The announcement Friday that Bernhard LLC—one of several portfolio companies created and owned by private equity firm Bernhard Capital Partners—was relocating its corporate headquarters from Baton Rouge to the Galleria in Metairie, appeared to be a black eye for the local business community and prompted BRAC officials to explain that no jobs will be leaving Baton Rouge.
In reality, the bulk of Bernhard’s corporate activity has been based in Jefferson Parish for the past couple of years and the move—trumpeted in a press release by both Jefferson and GNO Inc. economic development officials—is really more of a consolidation of office space into a shiny high-rise building than anything else.
“The purpose of Bernhard LLC’s new headquarters is to consolidate their existing New Orleans offices into one location and position the firm for continued growth,” says BCP Partner Jeff Jenkins, who was not available for comment last week, when the move was first announced.
Part of the confusion stems from the nomenclature of the company and the private equity firm that created it in 2015. Bernhard Capital Partners, or BCP, is the private equity firm. It was named for its founder, Jim Bernhard, who created it with Jenkins, following CB&I’s 2013 acquisition of The Shaw Group, which Bernhard founded and ran for nearly three decades.
In the years since, BCP has created several portfolio companies. Bernhard LLC is one of those and, itself, was formed by combining several companies: TME, now Bernhard TME, of Little Rock Arkansas; EP Breaux Electrical, of Lafayette; Metairie-based MCC, now Bernhard MCC; and Lafayette-based Bernhard Mechanical, which was founded in 1919 in Baton Rouge by Jim Bernhard’s grandfather.
Each basically functions as a division of the overall Bernhard LLC, which bills itself as one of the largest engineering, mechanical and electrical contractors in the U.S. The company also has a division it brands as Bernhard Energy Solutions, which provides small-scale power generation to large corporate users, like hospitals and amusement parks.
While each of those divisions will continue to have offices in the city in which it was originally based—Bernhard Energy Services in Baton Rouge, TME in Little Rock and EP Breaux in Lafayette—the headquarters of the overall company is now officially in Metairie, where much of the activity centers on the rapidly growing Bernhard MCC division.
Jenkins reiterates BCP’s commitment to the Baton Rouge market, where two of BCP’s other major portfolio companies—Epic Piping and Brown and Root—remain headquartered.
“BCP has plans for significant near-term investments in the baton Rouge economy,” he says.