To industry giant AECOM, one is an important number. Not only is it the company's rank on ENR's 2011 list of top U.S. design firms, it also is part of the firm's new mantra, “One AECOM,” which represents its efforts to unite employees under a single identity.
AECOM was, until recently, the antithesis of a unified company, with its cornucopia of corporate cultures stitched together from a series of acquisitions and mergers over the past 21 years. In fact, AECOM's largest units still retained their former names–DMJM, EDAW, Earth Tech–until 2009.
After going public (NYSE: ACM) in 2007, AECOM was required to streamline procedures and policies to ensure accurate financial reporting and projections to stockholders. “We looked at it as an opportunity,” says Joey Lake, regional human resources manager. “We had a wealth of knowledge within the practices of AECOM, the regions and its people, so we took what's worked the best and incorporated it into our vision for ‘One AECOM.'”
That meant retiring many of the old company names and merging the marketing, human resources, project management and project delivery systems. “The fundamental structure of the company is [now] designed to encourage collaboration and integration across business lines,” says Bill Vitek, mountain Southwest director for planning, design and development.
“I can't say it's been an easy road,” Lake adds. “Shortly after we started this effort, the economy took a nosedive. But I feel once we get out of this economy, AECOM is poised to do great things because we are laying all the groundwork now, when it's not an easy time to do so.”
The integration efforts are paying off in the Southwest. Revenue from projects in the region exceeded $89 million in 2010, moving the firm up two spots in the regional ranking of design firms and earning it recognition as ENR Southwest's Design Firm of the Year.
While part of the revenue spike resulted from the 2010 acquisition of Tishman Construction (a firm with a strong Las Vegas presence), AECOM has become a market leader in its own right based on prominent projects throughout the Southwest.
Despite its remoteness, Spaceport America—the first commercially built port of its type in the world—is one of AECOM's high profile projects. Located 30 miles from Truth or Consequences, N.M., the $200-million project is “out in the absolute middle of nowhere,” says Alan Jefts, program manager for the project out of AECOM's Houston office. “Everything has to be brought in, including all the utilities.”
AECOM served as programmers on the original site layout and definition of infrastructure, then designed 11 separate components including the site's water and wastewater treatment facilities, electrical systems, airfield, interior roads, fuel storage facility and systems integration package. AECOM also is responsible for commissioning of the terminal hangar facility and ensuring it gains LEED Gold certification upon completion in November.