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Providence Engineering in Lancaster buying Carlisle firm

David W. Bernhardt, President, Providence Engineering - (Photo / Submitted)

A structural engineering firm in Lancaster County will become a little bigger in the New Year after closing its first-ever acquisition.

Officials at East Hempfield Township-based Providence Engineering Corp. today said the company plans to buy Ritchie Engineering P.C., a structural engineering firm based in Carlisle, on Jan. 1.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Providence Engineering, founded in 1992, has 45 employees and five offices across the commonwealth. Ritchie, which was founded in 2000, will add seven employees and a sixth office.

“For us, it made sense. We were looking to enter the Carlisle, Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg area,” Providence President David Bernhardt said. “This was a good way for Providence to get a foothold up there.”

Bernhardt said he first met Mark Ritchie, president of the Cumberland County firm, last fall at a networking event. “It became apparent that we had a similar outlook on how we conduct business,” he said.

Providence had been looking to grow organically and add more offices, he said. “Running into Mark was a wonderful coincidence.”

Geographically, the deal made sense, added Ritchie. “Client-wise, there really was little overlap.”

Both men said the biggest challenge for their industry, which is directly tied to the economy and building activity, is finding quality people to hire.

“In a strong economy, the challenge is finding capable engineers and drafters to join us,” Bernhardt said. “In a weaker economy, the challenge is finding work.” 

Right now, the economy is growing, so manpower is the issue.

Submitted

Providence has multiple offer letters out now to hire more people as building activity is on the rise. Many in the construction industry are optimistic that growth will continue under President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on promises to reduce corporate taxes and cut regulations while investing more in national infrastructure.

The company is expected to finish the year with about $5 million in revenue, Bernhardt said. He said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that Providence will continue to grow next year. 

Future acquisitions could be part of that growth, he said. “We’re always looking for open doors. If those doors make sense, we’re going to walk through them.”

Both firms have been busy outside of Pennsylvania. Providence is strong in the Mid-Atlantic region, but some of its biggest recent projects have been in Florida and Texas.

Providence serves several market sectors, but the bulk of its work is in commercial and industrial projects.

Ritchie, which does a lot of regional work, has active projects in states such as Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The firm serves many of the same industries, but also gets into some residential work through multifamily and senior-living projects.

Ritchie also does a lot of institutional work with recent projects at Dickinson College and Gettysburg College.

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