Jim Bernhard is taking a page from his Shaw playbook to grow a family of companies that could rival CB&I
When Jim Bernhard retired from The Shaw Group in the wake of his company’s 2013 acquisition by CB&I, some speculated he would run for office. Others thought he might get into real estate. For his part, Bernhard would say only that he and three of his closest colleagues from Shaw were forming a private equity firm that would raise billions of dollars and invest in companies.
Two years later, it’s pretty clear what Bernhard is doing. As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, his new firm, Bernhard Capital Partners, is raising money all right—money to build a network of companies that do what The Shaw Group did and are being run by former executives and managers who worked there under Bernhard.
To call it Shaw 2.0, as some in the business community jokingly do, might be an overstatement—but not by much.
The latest evidence of where Bernhard is taking BCP and the growing number of companies owned by the firm, in whole or in part, is the creation of a new industrial services company with an old, established name: Brown and Root. BCP announced earlier this month it is creating the new Brown and Root by combining Wink Engineering, which it acquired in June, and an industrial services division of Houston-based KBR.
Other companies in BCP’s portfolio include Bernhard Mechanical, the mechanical construction company founded by Jim Bernhard’s grandfather nearly a century ago; EP Breaux Electrical; Arkansas engineering firm TME; Bernhard Energy, which promises to develop district energy systems and power plants; and Epic Piping, a pipe fabrication company.
For the moment, Epic Piping is where most of the action and aggressive growth are taking place. The company is developing a 70-acre fabrication facility in Livingston Parish and a facility in Texas. It also recently picked up from KBR a huge pipe fabrication facility in Canada.
“He’s taking a page from the playbook he used to grow Shaw,” says David Dismukes, executive director at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies. “Shaw grew in this way, through acquisitions in the 1990s. But this is what he excels at: putting deals together and putting teams together.”