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Environmental Consultants Rise 6% in 2023 Billings

The largest environmental consultants in Orange County saw billings increase 6% last year to nearly $428 million.

This week’s Business Journal list ranks 14 firms—including both OC-based firms and others with local offices—with local billings that top $10 million annually.

Most firms represented work well beyond Orange County’s borders—several are global operators with 10-figure top lines.

The boost in 2023 billings continues an upward trend from recent years. Environmental consultants in 2021 reported that billings went up 4.4%, following another increase of 7.7% in 2022.

The companies also collectively saw a gain in employment, rising 8.4% to 2,190 employees at OC offices.

Top 2 Firms

For the sixth consecutive year, Pasadena-based Tetra Tech Inc. ranks No. 1 on the list, with OC billings rising 2% to $88 million. Its Irvine office is at the corner of Von Karman Avenue and Main Street, not far from John Wayne Airport.

The company, which has clients like the County of Orange and the Irvine Ranch Water District, grew its employee count 7.3% to 294 workers.

Tetra Tech says it saw a significant increase in demand in Orange County for its services in wastewater design, flood control and groundwater modelling.

“Our backlog is strong, and we are seeing continued success in all of these markets,” Tetra Tech Vice President of Engineering Steve Tedesco told the Business Journal.

Last year, Tetra Tech completed its largest transaction to date with the acquisition of RPS Group and expanded Tetra Tech Delta technologies to include a subscription software practice, according to Jim Wu, vice president of corporate finance and treasurer at Tetra Tech.

Aecom, a Dallas-based firm with an Irvine office, retained its No. 2 position, increasing billings 20% to $72.7 million. It is still the largest environmental consulting firm employee-wise in Orange County, reporting 440 workers, up 10% from a year ago.

M&A

The biggest percent increase on this year’s list was 23.4% to $16.4 million in local billings at WSP USA Environmental & Infrastructure Inc., which operates out of Costa Mesa although its headquarters are based in Quebec, Canada.

This year, WSP jumped four places to take the No. 11 spot on the list.

The company also sports the largest increase in OC headcount, nearly doubling it to 122 employees.

A portion of the sales increase can be attributed to WSP’s $1.8 billion acquisition of British engineering and consulting firm John Wood Group’s Environment & Infrastructure (E&I) division, which was first announced in June 2022. Prior to that, WSP acquired global consulting firm Golder Associates in 2021.

WSP completed its acquisition of the E&I division in September 2022, which added 6,000 employees to the company worldwide, according to a press release.

“WSP has acquired several firms to help respond to the growing demand for environmental and sustainability services and infrastructure development,” Bruce Corkle, California district business leader at WSP, told the Business Journal.

Both mergers have “greatly enhanced WSP’s earth and environment practice,” Corkle added.

Out of 14 firms on the list, only one reported a decrease in billings this year.

No. 5 London-based Environmental Resources Management, which has an office in Irvine, decreased billings 12.2% to $23.8 million.

Despite the dip in numbers, the company is optimistic that 2024 will yield better results.

“Our business remains strong in Southern California and our expectation is that this year will beat last year’s numbers,” Anthony Parenteau, area manager and partner at ERM, told the Business Journal.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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