EFCG, the New York City-based consulting firm that has been a key acquisition dealmaker and financial adviser for global construction sector firms in nearly three decades of industry growth—particularly those in design, engineering and architecture fields—is losing key staffers in an unplanned corporate shift believed to be related to succession planning differences


Managing Director Andrej Avelini, who joined EFCG six years after its launch in 1990, announced on Sept. 14 that he has left the firm to start a new company called AEC Advisers LLC, also based in the city, that will offer financial and strategic consulting and ownership, capital-raising and mergers & acquisition guidance to design firms in the U.S. and abroad.

Avelini, a former Salamon Bros. executive who has completed about 120 industry acquisition deals involving global buyers and sellers, is the new firm's managing partner.

Joining him in the new firm as senior partner is Josh Lahre, former EFCG senior vice president who joined in 2007; named as partners are newer EFCG staffers Joe Smetona, who joined in 2014 and Tyler Albright, who joined in 2011. Both were vice presidents.

"We have been working together as a team for a long time and are thrilled to form a new firm dedicated to bringing financial and business effectiveness and efficiency to the AEC industry," says Avelini.

In a statement to clients, EFCG founder and President Paul Zofnass, who has led the consultant since its 1990 launch, said Avelini stepped down on Sept. 11 in an undetailed succession-related dispute.


According to the statement, EFCG has named Donald "Chip" Elitzer to head its M&A activities, including pending transactions. He is a former vice president of corporate finance at Rothschild Inc. and now managing partner at Sagebrook Partners LLC, a mergers consulting firm in business, who has been an outside consultant to EFCG since 1990.

The firm says it has been involved in M&A deals worth an estimated $9 billion since its founding, which it claims is the highest among design-focused deal brokers,

EFCG also names as its interim managing director, Rebecca Zofnass, daughter of the firm's founder. She is a manager at Bain & Co., a well known Boston-based management consultant.

EFCG also says it is recruiting additional staff in advance of the firm's annual CEO conference, a well attended annual gathering of design firm leaders set for Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in New York City that offers new firm research on key industry financial and market trends, with featured perspectives from executives. 

EFCG says about 250 executives now are registered. Joan Zofnass remains conference manager.

The firm's website also still notes the firm's by-invitation only separate conferences for industry chief financial officers, chief information officers, human resource executives and "rising leaders," set for January through mid-May 2019.