Environmental consulting firm ATC Group Services has relocated its corporate office to Lafayette following the company’s purchase last year by Bernhard Capital Partners, a private equity firm led by former Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard.
ATC Group Services’ corporate headquarters move from Denver to Lafayette was announced Wednesday at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.
“We’re in the people business, and Lafayette has more than its share of the most-experienced and hardest-working people you’ll ever meet,” ATC Group Services CEO and President Bobby Toups said, citing one reason the company headquarters will return to Lafayette.
Toups has been with the company, formerly known as ATC Associates, for 18 years.
He said ATC’s business also includes site materials testing for construction projects. ATC has offices in 70 cities across the country and 1,400 employees.
Jeff Jenkins, a partner in Bernhard Capital Partners, said the private equity firm is focused on acquiring companies like ATC whose specialties are working in the downstream sector of oil and gas: refineries and petrochemical plants.
“We believe in the environmental business,” Jenkins said.
ATC is bucking recent employment trends in the Lafayette area, where service companies rely heavily on upstream oil and gas activity that has slowed and resulted in thousands of layoffs statewide. ATC said its Lafayette headquarters is looking to fill 25 positions now and 25 within the next two years. Those slots include positions in the company’s information technology, accounting, human resources, legal, purchasing and marketing divisions.
Bernhard and Jenkins are two of the principals who established Bernhard Capital Partners in 2013 to buy companies focused on the energy sector. Jenkins said that focus is now narrowed to downstream companies, not the troubled upstream sector, and Lafayette could benefit.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Jenkins said. “We’re doubling down on Lafayette, and we’re doubling down on Louisiana.”
Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux said ACT moving back to Lafayette and the work it has lined up are positive signs amid troubled times in the oil patch. Gothreaux noted that some of Acadiana’s oilfield hands who lost their jobs have found employment at ACT.
Gothreaux also pointed to computer consulting firm CGI’s announcement this week that it would ramp up hiring at its Lafayette delivery center.
ATC Group Services began in 1982 as ATC Associates in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 2009, the company moved its headquarters from Massachusetts to Lafayette. In 2012, Cardno Ltd., of Australia, bought the company and moved the headquarters to Denver. Last year, Bernhard Capital Partners bought the company and began the process of moving the headquarters back to Lafayette.
Toups said Wednesday that he never made the move to Denver; he ran it from an office in Lafayette. Toups said he had planned to retire but couldn’t leave the employees.
“These people here helped me get where I am today,” Toups said, waving his hand to the many employees in the room wearing the ATC colors — red. “I couldn’t leave them in a lurch.”
The price Bernhard Capital Partners paid to acquire ATC was not disclosed.