After a 30-year run, the founder of a Richmond-based engineering firm has sold the business to a larger peer as he looks toward retirement.
NXL Construction, an engineering and construction management firm with offices downtown and in Christiansburg, was sold April 6 to Century Engineering, a Maryland-based firm with 14 offices ranging from Pennsylvania to Fairfax.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, extends Century’s Mid-Atlantic reach to NXL’s service areas in Virginia and North Carolina. It also accommodates an exit for NXL CEO Nico De Leon, who founded the firm in 1989 after arriving in the area for a gig as resident engineer on the Varina-Enon Bridge.
De Leon, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday, plans to retire at the end of this year and was on the hunt for an acquisition that could keep his company going, said NXL spokeswoman Emily Ripka. She said NXL, which totals 70 employees between its two offices, will continue operating under its name with the tagline, “a division of Century Engineering.”
“He didn’t want the company to just dissolve,” Ripka said of De Leon. “He wanted it to live on and everyone to keep doing what we’re doing, so he was working to find a firm that would allow us to do that.
“Century does not provide the services that we do in the state of Virginia, so it allows them to break into a new market,” she said. “It also allows us to keep doing everything we’re doing without duplication, so that everyone can keep their jobs and we can keep servicing our clients without disruption.”
Focusing on construction engineering and inspection, design-build and project control services, NXL’s local projects have included road widenings on Forest Hill Avenue, Jahnke Road and Lucks Lane, as well as the Interstate 64 widening underway east of I-295.
It also provided surveying for the VCU Institute of Contemporary Art, and design-build work for the GRTC Pulse bus rapid transit system and the Varina phase of the Virginia Capital Trail.
Ripka said the company, based at 114 E. Cary St., had been pulling in about $16 million in annual revenue.
While the two firms had worked together on projects in the past, Ripka said the acquisition will provide NXL with additional resources and expand its service portfolio to include those offered by Century. The 66-year-old firm totaled about 450 employees before the deal and exceeds 500 with the addition of NXL.
Century’s arrival in Richmond follows other engineering firms that have entered the local market in recent years. UK-based WDM opened a local office last fall. Kentucky-based CMTA opened an office in Scott’s Addition the year before.