Baton Rouge firms CSRS and Tillage Construction have acquired Georgia-based Garrard Group’s half of the CSRS/Garrard Program Management partnership, which oversees construction management for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The CSRS-Tillage partnership, a 75-25 arrangement, will manage roughly $200 million in school construction projects, including the new Lee High School, through the end of 2018.
“For a long time … I’ve wanted the program to be managed totally by local companies. This was an opportunity to do that,” said Curtis Soderberg, one of the owners of CSRS. The others are Michael B. Songy, Christopher J. Pellegrin, Travis P. Woodard and Franklin A. LaCourse.
Soderberg and Keith Tillage, owner of Tillage Construction, have known each other for years. Tillage had actually done work for CSRS years ago.
“It was a simple discussion that led to a painstaking process buying out their (Garrard’s) portion,” Tillage said.
The partnership allows Tillage Construction, a general contractor specializing in federal work, to move into program management, Tillage said. He plans to use the program management experience gained from the partnership to move Tillage Construction into that line of business in other markets.
Tillage Construction also has an office in Dallas.
CSRS/Garrard has served as the school system’s construction managers since 1999. The school system renewed the partnership’s contract in 2013. But the School Board included new incentives in the five-year, $6.6 million agreement designed to increase the percentage of minority- and women-owned businesses used on school construction projects.
The School Board set a goal of using minority- and women-owned businesses on 20 percent of the work.
Tillage Construction is a minority-owned firm and in the past won federal work as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, or DBE. The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Tillage the region’s Minority Small Business Person of the Year.
The company’s experience in that process and in mentoring other DBEs will help the partnership expand opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses, Tillage said.
Soderberg said that is part of the strategy.
What CSRS tries to do in these programs is to build capacity among the smaller, local design and construction firms, and mentor those companies, he said, which is just good business that’s good for the community.
“A lot of times people think you don’t want to teach people to become your competition,” Soderberg said. “But I think part of the covenant we have as business people is to share our experiences and help the younger companies and the emerging companies, to give them an opportunity to play on the stage with you.”