Risk Factors Dashboard

Once a year, publicly traded companies issue a comprehensive report of their business, called a 10-K. A component mandated in the 10-K is the ‘Risk Factors’ section, where companies disclose any major potential risks that they may face. This dashboard highlights all major changes and additions in new 10K reports, allowing investors to quickly identify new potential risks and opportunities.

Risk Factors - ESE

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Item 1A.

Competition

Competition in our major markets is broadly based and global in scope. This competition can be particularly intense during periods of economic slowdown, and we have experienced this in some of our markets. Although we are a leading supplier in several of the markets we serve, we maintain a relatively small share of the business in many of our other markets. Individual competitors range in size from annual revenues of less than $1 million to billion-dollar enterprises. Because of the specialized nature of our products, our competitive position with respect to our products cannot be precisely stated. In our major served markets, competition is driven primarily by quality, technology, price and delivery performance. See also Item 1A, “Risk Factors.”

Primary competitors of our A&D segment include Pall Corporation, Moog, Inc., Safran (Sofrance), CLARCOR Inc., TransDigm (PneuDraulics), Marotta Controls, Parker Hannifin, and Collins Aerospace., TransDigm (PneuDraulics), Marotta Controls, and Parker Hannifin.

Significant competitors of our USG segment include OMICRON Electronics Corp., Megger Group Limited, Vaisala, and Qualitrol Company LLC (a subsidiary of Fortive Corporation).

Our Test segment is a global leader in EM shielding. Significant competitors in this market include Rohde & Schwarz GMBH, Microwave Vision SA (MVG), TDK RF Solutions Inc., Albatross GmbH, IMEDCO AG, and Universal Shielding Corp.

Research and Development

Research and development and our technological expertise are important factors in our business. Our research and development programs are designed to develop technology for new products or to extend or upgrade the capability of existing products, and to enhance their commercial potential. We perform research and development at our own expense, and also engage in research and development funded by our customers. See Note 1 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for financial information about our research and development expenditures.

Environmental Matters and Government Regulation

We are involved in various stages of investigation and cleanup relating to environmental matters. It is difficult to estimate the potential costs of these matters and the possible impact of these costs on the Company at this time due in part to: the uncertainty regarding the extent of pollution; the complexity and changing nature of Government laws and regulations and their interpretations; the varying costs and effectiveness of alternative cleanup technologies and methods; the uncertain level of insurance or other types of cost recovery; the uncertain level of our responsibility for any contamination; the possibility of joint and several liability with other contributors under applicable law; and the ability of other contributors to make required contributions toward cleanup costs. Based on information currently available, we do not believe that the aggregate costs involved in the resolution of environmental matters or compliance with Governmental regulations will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.

Human Capital Management

As of September 30, 2023, we employed 3,195 persons, including 3,131 full time employees 16% of whom were located in 27 foreign countries.

We strive to be a responsible member of the communities in which we operate, and we are dedicated to preserving operational excellence and remaining an employer of choice. We provide and maintain a work environment that attracts, develops and retains top

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talent by offering our employees an engaging work experience that contributes to their career development. Through our charitable Foundation and wellness activities we provide opportunities for civic involvement that supports our communities and provides our employees with meaningful experiences that promote collaborative and rewarding work environments. Through our charitable Foundation and wellness activities we provide opportunities for civic involvement that not only support our communities and provides our employees with meaningful experiences that promote collaborative and rewarding work environments. We strive to maintain a culture that enables all employees to be treated with dignity and respect while performing their jobs to the best of their abilities. We operate in a supportive culture that incorporates strong ethical behavior and reinforces our human rights commitment through annual training on ethics, human rights, anti-human trafficking and anti-harassment. We 5 Table of Contentsoperate in a supportive culture that incorporates strong ethical behavior and reinforces our human rights commitment through annual training on ethics, human rights, anti-human trafficking and anti-harassment.

Our subsidiaries enjoy moderate turnover compared to the national average for our industry.Our subsidiaries enjoy modest turnover at about half the national average for our industry. Fewer than 11% of our workforce are contingent workers. We invest in creating a diverse, inclusive and safe work environment which will inspire our employees to give their best efforts every day. In fact, nearly half of our employee base comes from diverse backgrounds.

We generally conduct formal compensation benchmarking reviews every 1-2 years to ensure wages are competitive in local markets and support our retention and recruiting efforts. Additionally, we invest time and resources in reviewing pay equity within our workforce. The majority of full-time domestic and international employees are eligible for bonus or commission plans, most of which are designed to incentivize and reward performance based on results such as EPS, EBIT, cash flow, quality and backlog reduction, or other measures.

We recognize that our success is based on the talents and dedication of those we employ, and we are invested in their success. Significant investments are made in the areas of talent development, technical skills and compliance training in areas such as supervisor training, professional coaching, ethics, safety, hazmat, ITAR, etc. For succession planning purposes, we focus on identifying high-potential future leaders and working with them on individual development plans and coaching.

Attracting and retaining a talented workforce is of utmost importance. Given the ever-changing talent market, we have looked to broaden the ways in which we can recognize and reward performance, including more frequent merit increases, market adjustments, spot bonuses and other creative ways to recognize and reward employees. By utilizing these and other measures, at the end of our fiscal year the average tenure of our workforce was 13 years. While utilizing these and other measures, at the end of our fiscal year the average tenure of our workforce was nine years. Nearly one third of our employees have been with us for 10 or more years and nearly 50% of our employees have been with us for five or more years. One third of employees have been with us for 10 or more years and more than 50% of employees have been with us for five or more years.

We are committed to the health and wellbeing of our employees and their families by encouraging participation in wellness programs. Generally, all our full-time employees, both domestic and international, are offered health and welfare benefits. We remain committed to our communities through financial support from our employees and the ESCO Foundation, and through personal participation of our employees with a variety of local organizations, such as food banks, blood drives, the YMCA, Special Olympics, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. We believe strong human capital is a competitive differentiator, and we focus on ensuring we have the right domestic and international talent in place to drive our strategic initiatives not only today but well into the future.

Workforce Composition

(As of September 30, 2023)

Minorities are defined to include individuals of Native American or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or
African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races.

The above is based on employees’ self-identification or other information believed by the Company to be reliable.
*Some countries do not permit the collection or reporting of some or all of the above types of data.

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Financing

For information about our credit facility, see Note 6 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, which is incorporated into this Item by reference.

Additional Information

The information set forth in Item 1A, “Risk Factors,” is incorporated in this Item by reference.

We make available free of charge on or through our website, www.escotechnologies.com, our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as well as our recent Proxy Statements for meetings of our shareholders, as soon as reasonably practicable after we file or furnish this material to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Information contained on our website is not incorporated into this Report.

Information about our Executive Officers

The following sets forth certain information as of the date of this report with respect to the persons who are, or who have been selected to become, our executive officers. These officers are elected annually to terms which expire at the first meeting of the Board of Directors held after the Annual Meeting of Stockholders.

There are no family relationships among any of our executive officers and directors.

Item 1A. Risk Factors

This Form 10-K, including Item 1, “Business,” Item 2, “Properties,” Item 3, “Legal Proceedings,” Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and Item 7A, “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk,” contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the federal securities laws, as described under “Forward-Looking Statements” above.

In addition to the risks and uncertainties discussed in those Items and elsewhere in this Form 10-K, and risks and uncertainties that apply to businesses or public companies generally, the following important risk factors which are particularly applicable to our business could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements, or could otherwise materially adversely affect our business, operating results or financial condition:

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Risks Related to the Nature of our Business

Restrictions in authorized U.S. Government defense spending or acquisition priorities could negatively impact our financial position and result of operations.

Sales to the U.S. Government and its prime contractors and subcontractors represent a significant portion of our business. Over the past three fiscal years, approximately 26% of our revenues have been generated from sales to the U.S. Government or its contractors, primarily within our A&D segment. These sales are dependent on government funding of the underlying programs, which is generally subject to annual Congressional appropriations and periodic authorization of increases in the Government debt ceiling, and they may therefore be adversely affected not only by failure to obtain timely and adequate appropriations but also by extended Government shutdowns. These sales are dependent on government funding of the underlying programs, which is generally subject to annual Congressional appropriations.

The lack of certainty about long-term Government defense spending priorities and Congressional willingness to continue short-term Governmental funding in a timely manner creates a continuing risk of reductions or terminations of, or delays in, the government funding of programs applicable to us or our customers, which we cannot anticipate. These funding effects could adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations. A significant portion of VACCO’s, Globe’s and Westland’s sales involve major U.S. Government programs such as NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and U.S. Navy submarines. A reduction or delay in Government spending on these programs could have a significant adverse impact on our financial results which could extend for more than a single year.

As of September 30, 2023, our twelve-month backlog was approximately $540.7 million, which represents confirmed orders we believe will be recognized as revenue within the next twelve months. There can be no assurance that our customers will purchase all the orders represented in our backlog, particularly as to contracts which are subject to the U.S. Government’s and its subcontractors’ ability to modify or terminate major programs or contracts, and if and to the extent that this occurs, our future revenues could be materially reduced.

We enter into fixed-price contracts which could subject us to losses if we have cost overruns.

We derive some of our revenues from fixed-price contracts. While fixed-price contracts enable us to benefit from performance improvements, cost reductions and efficiencies, they also subject us to the risk of reduced margins or incurring losses if we are unable to achieve estimated costs and revenues. If our costs exceed our estimated price, we recognize losses which can significantly affect our reported results. The long term nature of many of our contracts makes the process of estimating costs and revenues on fixed-price contracts inherently risky. Fixed-price contracts often contain price incentives and penalties tied to performance, which can be difficult to estimate and have significant impacts on margins.

Estimating costs to complete fixed-price development contracts is generally subject to more uncertainty than fixed-price production contracts, especially in times of higher inflation. Many of these development programs have highly complex designs. In addition, technical or quality issues that arise during development could lead to schedule delays and higher costs to complete, which could result in a material charge or otherwise adversely affect our financial condition.

Risks Related to our International Business

We derive a significant part of our revenues from non-U.S. sales and are subject to the risks of doing business in other countries.

In 2023, approximately 30% of our net sales were to customers outside the United States. We expect that non-U.S. sales will continue to account for a significant portion of our revenues for the foreseeable future. As a result, we are subject to the risks of doing business internationally, including:

Changes in regulatory requirements or other executive branch actions, such as Executive Orders;
Changes in the global trade environment, including disputes with authorities in non-U.S. jurisdictions, including international trade authorities, that could impact sales and/or delivery of products and services outside the U.S. and/or impose costs on our customers in the form of tariffs, duties or penalties attributable to the importation of our products;

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Trade restrictions against certain foreign-made products or entities may adversely affect our business and our ability to compete in certain markets;
Our business may also be impacted by the ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China which are causing U.S. goods to be viewed in a less favorable light by Chinese customers;
Changes to U.S. and non-U.S. government policies, including sourcing restrictions, requirements to expend a portion of program funds locally and governmental industrial cooperation or participation requirements;
Fluctuations in international currency exchange rates;
Volatility in international political and economic environments and changes in non-U.S. national priorities and budgets, which can lead to delays or fluctuations in orders;
Imposition of domestic and international taxes, export controls, tariffs, embargoes, sanctions (such as those imposed on Russia) and other trade restrictions;
Compliance with a variety of non-U.S. laws, as well as U.S. laws affecting the activities of U.S. companies abroad; and
Unforeseen developments and conditions, including terrorism, war, epidemics and international tensions and conflicts.

While the impact of these factors is difficult to predict, any one or more of these factors could adversely affect our future operations, revenues and financial condition.

Economic, political and other risks of our international operations, including unforeseen developments such as terrorist activities, international tensions.Economic, political and other risks of our international operations, including terrorist activities or armed conflict, could adversely affect our business. war or other armed conflict, and international pandemics, could adversely affect our business.

Adverse changes in the political situation in certain foreign countries in which we do business could cause a decline in revenues and adversely affect our financial condition. Adverse changes in the political situation in certain foreign countries in which we do business could cause a decline in revenues and adversely affect our financial condition. For example:

Our Test segment does significant business in Asia, and changes in the Chinese political climate, or economic or territorial aggression by China against Taiwan or other nearby countries, could significantly and negatively affect our business; also, cash generated by our business in China may not be available to fund our operations or other uses outside China due to possible imposition of restrictions or limitations on our ability to repatriate the cash, and although we attempt to repatriate cash on a regular basis to mitigate this risk, we may not be able to continue to do this in the future;
Several of our subsidiaries are based in Europe and could be negatively impacted by the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, and between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; if either of these conflicts were to spread beyond these countries, or if other conflicts were to develop, we would expect an increasingly unfavorable impact on our global business environment; and
Our international sales are also subject to other risks inherent in foreign commerce, including currency fluctuations and devaluations, differences in foreign laws, uncertainties as to enforcement of contract or intellectual property rights, and difficulties in negotiating and resolving disputes with our foreign customers.

Our governmental sales and our international and export operations are subject to special U.S. and foreign government laws and regulations which may impose significant compliance costs, create reputational and legal risk, and impair our ability to compete in international markets.

The international scope of our operations subjects us to a complex system of commercial and trade regulations around the world, and our foreign operations are governed by laws and business practices that often differ from those of the U.S. In addition, laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar laws in other countries increase the need for us to manage the risks of improper conduct not only by our own employees but by distributors and contractors who may not be within our direct control. Many of our exports are of products which are subject to U.S. Government regulations and controls such as the International Traffic in Arms

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Regulations (ITAR), which impose certain restrictions on the U.S. export of defense articles and services, and these restrictions are subject to change from time to time, including changes in the countries into which our products may lawfully be sold.

If we were to fail to comply with these laws and regulations, we could be subject to significant fines, penalties and other sanctions including the inability to continue to export our products or to sell our products to the U.S. Government or to certain other customers. In addition, some of these regulations may be viewed as too restrictive by our international customers, who may elect to develop their own domestic products or procure products from other international suppliers which are not subject to comparable export restrictions; and the laws, regulations or policies of certain other countries may also favor their own domestic suppliers over foreign suppliers such as the Company.

Risks Related to our Manufacturing and Sales Operations and Technology

Disruptions of Our Information Technology Systems, or Information Security and/or Data Privacy Breaches, Could Adversely Affect Our Business.

Global information technology security threats and targeted computer crime are increasing in frequency and sophistication and pose a risk to the security of our systems and networks and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data and communications. While we attempt to mitigate these risks through numerous measures, including implementation of standard cybersecurity controls, employee training and testing, comprehensive monitoring of our networks and systems, and maintenance of backup and protective systems, we cannot guarantee that these efforts will always be successful. Further, although we do not believe we have experienced a material information security breach in the last three years, and we have incurred no material fines, settlement costs or other material expenses related to information security breaches, if we were to experience such a breach it could adversely affect our reputation and result in litigation, regulatory action, liability for fines, penalties and related expenses, and costs of implementing additional data protection procedures. Although we do not believe we have experienced a material information security breach in the last three years, and we have incurred no fines, settlement costs or other material expenses related to information security breaches, if we were to experience such a breach it could adversely affect our reputation and result in litigation, regulatory action, liability for fines, penalties and related expenses, and costs of implementing additional data protection procedures. In addition, even though we generally do not conduct business directly with retail or individual customers or consumers we must comply with increasingly complex and rigorous regulatory standards enacted to protect business and personal data in the U.S. and elsewhere. Compliance with data privacy laws and regulations increases operational complexity, and failure to comply with legal or regulatory standards could subject us to fines and penalties, as well as legal and reputational risks, including proceedings against us by governmental entities or others. Although we maintain insurance coverage for data privacy risks, we cannot guarantee that our coverage will be adequate for all costs or losses incurred.

We have many information technology systems that are important to the operation of our businesses, some of which are managed by third parties. These systems are used to obtain, process, transmit and store electronic information and to manage or support a variety of integral business processes and activities. Our primary and backup computer systems are vulnerable to damage, disruptions or shutdowns during the process of upgrading or replacing software, databases or components and from power outages, computer and telecommunication failures, security breaches, natural disasters and errors by employees. Any failure in the operation of our information technology systems could adversely affect our businesses or operating results. Although losses arising from some of these issues may be covered by information security insurance, we cannot guarantee that our coverage will be adequate for all costs or losses incurred.

A significant part of our manufacturing operations depends on a small number of third-party suppliers.

A significant part of our manufacturing operations relies on a small number of third-party manufacturers to supply component parts or products. For example, Doble has arrangements with six manufacturers which produce and supply a substantial portion of its end-products, and one of these suppliers produces approximately 23% of Doble’s products from a single location within the United States. As another example, Globe has a single supplier of critical materials for a significant military production program, and if this supplier were to discontinue producing these components in a timely manner the need to secure another source could pose a risk to the production program. 10 Table of ContentsAs another example, PTI has a single supplier of critical electronic components for a significant aircraft production program, and if this supplier were to discontinue producing these components the need to secure another source could pose a risk to the production program. A significant disruption in the supply of those products or others provided by a small number of suppliers could negatively affect the timely delivery of products to customers as well as future sales, which could increase costs and reduce margins.

Certain of our other businesses are dependent upon sole source or a limited number of third-party manufacturers of parts and components. Many of these suppliers are small businesses. Since alternative supply sources are limited, there is an increased risk of adverse impacts on our production schedules and profits if our suppliers were to default in fulfilling their price, quality or delivery obligations. In addition, some of our customers or potential customers may prefer to purchase from a supplier which does not have such a limited number of sources of supply.

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Increases in prices of raw material and components, and decreased availability of such items, could adversely affect our business.

The cost of raw materials and product components is a major element of the total cost of many of our products. For example, our Test segment’s critical components rely on purchases of raw materials from third parties. Increases in the prices of raw materials (such as steel, copper, nickel, zinc, wood and petrochemical products) could have an adverse impact on our business by, among other things, increasing costs and reducing margins. Aerospace-grade titanium and gaseous helium, important raw materials for our A&D segment, may at times be in short supply; in addition, although we try to tie our supplier pricing to long-term contracts this is not always possible, and we are experiencing price inflation on a number of products. Further, some of Doble’s items of equipment which are provided to its customers for their use are in the maturity of their life cycles, which creates the risk that replacement components may be unavailable or available only at increased costs. We have experienced COVID-related short-term disruptions in the supply chain which have periodically resulted in extended lead times and cost increases, and the long term impacts of these disruptions are uncertain. We have experienced COVID-related short term disruptions in the supply chain which have periodically resulted in extended lead times and cost increases, and the long term impacts of these disruptions are uncertain. In addition, our reliance on sole or limited sources of supply of raw materials and components in each of our segments could adversely affect our business, as described in the preceding Risk Factor.In addition, our reliance on sole or limited sources of supply of raw materials and components in each of our segments could adversely affect our business, as described in the preceding Risk Factor.

The end of customer product life cycles, or our inability to timely develop new products, could reduce our future sales.

Many of our A&D segment products are sold to be components in our customers' end products. If a customer discontinues a certain end-product line and we are unable to develop and successfully market replacement products there could be a significant decrease in our sales and an adverse effect on our operating results. For example, a substantial portion of PTI's revenue is generated from commercial aviation aftermarket sales. As certain aircraft are retired and replaced by newer aircraft, if we were unable to offer suitable aftermarket products for the newer aircraft there could be a corresponding decrease in sales associated with our products which could adversely affect our operating results.

Much of our business is dependent on the continuous development of new products and technologies to meet the changing needs of our markets on a cost-effective basis. Many of these markets are highly technical from an engineering standpoint, and the relevant technologies are subject to rapid change. If we fail to timely enhance existing products or develop new products as needed to meet market or competitive demands, we could lose sales opportunities, which would adversely affect our business. In addition, in some existing contracts with customers, we have made commitments to develop and deliver new products. If we fail to meet these commitments, the default could result in the imposition on us of contractual penalties including termination. Our inability to enhance existing products in a timely manner could make our products less competitive, while our inability to successfully develop new products may limit our growth opportunities. Development of new products and product enhancements may also require us to make greater investments in research and development than we now do, and the increased costs associated with new product development and product enhancements could adversely affect our operating results. In addition, our costs of new product development may not be recoverable if demand for our products is not as great as we anticipate it to be.

Product defects or customer claims could result in costly fixes, litigation and damages.

Our business exposes us to potential product liability risks that are inherent in the design, manufacture and sale of our products and the products of third-party vendors which we use or resell, many of which are mission-critical to our customers. If there are claims related to defective products (under warranty or otherwise), particularly in a product recall situation, we could be faced with significant expenses in replacing or repairing the product. For example, the A&D segment obtains raw materials, machined parts and other product components from suppliers who provide certifications of quality which we rely on. Should these product components be defective and pass undetected into finished products, or should a finished product contain a defect, we could incur significant costs for repairs, re-work and/or removal and replacement of the defective product. In addition, if a dispute over product claims cannot be settled, arbitration or litigation may result, requiring us to incur attorneys’ fees and exposing us to the potential of damage awards against us.

A major portion of our Test segment’s business involves working in conjunction with general contractors to produce complex building components constructed on-site, such as electronic test chambers, secure communication rooms and MRI facilities. If there are performance problems caused by either us or a contractor, they could result in cost overruns and may lead to a dispute as to which party is responsible. The resolution of such disputes can involve arbitration or litigation and can cause us to incur significant expense including attorneys’ fees. In addition, these disputes could result in a reduction in revenue, a loss on a particular project, or even a significant damages award against us.

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Despite our efforts, we may be unable to adequately protect our intellectual property.

Much of our business success depends on our ability to protect and freely utilize our various intellectual properties, including both patents and trade secrets. Despite our efforts to protect our intellectual property, unauthorized parties or competitors may copy or otherwise obtain and use our products and technology, particularly in foreign countries such as China where the laws may not protect our proprietary rights as fully as in the United States. Our current and future actions to enforce our proprietary rights may ultimately not be successful; or in some cases we may not elect to pursue an unauthorized user due to the high costs and uncertainties associated with litigation. We may also face exposure to claims by others challenging our intellectual property rights. Any or all of these actions may divert our resources and cause us to incur substantial costs.

Environmental laws and regulations or environmental contamination could increase our expenses and adversely affect our profitability.

Our operations and properties are subject to U.S. and foreign environmental laws and regulations governing, among other things, the generation, storage, emission, discharge, transportation, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and the clean-up of contaminated properties. In addition, governments around the world are increasingly focused on enacting laws and regulations regarding climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases. These regulations, and changes to them, could increase our cost of compliance, and our failure to comply could result in the imposition of significant fines, suspension of production, alteration of product processes, cessation of operations or other actions which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are currently involved as a responsible party in several ongoing investigations and remediations of contaminated third-party owned properties. In addition, environmental contamination may be discovered in the future on properties which we formerly owned or operated and for which we could be legally responsible. Future costs associated with these situations, including ones which may be currently unknown to us, are difficult to quantify but could have a significant effect on our financial condition.

The effects of climate change, or significant natural disasters or weather events, could adversely affect our sales.

The potential physical impacts of climate change, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, floods and other climatic events, could disrupt our supply chain, and cause our suppliers to incur significant costs in preparing for or responding to these effects. The potential physical impacts of climate change, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, floods and other climatic events, could disrupt our supply chain, and cause our suppliers to incur significant costs in preparing for or responding to these effects. These and other weather-created disruptions in supply, in addition to affecting costs, could impact our ability to procure an adequate supply of these raw materials and components, and delay or prevent deliveries of products to our customers. In addition, significant natural disasters or weather events such as major earthquakes or hurricanes could disrupt our operations. For example, many of our A&D segment's operations are located near major fault lines in California, where a major earthquake could result in significant physical damage to or closure of one or more of these facilities, and Doble has a significant supplier in coastal Florida, where a major hurricane could have similar effects. Any prolonged disruption in one or more of these manufacturing operations could significantly delay our ability to make timely deliveries of products to our customers.

Risks Related to Our Business Strategy and Corporate Structure

We may not be able to identify suitable acquisition candidates or complete acquisitions successfully, which may inhibit our rate of growth.

As part of our growth strategy, we plan to continue to pursue acquisitions of other companies, assets and product lines that either complement or expand our existing business. However, we may be unable to implement this strategy if we are unable to identify suitable acquisition candidates or consummate future acquisitions at acceptable prices and terms. We expect to face competition for acquisition candidates which may limit the number of acquisition opportunities available to us and may result in higher acquisition prices. As a result, we may be limited in the number of acquisitions which we are able to complete, and we may face difficulties in achieving the profitability or cash flows needed to justify our investment in them.

In addition, acquisitions of other companies involve numerous risks, including difficulties in the integration of the operations, technologies and products of the acquired companies, the potential exposure to unanticipated and undisclosed liabilities, the potential that expected benefits or synergies are not realized and that operating costs increase, the potential loss of key personnel, suppliers or customers of acquired businesses and the diversion of Management’s time and attention from other business concerns.Acquisitions of other companies involve numerous risks, including difficulties in the integration of the operations, technologies and products of the acquired companies, the potential exposure to unanticipated and undisclosed liabilities, the potential that expected benefits or synergies are not realized and that operating costs increase, the potential loss of key personnel, suppliers or customers of acquired businesses and the diversion of Management’s time and attention from other business concerns. Although we

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attempt to identify and evaluate the risks inherent in any acquisition, we may not properly ascertain or mitigate all such risks, and our failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our inability to hire or retain qualified key employees could affect our performance and revenues.

There is a risk of our losing key employees who have engineering and technical expertise.There is a risk of our losing key employees having engineering and technical expertise. For example, our USG segment relies heavily on engineers with significant experience and reputation in the utility industry to furnish expert consulting services and support to customers, and our other segments similarly rely on qualified and experienced employees to carry on their businesses. Despite our active recruitment efforts, there remains a shortage of these qualified engineers and other employees because of hiring competition from other companies in the industry and a generally tight labor market, possibly exacerbated by COVID-related retirements or career changes. Losing current employees or qualified candidates to other employers or for other reasons could reduce our ability to provide services and negatively affect our revenues.

Our decentralized organizational structure presents certain risks.

We are a relatively decentralized company in comparison with some of our peers. This decentralization necessarily places significant control and decision-making powers in the hands of local management, which present various risks, including the risk that we may be slower or less able to identify or react to problems affecting a key business than we would in a more centralized management environment. We may also be slower to detect or react to compliance related problems (such as an employee undertaking activities prohibited by applicable law or by our internal policies), and Company-wide business initiatives may be more challenging and costly to implement, and the risks of noncompliance or failures higher, than they would be under a more centralized management structure. Depending on the nature of the problem or initiative in question, such noncompliance or failure could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or result of operations.

Provisions in our articles of incorporation, bylaws and Missouri law could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us and could discourage acquisition bids or a change of control, and could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.13 Table of ContentsProvisions in our articles of incorporation, bylaws and Missouri law could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us and could discourage acquisition bids or a change of control, and could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

Our articles of incorporation and bylaws contain certain provisions which could discourage potential hostile takeover attempts, including: a limitation on the shareholders’ ability to call special meetings of shareholders; advance notice requirements to nominate candidates for election as directors or to propose matters for action at a meeting of shareholders; a classified board of directors, which means that approximately one-third of our directors are elected each year; and the authority of our board of directors to issue, without shareholder approval, preferred stock with such terms as the board may determine. In addition, the laws of Missouri, in which we are incorporated, require a two-thirds vote of outstanding shares to approve mergers or certain other major corporate transactions, rather than a simple majority as in some other states such as Delaware. These provisions could impede a merger or other change of control not approved by our board of directors, which could discourage takeover attempts and in some circumstances reduce the market price of our common stock.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None

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FXB 1 day, 4 hours ago
UUP 1 day, 4 hours ago

OTHER DATASETS

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App Ratings

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