San Diego-based Kleinfelder did not reveal the purchase price of Littleton, Mass.-based GSC, but says the deal is "asset-based." The acquisition gives Kleinfelder a unit with nine offices in six East Coast states and a springboard for taking on national federal and private clients, says Gerry Salontai, Kleinfelder CEO.

"Becoming a national firm has been a goal of this company for a long time, and one we have worked hard to achieve," he says.

Kleinfelder is ranked 51 among ENR’s Top 500 Design Firms, with nearly $185 million in 2004 revenue. About 30% of its work is in geotechnical markets, with another 40% or so split between transportation and environmental work.

GSC specializes in natural resource and environmental project management, mostly for corporate clients. Its annual revenue approaches $46 million.

GSC President and CEO Kevin Pottmeyer will become a Kleinfelder senior vice president and board member. "His role is to build out the East Coast further," says Salontai. GSC adds 300 more employees to Kleinfelder’s 1,700.

That both firms are owned by an employee-stock ownership plan (ESOP) extended the negotiations, executives and observers say. Management consultant Paul Zofnass says ESOPs require more approvals. "The CEO doesn’t speak for everyone," he says. "It’s not just a function of price."

est Coast engineering giant The Kleinfelder Group Inc. is finally making a long-awaited move across the country with an East Coast acquisition. It is buying environmental firm Geologic Services Corp (GSC).