Critigen Looking to Carve Niche Where None Existed
"The world's largest privately held geospatial consulting company." That's Critigen's claim to its existing and potential clients, as well as its 700 employees across the globe. The company spun out
of CH2M HILL and is now funded by Golden Gate Capital. CEO Jeff Akers
said, "Think of it as 'the Accenture of critical infrastructure.'"
Akers also believes that even with the current economic climate, "we
are in the middle of the perfect storm," where there is a "heightened
awareness of protecting critical assets."
Critigen positions its geospatial services in a variety of technology
sectors and plans to target new markets. The company is looking to
support activities in greenhouse gas regulation, solar mapping and
carbon management tracking by injecting geospatial technology into
environmental data management. The managed services solution puts the
company squarely in the cloud computing business as well, potentially
competing with HP and IBM and other tier I and tier II consulting and
integration firms. Critigen believes that beyond geospatial, it has a
domain expertise in certain sectors like water and environmental
engineering. Since it still maintains service level contracts with CH2M
HILL, much of its revenue is comprised of traditional geospatial
markets: 40% from state and local, 30% from federal and 30% from
Akers noted that some critical infrastructure projects have slowed in
the last 18 months while business in renewable resources has quickened.
Solar and alternative energy markets are "going gang busters," said
Akers. Critigen's overall growth has not slowed because of its
diversity of customers across many geographies.
Why then, if the business was good, did CH2M HILL want to spin out this
company? Senior Vice President Mike Underwood explained, "Both Critigen
and CH2M HILL believed that positioning the business as a core and
strategic portfolio element would enable the investment required to
fuel the growth that Critigen is capable of achieving on a global
basis. Golden Gate Capital views Critigen as both core and strategic."
He also believes that CH2M HILL may have wanted to focus more on its
core engineering and construction businesses. "What I can say is that
Critigen services will continue to be an important element of value to
CH2M HILL clients, delivered in many cases as a subcontractor to CH2M
HILL, and in other cases when appropriate, directly as Critigen."
Critigen has a three-year preferred provider agreement with CH2M HILL
for the backlog of work already in the pipeline.
Critigen will rely on partner relationships, as well. "We anticipate a
growing list of partners as our business grows and the needs of our CI
[critical infrastructure] clients evolve. Key alliances today include
ESRI, Google, Microsoft, EMC and HP," said Underwood. But as a
standalone company, changes will inevitably surface. "[Critigen] is
able to make decisions around strategy, marketing, organization and
operations as an independent business. Our intent is to share our
capabilities with a broad audience, and continue to attract clients,
alliance partners and top IT consulting talent. Now Critigen really
emerges with not only deep domain expertise in key sectors such as
water and energy, but with the entrepreneurial ability to proactively
apply technology-based approaches, new insights and visionary thinking
to the growing critical infrastructure market," said Underwood.
Underwood thinks that critical infrastructure is of vital
interest to those outside the U.S. market. "Our increased focus on
serving CI clients in Europe and the Middle East will drive growth for
us. And our ability to share our mission and values directly with the
market will hopefully attract top IT consulting talent, which in itself
can drive our growth. Finally, our calling card for years has been
innovation. Enterprise Geospatial, Solar Mapping, On Demand Spatial
Services and Visual Assets are a few of the innovations that our
consultants have developed recently. The market has responded well to
these. We know that continued success is dependent on our ability to
provide innovative solutions for our clients and partners," said