GJ remediation firm sold to East Coast company

Matt Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, talks about Huntington Ingalls Industries’ acquisition of S.M. Stoller Corporation during a gathering at Colorado Mesa University’s student center Wednesday.

Executives from a large defense contractor came to Grand Junction Wednesday to make sure none of the employees at the Colorado environmental consulting firm it just acquired jump ship.

S.M. Stoller, which manages the U.S. Department of Energy’s radioactive waste remediation project in Grand Junction, was acquired by Huntington Ingalls Industries as the result of a transaction announced Jan. 2.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but negotiations commenced after the two companies started working together about four years ago, Stoller President Nick Lombardo said.

Stoller becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Huntington and will operate under the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, company officials said.

In an unusual move, the Newport president and several other top executives with the 127-year-old East Coast shipbuilder traveled to Colorado Mesa University on Wednesday to explain the deal and what it means to Stoller employees.

“Nothing is going to change (at Stoller),” said Christie Miller, Newport public relations manager. “Everybody’s paycheck will stay the same.”

No personnel changes are planned, Miller said.

Joined by Lombardo, Newport News President Matt Mulherin said the traveling executive team would meet with Stoller’s Grand Junction contingent of 150 employees following the news conference at CMU.

“When new faces come to town, I think everybody gets a little bit nervous,” Mulherin said. “The same thing happened to us. Newport News ... in the time I’ve been there, has been bought and sold twice. When that happens, you always get a little bit of a feeling of, ‘So what’s going to happen now?’”

Executives will meet at eight different locations across the country to reassure all of Stoller’s nearly 700 employees over the next several days, said Pete Diakun, vice president of Newport energy programs.

Huntington targeted Stoller for acquisition because of its long history as a DOE contractor, its many long-term employees and its complementary corporate culture which stresses safety, Diakun said.

Making sure Stoller’s most valuable asset — its workforce — remains intact appeared to be the top priority of the Newport executives’ road trip.

Stoller gives Huntington capabilities and contacts in the environmental remediation industry it currently lacks. Huntington, which has 27,000 employees, could give standout Stoller workers a chance to advance in a company with a greater variety of opportunities, Diakun said.

Mulherin pledged Newport would explore possible opportunities for expansion in Grand Junction.  Contracting work with oil and gas companies in the Piceance Basin is a possibility Stoller plans to explore further, Lombardo said.

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, who attended the news conference, said she hoped Huntington’s acquisition would eventually lead to more jobs at Stoller.


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