ROCKFORD – A publicly traded Indianapolis-based design and construction giant announced this week that it will acquire Rockford’s William Charles Construction Group, one of the largest privately held construction companies in Illinois, for $90 million.
William Charles Construction Group, a division of William Charles Ltd., employs up to 450 people during peak construction times and is comprised of two companies – William Charles Construction and Ragnar Benson Construction.
William Charles Construction is among the region’s largest road builders. It was known for decades as Rockford Blacktop and its Rockford roots trace back more than 120 years. Ragnar Benson, based in Chicago, is a mega-contractor itself, with a resume that includes construction of the Belvidere Chrysler Assembly Plant, the truck-train cargo hub in Rochelle and Lowe’s distribution center in Rockford.
Both companies will become part of Infrastructure Energy Alternatives when the acquisition closes later this year. IEA is a leading infrastructure and construction company that serves the renewable energy, traditional power and civil infrastructure industries. The company was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange 6 months ago. The acquisition of William Charles Construction Group broadens IEA’s reach in the rail, civil infrastructure and environmental remediation industries.
“This is not a story of anybody leaving Rockford because I’m from here, my kids go to school here, our employees are here,” said William Charles President Ben Holmstrom, who will maintain his role when the company joins IEA. “We get to stay in Rockford, our employees will keep coming to the same office.”
IEA’s acquisition of William Charles Construction Group does not include William Charles Real Estate, which is a separate division of William Charles Ltd. Nor will the deal affect the charitable work the parent company does through the William S. Howard Charitable Trust, which has given more than $4 million to Rockford area charities since 1982.
Many still associate William Charles with Rockford Blacktop’s legacy of road construction work in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, though the company has broadened its scope, especially since its acquisition of Ragnar Benson in 2005. Today, William Charles employees are involved in $100 million-plus infrastructure projects across the country, Holmstrom said.
IEA is an industry leader in wind farm construction. It has completed more than 200 wind and solar farm projects in 36 states.
“It’s really the best of both worlds,” Holmstrom said. “All our employees in Rockford — that stays the same, but we get a heck of an opportunity to grow our business with IEA.”
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