Top 100: Long-term relationships and proving success helps AECOM grab top 20 spot

AECOM has been jumping up on the Washington Technology Top 100 list over the last few years, and the company cites its long-term relationships and proving its success as being the reasons why.

Almost two years after its acquisition of URS Corp., business is booming for AECOM Technology Corp.

The company holds the No. 15 spot on the 2016 Washington Technology Top 100 rankings with $1.65 billion in federal prime contracts, a step up from last year, when the company held the No. 18 spot.

The Los Angeles-based AECOM is comprised of around 90,000 employees and makes $18 billion in annual revenue, largely from infrastructure type work and a lot of design and build work, said John Vollmer, executive vice president and chief operating officer of AECOM Management Services.

Management Services is the company’s major federal arm, making over $3 billion in revenue, Vollmer said. The organization is mostly solutions oriented, providing systems engineering and information solutions, maintenance and logistics, field services, facilities maintenance, critical infrastructure protection, asset management and a host of other mission-related services.

As far as customers go, AECOM deals with the Defense and Energy departments as well as a number of other civilian agencies like NASA. Like many of the other big contractors, AECOM also does some work in the commercial marketplace, and its work there is growing, Vollmer said.

Part of Management Services’ success comes from the effective integration of URS. “We were really fortunate to have a complementary portfolio of business and a common culture, which comes along with the clients that we serve,” Vollmer said.

The acquisition strengthened AECOM’s “bench” in core areas of the business such as waste disposal, environmental management, cybersecurity and overseas defense type activities.

One of the reasons AECOM sought URS was because it fit the company’s profile for a good acquisition target. “We don’t like to acquire to buy revenue or to buy services or capabilities we already have,” Vollmer said. Instead, the company opts for acquisitions that fill a gap, whether that be a geographical gap, a customer gap or capability gap.

Vollmer said that he had just come back from an event that celebrated the company’s work at a high consequence, high hazard clean-up site for defense, weapons and radioactive materials in South Carolina. AECOM has worked on this site since 1989.

“It is an amazing place where they actually take radioactive waste and make glass out of it so it can be stored safely for long periods of time,” Vollmer said, calling it one of the “crown jewels” of the company.

The work is run out of the Energy Department’s Office of Environmental Management and is a $400 million to $500 million a year operation, he added.

In 2001, AECOM began operating four million square miles of open-air test and training ranges for the Air Force in California, Utah, and Nevada.

Just as the company has had projects like these for an extended periods of time, AECOM is looking for those same long-term projects for the future. “We’re looking at the much larger, transformational opportunities,” Vollmer said. “We really want to be in long-term relationships with customers.”

AECOM also is busy making a big international push with a focus on the United Kingdom, India and Asia Pacific. The company is also working on moving further into the intelligence community market, Vollmer said.