In both cases, Gomes' contribution was considerable.
The breakout session -- "The Boardroom: How M&A Changes the Game" -- was adeptly moderated by Laura Howard of MBV Law (San Francisco, CA) and also featured leadership consultant Kathryn Sprankle of Sprankle Leadership (San Francisco, CA) and Brad Strittmater, president of Olsson Associates (Lincoln, NE). In this session, Gomes offered deep insight into how his firm approaches integration and leadership transition in an acquisition.
Gomes said that the LOI (Letter of Intent) stage, for Stantec, is the first part of the integration process. "By the time we sign the LOI, all the questions should be answered," he said. "The LOI stage is to verify that our assumptions are correct. If we sign an LOI, we're almost certainly going to do the deal."
Gomes added that Stantec doesn't rely solely on financial metrics to gauge the success of an acquisition. "We measure M&A success by whether we won a project that we wouldn't have otherwise and whether the selling firm's leaders are still there after a certain point in time," he said.
Gomes discussed what drives a firm's decision to sell, including:
- If they're too big to be small and too small to be big.
- It's capital intensive to continue to grow.
- If they have succession planning issues.
- If they have ownership transition pressures.
- A desire to work on larger projects and with larger clients.
For firms looking to grow through acquisition, Gomes advises that they have good cash flow, leadership opportunities to entice the selling partners, the willingness to be flexible with the acquiring company while devising and adhering to clear objectives in the process, and a strong foundation on which to build the new combined company.
Gomes added that Stantec changes the brand of the companies it acquires more quickly than most. "The brand has to be singular, clear and focused," he said. The best way to do this, he says, is by moving as quickly as possible to the Stantec brand.