TZL 1395 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S J u n e 7 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 3 9 5 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

WIP turnover

Zweig Group’s annual Elevate AEC Conference and Awards Gala will be back in-person this year! Return to the red carpet

I am thrilled to announce that Zweig Group is restoring the full agenda of our annual Elevate AEC Conference and Awards Gala. After taking a year off from our annual in-person, fun filled conference, we are beyond excited to announce that we are back this year. Due to recent guidance from the CDC as well as loosening guidelines from the State of Colorado, the 2021 Elevate AEC Conference and Awards Gala is expanding registrations and restoring the full agenda. This includes bringing back the iconic black-tie awards gala celebrating the 2021 winners of the Hot Firm List, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards. Last year at this time, I was in the middle of a three-month period of endless hand wringing over what to do with our 2020 conference. Finally, in late July we decided to go virtual. It was an incredible success with more than 1,800 attendees, however, we really missed seeing all of you in person. This year, we decided to do both a virtual experience and an in-person event. Up until this week, our in-person event was going to be scaled back and with attendance limited based on local guidelines in place in Colorado. Well, things are changing for the better, and fast! This week, we are excited to announce we are bringing back the full red carpet and black-tie experience. In accordance with CDC, state, and venue requirements, masks will not be required for vaccinated individuals. These newly relaxed regulations will allow you to bring your team, sit together, not have to wear masks, and have the time of your life. Something for everyone this year: ❚ ❚ Virtual Experience: The Elevate AEC Conference and ElevateHer Symposium. Even though we were forced to go virtual last year, we learned a valuable lesson – people will gather around purpose. Our Elevate AEC conference has evolved around our vision to Elevate The Industry. Last year, the inaugural ElevateHer symposium was part of our virtual event. The incredible response made us realize we need a platform that all can access. So Elevate AEC will have a virtual experience from September 13-October 8 and will include lots of valuable thought leadership as well as the highly anticipated cohort presentations from the ElevateHer class of 2021. We have made it free so all can access the knowledge and insight. ❚ ❚ In-Person Experience: The Elevate AEC Conference and Awards Gala. The in-person event will be held in Denver from November 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency. No early-bird discounts, gimmicks, or penalties for when you register. The registration price is what it

In Zweig Group’s recently released 2021 Financial Performance Report of AEC Firms , work-in-process (WIP) turnover is calculated to understand the rate (in days) at which unbilled work is converted to accounts receivable. In the 2020 fiscal year, WIP turnover reached a 10-year high of 21 days by median value. This is likely due to the altering of project timelines due to the pandemic and the resulting increase in backorders for firms during this time. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication. F I R M I N D E X 3-Tier Alaska...........................................6 AG&E Structural Engenuity......................4 Derck & Edson, LLC. ............................10 Dewberry................................................8 Tangram................................................12 Ware Malcomb..................................2, 10 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz PETER ATHERTON: Who will win the talent standoff? Page 3 xz Keep every commitment: Nick Ringstad Page 6 xz JANE LAWLER SMITH: Something to mall over Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG: Increase your odds of achieving real success Page 11

Chad Clinehens




BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES REBRANDING OF PHILANTHROPIC PROGRAM Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced the rebranding of the company’s philanthropy-focused program from Culture Designed to Care to WM Community. The new name, WM Community, further highlights the firm’s philanthropic mission, and encompasses community involvement, diversity, pro bono services and exemplifies Ware Malcomb’s long withstanding culture of giving. Company team members have many opportunities each year to get involved in local community work, charitable organizations and activities within the design and commercial real estate industries. For more than 22 years, Ware Malcomb has partnered with United Way in an annual company-wide campaign supporting United Way chapters across North America. The firmwide contributions total over $730,000 and continue to grow. Along with United Way, WM Community continues to be a proud partner of these charitable organizations, among many others:

Ware Malcomb Foundation Scholarship, among others. These initiatives provide opportunities to make a difference, cultivate connection and most importantly, help others achieve success. “WM Community and the renewed focus of giving even more to support our community, businesses and education programs comes with the recent celebration of Ware Malcomb’s 49th anniversary, making this announcement that much more meaningful,” said Kenneth Wink, Chief Executive Officer of Ware Malcomb. “We are so proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to continuing to make a difference through WM Community. This rebranding strengthens our motivation to be a leader in community, philanthropy and diversity initiatives for many years to come,” said Ruth Brajevich, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives. For more news and information about Ware Malcomb and WM Community, visit www. and follow the firm on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. 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.

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

❚ ❚ CANstruction ❚ ❚ Baja Challenge ❚ ❚ The Common Thread for the Cure

❚ ❚ Susan G. Komen ❚ ❚ Boys & Girls Clubs

❚ ❚ Ronald McDonald House ❚ ❚ Second Harvest Food Bank ❚ ❚ Building Block Foundation ❚ ❚ Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation Ware Malcomb has cultivated an environment of diversity for many years. Since 1979, the firm has offered scholarships and internships to expand academic and career development opportunities based on need and talent. A few examples of these programs include Orange County United Way’s Youth Career Connections, CEO Leadership Alliance and the

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Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Christina Zweig | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent

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CHAD CLINEHENS, from page 1 is to help us invest in the food, atmosphere, and overall experience. Even though the capacity has been expanded, we still are limited in attendance so register early to save your space. It’s a great hotel and it will be a great time. Never before have I been happier to get back to this conference. I’m excited to welcome all through the virtual experience, and excited to return to the red carpet, for those who can be there in-person! CHAD CLINEHENS is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at

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TWO CONFERENCES. AN OPTION FOR EVERYONE. The 2021 Elevate AEC Conference has something for everyone in 2021. This year, the mission of Elevating the Industry will continue both virtually and in-person. Click here to learn more.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




T here is a standoff between younger talents’ needs and older talents’ interest and ability to engage and develop them. It’s the future versus a non-functional or sustainable status quo. To succeed, we need to reimagine work in the context of today’s actual constraints and the reality of a forever-changed world. Playing to win requires a real investment in organizational redesign, and the creation of both a vision and a culture that’s worth the work. Who will win the talent standoff?

Peter Atherton

THE PROBLEM. Organizationally, too many of us are in the functional shape of an hourglass. We have little “middle,” and what we do have continues to be overloaded and piling up with pressure moving upward, and not downward in the organization where more capacity exists. Our “middle” are our managers: 30- to 40-somethings in age with “10 to 15 years or more of experience.” Few exist. It’s just math as a result of the Great Recession – but we still haven’t adjusted. Without reimagining and redesigning the role of the manager, we need to be very careful that the few we have don’t just walk away. This concern also extends to talent with 20 to 30 or more years of experience.

than ever with both work and rework. At the same time, most of their jobs have expanded to doer- seller, supervisor and coach/mentor, new business developer, and client-experience expert – all with little to no training or set of clear expectations.

Something has already “given.”

As a result, manager and principal talent is burning out and disengaging more – all the while junior talent is bored, starving for attention and opportunities, and frustrated they’re not coming. There are many options to improve our work and our workflow – but just hoping for change or ignoring the need for a structural and functional redesign is a path to failure and missed opportunity.


Managers and principals alike are more overloaded



ON THE MOVE RENOWNED STRUCTURAL ENGINEER JOINS AG&E STRUCTURAL ENGENUITY AS EXECUTIVE PRINCIPAL/DIRECTOR OF AVIATION AG&E Structural Engenuity announced Steven C. Ball, PE, SE has been named executive principal and director of Aviation. Based in the firm’s Austin office, Ball will work with firm leaders to build and further develop client relationships in the aviation industry across the nation. Ball has more than 35 years of experience in the structural engineering field and has distinguished himself nationally and internationally with award-winning designs and innovative first-time structural solutions. Ball was the lead structural designer for

numerous iconic and landmark structures across the United States and in Europe for high-rise buildings, hospitals, museums, sports arenas, convention centers, airport expansions, seismic retrofits, as well as structures using glass as the primary structural system. “Steve Ball’s expertise will allow AG&E to significantly increase its technical depth and breadth for projects across the United States and internationally” said Sanjay Agrawal, PE, SE, president and chief executive officer of AG&E. Ball has won the prestigious AISC Special Achievement Award for the first-time use of non-orthogonal moment frames for the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los

Angeles International Airport. Ball’s extensive aviation experience also includes multimillion dollar projects for San Diego International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport. “He fulfills our strategic vision of deepening our capabilities in the aviation marketplace” said Al Baysek, PE, SE, executive principal and chief strategy officer. AG&E is a structural engineering consulting firm founded in Dallas in 2004 with offices in Addison, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas. AG&E provides sustainable structural engineering design, forensic assessments, and dynamic analytics for all types of building and non-building projects.

PETER ATHERTON, from page 3

communicated so more standards can be leveraged, and more time can be made available for actual work. ❚ ❚ Capitalizing on individual and team strengths to improve innovation, collaboration, and design execution regardless of position and location. Such creative design is even more essential now with blended and remote workforces here to stay. “Instead of just more work, forward thinking and growth-oriented firms are focusing more on increasing their internal capacity through organizational redesign and making big investments in learning and development.” THE PAYOFF. The payoff is our ability to better grow and sustain our success moving forward. So, who will win the talent standoff? The answer can and should be all of us. Please reach out to me if you’d like to discuss more about new era growth and success strategies that can work best for you and your organization. My next article in this series will focus specifically on the vision and culture aspects needed to make this happen – and do so in ways that further attract, engage, and retain more great talent and ideal clients. PETER C. ATHERTON, P.E. is an AEC industry insider having spent more than 24 years as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms. Pete is now the president and founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners , and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process. Pete is also the host of The AEC Leadership Today Podcast and leads The AEC Leadership Mastermind . Pete works with AEC firms to grow and advance their success through modern and new era focused strategic planning, executive coaching, leadership and management development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design. Connect with him at

A similar path can be avoided when we fundamentally realize and accept that all talent – especially younger talent – is not willing to unilaterally prioritize work over life and is not willing to put in more than 40 hours per week for an organization that’s not engaging, not designed for their success, and, in some cases, actually producing more harm than good. THE REDESIGN. The knowledge is at the top, the need is at the bottom, and the middle is constrained. In order to accelerate the growth and development of our younger talent (our future) while taking the pressure off and reengaging our overloaded senior talent (our present), we need to expand our middle! Specifically, we need to expand our management and our management support systems. To do so, leadership teams must ask and answer some hard questions… We are in an industry with record-high profits on the cusp of what could be another Roaring ‘20s: Do we need more work? Do we just need more of the right work? Will any additional work right now without the right internal investments begin to harm us and our external reputations? Instead of just more work, forward thinking and growth- oriented firms are focusing more on increasing their internal capacity through organizational redesign and making big investments in learning and development, which can include: ❚ ❚ Educating and incentivizing senior talent across the organization to teach more and “do” less. ❚ ❚ Augmenting and separating key aspects of people and project management. ❚ ❚ Ensuring that both essential technical and non-technical skills are understood and practiced. ❚ ❚ Creating deeper and more strategic processes and systems that normalize how work is organized, shared, and

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


An enriching experience full of thought leaders, next practices and the ultimate source of learning, networking, and celebration for firms across the AEC industries. This year, Zweig Group’s annual Elevate AEC Conference is in two formats: Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHer Symposium and In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala .

Two conferences. One mission.

Zweig Group is ready to see you in-person again! Recognizing the slow return of in-person events, Zweig Group is proud to announce the return of the 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala - a meticulously curated in-person event of limited capacity in Denver this Winter. This will restore a full agenda for the conference and the iconic black-tie awards gala to celebrate the 2021 Zweig Group award winners. Attendees can expect an enriching thought leadership experience ideal for those who are ready to travel again and gather with fellow leaders of the AEC industry. The 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala will be the industry’s top conference of 2021 with new networking and learning opportunities for leaders across the country. Trust us, you will not want to miss this! Register now to guarantee your spot.

The experience starts early virtually ! Zweig Group has continued to evolve its virtual conference, so the 2021 Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium is back with a four- week virtual experience with over 40 speakers and 30 credit hours of networking, learning, and celebrating – all in an unlimited virtual environment. Fromemerging professionals, project managers, to CEO’s, there is something for everyone at the 2021 Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium . SEPT. 13 - OCT. 8, 2021 REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL NOW


QUESTIONS? For group discounts or any other inquiries, please contact events@, call 800.466.6275 or visit

Everything we do is in pursuit of elevating the AEC industry, bringing awareness of the incredible impact that engineers, architects, environmental professionals, survey- ors, planners, landscape architects and related professional service providers have on the world. Empowering organizations with the resources they need to perform better, grow and add jobs, pay better wages and to expand their impact on the community, Zweig Group exists to advance the profession.



Keep every commitment: Nick Ringstad Owner of 3-Tier Alaska (Fairbanks, AK), a firm that specializes in land surveying and civil engineering in the interior of Alaska.


I n 2018, Ringstad took over 3-Tier Alaska, a professional land surveying and civil engineering company which was founded in the early 1980s by his dad, Jim Ringstad. Then, in early 2021, 3-Tier joined forces with Travis/Peterson Environmental Consulting in a merger that strengthens the combined company’s environmental engineering and land use services. “It comes down to keeping every commitment, no matter how big or small,” Ringstad says. “This means sending a follow-up email by the time we said we’d send it, finishing the job by the date we committed to at the start of the project, completing project milestones on time along the way, and staying within budget. We have a high-quality bar for the work we deliver, and our clients depend on that.” A CONVERSATION WITH NICK RINGSTAD. The Zweig Letter: What’s the arrangement set up behind the recent merger and what was the impetus behind the move?

Nick Ringstad: Through the deal, Travis/Peterson is now a division of 3-Tier Alaska, and will maintain its offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks. The whole Travis/Peterson team is staying on as part of the newly-combined company. The main driver for the deal was the opportunity for 3-Tier Alaska to expand on the services we’re able to offer our land use clients. The environmental engineering services that Travis/Peterson provides are a great complement to 3-Tier Alaska’s civil engineering and land surveying services. In fact, we’re seeing almost immediate benefit to the business in cross-selling and shared work. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” NR: The majority of my time is spent on the business, managing our operations with an eye on growing and scaling. Focusing my energy there has been key to our growth over the past three years.



TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? NR: It comes down to keeping every commitment, no matter how big or small. This means sending a follow-up email by the time we said we’d send it, finishing the job by the date we committed to at the start of the project, completing project milestones on time along the way, and staying within budget. We have a high- quality bar for the work we deliver, and our clients depend on that. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? NR: I started this business later in my career, after experience in banking, finance, and sales. My background in accounting and finance has been indispensable to me as a business owner. TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? NR: I want to create an environment where my employees can do their best work. My focus is on ensuring people are where they want to be, and that they feel empowered with the clarity and resources to make decisions. I’m committed to leading by example, which means demonstrating consistency, showing up, and maintaining a high quality of work. It’s important to me that my employees know I’m always available to them, to work through challenges and to find solutions no matter what might come up. “My focus is on ensuring people are where they want to be, and that they feel empowered with the clarity and resources to make decisions.” TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? NR: With the acquisition, we enhanced our benefits for all employees of the combined company. The team is most excited about our enhanced healthcare benefits and a new profit-sharing contribution for their 401(k). TZL: You’ve been in business for more than 30 years. What’s been one of the greatest industry evolutions you’ve seen and how has it affected your firm?





❚ ❚ Fairbanks, AK

❚ ❚ Anchorage, AK

❚ ❚ Seattle, WA


NR: Unquestionably, technology has been the biggest driver of transformation in the industry. When my dad first founded 3-Tier Alaska, land surveying work was conducted by two-person field crews using total stations and line-of-sight. There was no GPS or drone technology, and the work took longer than it does today. There’s also been a generational shift in the industry that in some ways is related to the broader technological shifts in society. Civil engineering now competes with software engineering for new professional talent. That makes recruiting a bit more of a challenge for a firm like 3-Tier Alaska, but it also means the services we offer remain in high demand. TZL: How often do you valuate your firm and what key metrics do you use in the process? Do you valuate using in-house staff or is it outsourced? NR: I don’t do it often – off the cuff, I use a simple 3-5x multiplier on free cash flow as an approximate gauge. TZL: What unique or innovative pricing strategies have you developed, or are you developing, to combat the commoditization of engineering services? NR: Part of the rationale for bringing 3-Tier Alaska together with Travis/

❚ ❚ Septic system design and


❚ ❚ Road design and


❚ ❚ Spoil analysis and testing


❚ ❚ Subdivision design and


❚ ❚ Construction surveying

❚ ❚ Rights-of-way and



has a long history of remote

work in many native villages


across the state.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

UNE 7, 2021, ISSUE 1395


BUSINESS NEWS LAWTON PUBLIC SAFETY CENTER OPENS FOR USE Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced that community members recently celebrated the opening of the City of Lawton Public Safety Center in Lawton, Oklahoma. Designed to consolidatemunicipal services, the facility houses the city’s police headquarters, central fire station, the city jail, and municipal courts. The design, inspired by the Wichita Mountains rolling into plains, extends the city’s municipal and cultural presence from downtown to the Northeast Gateway and addresses the significant operational, security, and space deficiencies the city was experiencing in its previous undersized and disparate locations. “The ribbon-cutting ceremony was an exciting milestone for this project,” says Dewberry Principal and Business Unit Manager Bruce Henley, AIA. “We are proud to have been an integral part of designing a facility that consolidates resources and improves the necessary facilities for this community and its first responders.” The new facility extends the existing cultural and civic presence downtown and has been designed with public access, parking, and bike trails. Dewberry provided architecture as well as structural and civil engineering and low voltage design services, including security electronics, telecommunications, and audio- visual systems. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.

HYDRO SOLUTIONS CONSULTING, LLC JOINS DEWBERRY Dewberry announced the acquisition of Florida-based Hydro Solutions Consulting, LLC. The 20-person firm has three locations across the state, including Jacksonville, Orlando, and its headquarters in Lakeland. “Hydro is excited to join Dewberry, allowing us to better provide value to our clients by increasing our staff and delivering expertise with resources from a national firm that shares our same culture and values,” says Hydro Solutions Consulting, LLC President Robert Beltran. “We also anticipate excellent opportunities for our staff to be exposed to projects and training, both in and out of the Florida market, to leverage those experiences for our clients.” “At Dewberry, we strive to create value for our clients, improve our communities, empower our employees, and expand our reach,” says Dewberry Executive Chairman of the Board Barry Dewberry. “I am excited that Hydro will be joining us, as I know its leadership holds true to the same values.” “Hydro has an outstanding reputation in the marketplace, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Dewberry team. They possess a strong leadership team and have a growing operation that will allow both firms to better serve new and existing clients,” adds Dewberry Chief Executive Officer Don Stone. Dewberry Chief Operating Officer Dan Pleasant adds, “As Florida has advanced to a ‘one water’ platform for planning and engineering, we saw this as a strategic opportunity to expand our water practice in Florida and the southeast. Hydro checks all the boxes in terms of client experience, culture, and strategic growth opportunities.” As Dewberry | Hydro, the firm’s existing leadership and staff will continue to deliver the “one water” platform through water infrastructure, permitting, utilities visioning, natural systems, and geospatial and mapping to clients in the state/local markets. Dewberry currently has 300 employees across 14 offices in Florida.

Dewberry Executive Vice President Dave Maxwell says, “Bringing Hydro into the Dewberry family provides opportunities for both organizations to expand their service offerings and improve client experience.” Dewberry Vice President Cliff Wilson adds, “I am thrilled to welcome Hydro to Dewberry, a firm I have long admired. I’m confident it will be a mutually beneficial relationship.” DEWBERRY’S TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEP- ARTMENT WELCOMES RAYMOND CREWS Dewberry, a privately held professional services firm, has announced that Raymond Crews has been hired as a senior associate and business development director based out of the firm’s Parsippany, New Jersey, office. Crews joins the firmwith 20 years of experience and has worked for national cellular carriers, private telecommunications tower companies, and independent consultants. In his role as business development director, Crews is responsible for organizing sales planning and outreach, marketing and lead generation, and growing the firm’s telecommunications client base. “Joining Dewberry allows me to use my skills to provide service-based solutions for our clients across the nation,” says Crews. “I am excited to be a part of this dynamic team that provides telecommunications and electrical vehicle charging station services, both of which are critical as our society continues to technologically advance at a rapid rate.” Crews earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Duquesne University (2000) and is a member of the New Jersey Wireless Association, New York State Wireless Association, and a founding member of NEDAS, formerly known as the North East Distributed Antennas Systems.

being accessible to them, and fostering a culture where people want to be. “I hope to give my team a sense that their work matters and that they share in the company’s success. Part of that is providing employees the absolute best benefits that I possibly can, being accessible to them, and fostering a culture where people want to be.”


Peterson was to be able to offer a unique combination of services. Now, we cover a wide spectrum of land use services, offering deep expertise that is hard to commoditize. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? NR: By building and growing the business, I hope to give my team a sense that their work matters and that they share in the company’s success. Part of that is providing employees the absolute best benefits that I possibly can,

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Something to mall over

In the AEC industry, technical knowledge is important – but sometimes it’s equally important to step back, look around, and see what lessons can be learned outside the AEC realm.

T he AEC industry is a specialized environment. Marketing for architecture, engineering, and construction firms is best when the marketing team has advanced knowledge of projects and how the work actually gets done. Immersing ourselves in professional development can reap huge rewards.

Jane Lawler Smith

However, pursuing a certified development path is not the only way to go. Lessons in marketing can be learned pretty much everywhere, as we are living in a consumer-driven society and, as we’ve discussed before, the ultimate client is a human being. Still, I was struck recently by lessons learned at the mall. As we all are aware, the glory day of the mall is long past. Ian Bogost wrote in The Atlantic , “I was a youth in the 1980s and early ‘90s, the heyday of the mall as a cultural symbol and a commercial powerhouse. In those days, mall-going really did offer some of the social benefits [Victor] Gruen had imagined. The American suburbs lack the density of daily encounters that characterizes the modernist cities of Europe, and the mall provided a space where people could amble in thick proximity.”

However, the other day, the thick proximity was returning to full effect at our regional, high-end mall. Bucking the trend of decline and covering more than 2 million square feet of leasable space, this mall offered it all. A recent expansion (followed by some unexpected and mandated time away) made even regular shoppers a little confused. So many visitors were making their way to the mall directory. No longer a static map, this high-tech version can answer any question about the massive development … provided it is working. Which, unfortunately, it was not. I witnessed at least a dozen shoppers alternatively staring, touching, swiping – to no avail. Enter, the mail carrier. Obviously mid-rounds,




BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF LAUNCHDARKLY HEADQUARTERS IN UPTOWN OAKLAND Ware Malcomb , an award- winning international design firm, announced construction is complete on LaunchDarkly’s headquarters in uptown Oakland, California. Ware Malcomb provided interior architecture and design and branding services for the project. LaunchDarkly, a software company that produces the leading feature management platform, is located in the popular uptown neighborhood of downtown Oakland at the Lake Merritt Plaza. The highly sought-after plaza offers spectacular views of Lake Merritt, as well as quick access to the Oakland airport and the BART station. The 30,000 square foot remodel offers office upgrades across two floors. The design highlights the value of community within LaunchDarkly, paralleling the culture of Oakland. Strategically placed open-concept areas throughout the office promote employee

engagement. The expansive break room features a full kitchen with modern appliances and decor, with light colored wood, delicate accents, clean lines and exposed ceilings. The people-centric design encourages employees to congregate and foster a community culture within the break space. Other design features accommodate further company growth and alternative ways of working. The office has many flexible spaces that allow for independent work, small huddles or large collaborative meetings. Ware Malcomb integrated LaunchDarkly’s brand colors of navy blues and grays with light wood and greenery throughout the space. The branding team also developed space-themed graphics to align with LaunchDarkly’s company image. “Our focus was to bring the LaunchDarkly brand to life while weaving in the authenticity of Oakland culture,” said Rhea Butler, Director, Interior Architecture & Design of Ware Malcomb’s San Francisco office. “It

was exciting to contribute to the growth of LaunchDarkly.” The general contractor for the project was WCI-General Contractors. 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 & 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.

JANE LAWLER SMITH, from page 9

consumer studies centered around the power of free. And an equal number on how to sell. For your firm, think about these questions: When is free not worth the price? And when you are selling, are your clients/prospects enjoying the process? There is a store that I frequent that is not part of this regional mall. And quite frankly, they do not aspire to be there. They are a department store chain that is actually opening new stores rather than closing locations like so many others. They are competing with big box stores and they are succeeding, on their own terms. Their corporate culture is of paramount importance and drives decisions. “When Boscov’s opens a store, it sends a group of salespeople, department managers, and buyers to the new store several weeks before it opens,” Jon Harris wrote in his article “As Department Stores Close, How is Boscov’s Bucking the Trend?” “They stay on several weeks after, working alongside the roughly 300 new hires. ‘The idea there is, “You don’t teach the culture of a company from a handbook,” Jim Boscov said. You work side by side, and you show what a Boscov’s is.’ That’s another reason for the company’s slow and stable growth: He said it’s not fair to ask co-workers to be away from home more than once a year.” For your firm, think about whether or not you have created a truly unique culture. How are you telling and living that story? When marketing within the AEC industry, technical knowledge is important. However sometimes, it is equally important to take a step back, look around our world, and see what lessons can be learned from places outside the AEC realm. JANE LAWLER SMITH, MBA, is the marketing manager at Derck & Edson, LLC. She can be reached at

his mail cart full, the mail carrier stepped up to our group and asked, “Where do you want to go?” One by one, we revealed our desired destinations and were sent confidently on our way. For your firm, think about when technology fails. Who in your organization holds the knowledge to carry on and direct others? “Lessons in marketing can be learned pretty much everywhere, as we are living in a consumer-driven society and, as we’ve discussed before, the ultimate client is a human being.” Now striding along the mall corridor toward our destination, we were approached several times and offered “free” samples. Over the course of the entire day, no one in our group accepted any samples and we did not see a successful exchange with any other shoppers. Curious. We arrived at one of our select stores, LUSH. After browsing a bit, we were approached by a smiling sales associate who asked if we would like to see their newest product. First, she smoothed it on her hands and let us smell it. Then she requested and received permission to do the same to us. Afterwards, we washed our hands and tried out some more items. All the while, the associate was engaged with us, listened to us, suggested more and different items to us. She never said “free,” although all the sampling was exactly that. And yes, when we finally left the store, it was with purchases in our (freshly clean, massaged, and fragrant) hands. There are many fascinating behavioral science and

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




S ome people seem to have all the luck – or do they? Sure, there is no doubt bad luck can strike any of us at any time and it can provide a real setback. But much of our good luck is luck we create on our own – and in my opinion a lot of that comes down to understanding probabilities and doing things that increase our odds for success. We create much of our own good luck – and a lot of that comes down to understanding probabilities and doing things that increase our odds for success. Increase your odds of achieving real success

Mark Zweig

When it comes to the AEC business, there are many things you can do that will increase your chances of success. Here are a few examples of what I mean: 1)Good luck in hiring. To be able to consistently hire the people you need in a tough labor market, you need to develop lots of potential candidates so you have a choice of good people and have backup candidates should your first picks not accept your job offers. To do that, you need to be constantly on the lookout for good people and when you find them, keep them interested by regularly checking in with them just like a client you are trying to develop. You can find those good people by getting involved in professional and trade associations, reading publications about firms and people in your industry, working with client organizations, teaching, and many other ways. Meet, greet, and

maintain those relationships, and you will increase your odds of success! 2)Good luck in marketing. Having a large enough client and potential client database, and making a consistent effort to demonstrate your knowledge and competence will lead to more marketing successes for AEC firms every time. For example, if your market focus is airports, and you only have 10 percent of the airports in your marketing database, and then you only have 10 percent of the people in those airports who could hire or influence the decision to hire you, you are ignoring 99 percent of your target market. Combine a small list of client organizations with a limited number of people inside those organizations with weak and infrequent marketing messaging and my guess is you won’t

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE TANGRAMANNOUNCES ERIC LOCKWOOD HAS BEEN PROMOTED TO DIRECTOR OF DESIGN Tangram , a curator of highly creative commercial interior environments and workspaces, has announced Eric Lockwood has been promoted to director of design for Tangram Technology. Lockwood has more than 27 years of experience in technology consulting, design and integration for the built environment. Lockwood has worked in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and previously served as a senior account executive for Tangram Technology where he successfully led complex technical designs and oversaw enterprise- wide system implementations for his customers. In his new position as director of design for Tangram Technology, Lockwood will focus on design innovation and customization to address new technological challenges,

many of which have been accelerated by the pandemic. These challenges – or opportunities – arise not only from the evolving technologies themselves but also from changing work modes such as flexible or hybrid models as defined by a given organization, and from understanding and predicting the work of the future not just the future of the workspace. Lockwood will also drive new initiatives to harmonize technology integration with architecture, interiors and furniture to promote a seamless, blended experience that generates value and ignites potential for users while enhancing an organization’s brand and culture. “Eric is a proven leader in successful design and execution of innovative creation from concept to completion,” said Jack Hooven Chief Operating Officer of Tangram Interiors. “His project expertise and passion to

continually excel in his craft makes him an invaluable asset to Tangram Technologies.” Lockwood’s current clients include the Writers Guild of America, Chapman University & CoreLogic. He holds a degree from University of Salford, United Kingdom in BEng Electroacoustics is CTS-D Certified and is a member of the United States Green Building Council. Tangram curates destinations that empower people to work, learn and heal. Creative interior solutions that foster workplace satisfaction, collaboration and productivity while enhancing the client’s brand and culture. In addition to its core contract furniture offering, the company operates multiple additional business units for a comprehensive approach to commercial interiors. This range of services allows for top-to-bottom involvement that integrates each aspect of planning, design and installation.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

provides real opportunities for people to do well. You have to start with a competent talent pool Don’t be a control freak – let other people make decisions and let them have some glory when things work out well as a result. Spend lots and lots of time with your successor(s) so they are fully-trained. And start the whole process early so you have enough time to backtrack and pick a new successor in case it turns out you had the wrong horse the first time around. There is little magic or luck involved if you do all of the things that tend to lead to success in having a good successor. “Some people seem to have all the luck – or do they? Sure, there is no doubt bad luck can strike any of us at any time and it can provide a real setback. But much of our good luck is luck we create on our own.” 6)Good luck in successfully selling your business when you want to exit. I have worked with so many successful (and unsuccessful) owners of AEC firms over the years when it comes to selling their business, either internally or externally, when they decide it is time to move out. And what is clear is those who do the things to make their companies more valuable always have more and better options. Those things include running a business that is consistently growing (not “staying small successfully!”), one that makes a reasonable profit, one that has a clear focus on specific markets and some depth of specialized experience (no buyers want generalists), one that has clean accounting with no personal co-mingling of expenses, one that has an outstanding staff, and much more. Lots of good options for exit exist when you do all of the right things that lead to it! Increasing your odds for success – creating your own good luck – there is always something you can do. So do it! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

have the luck you need for real marketing success. So kick it all up! More prospects and more info getting out to them – done for a long enough period of time – and my guess is that your luck will improve. 3)Good luck in collecting your AR so you don’t need to rely on credit. We all work in an industry where 70-90 day average collection periods are seen as “normal,” and in most cases, part and parcel of being in this business. But it doesn’t have to be that way! The best-managed firms find that their average collection period can be as low as 30-45 days by simply following good billing practices. Those include things such as getting bills out quickly, making sure they are going to the right person, formatted the way the client wants, and always showing a total due that includes previously invoiced but unpaid amounts. I did not say show an aging of AR on your bills, nor did I say send statements. Those things won’t help you collect your money. Five days after your bills go out have someone in accounting either email or call the client to be sure your invoice is being processed for payment. If there is a problem, find it then and there versus 60 days later when you are hoping to actually get paid. Doing these things and more will increase your odds of success! 4)Good luck in getting the financing you need to grow your business. Again – there are always things you can do to increase your chances of finding the money you need to support your growth. Are you consistently profitable? If not, do what you need to do so you are. Do you pay your bills promptly so your D&B creditworthiness rating is high? If not, do so. Do you have audited financials? If not, get them. Do you work with local banks where you know the top people personally, or are you working with national banks where you are just a number? Local banks are more likely to help you as you are a member of their community. Do the things that you should do to increase your odds of success. 5)Good luck in having a competent successor. This is such a pivotal part of success in this business as all principals and managers need to have their successors ready to go when they need them to be ready. But how can you increase your chances for success in doing that? Run a good business that

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


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