Achieving rapid expansion through both organic and inorganic growth while maintaining a strong, employee-centric culture.
In 2017, a group of like-minded professionals set out to build a forward-thinking, culture-focused firm with a driving philosophy centered upon providing opportunities for its employees and exceptional service to its clients. Since then, Ardurra has grown by 900 percent, from 100 employees to more than 950 today.
This impressive expansion was achieved through intentional implementation of a dynamic strategy plan that incorporates both acquisitive and organic growth. The plan was borne out of leadership’s experience guiding other fast-growing organizations through the challenges of rapid growth, incorporating lessons learned and best practices, while integrating Ardurra’s unique goals for maintaining our strong employee-centric culture. Some of the plan’s highlights include:
- Identification, vetting, and integrations of acquisitions. Since 2017, Ardurra has acquired 20 firms ranging in size from fewer than 10 to more than 100 professionals. Potential acquisitions are identified through two key avenues:
- Relationships. Leveraging our internal networks.
- Brokers. The typical competitive process.
- Both have led to successful transactions. We have experienced favorable outcomes by identifying firms with an entrepreneurial spirit that are eager to grow, but that lack the resources and capital to do so. Our vetting process centers around ensuring that the firm’s culture, strategy, and opportunities for employee and company growth align with our own. Once acquired, Ardurra’s proactive integration process has proven critical for building a unified team, rather than just “bolting” organizations together as franchises. Quickly integrating each acquisition has yielded synergies in sales, operations, and project delivery, leading to more opportunities for our employees and our clients. Additionally, accelerating the branding of each firm to the Ardurra name helps further promote the concept of being one firm.
- Market strategy. Ardurra’s growth strategy also incorporates our plan to strengthen and increase our existing market share, as well as penetrate and expand into new markets. New acquisitions and organic ventures have brought additional resources to support existing services and allowed us to enter into new target markets and geographies. Special focus is given to transferrable markets and services that can be leveraged by Ardurra’s technology group, which focuses on championing and sharing new technologies within the firm. We have also realized an increase in net revenues by developing new services to recapture dollars that may have been previously subcontracted as we continue to build a full-service organization.
- Geographic strategy. Ardurra’s geographic growth and expansion strategy focuses on the highest opportunity areas that will yield maximum potential for success in our core markets. We require data-supported rationale to enter into new territories, coupled with a clear path for how to leverage the new location’s value and integrate that into Ardurra’s structure. If a particular location satisfies this criteria, we explore acquisitions in that area, as well as opportunities to establish an organic presence.
- Organic growth strategy. Organic growth is vitally important to round out acquisitions and build a healthy organization. Our organic growth strategy hinges on our internal culture and reputation for being an “Employer of Choice,” providing outstanding client service, as well as our branding campaigns and overall industry recognition. The success of our organic growth has relied heavily on our trust in local managers and their ability to identify staff or candidates to develop and expand our foothold in desired locations and markets. Additionally, our acquisition leadership and growth momentum has driven the pursuit and capture of larger, more diverse projects, broadening the range and depth of Ardurra’s offerings. Providing these types of challenging opportunities for employees to be part of building new operations has been a powerful draw to both new and existing staff. All organic growth aligns with our geographic and market strategies.
Ardurra is extremely proud of the unprecedented growth we have experienced in a relatively short time; however, we are most proud of our ability to maintain our culture and adhere to our guiding principles along the way. As we look toward a strong, healthy future, we will continue to annually assess and improve upon our strategies, plans, and goals so that we can best respond to industry changes while applying our uncompromising standards for employee satisfaction and exceptional client service.
Ernesto Aguilar, P.E., is president and CEO of Ardurra Group, Inc. Connect with him on LinkedIn.