Exclusive: Behind the deal of Pacheco Koch’s sale to Westwood Professional Services

Feb 1, 2022, 9:00am CST

Some of the best things in life happen when you least expect them.

Mark Pacheco and Jim Koch were not looking to sell their more than 30-year-old engineering,
surveying, and landscape architecture firm. Yet, that didn’t mean the pair didn’t receive at least
a proposal a week for an exploratory conversation around the prospect — and that was before last
year’s M&A boom.
But Randy Pogue had started his career with Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers, so when he
approached the co-founders of the Dallas-based firm with a new prospect, they didn’t see any harm
in simply hearing out a former colleague they both respected.

Pogue Engineering had been a target of an acquisition in 2015 by Westwood Professional Services Inc., a multi-discipline civil engineering firm looking to establish a North Texas presence with that first advance into Piano. Pogue was named vice president and currently oversees strategy and operations for Westwood’s Land Division South Region.

Tactically, Minneapolis-based Westwood, which had another existing Texas office in San Antonio, has had an eye on the broader Lone Star State for a handful of years but didn’t want to grow for the sake of growth. The company sought the right fit not only in terms of diversifying geographically and growing its business lines but in its approach to people. Pogue and Westwood saw that potential in PK.

“It went slowly,” said Pacheco in a recent interview. “We were surprised at how with every conversation it sounded better and better — mainly because our firms are so similar when it comes to culture. We started saying, ’Well, maybe there is something here.”’

It took nearly two years to close the deal. Multiple sources shared the news of PK’s transaction with the Business Journal late last year, and they weren’t wrong: Westwood officially acquired Pacheco Koch on Dec. 13 and is now focusing its efforts on a seamless ownership transition.

“Combined, we complement one another,” said Bryan Powell, Westwood’s chief operations officer. “We now have a larger footprint in Texas, expanded service offerings, local market expertise, and we have added leadership that you can only get through acquisitions.”

Part of the shift includes Pacheco and Koch taking on leadership roles at Westwood, in addition to the integration of PK’s 250-person staff that spans beyond the Dallas office to locations in Fort Worth, Celina, Austin and Houston.

“Bryan said in one of our very early meetings that Westwood wanted all of our people — every single one of them. That was huge for us,” said Pacheco.

“There are some companies that their strategic objective is — and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong — to acquire their competition in order to take out and eliminate their competition. That’s not Westwood’s philosophy. Our philosophy is to continue to build upon our greatest asset, which is our people,” said Powell.

Now armed with the right addition to grow, Westwood plans to continue to capitalize on Texas’ momentum, boosted along by a surging population, corporate relocations, a lower cost of living and all the commercial and infrastructure opportunities that come along with that. Westwood specializes in public infrastructure, private development, wind, solar, and power delivery projects with a national reach. Through PK’s offerings, Westwood will make its foray into new business lines in Texas that include services in the environmental, renewables, and drone technologies spaces.

“It’s a hot market right now, and when you talk about commercial development, residential development and public infrastructure, those sound like separate things, but they are so intertwined with each other in a growing area,” said Pacheco.

“It’s great when we can take our teams and put them together and are able to serve all of those in the same area. That’s really important, and it helps us make sure that we’re taking care of our clients because now we have more resources and more expertise. Our clients need to know we can take care of them no matter what’s going on,” Pacheco added.

PK, the 12th largest engineering firm in North Texas when ranked by local licensed engineers, will operate as “Pacheco Koch, a Westwood Company” for the next 12 to 24 months.

The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Anna Butler
Real Estate Editor
Dallas Business Journal

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