TZL 1384 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S M a r c h 2 2 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 3 8 4 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

Recruiting practices

Let’s take all the support we’ve been unable to show over the past year and fire up businesses impacted by COVID. A tale of two pictures

F I R M I N D E X 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering, Inc.. ....................2 Bushra Tsai, Inc.......................................2 Croy Engineering.....................................6 Dewberry................................................4 Sorba Engineering.................................12 Twining, Inc...........................................12 Ware Malcomb......................................10 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz JULIE BENEZET: Don’t advise, act! Page 3 xz Northbound: Jim Croy Page 6 xz MARK ZWEIG: Get everyone involved in business planning Page 9 xz TALIN ESPINOZA: Everything we’ve gained and lost Page 11 In Zweig Group’s recently released 2020-2021 Recruitment & Retention Report of AEC Firms , firm processes on hiring and retaining talent are analyzed by staff size to understand differences in strategies. Generally, as firms get larger, their recruiting efforts become more defined and organized. The chart above shows what percentage of firms have in-house hiring/recruitment staff broken down by staff size ranges. The 25-49 staff size range is a critical group throughout the report, as it represents the turning point in recruiting policies and practices. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

A week ago, on March 12, Zweig Group did our own strategic planning retreat for our company. I started out the retreat showing a picture from exactly one year ago.

Chad Clinehens

It was a picture of the final day of our in-person Principals Academy in Dallas and would be the last in-person event Zweig Group would conduct for the year. The following Monday, one year ago today, our staff started working from home and the shutdown of America commenced.

Toward the end of our retreat Friday, I noticed a stickie note place by one of the sinks of the facility we were renting for the event. It said, “It’s been a crazy year, I’m glad you’re here.” It was obviously left by one of the staff members of the facility. The note really impacted me. We were one of the first groups to rent space in




TRANSACT IONS 4 S.T.E.L. ENGINEERING ACQUIRES BTI 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering, Inc. , an award-winning structural and electrical engineering firm, has acquired the Anaheim-based structural engineering firm, Bushra Tsai, Inc. (BTI). The official acquisition date was March 1, 2021. Zweig Group, a full-service AEC management advisory firm, represented 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering in this transaction. Jamie Claire Kiser, Zweig Group’s managing principal, served as the firm’s lead advisor on the engagement. Founded in 2005, 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering is a reputable engineering firm with a broad range of experience and expertise focused on structural and electrical design and engineering, including commercial, industrial, educational, solar, and renewables. By acquiring BTI (formerly Ajit Randhava & Associates), which has been in operation since 1979, 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering is “excited to incorporate BTI’s strong team, expansive knowledge base and client-oriented services, particularly BTI’s specialty areas of tilt- up structures for industrial manufacturing, fulfillment centers and warehouse buildings, retail shopping centers, and office buildings,” said 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering’s President and CEO, Dustin Rosepink. 4 S.T.E.L.’s COO, Jonathan Varela, remarked, “The combined firm now totals 47 employees. This not only allows us to expand our reach in the marketplace, but it also provides a better

foundation for us to provide the best client experience.” Rafeek Bushra, president of BTI, believes this acquisition “provides opportunities to further expand our service offerings to our now combined, diverse client base. Joining 4 S.T.E.L.’s team ensures BTI’s legacy of quality work will continue for years to come.” 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 has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas. 4 S.T.E.L. Engineering, Inc., located in Mission Viejo, California, has been named a Zweig Group Hot Firm four years in a row. It has also been awarded Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For, Orange County Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, and ENR’s Top 100 Engineering Firms in California.

This webinar was specifically developed to help design and technical professionals in archi- tecture, engineering, planning, and environmental firms become more comfortable managing cli- ents and promoting the firm and its services. Led by two retired and current CEOs with extensive experience from the design desk to the board room, this one-of-a- kind webinar presents business development techniques proven to drive real growth and value in your AEC firm. Elevating Doer- Sellers Virtual Seminar 6 PDH/LU



CHAD CLINEHENS, from page 1

TheatreSquared, a new facility that was completed as COVID hit a year ago. The 50,000-square-foot campus unites two theaters, rehearsal space, a three-level commons and café, outdoor gathering spaces, production workshops, offices, and artists’ apartments. It was the winner of the 2020 American Architecture Award, the AIA New York State Honor Award, and an Interior Design Best of Year Award – and it’s a cultural landmark in Northwest Arkansas, where our company is proudly headquartered. I share this because the note was a reminder of the devastation this pandemic caused those in the performing arts world. The artists, set designers, lighting designers, stage crews, and beyond were just one of the many groups deeply affected over the past year. As we are able to get back to renting spaces like TheatreSquared, let’s not forget what an enormous part of our society has endured over the past year. Let’s take all the support we’ve been unable to show over the past year and do what we can to fire up these businesses. We are so fortunate to work in the AEC industry, the industry that designs and constructs the backbone of society. As many of us were considered “essential services,” many firms were able to continue strong through this, and overall, we did much better as an industry than our brothers and sisters in the hospitality and entertainment sectors, to name a few. That note impressed upon me that every industry is an “essential service.” In 2021, I’m excited to get back to enjoying the amazing facilities the surveyors, planners, engineers, architects, interior designers, awnd contractors have built. But we need the artists, set designers, lighting designers, stage crews, and event coordinators to make things like TheatreSquared work. They are going to be glad to see us, and we are going to be glad to see them. CHAD CLINEHENS is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

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

Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560

Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year) $250 for one-year print subscription; free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2021, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Don’t advise, act!

Mentors do not fight for candidates’ advancement opportunities. That is the job of champions.

I f 2020 taught us nothing else, leadership matters. We also learned about the power of action. Regardless of your political persuasion, the single-minded focus and drive of the winners of the Georgia Senatorial race gave us a striking example of what it means to fight for a cause that holds deep meaning for you.

Julie Benezet

The same principle applies to leadership succession in companies. With the continued departures of baby boomers from the workforce, leadership succession stands at a critical juncture. While there’s little doubt senior executives care deeply about their companies, they struggle with passing the baton. Many reasons explain why succession plans don’t happen. Even when a company creates a plan, the difficult conversations and actions needed to make them work proves to be a challenge. The result is inertia. To surmount the inertia, somebody needs to shoulder the cause of fighting to put in place the firm’s future leaders before they give up or leave. THE IMPORTANCE OF CHAMPIONS. Leadership succession programs involve formal training, stretch goals,

and front-line assignments. However, these tools fall short without an overlay of strong guiding hands. Many companies use mentorship to fill the role. Mentors step in at auspicious times to give invaluable advice and support. Then they step back to let mentees execute. In short, mentors advise and mentees act. Mentors do not fight for candidates’ advancement opportunities. That is the job of champions. Champions provide action. They are company insiders who come equipped with organizational power that they are prepared to exercise on behalf of a leadership candidate.




ON THE MOVE DEWBERRY PROMOTES MARK TALBERT TO SENIOR ASSOCIATE AND RICHARD KINCHELOE TO ASSOCIATE Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced the promotion of nearly 50 professionals nationwide, including one in Danville, Virginia, and one in its Virginia Beach, Virginia, office. Mark Talbert, PE, has been promoted to senior associate in Danville and Richard Kincheloe, PE, has been promoted to associate in Virginia Beach. Talbert joined the firm in 2007 and has 14 years of experience. His expertise includes industrial and commercial site design projects related to site selection, site layout, grading/ drainage design, stormwater management design, erosion and sediment control design, and utility design. As the assistant department

manager for the firm’s land development practice in Danville, Talbert has worked with large, big-box retailers, as well as local developers. Talbert earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from North Carolina State University (2007). With more than 13 years of experience, Kincheloe leads the firm’s mid-Atlantic utility master planning and hydraulic modeling practice for water and sewer infrastructure systems for municipal clients. Having worked in both the private and public sector, he has a versatile background in planning and design of water/wastewater infrastructure, collection/ distribution systems evaluation, and pump station optimization. Kincheloe earned his master’s and bachelor’s

degrees in civil engineering from Virginia Tech, and is a member of the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Federation. 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.

JULIE BENEZET, from page 3

To create a leadership profile, the company should take a steely eyed look at its future and identify its strongest competitive position. That means figuring out their highest expertise, the market demand for it, and any other winning offerings, such as high touch customer service or audacious new concepts. Then the company can pinpoint the key leadership skills, behaviors, and other attributes that will deliver on that position. “Championing a future leader galvanizes the ascendency of leadership talent, important company conversations, and a big step toward the future.” 3)How to manage risk. The crux of championship is advocacy. To make sure their candidate receives the right advancement opportunities, the champion must fight for the candidate, running the risk of hurting their reputation if the candidate fails. They also face the risk of pushback. People might challenge the candidate’s qualifications, undercut the champion to promote their own candidate or simply object to hang on to power. Whatever the case, the champion should enter the arena armed with facts mapped against the backdrop of the company’s strategic plan for the future, its leadership profile, and the importance of promoting to talent retention. Then they must argue why their candidate qualifies. Whatever the outcome, it’s important for the champion to place high value on doing the right thing for the business and stand proud. Championing a future leader galvanizes the ascendency of leadership talent, important company conversations, and a big step toward the future. JULIE BENEZET spent 25 years in law and business, and for the past 18 years has coached, taught and consulted with executives from virtually every industry. She earned her stripes for leading in the scariness of the new as Amazon’s first global real estate executive. She is author of the award-winning The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None . Her workbook, The Journal of Not Knowing , provides a self-guided discovery mission to navigate the adventure of pursuing one’s dreams based on the Journey principles. She can be reached at

THREE THINGS TO KNOW. To optimize the advancement of a prospective leader, the champion should know the following: 1)The candidate. Advocating for someone is highly personal, requiring that the champion and the candidate form a strong relationship. Before putting political capital at risk, a champion must know the candidate well enough to determine whether the person has the right skills, judgment, and values to succeed. Skills can be relatively easily observed and measured as part of routine performance reviews. Judgment and values require spending both formal and informal time with the candidate to learn how they approach life. While finding sufficient time in our warp speed world can be difficult, it is essential that the champion find it to assemble the facts they need to know about a candidate and how best to argue their case. In addition to the time commitment, getting to know the candidate better can land a champion in uncomfortable situations. A champion might have to watch an emotionally charged business meeting where the candidate struggles to find their sea legs. Or the champion might be an introvert, eschewing socializing, even in a work context. Conversely, they might be an extrovert and prefer hanging around people similar to them. The best candidates might be dissimilar to the champion but can contribute vital talent to the company. Preference for the familiar can be a barrier to champions establishing relationships with women. I remember meeting with three male leaders from a large design firm about their reluctance to invite women associates to join them after work to socialize with clients. The answers began with, “Oh, they wouldn’t want to come.” I rolled my eyes. Then, “My wife wouldn’t like it.” Really? And finally, “I just want to spend my time with people like me!” Points for honesty, and a problem, which can be fixed. 2)The company leadership profile. To choose a candidate, a champion needs a framework to determine the person’s fitness for the leadership role. Using a company leadership profile as a measuring stick forces the company and its champions to focus on leadership attributes based on what will yield business success, rather than on personalities.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.



The Principals Academy Virtual Seminar




The Principals Academy is Zweig Group’s flagship training program encompass- ing all aspects of managing a professional AEC service firm. Elevate your ability to lead and grow your firm with this program designed to inspire and inform existing and emerging AEC firm leaders in key areas of firm management lead- ership, financial management, recruiting, marketing, business development, and project management. Learning and networking at this premiere event challeng- es traditional seminar formats and integrates participatory idea exchange led by Zweig Group’s CEO, Chad Clinehens, PE, and Zweig Group’s Managing Principal, Jamie Claire Kiser, as well as the firm’s top line up of advisors. Zweig Group’s leadership team draws from our 30+ year history working with AEC firms to teach the latest approaches to managing and operating success- ful firms – using our comprehensive data set of industry benchmarks and best practices. The Principals Academy is like a mini-MBA for design and technical professionals and is an impactful way you can spend learning to build your ca- reer and your firm.


PAST ATTENDEE FEEDBACK: • “Great course, each presenter was very knowledgeable and I often shared a summary of key points immediately with management or other employees. Well worth our time, thank you!” • “It was great hearing the high level perspectives from the Zweig staff and their ability to bring real world experience to the topics was very helpful.” • “Everything about Ownership and being a Principal was well organized into one com- prehensive seminar. The topics and presenters were well organized. I recommend this course to new owners/principals coming in, and as refresher course to existing AE busi- ness owners for reviewing best practices.”


Zweig Group is an approved provider by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).




Northbound: Jim Croy Managing partner and CEO of Croy Engineering (Marietta, GA), a multidiscipline consulting engineering firm that believes in engineering the extra mile.


A s Croy Engineering’s founder, Croy is an entrepreneur and businessman who brings an extensive public- sector background to the job and has assembled a dedicated and professional team of directors with more than 200 years of combined experience in engineering, planning and surveying. “Croy is a train – we can speed the train up, slow it down, or even change the color. People get on and off the train. But the direction of the train never changes: We go north,” Croy says. “As the leader, it’s my job to keep the train on the tracks and moving forward.” A CONVERSATION WITH JIM CROY. The Zweig Letter: Tell me about your transition from Cobb County DOT to founding Croy Engineering. What was your inspiration/vision for starting the firm? Jim Croy: From 1992 to 1999, I served as the director of Cobb County DOT. I left the role to go work under then

Governor Roy Barnes as the director of the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and deputy director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA). When Governor Barnes was not re-elected in 2003, I left state government too. I wasn’t sure what my next role would be, but I’d always had jobs that involved independent decision-making and I knew I would need to have this ability in the next position I accepted. Although I was approached by various firms, I chose to take some time off to decide my next step. During this transition time, I had the opportunity to help a friend at his firm – MSE. When he put the firm for sale soon after, I decided to buy it. We became Croy-MSE in 2005, and a couple of years later transitioned to Croy Engineering. My vision and inspiration for purchasing the firm and starting Croy was simple: I didn’t want to work for anyone. I wanted the ability to do what I’d always done – be an independent decision maker. And, I’d say it’s worked out



well. I bought the firm with 17 employees and one location in Marietta, Georgia. Fifteen years later, we have 120 employees and six offices across four Southeastern states. “By being aware of the challenges our clients are facing, honestly addressing these issues, and helping to alleviate them, we’re able to gain long-term trust.” TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? JC: Telecommuting and working remotely were not general Croy policies pre- COVID-19. However, we wanted our employees to feel comfortable and safe during this time, so we added both options into our culture/retention “toolbox.” That said, I’m a firm believer that the best way to communicate is spoken. Engineers can be involved in a lot of different things and a lack of physical interaction and speaking face-to-face can be detrimental to determining a project’s objectives, challenges, or solutions. So, while both telecommuting and working remotely are available to employees, we still encourage in-person interactions when safe and possible. TZL: Trust is crucial. How do you earn the trust of your clients? JC: You earn trust with anyone by being honest. Our company is solutions-oriented, and we have several long-term clients who have been with us since our beginning. I believe this is because we are honest with our clients about project goals, budgets, schedules, and public outreach, while also offering support and advice. Since many of our clients are municipalities, we understand the need to work within budgets, as well as successfully handle public perception and education for a project. By being aware of the challenges our clients are facing, honestly addressing these issues, and helping to alleviate them, we’re able to gain long-term trust. I would also add that we commit to doing what we say we will do. TZL: Do you have a project that springs to mind as being a top favorite? Why? (i.e., impact, innovation, etc.) JC: There are two projects that are my favorites – one past and one present.

The first is the East-West Connector in Cobb County, developed in 1997. This project faced significant historic, cultural, and environmental challenges, and involved extensive coordination with several agencies, including the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Division. I’m proud of the many environmental and historical elements we were able to preserve (a good portion of the Silver Comet Trail was eventually developed in this area), while also providing a much-needed connection to West Cobb County. The second project, which is currently under construction, is Windy Hill Boulevard. This project transforms Windy Hill Road from a six-lane roadway cutting through a section of the city of Smyrna into an innovative boulevard concept. This design allows through-traffic to continue without stopping, while giving local traffic separate lanes with access to businesses. This project not only provides traffic congestion relief for the area, but it does it in an efficient, safe, pedestrian- friendly way that encourages curb-side development and redevelopment. TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? JC: I often use the expression “northbound train.” Croy is a train – we can speed the train up, slow it down, or even change the color. People get on and off the train. But the direction of the train never changes: We go north. As the leader, it’s my job to keep the train on the tracks and moving forward, as well as to care about the employees and their families who are on the train. TZL: Is change management a topic regularly addressed by the leadership at your firm? If so, elaborate. JC: Yes – our leadership regularly discusses change management in three ways: “Passing the baton includes taking the time to ensure that the people who are going to have certain leadership duties are the right people for that job ... Getting the right people in place on the right timetable is critical.”

HEADQUARTERS: Marietta, GA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 120 YEAR FOUNDED: 2005 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 6 CAPABILITIES: ❚ ❚ Aviation ❚ ❚ Construction management ❚ ❚ Land acquisition ❚ ❚ Landscape architecture ❚ ❚ Municipal development ❚ ❚ Parks and recreation ❚ ❚ Planning ❚ ❚ Program management ❚ ❚ Site development ❚ ❚ Surveying ❚ ❚ Traffic mobility ❚ ❚ Transit ❚ ❚ Transportation ❚ ❚ Utility solutions BIG ACCOLADE: In partnership with Covington Municipal Airport, Croy Engineering was awarded the 2020 General Aviation Airport Project of the Year Award by the Georgia Airports Association. The Award recognizes Croy’s work on the extension of Runway 28 and parallel taxiway project, which involved meeting challenging schedule deadlines on-time and under budget.

See NORTHBOUND, page 8

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

RCH 22, 2021, ISSUE 1384


NORTHBOUND, from page 7

clients, and service offerings enabled us to share work between offices and employees depending on need. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? JC: I don’t think there are failures – just opportunities that didn’t turn out right. My dad told me, “It will either work out or it won’t.” His point was to at least try. Never attack a problem without trying – or, trying something different. It may not work, but the lesson is to keep trying. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? JC: The number one role of the CEO is be the head coach. There may be coaches running departments and various aspects of the operations, but the CEO is the leader. He sets the game plan, watches the clock, and keeps the schedule. It’s important to have the right people in place to accomplish the right things and the CEO makes sure it happens. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? JC: A good friend of mine said, “Work oughta be fun. If it’s not, you have a problem.” It’s a motto we try to follow to keep our employees engaged. Sometimes this means doing small, impromptu things that help people have a good day such as ordering donuts, handing out lottery tickets, or bringing in a food truck. We also believe work needs to be challenging; very few of our engineers do the same thing day-after-day. Finally, we reward people for their hard work. Sometimes this is a financial reward and other times it’s a kind word at the end of the day. Employees have a lot of different things going on in their world – it’s good to tell employees you appreciate them. I believe this is why we still have many employees who have been with us since day one. TZL: How has COVID-19 affected your business on a daily basis? JC: As I mentioned previously, COVID-19 has helped us begin to offer telecommuting and remote work options for our employees, increasing flexibility company-wide. However, it has also changed how we interact with and serve our clients. Many of our clients are working remotely as well and our communication has shifted virtually. While this works for informative reasons, it is a challenge to continue to build a trusting relationship over a Zoom call. Our team has needed to be more innovative to provide the same high-level of personal service to our clients now than in pre-COVID-19 times. Our managers have adjusted to how we support and assist our clients – whether through overnighting paperwork or talking more regularly via text and phone calls. COVID-19 has also impacted our cash flow. Because many clients are working remotely or still adjusting to this “normal,” the turnaround on invoices and projects has been negatively impacted. However, because we have a trusting relationship with our clients, we can talk openly and regularly about these challenges to avoid issues.

1)Technical and personal impacts. This discussion includes making sure we have the right people in place, along with determining what other resources we need (such as technology, equipment, and software). 2)Client management. Since many client interactions are now virtual, we need to make sure we’re connecting and supporting our clients with the right tools – adjusting our approach to match their changing needs. 3)Change in the industry. Our leadership team regularly discusses what we need to do to prepare our firm for fluctuations and impacts on the economy, as well as the possibility of another recession. Our efforts to address this national impact include making sure we have the right resources in place and are sharing work across offices. “Expanding into new markets and locations helped us to weather the Great Recession better than many of our competitors. Our diversified markets, clients, and service offerings enabled us to share work between offices and employees depending on need.” TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? JC: I believe you start planning an exit strategy from the beginning. At Croy, I wanted to build a company that people would want to invest their time and sweat equity in to help grow. Passing the baton includes taking the time to ensure that the people who are going to have certain leadership duties are the right people for that job. For example, 12 years ago, I hired a non-engineer as our CFO, and it was one of my best decisions. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t an engineer – I needed someone who understood the financial side. Getting the right people in place on the right timetable is critical. The biggest pitfall to avoid, however, is not having all the right people on the same page. And, that takes time. My advice is to invest time and effort into making sure your key leadership team is all on the same page and don’t drift their separate ways. You’re all going on the northbound train. TZL: What’s been the most interesting firm evolution since its founding? Why? JC: The most interesting evolution at Croy has been our expansion into new markets and service areas. While my background is in transportation, Croy is a full-service firm. An interesting evolution for me has been the ability to be involved in other areas of engineering (aviation, water, and landscape architecture, for example). I believe this evolution is not only interesting, it’s vital to our success. For example, expanding into new markets and locations helped us to weather the Great Recession better than many of our competitors. Our diversified markets,

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




I f you ask most owners of A/E firms – especially those who have achieved any size and scale – if business plans are a good thing to have, the majority will say that they think “business plans are good.” Don’t underestimate the importance of getting everyone involved in the business planning process and then sharing that plan with all. Get everyone involved in business planning

That said, I don’t think many of these same people have ever really stopped to consider WHY business planning is important for their firm. As a result, they don’t get all they can out of the investment of time it takes to do a new business plan, or revise the one they already have at least once a year. The “lack of why” can also result in minimizing the involvement of their entire staff in the planning process and just doing it at the top with their BOD, principals, or executive team. And when that happens, it most certainly reduces many of the benefits they could get out of the whole thing. The plan is done and there’s little evidence of that provided to the rank and file employees beyond their sense that a budget has been prepared and maybe some financial goals have been set that some, but not all, employees will see. That’s a shame. Because aside from the necessary tasks of creating a budget and goals, there are so

many other great reasons to get everyone in the firm involved with creation of the plan, along with reasons to share the whole thing with everyone in the firm once it is done. Here are some of them: 1)You can help instill a real sense of purpose in your people. When people have that sense of purpose, your voluntary staff turnover rate goes down. Your people will also work harder and tend to do more of the right things that will enhance your long-term reputation as a business. This is important stuff! When we talk about “purpose” in this business, it’s usually pretty easy to find a worthwhile one because A/E firms do such meaningful work. You DO actually make the world a better place, something that certainly can’t be said for a lot of other types of businesses. So take advantage of that fact! The business planning process is a great time to establish and communicate that sense of higher purpose for the work of your firm to every team member.

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 10



BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB PHOENIX PROJECT WINS IIDA SW PRIDE AWARD Ware Malcomb , an award- winning international design firm, announced its project, Sendoso located on the penthouse of the Camelback Towers in Scottsdale, has won the IIDA Pride award for commercial office space under 20,000 square feet. Ware Malcomb provided interior architecture and design services for the project. Along with the IIDA Pride award, the project received the NAIOP Arizona award for Office Tenant Improvement Project of the Year and the JLL Spaces Showcase award. The project is a 10,000 square foot office space located on the penthouse floor of the 11-story, 136,500 square foot high-rise office building of the Camelback Towers in Scottsdale. The space was designed with a minimalistic, neutral color palette, allowing the client’s branding to truly stand out. The pops of orange throughout the office are juxtaposed with the soft palette of grays, whites and blacks.

The 360-degree windows showcasing the expansive valley views were highlighted in the open design concept. The office was designed as a collaborative work environment with flexible spaces and private meeting accommodations such as conference and phone rooms for varying work needs. The large break room and wrap-around balcony with outdoor workspaces complement the connected and collaborative firm culture. “Sendoso’s new office reflects the company’s innovative and collaborative nature. The design also incorporates room for the company’s future growth needs,” said Kevin Evernham, Principal of Ware Malcomb’s Phoenix office. “The fact that Sendoso’s new office is in such a prominent downtown Scottsdale location is an added benefit for employees and visitors alike.” Along with the benefits of a flexible work environment, employees may bring their pets

to the dog-friendly office. There are a variety of amenities including beer on tap and snacks in their fully stocked kitchen. The space includes a professional sound system with Rockbot music streaming throughout, that offers white noise when needed to support the acoustics of the open office. In collaboration with Sendoso, Emily Agin of Disrupt Consultants was the workplace consultant and Ryan Bartos of JLL was the tenant broker. The developer for this project was West Coast Capital Partners and the general contractor was Wespac Construction. 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.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 9

successful. If they DON’T trust management, they will tend to think only of what betters themselves. The business planning process should lead to more transparency and more trust because there are fewer secrets. Everything is out in the open. 5)You create “psychological ownership.” I will admit in the past I have been hesitant to use this term because I truly believe that real ownership – even if it’s just a tiny piece of a much larger enterprise – can be used as a motivational tool much more than it is in many A/E firms. But without getting into a debate on the merits or problems associated with that, we can all agree we want everyone to THINK like owners even if they aren’t actually owners of the enterprise. Bringing them into the planning process – even if all you do is give them a chance to express their opinions on the direction of the firm and what it does well or does poorly – is one way to help them feel like it is THEIR firm, too. That’s not only motivational for them – it also influences every single decision they make on a daily basis. 6)You create greater accountability. When everything is out in the open – and the goals and action items along with a clear idea of who is responsible for what is committed to writing, AND then results are shared with all employees over the course of the year – you establish greater accountability. Peer pressure to perform results, along with a tendency toward greater cooperation between all to achieve those results. That’s a good thing. I’m sure I could go on here. I realize that many firms in this business go off-course with their business planning efforts. Some people have a tendency to overcomplicate things and as a result, many of the positive outcomes that could be achieved through the process are lost. Don’t let that happen to you. And don’t underestimate the importance of somehow getting everyone involved in the business planning process and then sharing that plan with all, either! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

2)You establish a context for everything that the business is trying to do to improve itself. Again, this is super important and crucial to your success. Does every employee know that there’s a bigger picture and how what they do fits into that? They should. They should also realize that their own efforts contribute to the success of the whole, and that if the whole firm does well they will benefit. Just making changes in the business without establishing the context can lead to a greater probability of failure in implementation. “There are so many other great reasons to get everyone in the firm involved with creation of the plan, along with reasons to share the whole thing with everyone in the firm once it is done.” 3)You train your people in the business aspects of our business. We know that somewhere around 70 percent to 80 percent of the employees working in A/E firms have had no formal business training. That means they have had no schooling on important subjects such as finance, accounting, marketing, promotion, HR, selling, management – I could go on, but hopefully you can see why that’s a big problem. On top of that, a large portion of the staff probably hasn’t worked at a better-managed firm in this business than yours. Where are they supposed to learn this stuff if you don’t teach them? Building a broad base of people in the firm who understand your business is crucial to your ability to operate profitably and withstand staff turnover, not to mention your longer- term efforts to set the stage for a successful management (and possibly ownership) transition. The business planning process should contribute to the business knowledge of every employee on your payroll. 4)You build trust with management. You want every single employee to trust that management has their best interests at heart because IF people feel that way they will (hopefully) tend to do more of the things that help the company be

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




N ow that we have been working from home for almost a year, we are used to this new way of delivering projects and reporting for duty. Let’s unpack the pros and cons of our new lifestyle. Now that we’ve been working from home for a year, let’s unpack the pros and cons of our new lifestyle. Everything we’ve gained and lost

WHAT IS WORKING? Working from home gives us increased flexibility. You can work when you’re sick. You can work when your kids are sick. It reduces schedule-stress and enables us to work around “whatever.” We no longer drive in rush- hour. We are spending less money on gas and reducing our carbon footprint, which is good for the environment. We can also take our work to remote and exotic locations with the all-powerful combination that is a laptop and Wi-Fi. Some organizations are starting to consider the option of downsizing office space to reduce costs. This change has forced us to collectively adapt to technologies that had already existed but were being underutilized. Virtual client meetings/ interviews have become the norm across the industry. That means no wasted time traveling and fewer lunch or cocktail expenses.

“Had it not been for the pandemic, we would never have fully adopted the new technology. Now, you have no choice but to get on board. I have seen some of our project managers get really sophisticated with how they use the tools for collaboration. It’s been cool to watch people do that – reviewing drawings and red lining edits together in real time.” – Timothy Lindholm, PG, Senior Executive Officer, Capital Projects, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority We can be thankful this much needed progress and innovation blossomed out of unmistakably tough times. WHAT’S NOT WORKING? Now that we have scaled the hurdles of home-office setup, I often hear people say they can “complete all their work from home.”

Talin Espinoza




BUSINESS NEWS ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP PURCHASES WILES MENSCH CORPORATION’S FEDERAL PROJECTS DIVISION ASSETS; FORMS SORBA ENGINEERING Meredith McComas, PE, president, and Matt McComas, PE, LS, LEED AP, associate principal, have announced the establishment of Sorba Engineering in Reston, Virginia. The new entity was formed after the engineers purchased the assets of the Federal Projects Division of Wiles Mensch Corporation, a civil engineering and surveying firm that serves public- and private-sector clients in land development consulting. Sorba Engineering is a certified woman- owned small business. The company retains its complement of 12 engineers and technical specialists, along with more than 40 active projects in the Washington metropolitan area. Meredith McComas will serve as president of Sorba Engineering, overseeing administration and quality assurance programs for the firm. Matt McComas will continue to direct engineering projects, a role he held with Wiles Mensch for more than 12 years. “We are proud to continue offering civil engineering expertise under the new banner

of Sorba Engineering, a woman-owned small business within the Washington region,” says Meredith McComas. “Most importantly, we will offer continuity to all of our clients, with the same expert leadership and project staffing in place for projects now underway.” Meredith McComas is a professional engineer with more than 10 years of experience in civil engineering consulting services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering (2003) from Virginia Tech. Matt McComas is a professional engineer licensed in four jurisdictions, a licensed land surveyor, and LEED® accredited professional with 20 years of experience. An active member of the Engineers and Surveyors Institute, he holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering (2000) from Virginia Military Institute. Under Matt McComas’s direction, the Sorba Engineering portfolio includes many complex and high-profile projects in the Washington region and overseas, including the Smithsonian Institution’s renovation of the Historic Core in Washington, D.C.; the renovation of the historic chancery at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, for the U.S. Department of State; the

new Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the National Park Service; renovation of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.; utility relocations for the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington, D.C.; renovation of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., for the Architect of the Capitol; lead civil engineer for the development of the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett in Virginia, and the first academic building at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Arlington, Virginia. Additional clients include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. General Services Administration, and several state and local governments. The firm has also supported many architectural clients, including the SmithGroup; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; EYP Architects; Kieran Timberlake; Ann Beha Architects; KCCT; and HGA. Sorba Engineering (Sorba) has launched as a SWaM certified woman-owned, small and micro business offering civil engineering consulting services.

TALIN ESPINOZA, from page 11

make an effort to get a change of scenery. We have no separation between work and home. There is always a risk of developing a disproportionate work-life balance and overworking. “We can utilize all the tools and skills we have gained during stay at home orders while reuniting our teams to regain the level of engagement and efficiency we had before.” Does the value we provide to our organizations add up to a list of tasks we can complete remotely? I would argue this grossly underestimates the level of engagement our organizations want and need from us. A hybrid future looks bright. The flexibility we’ve gained adapting to new technology and working remotely was much needed. However, it is clear the engagement and efficiency of being together provide an indispensable support system for delivering AEC work. We can utilize all the tools and skills we have gained during stay at home orders while reuniting our teams to regain the level of engagement and efficiency we had before. Continuing to evolve, support, and strengthen our organizations is, as it always has been, the critical future path for our industry. TALIN ESPINOZA is chief strategy officer at Twining, Inc., executive board member with CMAA Southern California, board member with AGC Los Angeles District, and state board member with AGC of California. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Let’s take a look at the challenges we face working in our comfortable pants. Distraction at the office is real. Chitchat and interruptions are something we all contend with. However, home is not without distractions – from family care to all the needs of domestic life. Balancing these is an obstacle. Second, our level of engagement is impaired – with management, peers, and our teams. Many of us are experiencing workplace disconnect. The connection we had with our employer is not what it used to be and we’re struggling to establish the stable link we once had. Productivity in Zoom meetings, whether all your colleagues are paying attention or not, is no fun. Team relations are sometimes reduced to a soundbite. It is very easy to miss read cues via electronic communication, and staying engaged with people has presented its own new challenges. Externally, private companies are losing when client development and client relationship maintenance is restricted. Then, there’s Zoom burnout. Working from home eliminates the option of catching someone in the hall or elevator and quickly handling a collaborative discussion. Now, collaboration must be scheduled. Often, it is scheduled alongside six other Zoom meetings in a given day. By your fifth video conference, you may not be your best self. Zoom burnout is real. Finally, we contend with increased isolation. While our industry has historically attracted introverts, not everybody fares well in isolation. These days, we must

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12

Made with FlippingBook Annual report