GEC acquires California engineering firm

Baton Rouge engineering firm GEC Inc. has acquired Noble Consultants, a California engineering company that specializes in coastal, harbor and water projects.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The addition of Noble gives GEC offices in Irvine and Novato, Calif. The deal also significantly extends GEC’s national reach.

In addition to its Baton Rouge headquarters and new offices in California, GEC has offices in Metairie, Lafayette, and Mandeville; Gulfport, Miss.; and Jacksonville, Fla.

“This acquisition is a key element in GEC’s strategy to become a more comprehensive coastal firm and to fully participate in coastal restoration activities in Louisiana and the coastal arena nationwide,” said Stephen Spohrer, GEC’s chief operating officer.

The addition of Noble Consultants’ 10 employees brings GEC’s workforce to 185 people.

All of the Gulf Coast states have plans to spend money from BP fines, as well as their own funds, for coastal restoration projects, Spohrer said.

Over the past several years, GEC has steadily grown its coastal project work. Adding Noble Consultants will allow GEC to increase that business.

The market for coastal services in Louisiana consists of coastal restoration work through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Spohrer said.

The agency laid out that work in its master plan.

Upcoming projects include restoring barrier islands and large-scale freshwater and sediment diversions, as well as planning and permitting for those projects.

GEC competes for that work with out-of-state “mega-companies” that until now had more in-house capabilities, Spohrer said.

Adding Noble Consultants’ coastal, structural, harbor and water resources engineering boosts GEC’s current capabilities.

Similar opportunities exist across the Gulf and lower Atlantic coasts, Spohrer said. GEC is now better positioned to pursue those projects.

Noble has more than 40 years of national and international experience providing engineering services on shoreline and other marine projects.

GEC will retain all of Noble’s employees and keep both offices. The California division will continue to operate as Noble Consultants, and Ronald M. Noble will continue to serve as Noble Consultants’ president.

Noble will oversee the California operations and help GEC expand its coastal client base.

GEC’s and Noble Consultants’ business relationship dates back to the 1990s.

The companies have worked together on Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration contracts, as well as a number of contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That work included projects in the Corps’ Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alaska and New Orleans districts.