Jacobs Engineering fuels its rise up the ladder with oil, gas, and chemicals. The group provides technical, professional, and construction services for industrial, government, and commercial clients, primarily in the US, the UK, and Canada. Jacobs handles project design and engineering, construction, operations, maintenance, and scientific consultation. Typical projects include oil refineries, manufacturing plants, and roads and highways. The company's largest single customer is the US government (about 25% of revenues), for which it chiefly performs aerospace and defense work. Jacobs Engineering has more than 160 offices around the world.
The company divides its operations into four major categories: project services (including engineering and architectural design); construction services; operations and maintenance; and process, scientific, and systems consulting services. Its specialty consulting segment includes pricing studies, project feasibility reports, and automation and control system analysis.
The global recession hurt the oil, gas, and chemical industries, which in turn have had to cut back on their spending. As a result, the company's revenues in these markets declined in 2010. Jacobs responded by shutting down operations at one of its Houston locations. Also that year, the company lost a court judgment involving a pre-existing contract of a recently acquired subsidiary in France, causing it to record a $25.9 million write-off. Jacobs fared better in 2011, when revenues grew 5% and profits rose by 35%. Driving that growth were the group's activities in mining and minerals, infrastructure, chemicals and polymers, and upstream oil and gas. While the group has a heavy tie to the energy sector, it has been broadening its business so that it is less vulnerable to market swings.
One of Jacobs' strengths is its roster of long-term clients. The group gets jobs and keeps jobs for the long term, and a main strategy is to build on long-standing business relationships -- some that have spanned around 60 years. Nearly all of Jacobs' business comes from repeat clients.
For example, US government agencies involved in defense and aerospace programs have been pivotal to the company's growth. The Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) has been a key client for 50 years. Another long-term client is NASA, for which the company has a 40-year history of contract work.
Overseas, Jacobs U.K. works on several projects for the Ministry of Defense and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. In 2010 the company added to its defense and aerospace business in the UK with the acquisition of Sula Systems. Jacobs earned its second contract with the Hong Kong government in 2012, for which it will provide management and operating services for a new public works laboratory.
The group also participates in the environmental restoration of former weapons production and defense sites. Jacobs' strategy to speed up environmental cleanup at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge site has earned it contracts to help accelerate cleanup at other major DOE facilities. The company has also been providing services for the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence (AFCEE) to help the agency with its environmental cleanup goals since 1991.
Acquisitions are also part of Jacobs' growth strategy. The company grows by entering new markets and services lines via strategic mergers and acquisitions, allowing it to offer one-stop services. In 2011 it bought the process and construction unit of Norwegian engineering firm Aker Solutions for some $918.5 million. The acquisition, which included several units around the world, expanded the group's presence in important mining and metals markets, particularly in Australia, China, and South America. (It also greatly increased the company's mining and minerals earnings.)
Also in 2011, Jacobs broadened its design capabilites in the US and Asia when it acquired KlingStubbins, a provider of planning, architecture, engineering and interiors services. The following year the company announced plans to buy Moroccan engineering firm Team Maroc in a move that will expand its presence in Morocco and complement its existing phosphate business. Jacobs also acquired a majority stake in DM Petroleum Operations Company, which manages and operates four storage sites of the US' strategic petroleum reserve for the Department of Energy. – less