Trivest Builds Out Engineering Platform

Sponsor: Trivest Partners

Target: CMX Inc.

Purchase Price: Undisclosed

Legal Counsel: Trivest: Pepper Hamilton LLP; CMX:

Bryan Cave LLP

Accountant: Trivest: PricewaterhouseCoopers

When Miami’s Trivest Partners acquired engineering firm Schoor DePalma in 2004, the goal was to slowly grow the business along the East Coast. Through Trivest’s latest add-on of Phoenix-based CMX Inc., the firm has taken a much more ambitious tack, building a bi-coastal engineering firm with outposts stretching from New Jersey to Arizona.

Trivest, which owns a roughly 55% stake in Schoor DePalma, financed the deal with a $150.6 million debt facility coming from American Capital Strategies. Trivest and management were also able to recoup a dividend through the refinancing, although terms were not disclosed.

Schoor DePalma, based in New Jersey, pursues engineering projects in both the public and private sectors. The firm concentrates on construction, environmental, facilities engineering, municipals, transportation, water resources, and traffic and planning. The addition of CMX not only expands the firm’s presence west, it also provides new focus areas, such as land planning and sports engineering. (CMX has worked on such projects as the construction of the Baltimore Ravens stadium and is currently engaged in the construction of the new stadium being designed for the Arizona Cardinals).

The CMX acquisition is the second add-on for Schoor DePalma. The firm, last September, acquired Damiano Long, a telecom tower-focused engineering group based in Pennsylvania. Including the CMX deal, the combined company now generates revenues of roughly $150 million, up from $80 million when Trivest made the original investment.

According to Trivest Partner Jamie Elias, the deal for CMX serves two main purposes. “Our initial understanding with the [Schoor DePalma] management team was to build out the company’s footprint both from a geographic standpoint and from a services perspective,” Elias said.

He added that as Schoor DePalma’s customer base grew, the firm needed to grow alongside it. To the firm that meant expanding to the Western United States. “These firms are working with the large public companies. Schoor DePlama needed to get bigger to keep up with its national client base.”

Trivest is investing in Schoor DePalma out of its third private equity vehicle, the $316 million Trivest Fund III. —K.M.