Growing a successful business in the US

Date: 29 January 2014

On Tuesday 28 January, COWI’s CEO, Lars-Peter Søbye, was one of the keynote speakers at a conference hosted by Danish media group Berlingske. On the agenda was how to increase Danish export to the US.

​Prior to the conference, Danish Minister of Trade and European Affairs, Nick Hækkerup, revealed plans to increase Danish export to the US by 25 per cent by 2016, from DKK 100 billion to DKK 125 billion.

“Our American adventure started more than 25 years ago when COWI acquired Ben C. Gerwick, a company of nine men specialised in bridge and marine structures. At that time, their annual turnover was USD 800,000. Since then, our US business has grown dramatically,” says CEO, Lars-Peter Søbye.

The road to success
COWI North America numbers more than 330 employees working from our offices all across the west and east coasts. The turnover exceeds USD 70 million, and seeing an annual growth rate of more than 20 per cent, they have doubled both revenue and turnover in the past five years.

“I’ve often been asked why our business in North America has been so successful. And the answer is quite simple – although it’s been hard work. We’ve had a long-term strategy for our presence in North America and we consider our customers to be our closest partners.

As a specialist in bridge, tunnel and marine structures, we’ve targeted and won complex, important projects that have received national attention – such as the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, the IHNC flood barrier protecting New Orleans, the rebuilding of the New York shoreline in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the Milton-Madison Bridge linking Indiana and Kentucky. Such projects have given us a strong brand, allowing us to attract some of the best engineers,” Lars-Peter Søbye continues.

COWI has built a successful business in the US. Gathering all our North American activities in one company, COWI North America, consolidated our position further.

“By re-organising, we’ve created a lot of synergies between the companies. Today, our North American colleagues benefit and learn from each other, which has boosted business. And to prove it, COWI improved its ranking on Engineering News-Record’s prestigious lists of the world’s leading consultants. As number two within bridges and number three within marine structures, I definitely consider our business in North America a success, and something we can be proud to showcase,” Søbye ends.