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Forecasting 2023 with Hill International’s Raouf Ghali

Forecasting 2023 with Hill International’s Raouf Ghali

By Luke Carothers

In August 2022, news broke that Global Infrastructure Solutions Inc. (GISI) would be acquiring Hill International.  This move comes as a part of GISI’s strategic objectives of global diversification and expansion of its consulting platform.  Hill International is set to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of GISI, but they will continue to serve its customers under the same name.  This change will make Hill International part of GISI’s Engineering & Consulting Services platform along with sister companies the LiRo Group, GEI Consultants, J. Roger Preston Limited (JPR), and Asia Infrastructure Solutions.

While the name and way of doing business will remain the same, Hill International will now benefit from expanded access to operational expertise and resources to accelerate its growth.  For Hill International CEO Raouf Ghali, this merger means that the company will have access to the funds and resources to match the organic growth path that had already been laid out by their previous success.  Ghali notes that, with access to new financial instruments, Hill International is able to continue pursuing large-scale projects where heavy working capital is becoming more and more necessary.  According to Ghali, Hill’s previous status as a publicly-held company meant that a big part of management’s focus was satisfying reporting requirements to the SEC.  Now, as a part of GISI, this focus can now be shifted to managing the company and its growth.  Furthermore, Ghali points out that this move aligns the company’s growth with shareholders who share the same vision.  With this new merger, Ghali believes that Hill International will grow its business in both the United States and internationally.

From an organizational perspective, Hill International’s merging with GISI also poses significant benefits.  Prior to its acquisition, Hill International maintained a staff of around 3,200 employees.  Now, part of an organization with more than 12,000 employees, Hill International has a much greater pool of talent and technical knowledge to draw from.  Not only does this help from a talent perspective, but it also pays dividends in relationships with clients.  A large workforce coupled with a diversity of specialities means that they are able to cross-sell services to their clients better than ever before.  Ghali describes this as a “one-stop-shop” for clients to find what they’re looking for.

The timing of this acquisition seems to put Hill International in an advantageous position as many are forecasting challenges and headwinds in 2023.  There has been no shortage of discussion about the challenges facing our supply chains, which Ghali believes is slowing down the deployment of robust infrastructure spending in the United States.  To overcome supply chain challenges, Hill International has been reassessing the sequencing of their projects.  While supply chains continue to catch up, firms are changing the way they complete projects, completing smaller, easier to source portions first while waiting for the rest of the materials.  Ghali says that, by doing so, projects are able to curb up-front spending to counteract some of the effects of supply chain constraints.  However, citing the gradual decrease in material costs, Ghali believes that these supply chain challenges are short term, and that costs and sourcing times will return to a more normal level by the end of 2023.

Ghali is among the few voices that maintains a wholly positive outlook on supply chains and material costs, but this outlook is based on decades of experience.  Having worked in numerous market sectors across the globe, Ghali points to historical trends that suggest the AEC industry has faced these sorts of challenges before and risen to the occasion.  Furthermore, Ghali believes that, unlike in the past, our ability to communicate is built into systems that put us in a much better position to react than ever before.

With new access to financial tools and resources as well as a tremendous pattern of growth, Hill International is poised to continue its success and reach new heights in 2023.  Led by experience, Hill International has demonstrated an agility and resourcefulness that can only result in positive momentum for the markets they affect.

Luke Carothers is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.