The firms have a 100-year history of mergers and takeovers
Aecom have finally acquired Davis Langdon after months of financial wrangling. Both consultants have a long tradition of growth through mergers and aquisitions as their potted histories reveal.
Davis Langdon has a workforce of around 2,500 people in 69 offices worldwide, operating in Africa, Europe, the USA, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Its Far East business, Davis Langdon Seah, employs around 3,000 people working in 33 offices in 13 countries across Asia.
The practice, which has an annual turnover of more than £300m, has grown, like AECOM, through successive mergers.
Davis Langdon can trace its origins back almost 100 years and its growth to a time when Britain’s Empire spanned almost a quarter of the globe.
Established in 1919 when Horace Langdon opened an office in Holborn in London - where the present day group is still head quartered - the practice expanded two years later when it was joined by Tom Every, becoming Horace W Langdon & Every.
In 1936, the twilight of the British Empire, the firm acquired the Singapore QS practice of David Waters and Eric Watson - Waters & Watson - and began to expand in the then British colony and other parts of colonial South East Asia.
During the early stages of the Second World War the Singapore office was kept open and run by employee Seah Mong Hee - also the first Chinese person to qualify as a quantity surveyor - until January 1942 when the Japanese occupied Singapore.
The post-war boom years
Following Japan’s surrender in 1945 the firm resumed operations and, cashing in on post-war reconstruction, opened offices in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Brunei. In 1969 the firm’s name in the Far East was changed to include Seah Mong Hee, becoming Langdon Every & Seah, and expanded its gobal footprint with offices in Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok and Sydney.
At the height of the late eighties boom the firm merged with Davis Belfield & Everest to become David Langdon & Everest.
The origins of Davis Belfield and Everest date back to the nineteen thirties when Owen Davis and fellow QS John Belfield joined forces to create Davis & Belfield. Towards the end of the war, QS, Bobbie Everest joined and the practice became Davis, Belfield & Everest. Everest was a descendent of George Everest, the mid nineteenth century Surveyor General ofIndia and the first man to measure the height of Mount Everest which immortalized his name.
Form QS to consultancy
The 1988 merger marked the beginning of the firm’s shift from being a traditional quantity surveyor to multidisciplinary consultancy service, a move that accelerated when Paul Morrell became senior partner in the late nineties and merged with engineering firm Mott Green Wall. Meanwhile, the Far East business, now called Davis Langdon & Seah and increased its penetration into Asia, expanding into China, India, Vietnam and Korea.
In 2004, under current senior partner Rob Smith, Davis Langdon & Everest converted to a Limited Liability Partnership and underwent another name change to Davis Langdon.
Aecom, which stands for Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Management, employs around 45,000 people working in offices in north and south America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
The group has an annual turnover of US$6.3bn (£3.8bn) from the myriad of companies that make up AECOM covering construction, defence and engineering.
Blazing a trail
Although the Los Angeles based group was only established 20 years ago, it can trace its roots almost as far back as its UK suitor, to the early nineteen twenties, and the foundation of the Ashland Oil & Refining Company of Ashland Kentucky, under the ageis of Paul Blazer.
Under Blazer’s leadership, Ashland expanded rapidly through acquisition, buying other oil refining businesses and then gas stations to sell petrol direct as well as petrochemical companies.
The strategy of Blazer’s early expansion through acquisition, seeking in his words “solid companies that have niche markets” continued to be the basis for the group’s growth through the fifties and sixties, when Blazer’s nephew, Rex Blazer, ran the company.
Highways to hail
Crucially Blazer also diversified into highway construction during the boom post war years of America’s highway building, buying a range of engineering and contracting businesses which would later form the basis for AECOM.
In 1985, Ashland acquired US transportation engineer DMJM, one of America’s early integrated engineering and architectural firms. The group became Ashland Technology under the leadership of DMJM excutive Richard Newman.
In the late eighties, during the wave of US takeovers, which saw many companies with strong brands snapped up by asset strippers, Ashland’s board took the decision to return the group to its core petroleum refining business prompting Newman to spearhead an employee buyout of the engineering business which led to the spin off of Ashland Technology and the creation of AECOM in 1990.
Newman established the new group’s headquarters in Los Angeles, where DMJM was based, but the Blazer strategy of expansion through acquisition continued to the basis of AECOM’s growth.
AECOM’s first foray into the UK came in 2000 when it snapped up engineering group Guy Maunsell International which also gave it a foothold in new markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Newman became chairman in 2005, handing over the day to day running of the group to current president and chief executive officer John Dionisio, who floated the company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007.