TZL 1417 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S N o v e m b e r 1 5 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 4 1 7 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

Career advancement

Examining the top 10 differences between leading and average Best Firms To Work For. Get the “Best Firms” advantage

F I R M I N D E X Croft, Inc.................................................6 Fleis & VandenBrink . ...............................4 Halff Associates, Inc. ...............................4 ISG. ......................................................12 Morrison-Shipley Engineers .....................4 Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, Inc. .............10 Ware Malcomb ........................................8 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz BRIAN RICE: Bring ownership transition into focus Page 3 In Zweig Group’s 2021 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report of AEC Firms , data from the online survey was compared to the survey taken by applicants for Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For Awards. There were a few interesting distinctions between the two groups regarding the topic of career advancement and furthering education. The chart above shows the percentage of firms in each category that create career “tracks” for advancement, whether it be a track to becoming a technical leader or a manager/owner at the firm. Seventy- three percent of Best Firms To Work For provide these tracks, about two and a half times more likely than the typical firm. We also found that these firms are more likely to reimburse their employees for things like books/ supplies for college courses and professional exam fees.

W e are fortunate to be an extremely busy industry – AEC firm backlog is at an all-time high. According to Zweig Group’s 2021 Financial Performance Survey Report of AEC Firms , average backlog is more than 12 months, and all this while we are in the midst of the “great resignation,” where many employees are moving to greener pastures. Naturally, the thing on all our minds is how to retain our most valuable asset, our people – how else do we deliver on all that backlog, right? So, what really separates the best from the rest? Where are the greener pastures, what are these firms doing differently, and what are they doing better? Every year, Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For draws entries from AEC firms across the United States. Every single Best Firm To Work For participant answers more than 100 questions, scoring their firm on a scale of 1 to 5. This data is valuable information for firms to understand employee sentiment and perception and can assist firms in making decisions that drive recruitment and retention. For this article we looked at the average Best Firms To Work For score versus the top five Best Firms To Work For scores to assess the biggest differences between these two groups; that is, to identify the areas where firms could make the most impact in terms of employee sentiment. The results were astounding: You can see the top 10 differences between the average and top five Best Firms To Work For scores, in order of greatest to least difference on the next page. This is an incredibly significant finding, that out of more than 100 questions on our survey, thousands of employees all agree that the top 10 considerations for a choice employer revolve around compensation (predictably), but perhaps not so predictably, a greater degree of what are essentially aspects of performance management. This is ironic, because in my experience, we in the AEC industry don’t exactly excel at direct feedback or performance management. In fact, we’re downright indirect, and tend to focus on qualitative features in our annual performance reviews, rather than looking objectively at metrics and achievements. We’re just too nice, and we sometimes avoid these challenging conversations. The thing is, we also like to be really great at what we do, and so do our employees. The data shows that our employees crave feedback, mentoring, and the opportunity to improve. And they feel that the best employers give them this, as well as ensuring a competitive salary. From Zweig Group’s Principals, Partners & Owners Survey Report of AEC

Stephanie Warino

xz Win together: Jim Croft Page 6 xz LINDSAY YOUNG: Marketing strategy for 2022 Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG: Encouraging cooperation Page 11




Average BFTWF Score

Top 5 BFTWF Score

Difference between top 5 and average BFTWF

No. Top considerations

Interested in learning more

1. Frequency of bonuses 2. Amount of bonuses

3.89 3.84

4.64 0.75 4.58 0.74

about the projects and ideas driving the AEC industry forward? Learn more with Civil+Structural Engineer Media.

3. Distribution of company profits (for bonuses, retirement plan contributions, etc.)


4.81 0.65

4. Mentoring program


4.65 0.56

5. I have sufficient review time with my supervisor to discuss goals and performance 4.12

4.68 0.56

6. Frequency of mentoring

4.04 3.98

4.59 0.55 4.53 0.55

7. Compensation for extraordinary effort 8. Total compensation (including salary, bonus, retirement benefits, etc.)


4.75 0.50

9. Quality of mentoring


4.60 0.49

10. My reviews are meaningful and my supervisor takes this process seriously


4.67 0.49

STEPHANIE WARINO, from page 1 Firms , our data on principals’ time management shows that principals in the AEC industry spend 12 percent of time mentoring but feel they should be spending 17 percent of their time mentoring. This is an area of our industry that’s shockingly easy to improve if the right steps are taken. The issue we see most frequently is that there’s a disconnect, and what it comes down to is really a lack of systems thinking in the overall performance management approach. This approach includes setting expectations (qualitative and quantitative) for each position, which need to directly correspond to the performance management program, and then tying both of those to the overall compensation structure. The solution is multifaceted and holistic, and is designed to create the behaviors that make your firm a successful business. Development of a robust benefit, compensation, and bonus package, coupled with performance management strategies that develop and grow the employee, will in the end promote and incentivize behaviors that benefit the growth and development of the organization. If you’re interested in learning more about compensation in the AEC industry, check out the following resources from Zweig Group: ❚ ❚ Mid-Year Update 2021 Salary Report of AEC Firms : This contains data gathered after January 2021 and is designed to help firms evaluate how salaries changed during the first half of 2021. This publication includes salary information on nearly every job role at engineering, architecture, and environmental firms. Unlike Zweig Group’s traditional Salary Reports , all regions of the U.S. are included in this publication. ❚ ❚ 2021 Best Performing Firms in the AEC Industry Report : How do the most successful architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms do business? How do firms that excel in growth, financial performance, profitability, excellent workplaces, or marketing stand out from the rest? Find out with this report. This new publication covers every area of AEC firm management. Whether you want answers to questions on financial performance, marketing, information technology, project management, compensation, billing practices, or other issues, you’ll find it all in this one report. Statistics are shown for award-winning, fastest-growing, and highest-profit firms, separately from the overall sample so you can benchmark your firm relative to the most successful firms in the industry. STEPHANIE WARINO is a licensed professional and an advisor with Zweig Group. Contact her for systems-level thinking evaluations of compensation and performance programs at swarino@ .

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H as ownership transition taken a back seat at your firm over the years? Are your major owners baby boomers? Right now, ownership transition in the AEC industry is at an interesting intersection of firm-value and ownership-demographic. Starting early with your ownership transition planning provides ample time to position your staff and firm to maximize your firm’s value. Bring ownership transition into focus

With ages ranging from 57 to 75, baby boomers are a demographic that is collectively in various stages of executing their ownership transition. The next generation of owners, the 41- to 56-year- old Generation X demographic, includes many engineers who are in, or entering, their prime earning years. While this demographic has an increasingly stronger base of earnings, they will never match the peak number of baby boomers in the workforce. This demographic difference and the rapid rise in the value of many firms will impact certain ownership transitions. Of course, some firms are deep into the execution of a well-planned ownership transition and are successfully minimizing the impact of this generational phenomenon. They have next- generation owners who are committed to the

firm’s future, the leadership skills, and the means to invest financially in their firm. However, for selling owners who have done little – if any – transition planning, the impact on the number of sellers and next-generation buyers can be significant. The overall result is that owners who are late to the game need to cast a wide net when considering transition options. Here are a few basic steps to get your ownership transition on track: ❚ ❚ Understand how your firm is valued. Start with “spreadsheet calcs” using one or more of the metric- based plug-and-chug methods included in Zweig Group’s annual Valuation Survey Report . As you move further along, the use of a third- party valuation firm with expertise in the AEC

Brian Rice

See BRIAN RICE, page 4



TRANSACT IONS MORRISON-SHIPLEY ENGINEERS ACQUIRED BY HALFF ASSOCIATES, INC. Zweig Group, a full- service AEC management advisory firm, announced its client Morrison-Shipley Engineers has been acquired by Halff Associates, Inc. Morrison-Shipley will do business as Morrison-Shipley Halff. Jamie Claire Kiser, Zweig Group’s managing principal, served as Morrison-Shipley’s lead advisor on the engagement, with support from senior analyst Andrew Chavez. “It was a pleasure to be a part of Morrison Shipley’s advisory team,” Chavez said. “We are excited to see what the two firms will accomplish together in the future through this strategic combination.” Morrison-Shipley is an Arkansas-based multidiscipline civil engineering firm under the leadership of Greg Shipley, John Wary, Brian Maurer, and Travis Brisendine. Morrison- Shipley provides civil engineering, land surveying, BIM, aerial mapping, and 3D laser scanning services to private and public sector clients across the South and Midwest.

“Like Halff, our people are the reason Morrison-Shipley Engineers has existed for 25 years,” Greg Shipley, principal of Morrison- Shipley, said. “It was clear from our earliest discussions Halff’s business is grounded in always doing what is best for their people, and I look forward to watching the great things we will accomplish together.” Halff is an award-winning, employee-owned, multidisciplined professional services firm. For more than 70 years, Halff has provided innovative solutions for clients in Texas and throughout the United States, offering full- service planning, engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental, energy, right of way, and surveying services. Halff has 28 offices in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Florida. Morrison-Shipley, which employs more than 50 people, has offices in Fort Smith, Arkansas; Bentonville, Arkansas; and Frisco, Texas. The firm has extensive experience in the public works, residential, aviation, commercial, and industrial/warehouse development sectors.

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the leading research, publishing, and consulting resource for the built environment. The firm provides strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, marketing, business development, market research, financial management, project management, recruiting and executive search services nationwide. Zweig Group also provides a comprehensive suite of products including industry reports and surveys, executive training, and business conferences covering virtually every aspect of AEC firm management. The firm’s mission, Elevate the Industry, has five tenets: promote, diversify, educate, change, and celebrate. Zweig Group’s vision is to facilitate action in pursuit of elevating individuals, firms, and thus the industry. More than a mission, this is a movement to advance the AEC profession, creating a world that celebrates the built environment and recognizes its impact on individuals, communities, and commerce.

BRIAN RICE, from page 3

If the answers to these questions lean toward “no,” your time would be best spent preparing for an external sale or merger with another firm. However, if the answer is “yes,” move forward considering both an internal and external transition. At the end of the day, relative to the value, a significant amount of capital will be required to purchase your firm. On an individual basis, this capital could be invested in your firm, or in other investments. ❚ ❚ Communication is vital. All your staff will not be aware of or understand the implications of an ownership transition. However, your key staff will. Whether your transition is internal or external your staff will be the key to success. Keeping staff informed will maximize the value of the firm. Staff who understand how the ownership transition will benefit their career will likely stay with your firm. At Fleis & VandenBrink, we worked hard to keep staff informed of ownership transition matters and welcomed questions through various methods, including all-staff meetings and one-on-one conversations. Starting early with your ownership transition planning provides ample time to position your staff and firm to maximize your firm’s value. However, if ownership transition has taken a backseat at your firm, the longer you wait to start, the more difficult things will become as you slowly lose the ability to maximize the value of your firm. Don’t be one of those firms that fails to survive beyond their first-generation leaders! Now is the time to take the necessary steps to create long-lasting firms. BRIAN RICE, PE is a principal and the Environmental Services Group manager at Fleis & VandenBrink. He can be reached at brice@fveng. com or LinkedIn.

industry can provide confidence in valuations using advanced valuation methods and current market data. ❚ ❚ Know your cash flow. If you have been profitable in recent years, understand why and work with your accountant to improve margins. If you have not been profitable, find out why and fix what is broken. The more confidence that a buyer, internal or external, has in your company’s ability to produce future profits, the more options you will have when developing your exit strategy. Keep in mind that the likelihood of a successful ownership transition is maximized with solid profits. Future profits are obviously essential for new owners who often finance the purchase of your firm. But additionally, new ownership will need strong working capital to reward staff, maintain quality work environments, and keep up to date with training and equipment. ❚ ❚ Consider internal or external transition. Choosing the best ownership transition strategy will determine your firm’s long-term success. Do you have both internal and external options? ❚ ❚ Does your firm generate enough profits to transfer ownership on a timeline that matches expectations? ❚ ❚ Does current staff have the desire to become owners? ❚ ❚ Can current staff dedicate the time needed to manage the business while also maintaining profits and managing client projects? ❚ ❚ Does your firm have staff to replace project managers that are transitioning into ownership roles? ❚ ❚ Does your potential internal ownership team meet your state’s criteria for minimal ownership levels by design professionals?

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


New From Zweig Group




2021 BEST PERFORMING FIRMS IN THE AEC INDUSTRY REPORT PRICE: $395 OVERVIEW: How do the most successful architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms do business? How do firms that excel in growth, financial performance, profitability, excellent workplaces, or marketing stand out from the rest? Statistics are shown for award-winning, fastest-growing, and highest-profit firms, separately from the overall sample so you can benchmark your firm relative to the most successful firms in the AEC industry. LEARN MORE OVERVIEW: Zweig Group’s 2021 Fee & Billing Survey Report of AEC Firms is the standard guideline for firms looking to benchmark fees, billing rates, and billing practices, and evaluate productivity and utilization. The 2021 edition includes data on fee structures for every major market type in the AEC industry, billing rates and chargeability statistics for 33 levels of employee, statistics on consultant fees and reimbursable expenses, and more.


OVERVIEW: Zweig Group’s 2021 Marketing Report of AEC Firms is a benchmarking and advisory guide to industry firm marketing activities, budgets, marketing department organization, staffing levels, compensation, and investments in marketing systems and infrastructure. This report also has statistics on proposal activity, hit rates, and other useful analytics.











Win together: Jim Croft Owner of Croft, Inc. (Acworth, GA), a full-service architecture and engineering firm that serves clients nationally in many diverse markets of the public and private sectors.


W ork diligently. Win together. Give abundantly. Those are the values that Croft turns to most when it comes to running his firm, Croft, Inc., on a daily basis. “When you have [your] goals figured out, share them with others,” Croft says. “It helps to keep you accountable. You also have to have perseverance; it’s not always going to be easy. Finally, care for others and show it. I’ve learned that people and relationships are what matter most. It’s not just about being technically good at what you do.” A CONVERSATION WITH JIM CROFT. The Zweig Letter: In the company video on your website, you say, “We’re making a difference.” Give me an example of how the firm has recently made a difference in a client’s life. Jim Croft: Service goes beyond profitability. We make being good stewards and giving back a part of each year’s

annual plan. It’s built into the fabric of who we are and what we do. You have to be intentional with your time, money, and energy. For example, for the last eight years we’ve thrown a “Steak Out” cookout for the Acworth Police Department. We want them to know that they’re more than just a client to us. They’re people we appreciate deeply. The Atlanta Humane Society is also a client and we helped them to design their new corporate facility. Many of us have adopted pets from them, so when the pandemic hit, we felt there might be some folks who would have difficulty taking care of their pets. Our office collected enough food, toys, and other pet supplies to fill two truckloads. You have to let clients know you see them as more than clients; they’re people we truly care about too. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? JC: It’s not that complicated. First, you need to know what you’re doing technically. Next, do what you say you’re



JC: We have significant matching on employee 401(k)s. People really appreciate that. We also have a very competitive benefits package and make time for fun. We provide catered, company-wide lunches on Tuesdays and there’s always something new. We have food trucks visit a few times a year to spread joy around along with burgers, ice cream, and snow cones. A staff member recently came up with the idea for “Croftober.” Each day during the month of October, there’s something to get involved in from pumpkin carving contests to costume events. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? JC: Create an environment where people thrive and help them to grow professionally. We meet with everyone on a quarterly basis to find out how things are going. We listen and ask questions. We have external lunch and learns with purposeful agendas. Twice a month we have Croft University. All position levels are invited to join in based on their interest and topics range from technical skills and soft skills to leadership. We have Croft employees teach the courses and develop in-house subject matter experts. It’s so rewarding to see a 20-something employee realize that they know more than they think they did. It’s all about building confidence in others. TZL: Taking ownership is part of your mission. It means you do whatever it takes to deliver for your clients. Can you illustrate this dedication with a real-life scenario? JC: There’s one in particular that comes to mind. We were doing a complicated project for a client and it was evident that the contractor on the job was not going to meet a hard deadline of Phase One of the project. We told the client that for no additional cost we were going to add two senior level staff members to the project to help meet the deadline. As a result, the contractor was able to pick up See WIN TOGETHER, page 8 “One day, I decided to write my priorities down. Work came in at number five. I keep this list on my desk and look at it daily. Work is what I do; family is why I do it.”

going to do. Communicate clearly. It’s imperative. Be trustworthy in the small things. If you say you’re going to call at a certain time, call. If you say you’re going to complete something by a certain date, do it. Admit it if you drop the ball and also tell the client you need more from them if that’s the case. All these things help to build trust and relationships. Be up front about everything. “Service goes beyond profitability. We make being good stewards and giving back a part of each year’s annual plan. It’s built into the fabric of who we are and what we do.” TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? JC: We’re all in pursuit of that elusive balance. Again, this is something you need to be intentional about. I am lucky to love what I do, but I don’t want to do it all the time. One day, I decided to write my priorities down. Work came in at number five. I keep this list on my desk and look at it daily. Work is what I do; family is why I do it. Write it down and say it out loud. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? JC: There are a few – good attitude, confidence, ability to focus, and clarity of goals top the list. And when you have those goals figured out, share them with others. It helps to keep you accountable. You also have to have perseverance; it’s not always going to be easy. Finally, care for others and show it. I’ve learned that people and relationships are what matter most. It’s not just about being technically good at what you do. TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? JC: A servant leader. I’m passionate, driven, focused, and probably talk too much. I’m in constant pursuit of excellence, not perfection. I’m trustworthy and care about people. I make mistakes and don’t listen enough. I believe that we should love one another – even in business. TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about?

HEADQUARTERS: Acworth, GA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 70 YEAR FOUNDED: 2004 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ❚ ❚ Acworth, GA ❚ ❚ Kennesaw, GA ❚ ❚ Lawrenceville, GA PROJECT TYPES ❚ ❚ Education ❚ ❚ Local government ❚ ❚ Federal ❚ ❚ Mission-critical ❚ ❚ Industrial and commercial ❚ ❚ Church

❚ ❚ Mixed use ❚ ❚ Hospitality ❚ ❚ Retail ❚ ❚ Residential

SIX STEPS FOR PROJECT SUCCESS: 1. Listen. Listen carefully to fully understand clients’ needs, then become stewards of their vision throughout design and construction. 2. Design. Respond with creative designs that satisfy clients’ needs. 3. Refine. Refining the appropriate solution. 4. Draw. Produce documents that communicate the “story” of the design 5. Control. Quality assurance

is embedded in each step of the design process, and this step assures excellent design documents.

6. Build. Stay involved

throughout construction to assure that clients’ projects end well.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

MBER 15, 2021, ISSUE 1417


BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF PRINCETON LONGEVITY CENTER AT 1 WORLD TRADE CENTER Ware Malcomb , an award- winning international design firm, announced construction is complete on Princeton Longevity Center, a preventive medicine facility located at 1 World Trade Center, 71st Floor, Suite 71E, New York, NY 10007. Ware Malcomb provided the interior architecture and design services for the project. The 10,000 square foot facility is a new build- out that includes a 2,000 square foot imaging- diagnostic licensing suite, including advanced technology imaging rooms and a CT scan room. The space also includes a reception area, a lounge, individual patient rooms, exam rooms, offices, and a fitness room. The design is hospitality-focused and mirrors the aesthetic established at their Princeton, New Jersey location. “Princeton Longevity Center is extremely patient-centric in all of their decisions,” said Marlyn Zucosky, Regional Director, Interior Architecture & Design for Ware Malcomb. “We were pleased to work closely with them to design a facility to enhance their patients’ experience and wellness. The result is a highly-functional, relaxing and beautiful

space in one of the world’s highest-profile buildings.” At the entrance to the suite, a virtual receptionist assists guests with check-in. The inviting lounge offers spectacular views from the 71st floor of the 1 World Trade Center and incorporates wood-look luxury vinyl tile flooring, as well as a curved reception desk with backlit features. A custom hand-woven rug, a unique light fixture and a custom millwork coffee bar add a hospitality vibe to the spacious waiting area. Individual patient rooms provide guests with a private space while they spend the day at Princeton Longevity Center and include computers, showers and a relaxing lounge atmosphere. The exam rooms and doctor offices, which also provide views of the city, incorporate calming colors. The rich tones of the design color palette are a dramatic contrast to the natural light provided by floor- to-ceiling windows. The general contractor was Icon Interiors, Inc. The project achieved LEED Gold certification, a requirement of all 1 World Trade Center tenants. This is Ware Malcomb’s second project for Princeton Longevity Center; the first was their Princeton, NJ location, completed

four years ago. Princeton Longevity Center is a leader in the preventive medicine market, offering the most advanced technology services and serving C-suite clientele with comprehensive medical evaluations. Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is a contemporary and expanding full service design firm providing professional architecture, planning, interior design, civil engineering, branding and building measurement services to corporate, commercial/residential developer and public/institutional clients throughout the world. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science and technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/institutional facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm by Zweig Group. The firm is also ranked among the top 15 architecture/engineering firms in Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms and the top 25 interior design firms in Interior Design magazine’s Top 100 Giants.

WIN TOGETHER, from page 7

some speed and we hit the deadline on the head. Even the contractor could not believe we stepped in like that. As a result, the relationship with the client and the contractor strengthened. It’s about putting relationships ahead of dollars and playing the long game. “If you say you’re going to call at a certain time, call. If you say you’re going to complete something by a certain date, do it. Admit it if you drop the ball and also tell the client you need more from them if that’s the case. All these things help to build trust and relationships.” TZL: Is change management a topic regularly addressed by the leadership at your firm? If so, elaborate. JC: We have a leadership team of seven that meets every Monday for 90 minutes. Change management is always addressed. We have a scorecard and we get pluses and minuses for work done, or not done. We talk about things like recruiting, teammates, and clients. We have two types of tasks – to dos (short-term) and rocks (big initiatives, long-term). We grade ourselves and the meeting each time. It’s rewarding and helps to keep us all on track. We identify, discuss, and solve issues each week.

TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? JC: Maintain the culture as the company grows. Give people reasons to stay. Share your vision constantly. Pay people well. Have fun on purpose. Celebrate victories and lessons learned. Give people the tools they need to get the job done. Show people you care through action, not just words.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Marketing strategy for 2022

With a little effort, you can put a plan in place that will empower your firm to work with the types of clients you want on the types of projects you want to pursue.

2 022 is right around the corner. It doesn’t seem possible, but it will be here before we know it. Have you sat down with your team to work on your strategic marketing plan for next year? What about for the next two to five years? There is no better time to do so than right now. You might ask why it’s so important to have a strategic marketing plan, especially when the market is ever changing. Wasn’t it ever changing before the pandemic? Yes – just not as quickly.

Lindsay Young

Putting together a strategic marketing plan guides your firm in the type of work you want to pursue and the types of clients with whom you want to partner. Knowing these things will allow you to focus your marketing efforts in the right places. It’s better to be a specialist versus a generalist. You wouldn’t go to a general practitioner if you were having heart issues. You’d go see a cardiologist. If you identify the type of clients you want to partner with, you’ll know where you need to spend your marketing dollars. You can ask your current clients how they found out about you, and that will show you where to spend your time and money. Through this research, you’ll know you are reaching the types of clients you want to work with. The answers are often across the board

which is why you must market your firm in several different ways (social media, digital advertising, trade shows, publications). Market research is an important component to your strategy. It needs to be done at least once a year, especially with your clients. Once you determine where your clients look for your services, then you can build out your marketing plan with specific tactics. Typically, clients look at your website and social media. These mediums of your business must be updated and consistent with your brand and message. You should update your website at a minimum once a quarter, but ideally monthly. As a design or construction professional, you are completing

See LINDSAY YOUNG, page 10



ON THE MOVE SEVAN APPOINTS AARON BECKER, CFA AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, Inc. – a global leader in innovative design, program management, construction services and data analytics – has appointed Aaron Becker as the company’s chief financial officer and treasurer. Becker will lead the finance, accounting, treasury and Information Technology teams at Sevan as well as play a pivotal role in corporate strategy, acquisitions and integrations. Becker joined Sevan in 2020 and brings more than 13 years of experience in finance and accounting to the role. Before joining Sevan, Becker held leadership positions at MYR Group – during which time he was instrumental in strategy development and assisted in acquiring five businesses with more than $600 million in annual revenue. “Aaron brings a strong track record of accelerating growth and we are thrilled to welcome him to Sevan’s executive office,” said Jim Evans, President and CEO of Sevan. “Since Aaron joined Sevan last year, he has done a great job working across the business to strengthen our financial footprint. Aaron’s experience in all areas of finance – especially corporate strategy and acquisitions – will help us win many new opportunities and scale our business.” Becker’s background and financial expertise include financial analysis, strategy, mergers and acquisitions valuation and integration,

budgeting, forecasting, tax and investor relations. He will report directly to Evans. “I can’t imagine a more exciting time to serve as Sevan’s CFO,” said Becker, CFA. “Sevan has unique strengths, a strong business model, an exceptional team and tremendous clients. I am honored to be stewarding such an incredible company, and I’m excited to build on the world-class culture that has been so carefully crafted here at Sevan.” Becker earned an MBA in finance from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago, Illinois and a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. He is a CFA Charterholder. In 2021, Sevan was recognized as an Employee-Rated Great Place to Work® for the 8th consecutive year and ranked on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for 4th consecutive year. Also in 2021, Sevan ranked No. 21 on Engineering News-Record’s Top 50 Program Management Firms and No. 44 on ENR’s Top 100 Construction Management-for-Fee Firms. In 2020, Sevan ranked No. 124 on the Financial Times FT 1000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Visit our website to learn more about Sevan, our 2021 award rankings and acquisitions. Sevan helps iconic, global brands optimize their multi-site construction and facility programs in the U.S. and internationally. Sevan is headquartered near Chicago in Downers

Grove, Illinois with more than 400 employees and has an international office in London. The vision of Sevan Multi-Site Solutions is to be the best in the world at delivering innovative design, program management, construction services and data analytics to organizations with multiple sites. Sevan has a passion for sustaining people, the environment and its clients’ businesses. Sevan helps iconic global brands, including7-Eleven, AAFES, Albertsons, Amtrak, BP, Chipotle, Corvias, DaVita, HCA Healthcare, HEB, Jiffy Lube, Kroger, Luxottica, McDonald’s, Office Depot, QDOBA, Starbucks, Sunoco, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Walmart, WOW Carwash, Yum! Brands and Zaxby’s. Sevan rolls out multi-site initiatives efficiently, predictably and transparently. Applying breakthrough technology solutions, Sevan optimizes construction of new builds, rebuilds, remodels and renovations. Sevan has licensed architects in 49 states as well as D.C., Canadian provinces, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Sevan has professional engineers on staff and general contractor licenses in more than 25 states. Since Sevan’s inception in 2011, the team has refreshed more than 21,000 retail stores and 14,000 restaurants. The team has also completed more than 28,000 surveys, totaling to more than 700 million square feet. Sevan Elevate, a program that reinforces and continuously improves safety and sustainability across the company, is designed to impactfully deliver excellence to Sevan’s people and clients.

an overnight success. It takes hard work, dedication, and time. But it’s well worth the effort. Those design and construction firms that invest in marketing see higher profit margins than those that don’t. Having a plan in place allows you to share with your team what expectations you have of them in their roles as it pertains to marketing. It gives you guidance on where and how you spend your marketing dollars. It’s always good to continually evaluate where you are spending time and money on marketing, but you also must be consistent. Walking that fine line is always a challenge. You are up for the challenge though! Take some time to sit down and put your marketing plan together for 2022. You’ll thank yourself early next year for doing so. LINDSAY YOUNG is president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at . “Marketing isn’t an overnight success. It takes hard work, dedication, and time. But it’s well worth the effort. Those design and construction firms that invest in marketing see higher profit margins than those that don’t.”

LINDSAY YOUNG, from page 9

successful projects at least once a month that should be highlighted on your website and social media. Campaigns should be set up to reach your prospects, and digital is a great place to start. This is an inexpensive way to reach your target audience, because most in the design industry don’t use this medium to market their business. You can also track the results and see what’s really working. Industry associations and conferences are also a great place to connect with clients and prospects. Submit to provide a presentation or create a panel to moderate. You want to be viewed as the industry expert, and educating your prospects in this way helps communicate that message. Relationships. Relationships. Relationships. Our business is all about relationships, so continue to strengthen those throughout your marketing and business development plan. That may mean taking someone out to lunch, playing golf, or just checking in on them quarterly to see how they are doing both personally and professionally. Marketing is all about consistency. Whatever you do, you must be consistent in your efforts. When you think you are tired of your marketing message, your prospects are just now realizing and paying attention. Marketing isn’t

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Encouraging cooperation

If you want to encourage cooperation in your firm, take a look at your organization structure, accounting, and incentive compensation.

I found myself in a debate with someone on LinkedIn recently in response to an HBR article on collaboration inside organizations. This fellow and I got into the subject of how to actually encourage collaboration inside our businesses.

This isn’t the first time I have had one of these debates, and in my opinion, it is one of the best aspects of LinkedIn. You get a chance to interact with intelligent people who are interested in business. I won’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say that this particular individual – a self-proclaimed “leadership coach and transformation catalyst” who is dedicated to “inspiring change and growth” – was making solving the problem of a lack of collaboration inside organizations much simpler than it really is. I suggested that, “the lack of collaboration in many companies is because of how they are organized and how they do their accounting, combined with their incentive compensation schemes. You can have all the values you want to espouse, but they

mean little if the structure pits people against each other and the reward system is designed to incentivize individual or unit performance versus overall company performance.” His response was, “Shouldn’t we be talking about embracing, engaging, enabling, empowering, and energizing with genuine enthusiasm, rather than ‘enforcing’?” Besides the fact that nothing in my responses suggested enforcing anything, I am going to call BS on his approach and others like it. As a lifelong career management consultant, I cannot tell you how many failed management initiatives and leadership training programs I have either witnessed or been made aware of. When all you

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE ISG WELCOMES DIVISION I COLLEGIATE HOCKEY COACH INTO FIRM ISG welcomes Darren Blue, from Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Men’s Hockey, as one of its newest employee- owners. Blue will be joining the firm as a Development Strategist with the Sports + Recreation business unit, bringing a variety of sports experience from high school, semi- professional, and collegiate levels. His years both on the ice and at the bench as a coach, in multiple sports arenas, give the firm a look into the needs and desires of spectators, athletes, and staff alike. When asked where the desire to shift his career from coaching into the private sector emerged, Blue stated that, “Through my experience as a coach at various levels, I have had a behind- the-scenes look into the difference that a well-designed and finished facility can make in the day-to-day attitudes of all users including athletes, coaches, support staff, and spectators. During our renovations here, I was able to work hand- in-hand with the passionate and talented people of ISG and feel fortunate to be joining

this group to aid in the process of getting the ball rolling for future athletic and recreation transformations.” With more than 30 years in hockey, Blue has experienced its perspectives from an athlete, coach, spectator, and administrator point of view. More recently, during his time in Division I men’s hockey, he found a desire to create a positive difference for each team through design. “As we continuously seek to understand our clients and their needs better, there isn’t a better way than to welcome a client to our team. We are thrilled to have Darren join the Sports + Rec team; his thoughtfulness, competitive spirit, and consideration for “better every day” are all fitting traits for our firm,” states Vice President Amanda Prosser, ISG’s Sports and Recreation Business Unit Leader. Blue will support firm-wide growth initiatives by working with sports and recreation clients across the Midwest, specifically on the development of facilities that help teams flourish and grow. With the same coaching mindset carried from his years of coaching,

Blue states, “I am looking forward to helping other clients see what can be and help them understand how that vision and service will impact their program’s success.” ISG, a 100 percent ESOP firm, has a rich history, which extends over 48 years, of building trusting relationships with clients, stakeholders, and the community. As a full-service architecture, engineering, environmental, and planning firm with 350+ professionals in offices throughout Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, ISG provides exceptional services, strategies, and guidance to a wide range of markets nationwide. ISG was named among the 100 fastest growing firms, best places to work for, and market excellence leader in the United States by Zweig Group, recognized as a Top 500 Design Firm by Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine, and has earned spots on numerous Top Workplace and project recognition lists.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

both principals in the same firm. None of these situations are acceptable and they all hurt the business. So if you are actually serious about solving this problem, here’s what I would be looking at (versus trying to do it all with BS training put on by coaches): 1)Organization structure. Do you have geographic office profit centers? Do you have discipline-based profit centers? If so, I would be willing to guess that you have issues related to sharing work or clients between units. The structure is an issue – it’s not just some academic abstraction. 2)Accounting. Do you track and report on the profitability of your organizational units? If so, don’t be surprised when disputes erupt between units or when one unit withholds work that could be done by another unit whose staff is underutilized. No reason to do it. Hurts your P&L to let any work be done by another unit in the company. 3)Incentive compensation. Do you pay people based on their success in selling more work? Do you pay people based on the profitability of their discipline-based or geography-based organizational units? If so, anticipate a lack of willingness on the part of your managers to turn over any client or work to someone else in the firm. These three things are the reason for a lack of cooperation. Of course, there are other reasons for it. A lack of faith in someone’s ability to perform and please a client brought in by someone else is a big issue. How the principals get along with each other is an issue, too, because those feelings and prejudices often get passed down to the people who work for them. The lack of cooperation and collaboration is not a matter of “embracing, engaging, enabling, empowering, and energizing.” I’m calling BS on that one! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at .

do is have meetings and talk, versus dealing with the actual underlying causes of a lack of cooperation and collaboration inside AEC firms, you will waste a whole bunch of time and your efforts will fail. That’s right. I said that your efforts will fail. “Lack of cooperation and collaboration creates all kinds of problems for firms in this business. You will see situations where two or more business units are pursuing the same project with the same client. You will see a complete lack of cross selling the firm’s full range of services.” They may not fail, however, if you have the courage and fortitude to change some of the things inside your company that are creating the situation, that being a lack of collaboration between individuals and across business units. That lack of cooperation and collaboration creates all kinds of problems for firms in this business. You will see situations where two or more business units are pursuing the same project with the same client. You will see a complete lack of cross selling the firm’s full range of services when the client is currently using only one of their services. You will see disciplines fighting with each other and not coordinating their work which wastes countless hours and creates quality and client service problems. You will see people fighting with each other and speaking disparagingly about one another, even though they are

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