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Updated: November 30, 2020

Acquisition-minded Bangor engineering firm changes name after 42 years

Side by side portraits Courtesy / Haley Ward Inc. Travis Noyes, left, executive vice president of the company now known as Haley Ward Inc., and President and CEO Denis St. Peter.

After 42 years as CES Inc., the Bangor-based engineering firm on Monday unveiled a new identity. Taking its cue from a Massachusetts company acquired this year, the firm is now known as Haley Ward Inc.

The original name, CES, was an acronym for "civil engineering services."

But last year, executives at the firm began looking at how they could rebrand it to reflect expansion to engineering, environmental and surveying services — and lay the groundwork for continued growth.

With a total workforce of around 115 people, including 12 in Massachusetts and 25 in Fort Myers, Fla., the company became an employee-owned firm on July 1. It also recently moved its headquarters from Brewer to downtown Bangor. The firm had revenue of $16 million last year. 

"As we've grown, we've encountered more CES's throughout the country, so there's been a bit of brand confusion as we've grown larger," Denis St. Peter, president and CEO of Haley Ward, told Mainebiz by phone on Wednesday.

"We just had a client make a payment to another CES instead of us, and at conferences we run into other CES-named entities," he added. "We felt we needed to come up with a way to improve that and have a more unified branding for us."

Travis Noyes, the company' executive vice president, explained that it was difficult to come up with a name that had both lasting power and was easy to pronounce and remember.

Haley Ward met all those criteria, though the firm underscores that it did not pursue the acquisition of Maynard, Mass.-based water and wastewater engineering firm Haley and Ward for the name alone. That firm was founded in 1897.

"After we acquired Haley and Ward, it just kind of clicked," St. Peter said. "We acquired the name through the typical acquisition process, and we thought it had a nice history we could develop some good stories around and use that heritage with the transition."

CES worked with Bangor-based Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications on the rebranding effort, with a new logo to accompany the new name. Noyes said the fact that the new name can be trademarked is a big plus.

"By being able to trademark it," he said, "we can continue to acquire companies throughout the country ... and we can continue moving into regions without having to worry about our name being similar to someone else."

East Coast growth plans

As for future expansion, St. Peter told Mainebiz that the company is looking at steady growth that's not overly fast, adding, "The overall strategy is to continue to grow, mostly from the East Coast." 

Noyes noted that in the last few years the company's engineering division has grown the most, and that that it takes a strategic and measured approach to acquisitions, saying, "We want to look at what can complement what we do."

Internally at the company, St. Peter said the decision to become an employee-owned firm offers a lot of tax advantages and employee benefits, and was not driven by a need for an immediate leadership change.

"We've got a stable management and leadership team that will be here for several more years," he said.

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