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Leading Puerto Rican project management firm eyes Orlando

Grupo CPM, one of Puerto Rico's largest project and construction management firms, is eyeing Orlando after opening a North American subsidiary in Coral Gables last year, the company's president and CEO told GrowthSpotter.

"Our focus now is to establish ourselves in Florida. Orlando is in our cross-hairs and is the next place we'll actively pursue work in," said Francisco G. Arteaga.

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"Our first office on the continent is in Coral Gables, but plans are to continue our growth beyond the Miami area. In fact, we set up CPM North America through Orlando law firm Pesquera Cerrud & Birmingham, P.A., so we can have eyes and ears in Orlando," he said.

Founded in 1991 as Caribbean Project Management, CPM outgrew the name over time as its services expanded exponentially, and its clientele internationally. It has managed more than $2.3 billion in contracted work for projects in water & waste water, transportation, educational, sports and social infrastructure.

The company has evolved over more than 20 years from a construction manager to offering turn-key solutions for every aspect of a major commercial project's development. Grupo CPM topped annual revenue of $17.7 million in 2014 and expects to reach $19.2 million this year, according to Arteaga.

Clients in Puerto Rico have included multinationals like Coca-Cola Co., and a number of large U.S. companies active on the island in pharma and bio-medical devices.

CPM has expanded in recent years into project development for public infrastructure works, most notably serving as procurement and technical advisor for a $750 million Public-Private Partnership program for Puerto Rican school renovations, Arteaga said. The company competes on large public projects in Puerto Rico with the likes of AECOM, CH2M Hill and CDM Smith.

"CPM is much smaller than those big firms, but we bring a lot of agility to the process and are large enough to have the same systems, metrics and technology that larger competitors use," Arteaga added.

The company is also serving as an advisory firm for capital projects, aiding investors or banks that want to evaluate large projects for lending purposes, or reviewing projects for surety organizations.

CPM opened an office in Panama in 2008, and established its first mainland U.S. office in mid-2014 in Coral Gables. Arteaga couldn't forecast when the company would begin actively pursuing clients in Orlando.

"Our intention is to become advisers to the Florida public sector, helping them shape procurements in PPPs and doing more strategic advisory work for everything related with capital projects," he said. "We'd especially like to get involved in Orlando's health care and commercial segments, and have experience in those fields."

A privately owned group with four shareholders, CPM would consider new private investors this year for its North America affiliate to accelerate growth in Florida, said Arteaga, who holds an 85 percent stake in the group.

The company has more than 160 staff in Puerto Rico, 15 in Panama and three in South Florida, with more moving to Coral Gables from its island headquarters.

Hiring may begin soon for an Orlando-based civil engineer or architect that has experience in commercial or large public infrastructure projects. Industry veterans with design and construction experience, and deep knowledge of local permitting requirements are ideal, Arteaga said.

bmoser@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5685

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