Four years in the making, ESA Adolfson, a Pacific Northwest environmental and planning firm founded by Molly Adolfson in 1987, has successfully transitioned to ESA. The name change signifies the complete integration of the 2006 transaction when Adolfson Associates, Inc. merged with Environmental Science Associates (ESA), a nationally recognized environmental firm.
While the merger is viewed as a success by staff from both ESA and ESA Adolfson, it wasn’t without growing pains. “Most firms underestimate the effort it takes to do successful mergers and acquisitions,” says Molly Adolfson, Senior Vice President, “the cultural integration occurring in the first year really sets the stage for success or failure.”
The first year of the ESA Adolfson merger focused primarily on operational changes; leadership took note of the reactions of staff to the ripples of change, ranging from excitement to frustration and an overall sense of loss. ESA hired a consultant to facilitate an understanding of staff perspectives to the various changes resulting from the merger, and used the feedback to refine the integration plan.
“We identified early on that defining and merging ESA and ESA Adolfson’s cultures was critical to understanding the new ESA Adolfson, and that clear, transparent communication was essential” says Molly. ESA Adolfson defined themselves as a firm known for environmental leadership and high quality work, a community partner invested in giving back, while creating a workplace centered on fun. Today, many of ESA’s core values are credited to the successful integration of ESA Adolfson and include creativity, fun, technical excellence, and work that matters.
Being in the thick of the four-year integration, Molly is now the lead integration officer for the September 2010 ESA PWA merger. “I’ve learned first-hand how to integrate cultures, values, and manage changes during a merger,” says Molly “with the full support of ESA, I’m building on the success of the ESA Adolfson integration to create a smooth transition for ESA PWA.”