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PSI's New Prez Hops Aboard, Drives the Road to Recovery

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A series of unexpected events and one wild idea have PSI's new president revving up employees for an aggressive growth campaign via a coast-to-coast bus tour of the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based firm's 100 offices.

Photo by Scott Judy
Randy Larson, PSI's new president, is fired up about the firm's goal of reaching $500 million in annual revenue within five years.
Photo courtesy PSI
To ensure Larson traveled in style, PSI rewrapped his personal motor coach with corporate branding.
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Behind the wheel of his own motor coach that was wrapped with an eye-catching collection of PSI logos and corporate advertising, Randy Larson launched the tour in June, from his home near Tampa, Fla. He plans to visit every PSI location by November.

Larson's motor trip is the result of an unexpected detour. After more than 20 years with Tampa-based PBS&J, capped by the presidency of its infrastructure, water and environment division, Larson retired in 2011, about six months after Atkins purchased the company.

Murray Savage, PSI's CEO, soon phoned Larson—who formerly served as chairman of the Construction Management Association of America—with a proposal: Would he become president after Hal Branum, then 69, retired?

"We were looking for some fresh opinions and energy," Savage says, citing Larson's experience growing companies. However, while Larson mulled the offer, Branum died on July 1, 2011. Soon after, Larson accepted the position.

After coming aboard last October, Larson says he and other executives soon settled on a goal to grow PSI to $500 million within five years from approximately $200 million in annual revenue. Moreover, both Larson and Savage now say, they want to achieve this "500 in Five" goal largely through organic growth.

Reaching that goal means gaining significant increases in existing business, such as the firm's environmental sciences and non-destructive testing work for oil and gas producers, says Larson. However, he admits acquisition may prove the best route to growing other sectors of PSI, which is owned by a private-equity firm.

To boost existing business, Larson says the first task was to change the firm's collective mind-set. The tepid recovery from the years-long recession had lowered morale, making mere survival, not growth, the accepted norm, he says.

"We had to figure out a way to re-instill the idea to employees that it's OK to grow," Larson told ENR at a truck stop near his Tampa-area home, the day before he headed out on the tour's second leg.

To do that, "we knew we had to touch everybody," he says. "I had to get out there and challenge them, and you couldn't do that by e-mails and memos. It had to be done personally."

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