Missoula acquisition: Ecosystem Research Group merges with DJ&A

Joined by city officials, members of DJ&A break ground on a new $3.5 million headquarters office in Missoula over the summer. DJ&A on Tuesday announced its acquisition of Ecosystem Research Group, growing its workforce to roughly 65 employees. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

The Missoula-based engineering firm DJ&A has acquired the assets of Ecosystem Research Group, signaling its confidence in the local market and that across the West.

Announced on Tuesday, the merger brings DJ&A’s workforce to roughly 65 employees. The acquisition has been a year in the making and coincides with the company’s new Missoula headquarters, which is under construction off West Broadway.

“We serve a very large number of federal clients, and one of the needs they have is environmental compliance through the National Environmental Policy Act,” Christopher Anderson, president and CEO of DJ&A, said on Tuesday. “ERG provides those services at a very high level. The marriage made a lot of sense when we started looking at it.”

DJ&A was founded in 1973 and provides a range of services, including transportation and infrastructure. It has grown to include offices in Vancouver, Washington and Denver, the latter  office being its newest.

“That market is very vibrant and there’s a lot happening in the Denver market that will support the growth of that office,” Anderson said. “But our home is always going to be Missoula, and we’re building our new headquarters for that purpose to accommodate that growth.”

Anderson said the acquisition of ERG will add new depth to DJ&A’s environmental capabilities, allowing it to respond to the region’s growing demand for such services.

ERG was founded in Missoula in 1997 by Gregory Kennett, providing environmental consulting to both local and national clients, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Its staff includes environmental scientists, GIS professionals and planners.

“The merging of these two companies will result in new, exciting professional teams and allow us to offer a wider range of services to current and future clients,” said Kennett, who will serve as senior project manager at DJ&A “We’re looking forward to combining our team’s expertise with DJ&A.”

In June, Anderson hinted at the company’s growth during the groundbreaking of its new Missoula headquarters. The firm plans to grow its workforce from 50 to 80 employees over the new few years, with the majority of them based in Missoula.

The acquisition of ERG includes roughly 14 employees, Anderson said.

“Everybody has a job that had a job before,” he said. “We didn’t want to see any attrition. We didn’t want to be combining jobs and eliminating others. We saw an opportunity to leverage everyone’s strengths.”

The merger with ERG marks the second major acquisition announced in Missoula in as many years. Last year, Cognizant acquired Advanced Technology Group, which also has marked significant growth in Missoula.

Now a month in, Anderson said the transition has gone smoothly. The two companies share similar cultures, making the marriage that much easier.

“We really felt we were positioned for success because of the outstanding culture ERG has,” said Anderson. “They have been a company that’s been founded on the same principles of honesty and hard work that DJ&A has. The transition has gone even smoother than I had expected.”

DJ&A also has high hopes for its new Denver office, where Anderson described the market as vibrant. The company has active projects in 16 Western states.

“We’re able to serve those clients effectively from Missoula,” Anderson said. “The Missoula market has some really exciting aspects to it. It’s not going to grow at the rate some other markets like Denver are, but the outlook for Missoula is very positive.”