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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    A/Z Corp. acquired by Maine construction firm

    Perry Lorenz, president of A/Z Corp., stands Aug. 16, 2016, in front of the new Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport, which his company was building. A/Z Corp. has been acquired by Cianbro, a Pittsfield, Maine-based firm. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    North Stonington — A/Z Corp., the homegrown construction-services firm that’s had a hand in dozens of projects throughout the region and beyond, has been acquired by Cianbro, a bigger, Pittsfield, Maine-based firm known for being entirely owned by its employees, the companies announced Tuesday.

    Financial terms of the deal, which closed Friday, were not disclosed.

    As a wholly owned Cianbro subsidiary, A/Z will keep its name, and its 500 employees will join Cianbro’s ESOP, or employee stock ownership plan, said Perry Lorenz, the A/Z president whose father founded A/Z in Ledyard in the late 1960s.

    Lorenz said he will stay on as A/Z president and that A/Z’s leadership team will remain intact.

    “Our clients won’t see any operational changes whatsoever,” he said. “Our brand is unchanged. That was important to me.” 

    The 55-year-old Lorenz said the Cianbro acquisition grew out of A/Z’s efforts to update its business plan, a process that began about 18 months ago. Given that neither of Lorenz's two sons had elected to pursue the family business, the need for a succession plan that could secure A/Z employees’ futures topped the agenda.

    “I didn’t want to wait until I was in my mid-60s to figure it out,” Lorenz said. “I’d always wanted to become an employee-owned business, so we looked at pathways to do it. ... I’d known Cianbro for most of my career. They were one of my first competitors.”

    He said A/Z and Cianbro share “cultural values” and operate in the same vertical markets.

    “Not many integrated construction firms do the same types of things we (both) do,” Lorenz said. “They’re one that we’re very aligned with.”

    He characterized Cianbro, which has some 4,000 employees, as a national firm, while A/Z is a regional player.

    In addition to its headquarters at 46 Norwich-Westerly Road (Route 2) in North Stonington, A/Z has offices in Hartford; Hopkinton, R.I.; Westborough, Mass.; and East Windsor, N.J. In the last few years, A/Z has managed construction of the Earth Tower hotel and the Earth Expo & Convention Center at Mohegan Sun and the Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum. Other A/Z clients include Dow Chemical, Electric Boat, Eversource, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Pfizer, Yale New Haven Health, the University of Rhode Island and Wesleyan University.

    A/Z has been named the preconstruction and construction manager for the proposed National Coast Guard Museum project in New London.

    Founded in 1949, Cianbro is ranked among the top 100 U.S. construction firms by Engineering News-Record, a magazine that covers the industry worldwide. Operating in 41 states, Cianbro serves such construction markets as industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, power and energy, and building. It also invests heavily in workforce development through The Cianbro Institute, a professional growth and education center on the company’s Maine campus.

    “Cianbro and A/Z are compatible organizations with very similar philosophies towards people, operating culture, workplace safety, and towards their respective clients,” Andi Vigue, Cianbros' chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We each grew from small family-owned companies with devoted hard-working employees who are experts in their profession.”

    Locally, Cianbro has been involved in recent years in renovating the Mystic River drawbridge, the Niantic River railroad bridge and the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, among other projects.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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