Alpine launches engineering services platform and debut acquisition

Alpine will "continue to look for partnerships with other like-minded firms in complementary engineering and infrastructure verticals," Alpine partner Dan Sanner told PE Hub.

Alpine Investors will announce later this morning that it has launched Trilon Group, an engineering services platform. Trilon is also unveiling its debut acquisition in Waggoner Engineering, a Mississippi-based engineering services firm.

Alpine, a San Francisco-based private equity firm that backs companies in the software and services industries, plans to invest up to $200 million of equity capital to fund the organic and inorganic growth of Trilon. The company seeks to become a top design firm in North America by partnering with engineering services businesses across the nation and aims to accelerate their growth through investment in talent, technology and targeted M&A. Trilon’s key markets include transportation, water, energy, environment and community infrastructure. PE Hub interviewed Alpine partner Dan Sanner and Trilon founder and CEO Michael (Mick) Renshaw about the opportunities ahead.

“There is a significant demand for infrastructure, and most communities in the US have infrastructure needs well beyond their available capital,” Sanner explained. “In 2021, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated infrastructure across the US a C- overall—with national grades of D and D- in critical areas, such as stormwater, dams, levees, transit and roads. The ASCE estimates that by 2039, overdue infrastructure investment will cost American households an average of $3,300 a year, or $63 a week.”

Sanner said that, “With the recent passing of the 2021 $1.88 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), partly earmarked for community infrastructure, and the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the federal government is beginning to address this gap while lifting historically underserved communities. Most infrastructure projects can be subsidized at least 50 percent by federal or state resources, which allows local communities to efficiently invest in keystone projects that have both local and national impact. The IIJA aligns with Trilon’s core focus on infrastructure that connects communities and addresses the challenge of climate change and social equity.”

Alpine’s “PeopleFirst” approach includes a CEO program, under which the firm brings leadership to situations where additional or new management is needed post-transaction. Under the strategy, Alpine partnered with Renshaw. With 30 years of senior management experience, Renshaw served previously as chief growth officer at Aecom, a Fortune 500 integrated design and construction firm with annual revenue of $20 billion and a workforce of 56,000, and as the CEO and managing director of Cardno, an engineering, environmental and management services company.

Why is Renshaw the right person to lead Trilon? He has “extensive experience with building teams in the engineering and infrastructure industries,” Sanner told PE Hub. “But most importantly, Mick is completely aligned with the Alpine goal of building organizations that are mission-driven and are focused on developing people to build enduring businesses.”

When asked what challenges engineering service businesses are facing these days, Renshaw replies: “Our clients face many challenges and are increasingly seeking trusted partners to address issues ranging from (1) prioritization of projects within funding constraints (2) project funding and/or matching contributions and (3) delivering infrastructure in a responsible way that addresses sustainability, resiliency and social equity. To support clients in this industry, infrastructure consulting firms need to bring a holistic and innovative approach to developing smarter solutions for the communities impacted by infrastructure projects. They also need to be in a position to grow in an industry where there is a real war for talent. Waggoner is one of the firms has been leading the curve (for the past decade) on ESG and serving communities by creating sustainable infrastructure that also builds and supports dynamic communities.”

What’s next? In the near future, Trilon and Alpine “are focused on listening to the Waggoner employees and community and then supporting them in the best possible way so they can scale and spread their mission and impact,” Sanner said. “We will also continue to look for partnerships with other like-minded firms in complementary engineering and infrastructure verticals.”