11,000 in the Tuscany region of Italy with more than 3,000 years of history. The employees joined a team that scanned, mapped, photographed and made 3D models of the city.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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