Colliers International acquires Maser Consulting
Colliers International Group Inc. (“Colliers”) is a ~$4.5 billion revenue, publicly traded, global professional services and investment management firm headquartered in Canada.
At the time, Colliers was mostly known for its commercial real estate services business; however, Colliers is a public investment platform for high value, essential professional services businesses including project management, property management, and investment management.
Colliers believed that the addition of engineering services would broaden its suite of services to its existing commercial real estate clients, increase its presence in the attractive public infrastructure market, and serve as a new growth area globally.
While Colliers realized there would be challenges in convincing an AEC firm to partner with them, they felt that their “Colliers Partnership Philosophy” would be unique and appealing. Unlike other strategic buyers, Colliers partners with management teams and allows them to operate their businesses autonomously and retain significant equity in their businesses. Colliers believed this approach is particularly well suited for professional services firms, since it ensures that the key assets, which are people, remain aligned, and engaged to drive the success of their businesses.
Although an experienced buyer, Colliers had limited experience in the AEC industry and required assistance to better understand the industry, companies and people operating within it.
In 2018, Colliers engaged AEC Advisors as a buyside advisor to help educate them on the industry, introduce them to firms that were a potential good fit, and provide guidance on valuation and structure of transactions as well as help in negotiations.
In 2019, AEC Advisors approached Maser Consulting (“Maser”), a 1,000-person, $165 million revenue NJ-based multi-discipline engineering firm about meeting with Colliers to discuss their aspirations and unique Colliers Partnership Philosophy. Maser was also a Key Client of AEC Advisors, and both sides had worked together on several consulting and internal transition projects over the years.
Despite Maser’s CEO initial reservations about selling to anyone including Colliers, the Colliers approach proved very interesting to the leadership of Maser as it (i) solved their ownership issues; (ii) provided strategic partner to accelerate their growth by providing financial resources, global brand, strategic expertise etc.; (iii) allowed Maser to remain an “employee owned” firm with significant equity continuing to be owned by management and the employees; and, (iv) allowed the senior team to stay in place and continue to operate in an autonomous and entrepreneurial environment.
Colliers and Maser completed a transaction in the summer of 2020 at the peak of uncertainty of the pandemic which illustrates the unique commitment and relationship that had developed between the two firms.
The business has since rebranded to Colliers Engineering & Design and the firm has more than doubled in size, executing on the envisioned strategic plan in just a few short years.