ISG acquires ETHOS Design Group

Feb 07, 2023

Will Swearingen

A leader in architecture, engineering, environmental, and planning, ISG is strengthening its expertise with the addition of ETHOS Design Group of Ankeny, Iowa. Specializing in architecture and interior design services, the design team at ETHOS will bring their knowledge in both the private and public sectors to the multi-disciplinary firm, joining more than 500 employee owners across 12 business units and more than 20 disciplines.

The acquisition will bolster ISG’s architecture and interior design teams with the eight professionals from ETHOS. With their portfolio in recreation, commercial, education, municipal, and housing, ETHOS will complement ISG’s expertise in government and cultural and enhance its presence in central Iowa. The ETHOS team will relocate from Ankeny to ISG’s Des Moines office, continuing to serve their previous home base, now with the support of ISG’s full-service professionals.

"This acquisition is extremely timely for both firms," Derek Johnson, PE, executive vice president at ISG, said. "The ETHOS team has been resilient and persevered through a difficult time for the team and the future of their firm. We know, at ISG, that we can support this group of talented architects and designers, and their value systems align with ours, so it's a great match for all of us. Both firms value serving clients and each other as colleagues, community members, and people. Knowing this, ETHOS will help ISG continue making tomorrow better than today."

During the acquisition process, both ISG and ETHOS realized their empathetic project approaches, missions to make a difference, internal frameworks, and cultures aligned. With both firms greatly valuing relationships and responsiveness, among clients and employees, ETHOS and ISG understand the importance of delivering a high standard of service from one, unified team.

“When our owner and founder, Tim Olson, suddenly passed away in 2022, we leaned on our core values to guide ETHOS through the transition,” Mary Luna-Duffy, president at ETHOS, said. “From the first meeting and every interaction since then, ISG has proven, with their level of openness and support for ETHOS projects and people, to be a complete match to these values. ETHOS is excited to continue to serve clients and projects in its next phase with ISG.”

Zweig Group represented ISG in this transaction. Will Swearingen, Zweig Group’s director of ownership transition, was able to connect these two talented design teams in a timely manner which allowed ISG to ensure a seamless transition for the ETHOS team.

"Time was of the essence and ISG was able to move at a fast pace to accomplish this critical initiative for both firms,” Swearingen said. “As a family business that has grown to be an employee owned regional powerhouse, this acquisition allows ISG to continue building value for their employees and the communities they serve.”

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.