w w w . t h e z w e i g l e t t e r . c o m A u g u s t 1 0 , 2 0 1 5 , I s s u e 111 5


Firms’ website hosting






More on being profitable There are a few basic traits that differentiate firms that make money from those that scrape by.






Zweig Group’s 2015 Information Technology Survey of A/E/P and Environmental Consulting Firms finds that 38 percent of firms surveyed host their own website. Of this 38 percent, 80 percent report utilizing third-party hosting. Sixteen percent of the firms surveyed that host their own website do so on premises, and 4 percent host their website in a co-location facility. UPCOMING SURVEY RELEASE DATES ❚ ❚ 2015 Project Management Survey : August 28 ❚ ❚ 2015 Fee and Billing Survey : September 28 – participate in this survey and receive a 65 percent discount on your next Zweig Group purchase! F I R M I N D E X ACAI Associates Inc. ......................................... 12 Affinis Corp. ....................................................... 12 Barrish Pelham & Associates Inc. ..................... 12 Bowers + Kubota Consulting ......................... 5, 12 Choice One Engineering Corporation .................. 9 Comprehensive Environmental Inc. ................... 12 Davis Bews Design Group Inc. .......................... 12 Degenkolb Engineers ......................................... 12 EHS Support . ................................................. 6, 12 GATE Inc. ............................................................ 12 Hillmann Consulting ............................................ 2 Hinman Consulting Engineers Inc. . ................... 12 Hodges, Harbin, Newberry & Tribble Inc. .......... 12 P. JOSEPH LEHMAN Inc., Consulting Engineers . 4 SVA Architects Inc. .............................................. 4 The Collaborative Inc. ........................................ 11 Urban Engineers .................................................. 4 xz THE COMPLETE LIST OF ZWEIG GROUP’S BEST FIRMS TOWORK FOR: Pages 5-12

C had Clinehens and I were talking in the office yesterday about why some firms we work with make money and others seem to struggle with it. There are some basic differences worth noting. The follow- ing observations are based on 35 years in this business and working with thousands of A/E/P and environmental companies: 1)Profitable companies understand why it’s important to be profitable. They know everyone feels better when the enterprise is successful. They know that they need profits to be able to pay people well and keep build- ing their teams. They know they need prof- its to buy other companies and accelerate their growth, to improve their IT systems, to pay for training, to spend money on mar- keting – and for many more investments. These people don’t need to be sold on why profits are necessary! 2)Profitable companies have management that expects to run a profitable business. Believe it or not, not everyone out there goes into business with the assumption that they will, in fact, make a profit. Some be- lieve it’s immoral to do so. Some just think you can’t do it in this industry. And some set such low goals and budgets that they aren’t going to be profitable. In the last year, we have twice seen companies set annual budgets to make $0 profit – and these were not small companies. How can you expect to be profitable when your goals don’t even describe a profitable outcome? You can’t!

“Believe it or not, not everyone out there goes into business with the assumption that they will, in fact, make a profit.”

Mark Zweig

MORE COLUMNS xz RECRUITING NOTES: What does it take to be the best? Page 3

See MARK ZWEIG , page 2

Top 5 Best Firms to Work For Pages 5-12

T H E V O I C E O F R E A S O N F O R A / E / P & E N V I R O N M E N TA L C O N S U LT I N G F I R M S



READER RESPONSE In response to Mark Zweig’s column in TZL issue 1113 on July 27, reader Chris Hillmann, president and CEO of Hillmann Consulting (Union, NJ), contributed three lessons he’s learned: ❚ ❚ Serve a charitable cause (or multiple causes) together as a company. We do it every year, but this year we are doing it 30 times (actually more like 40) to celebrate our 30th anniversary. You can imagine how much this has built camaraderie within our team and with some of the client teams we volunteer with … not to mention how good it feels. Imagine waking up to emailed photos of children an employee you sponsored is serving at an orphanage in Haiti or the thanks we received from a couple who lost their home in Hurricane Sandy as we put the finishing touches on their new home for Habitat for Humanity. ❚ ❚ You’ve said it before, there is no substitute for personal contact with your clients. So, get out of the office often, even just in the evening to attend cocktail networking events or, better yet, evening charity functions, if you are too busy 9-5. ❚ ❚ Our first attorney 30 years ago taught me the value of respecting the corporation. Pour money back in, and it rewards you with a healthy balance sheet, which our banking and insurance clients find very appealing. I asked our business banker back in the throes of recession in 2009 why we were still a good risk. He told me stories of owners with multiple vacation homes or big boats who were at the doorstep of bankruptcy because of lavish personal spending at the expense of retained earnings. The bankers simply love the respect we give the business. Don’t kill the golden goose! WHAT DO YOU THINK? Send us your responses to columns and/or articles, and we might publish them in THE ZWEIG LETTER.

Zweig Group is finalizing preparations for its 2015 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference, September 3-4 in Boston. In fact, we’re so excited about the conference, that we’re devoting entire issues of THE ZWEIG LETTER to highlighting the event and award recipients. Next week’s TZL will focus on the 2015 Marketing Excellence awards. Remember, attendees should register for the conference by August 21 . We look forward to seeing you there! 2015

Attendees of the 2015 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference are eligible for 15 continuing education credits! You don’t have to be an award winner to come to the Hot Firm & A/E Industry Awards Conference! The event is a great place to network and learn, and all A/E/P and environmental professionals are welcome!



More than 145 firms * have registered for the Hot Firm & A/E Industry Awards Conference, but there’s still room for you! Register today at zweiggroup.com/conference .


*As of end of business on July 31.

EDITOR’S NOTE Longtime readers will likely notice that this week’s TZL looks a little different. That’s because this special edition celebrates – and has been taken over by – all things BEST FIRMS TO WORK FOR ! THE ZWEIG LETTER will return to its normal appearance on August 24.

MARK ZWEIG , from page 1

3)Profitable companies have management that takes action. They don’t just wring their hands or delegate the problem to a committee that cannot even meet because they have too much project work. They act. And they act quickly. They know that you cannot rationalize for why you aren’t making money and instead have to match costs to workload. They know that you cannot afford a losing month because you have to make up for it next month and that losing months kill morale and motivation. They just plain DO what they need to do every month to make a profit, even if that means doing hard stuff that they don’t like to do. 4)Profitable companies have owners and managers who have a healthy self- esteem. They don’t go into a new client relationship expecting to get beaten down on fee or to have AR collection problems. They don’t think they should just work for anyone who will give them a job. They know they are good – heck, they know they are BETTER than good – and WILL be paid accordingly. Because they have high self- esteem they don’t want to waste their time. So, all of these good things happen and the virtuous cycle repeats itself. I know this probably sounds terrible to some of you, but I can meet a CEO of a company in this industry and form an opinion within just a few minutes about whether or not that person is likely to be running a profitable business. I’m not always right, but I am right a lot more than I’m wrong about it. The defining characteristics above are only part of the story; the rest of it is not so clear. I’m not so sure charisma is such a bad thing, in spite of Jim Collins’ work in Good to Great . But, that’s the subject of another article!

38West Trenton Blvd., Suite 101 Fayetteville, AR 72701 Mark Zweig | Publisher mzweig@zweiggroup.com Andrea Bennett | Managing Editor abennett@zweiggroup.com Christina Zweig | Contributing Editor christinaz@zweiggroup.com Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent lsullivan@zweiggroup.com Richard Massey | Correspondent rmassey@zweiggroup.com

Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 508-653-6522 E-mail: info@zweiggroup.com Online: www.thezweigletter.com Twitter: twitter.com/zweigletter Blog: blog.zweiggroup.com Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/yr.). $475 for one-year subscription, $775 for two-year subscription. Article reprints: For high-quality reprints, including Eprints and NXTprints, please contact The YGS Group at 717-399-1900, ext. 139, or e-mail TheZweigLetter@TheYGSGroup.com . © Copyright 2015, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

MARK ZWEIG is founder and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

BEST FIRMS ARE ALSO PROFITABLE FIRMS Research shows direct correlation between workplace morale and financial results. In 2010, Forbes ’ “100 Best Companies to Work For” earned 3.5 percent more than average returns.

© Copyright 2015. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.



What does it mean to be the best? Top ranking AEC firms have positive organizational cultures, provide employees with the tools they need to be successful, and foster open communication. O P I N I O N

H ow do you get your firm to a place where every one of your employees, or at least most of them, love coming to work and, more importantly, working on great proj- ects?

TOOLS AND TRAINING MAKE CHAMPIONS. The Best Firms to Work For make sure that their employees have the latest tools to do the job they’ve been hired to do. Updated computers, a cell phone, and Internet access while out of the office are just a few of the ways that the best firms ensure that their talented employees are adequately prepared to take on any challenge they face. Having an arsenal of the proper tools is great, but training is just as impor- tant. The AEC industry is constantly changing, and the firms that have stayed ahead of the curve are the ones that consistently allow their people to be trained on new procedures, technology, and, most importantly, project management, which is the lifeblood of our industry. Any employee will tell you how exciting it is to learn new things and stretch themselves – at least the ones that want to grow personally and professionally will. These are mostly the only types of people that Best Firms to Work For have on staff. It has been my experience that a mediocre firm has a hard time keeping good talent like this. OPEN THOUGHT AND DIFFERENCES OF OPINION. While it’s important to hire and work with like-minded peo- ple, it can also be dangerous if no one raises his/ her hand from time to time to ask the question that everyone is afraid to ask. A well-rounded AEC firm allows for differences of thought and opinion, and it’s clear to everyone that they won’t get their “A well-rounded AEC firm allows for differences of thought and opinion, and it’s clear to everyone that they won’t get their head bitten off for sharing.” “The Best Firms to Work For make sure that their employees have the latest tools to do the job they’ve been hired to do.”

Over the past few months, we’ve polled hundreds of employees AEC firms to get the low down on what it’s like to work there. Zweig Group received a ton of responses, which help to paint a picture of what separates the good firms from the great ones when it comes to employee performance, satisfac- tion, and general happiness. As one of the chief re- cruiters here at Zweig Group, I’ve always said that money and a title only last for so long. You have to speak to the needs of the complete employee. Are they adjusting to your corporate culture and, more importantly, is that culture easily adaptable? Have you given your employees the tools and the training they need to be successful? Do you en- courage open thought and allow for differences of opinion? In my opinion, all of these factors – and more – help to determine the Best Firms to Work For awardees in the AEC industry. “I’ve always said that money and a title only last for so long. You have to speak to the needs of the complete employee.” THE CULTURAL COMPONENT. I recently discussed com- pany culture in an article for our recruitment blog (ZGRecruiting.com), where I pointed out the ways for a candidate to determine the cultural fit of a company before he/she signs on the dotted line. The same guidelines are true for those currently employed with a firm. A good firm will make sure that its mission statement and goals are easily understood by everyone. And a firm with a clear cultural component has employees that eat, drink, and sleep its mission statement and know where the company is headed, or at least the general di- rection. In addition, these employees will identify with the key leaders of the firm, in addition to their teammates. All of these people have to care enough to make sure that everyone is being well taken care of. Finally, because of the strong cul- ture, employees enjoy coming to work on a daily basis and giving it their all.

Randy Wilburn

See RANDY WILBURN , page 4



ON THE MOVE URBAN ENGINEERS NAMES OFFICE MANAGER FOR NEWLOCATION Urban Engineers (Radnor, PA) announced that Michael McAtee has been named office manager of the firm’s Cherry Hill location. He has served as Urban’s New Jersey bridge department manager. “Mike has spent more than 22 years bring- ing excellent engineering service to our cli- ents and their communities, and he is an outstanding choice to lead our Cherry Hill office,” said Urban Senior Vice President Wil- liam Thomsen. “Through continuous leader- ship in our industry and his in-depth knowl- edge of the profession, many have come to rely on him as a trusted advisor, and mentor.” Urban Engineers recently moved its New Jersey office to the Woodland Falls Corpo- rate Center at 220 Lake Drive East in Cherry Hill. The new office allows the firm to better provide planning, design, and construction services to a wide array of clients, including the New Jersey Department of Transporta- tion and the New JerseyTurnpike Authority in

addition to several counties, municipalities, and institutions throughout the state. McAtee’s duties have included designing composite steel girder and prestressed con- crete box beam and I-beam bridges, sign structures, fire protection utilities, drainage and rehabilitation of culverts, bridge inspec- tion, three-dimensional modeling, construc- tion inspection of bridge erection, paving, concrete placement, demolition, and earth- work. LEHMAN WELCOMES NEW ENGINEER P. JOSEPH LEHMAN Inc., Consulting Engineers (Hollidays- burgh, PA) announced that Adam Katrancha has joined the firm as an engineer within its transportation department. Katrancha brings more than 17 years of highway and site de- sign experience to the firm. Throughout Katrancha’s career, he has demonstrated his abilities on projects for PennDOT, The Pennsylvania Turnpike Com- mission, local municipalities, and private de- velopers. In his past position, he supervised

and mentored junior staff while maintaining project schedules, monitoring budgets, and scheduling resources to ensure the success- ful completion of projects. SVA ARCHITECTS RECRUITS WAHID YONUS SVA Architects Inc . (Santa Ana, CA), announced that Wahid Yonus , an industry leader in mixed- use high- and low-rise multifamily residential developments, will join its staff as a senior associate partner. SVA, which focuses on public and private developments, includ- ing multifamily housing, student housing, and mixed-income transit-oriented develop- ments, has made several personnel advance- ments and additions during the past year. Yonus brings 30 years of architectural experi- ence with firms such as Skidmore Owings and Merrill, SMWM, and MVE & Partners. He has served at the senior management level for a diverse portfolio of projects, rang- ing from mixed-use high-rises and commer- cial projects to institutional facilities and mul- tifamily residential developments.

RANDY WILBURN , from page 3

ATTRACTING TOP TALENT Professionals with science, technology, engineering, and math skills are sought by a variety of firms because they are seen as key innovators in all industries. SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE CROWD TO COMPETE FOR STEM TALENT

head bitten off for sharing. This is the type of healthy work environment that smart and intelligent talent usually grav- itate toward. Even if a firm’s leadership feels very strongly about something, the mere fact that they will listen to all aspects of an argument can go a long way in cementing trust with employees. Trust me, no one wants to work at a firm where they feel like they are not being heard. This is an issue that Best Firms don’t usually have. There is an old proverb: “It’s a pitiful frog that doesn’t praise his own pond!” Obviously, professionals in the AEC in- dustry, like most places, should be proud of where they come from and where they are going. If an employee is welcomed into a strong culture of excellence, where they understand the mission and goals and feel like they have a voice, they will shout it from the rooftops. Over the past few months, AEC employ- ees from all over the country have been shouting to Zweig Group the virtues of their companies and why they are the Best Firm to Work For. On September 3 and 4, we will hear more from these firms and their representatives at the 2015 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference in Boston. I will be there, and I hope you will join us! RANDY WILBURN is executive search director for Zweig Group. Contact him at rwilburn@zweiggroup. com .


They are smart and

They seek new information for current and future decisions.

curious and want to find solutions that make an impact.

They demand work interest and fulfillment.

They appreciate a behind-the-scenes understanding for what makes things tick.

They’re focused on today’s technology, but

They like to build and break things.

only as a means to improve (or invent) tomorrow’s.


Focus on work-life balance.

Offer competitive pay.

Develop an engaging company culture.

Source: Business2Community.com

© Copyright 2015. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.



Fulfilling visions; building trust Bowers + Kubota Consulting has consistently ranked as a Best Firm to Work For; leaders attribute success to adherence to SWIFT principles. MU LT I D I S C I P L I N E

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

B rian Bowers, president of Bowers + Kubota Consult- ing (Waipahu, HI), a 150-person employee- owned architectural/engineering firm, says that the firm’s mission statement was not always “Ful- filling visions. Building trust;” the former mis- sion was actually updated as a result of attending the 2014 Zweig Group Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference. “We proudly display the Best Firms logo on our website as well as name this award in all of our job postings.” BE SWIFT. Originally founded as KFC Airport Inc. in 1980, the firm had an objective of providing plan- ning, design, and construction management ser- vices for the development of airport and airport- related facilities. In 1997, the firm’s president died suddenly of a heart attack on Christmas Eve. Brian Bowers and Dexter Kubota stepped up to assume leadership, drafted and implemented a strategic plan and communicated a turnaround plan and vision. Since then, the firm has grown from 10 to 150 employees and now provides services to a mul- titude of public and private clients throughout Ha- waii and the Pacific Rim. Superior quality, wellness, integrity, family, and teamwork (SWIFT) are the values at the heart and foundation of Bowers + Kubota. Examples of the firm’s commitment to these values include: ❚ ❚ Employees and their families are valued and taken care of through benefits that include 100 percent company paid medical insurance, a dynamic wellness program, and twice yearly bonuses, to name a few. ❚ ❚ The firm strives to keep employees engaged and empowered through employee-ran committees, flex time, and monthly company events and activities, which often include families. Employees also have the opportunity to enhance their knowledge through staff in-house training, outside classes, and seminars.

AWARD DRIVES APPLICANTS. Amy Matsushima, HR manager at Bowers + Kubota, says that receiving the Best Firms to Work For award now and in the past has been an excellent tool for recruiting people from all over the world. “We proudly display the Best Firm’s logo on our website as well as name this award in all of our job postings,” she says. “The majority of the candidates that apply and are interviewed mention seeing this award as a reason for applying.” Deane Shephard, a construction manager, has been with Bowers + Kubota for more than a decade and says that she loves the wide variety of project expe- riences. For instance, she has been assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the past 11 years and has built hydrant fuel systems for aircraft, taxi- ways for aircraft, and huge barracks renovations

See BOWERS + KUBOTA , page 8


MULTIDISCIPLINE 1. Bowers + Kubota Consulting 2. Fitzemeyer & Tocci Associates 3. Garver 4. Parkhill, Smith & Cooper 5. Maser Consulting

6. Langan Engineering and Environmental Services 7. Kingscott Associates 8. GATE 9. Wolverton & Associates

10. Pond & Company 11. DRMP 12. SCJ Alliance 13. Mead & Hunt 14. MBP

15. LJA Engineering 16. Passero Associates 17. Arrow Engineering 18. HAKS 19. GeoDesign




Happy employees equal happy clients EHS Support’s founders started company with goal of establishing a culture of excellence for employees and clients; Best Firm to Work For award validates that approach.

An autonomous, yet supportive, environment has cul- tivated a company with an entrepreneurial spirit and a loyal team. It appears to be the unique culture of EHS that drives a vision of long-term success and company health its for employees and clients. “The opportunity to contribute to a shared vision, at all levels of the company; the capacity for professional development that will contribute to a rewarding ca- reer as well as the success of the company; and a focus on teamwork and collaboration all impact the satis- faction level of our team,” says Bethany Evans, busi- ness manager. GIVING PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. EHS employees have: ❚ ❚ A flexible environment with a true work-home life bal- ance ❚ ❚ A compensation package that is top of the industry “When surveying our staff in 2014, the results showed that more than 90 percent of participants plan on retiring at EHS Support.”

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

E HS Support LLC (Pittsburgh, PA), a 71-person environ- mental, health, and safety solutions specialist firm, is all virtual. Though it has no offices, EHS provides an exceptional work environment that rewards and fosters employee growth and development based on a strong culture driven by company values and operat- ing principles. Kenny Ogilvie and Andy Patz founded EHS in July 2005 with just two employees and a vision for cre- ating “a great place to work.” Under their leadership, over the past 10 years, EHS has grown to more than 70 employees, with a vision of expanding to 100-150 employees in the next three years. DOING THINGS BETTER. Mindful of the issues that drove away talented employees and great clients, EHS is focused on upholding a distinct culture that guides a commitment to excellence for both employees and clients. The vision and strategy are based on doing things better for employees and clients. EHS treats employ- ees with respect and offers an environment for pro- fessional development, with a balance of personal growth, to achieve satisfaction in individual careers.

See EHS , page 8

THE COMPLETE LIST OF ZWEIG GROUP’S 2015 BEST FIRMS TO WORK FOR 20. Kluber Architects + Engineers 21. Hanson Professional Services

25. EAPC Architects Engineers 26. Allana Buick & Bers 27. Gale Associates 28. BRPH 29. JBA

30. Morrison-Maierle 31. PDC, Engineers 32. Westwood Professional Services 33. GEA Consulting Engineers 34. Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

35. CES 36. RTM & Associates 37. Michaels Energy 38. The Vertex Companies 39. CP&Y

22. P2S Engineering 23. Foresite Group 24. Sasaki Associates



Zweig Group is social and posting every day! C O N N E C T W I T H U S Success begets success Huckabee built on philosophy that design documents should allow for constructability and that architects, contractors, and engineers should work together for clients. S T R U C T U R A L E N G I N E E R I N G facebook.com/ ZweigGroup twitter.com/ ZweigGroup linkedin.com/company / ZweigWhite blog. ZweigGroup.com vimeo.com/ ZweigGroup

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

H uckabee (Fort Worth, TX), an 80-person architecture, engineering and management firm, reports that it exists to provide committed, motivated profession- als with integrity the opportunity to have an impact of excellence on the communities they serve through consistent delivery of innovation, quality, and value. FORESIGHT TO DELIVER. Tommie Huckabee, father of CEO Chris Huckabee, started the firm in West Texas in 1967. At the time, Tommie was working as a general contractor for his dad and had grown tired of seeing poor design documents in the field. He became an ar- chitect and built his company on the philosophy that construction documents should be designed with constructability in mind and that contractors, archi- tects, and engineers should work closely together – ultimately benefiting the client. This philosophy is still at the heart of what the firm does today and is also why it provides in-house struc- tural engineering alongside architectural services. “If our employees are happy, see the value they each provide and believe in our mission, we deliver a better product to our clients and make a greater impact on our communities.” Jennifer Brown, chief marketing officer, says that Huckabee invests in its employees – not just in the traditional sense, but through the creation of employ- ee programs, committees, and engagement opportu- nities that build camaraderie and make Huckabee a fun place to work. “Our firm is committed to creating a collaborative work environment and finding ways for employees to interact above and beyond their day-to-day roles,” she says. Huckabee is also dedicated to educational design, something that touches all of its staff. With 100 per- cent of its clients in public education, employees truly

feel they are making a difference for the teachers, stu- dents, and communities in their state. “Our shared investment in impacting communities brings employees together and has helped build a cul- ture of innovation and excellence,” Brown says. TRIPLE-PLAY ACTION. Kim Hopper, HR director, says that, from an HR perspective, winning this award has several advantages: ❚ ❚ It brings a level of prestige and highlights the firm’s reputation. ❚ ❚ It attracts potential employees who are looking at awards and company rankings to determine who will prosper in the future. ❚ ❚ It can improve employee morale. When employees are proud of their company’s achievements, they will spread the word to potential new hires about the firm’s excellence. This, in turn, will continue to help the firm attract the best people in the business. “Huckabee is the employer everybody wants to have. We have the privilege of working with the brightest professionals in the industry. Leadership truly cares about their employees’ and families’ wellbeing. And, we have Nerf wars, a corporate barista, and the cool- est working environment in the business,” says Eric Ramirez, structural REVIT drafter. IT’S ALL CONNECTED. Brown says that they want to

See HUCKABEE , page 8


© Copyright 2015. Zweig Group. All rights reserved. © Copyright 2015. Zweig Group. All rights reserved. ENVIRONMENTAL 1. EHS Support 2. Comprehensive Environmental 3. BrightFields 4. P.W. Grosser Consulting

45. MSA Professional Services 46. ESI Consultants 47. Pennoni 48. Sam Schwartz Engineering 49. The Thrasher Group

50. McCormick Taylor 51. HGA 52. HFA 53. Trigon Associates 54. LNV

40. Braun Intertec Corporation 41. R.E. Warner & Associates 42. Wantman Group 43. Crafton Tull 44. BCC Engineering

ULY 27, 2015, ISSUE 1113


and is currently working on a flood miti- gation project. “Though many of our employees are post- ed on projects, the company actively plans events such as picnics, university baseball games, and hikes to bring us all together,” she says. “There are also quarterly staff meetings, and a ‘canstruction’ event to create a sculpture of canned food to raise food contributions for the Hawaii Food Bank, among many other opportunities to volunteer and have fun together.” A FEW OF THEIR FAVORITE THINGS. Company perks are rich. Staff favorites include: ❚ ❚ For some, a company vehicle is provided. The employee selects the vehicle, and the company purchases and maintains it. ❚ ❚ A company-sponsored health program called Whip-It, which offers incentive priz- es to employees to improve their health by exercise, healthy eating, meditation, and volunteering. ❚ ❚ The company pays for professional licenses and for ongoing training opportunities, which includes a bonus for passing. ❚ ❚ For the past three years, the company has created an employees’ stock option pro- gram, which helps employees to plan for a favorable retirement, and this is above the 401K with a matching 3 percent that is also provided. ❚ ❚ The vision of the company to be the very best employer. “This last point keeps us alert to ways to improve the health and welfare of each employee and to attract the very best tal- ent to our company, which makes us com- petitive in the marketplace,” Shephard says. She adds that striving to be a Best Firm to Work For is just the right thing to do. Bowers + Kubota has worked to create a “We Company” and a culture and envi- ronment where employees can thrive and perform superior services for their cli- ents. “Going the extra mile and always improv- ing both our culture and our level of ser- vices is not only what distinguishes us, but is a prerequisite for our continued success. As we create a better workplace, we also create a better community and a better world,” Shepard says. BOWERS + KUBOTA , from page 5

EHS , from page 6

❚ ❚ Training and mentoring opportunities ❚ ❚ The ability to participate in various professional and social groups within the company. “Our exclusive 100 percent virtual structure, commitment to impeccable cli- ent service, consider-it-done attitude, and commitment to the communities in which we live and work set us apart from most firms in our class – allow- ing us to deliver results and exceed expectations,” Evans says. Senior leadership at EHS believes that you must love what you do in order to make your role within a company worthwhile. They support that by offering employees opportunities in areas they would like to pursue and have a pas- sion for – whether that is a new client, project, relocation to work in a differ- ent market, or additional responsibilities in line with the growth strategy of the firm. “When surveying our staff in 2014, the results showed that more than 90 percent of participants plan on retiring at EHS Support,” Evans reports. “We are very proud of this statistic, and it speaks to the organization that we have built.” Beth Hesse joined EHS in 2011 and says that the people she works with are what really makes the firm the best. “It’s such a unique and remarkable firm,” Hesse says. “Beyond the technical and managerial expertise, which we have, the people and the culture drive the success of our company. We all want to come to work each day, and each day we put our best foot forward. My coworkers help motivate me and hold me accountable, thus enabling me to become more than I ever dreamt pos- sible on my own. We do this for each other. We do it for our clients. EHS Sup- port has the best people, period.” THIS AWARD SERVES AS VALIDATION FOR EHS. “As the only virtual environmen- tal consultancy, it demonstrates that providing a rewarding and fun place to work is possible and successful,” Evans says. “As we continue to recruit the best in the business, this award will serve as a constant reminder of our ongoing commitment to our clients, current employees, and future employees.”

HUCKABEE , from page 7

retain top talent and create an environment that makes them want to stay at Huckabee for life. “If our employees are happy, see the value they each provide and believe in our mission, we deliver a better product to our clients and make a greater im- pact on our communities,” she says. For example, Huckabee is a charitable organization that gives through a do- nor-advised fund and encourages employees to actively give back through volunteering or providing leadership on boards and committees. A shared interest in philanthropy has brought employees together to organize supply drives, renovate homes, and raise funds for local nonprofits. Potential clients often make hiring decisions based on a firm’s reputation. “When clients see that we’ve won an award like this, it speaks to our stabil- ity, quality of our team, and strength in our industry,” Brown says. “Also, winning this award will help us continue to recruit highly-qualified employ- ees looking for a company that is a leader in their field and a great place to work.”

THE ZWEIG LETTER AUGUST 10, 2015, ISSUE 1115 THE COMPLETE LIST OF ZWEIG GROUP’S 2015 BEST FIRMS TO WORK FOR 5. Rincon Consultants 6. TerraTherm 7. Capaccio Environmental Engineering 8. Envirocon 9. Nova Consulting Group 10. Barr Engineering Company 11. Epsilon Associates 12. E2 ManageTech 13. Partner Engineering and Science CIVIL ENGINE RING

6. A. Morton Thomas and Associates 7. Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group

1. Choice One Engineering 2. Bowers + Kubota Consulting 3. Comprehensive Environmental 4. Finley Engineering Group 5. Affinis Corp.

8. Delta Airport Consultants 9. P.W. Grosser Consulting 10. Kjeldsen Sinnock & Neudeck

© Copyright 2015. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.



Making lives better Choice One’s founders sought to provide employees with stable, enjoyable workplace with individual responsibilities and opportunities.

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

expect responsiveness, who are looking for a firm that makes their jobs easier, and who are counting on a firm to offer the peace of mind that a project is going to be taken care of,” Borchers says. Over the past few years, Choice One has created ini- tiatives that are geared to meeting its mission. For example, it has implemented Choice One Learning Academy (COLA), based on employee feedback to help all employees learn more about their work and that of others. “We teach and attend classes designed around soft- ware, communication, and constructability,” she says. Choice One has also created and fostered a cul- ture that allows all employees to feel comfortable as leaders and contributors. Here are just two ways that they do this: ❚ ❚ In place of traditional performance reviews are now “Enjoyment Checkups.” They take place twice a year and measure adherence and commitment to core values and work on developing leadership plans that confirm that the employee’s performance and respon- sibilities align with the strategic plan priority issues. For 2015-2017, priorities include: “Get More Work,” “Get More Work Done,” and “Enhance Culture.” ❚ ❚ The “Choice One Great Game” is a type of open-book management. The goal is to improve business results and the lives of the people who drive those results. The strategy behind it is to create a “company of busi-

K aye Borchers, client relations/funding special- ist at Choice One Engineering Corporation (Sidney, OH), a 33-person civil engineering firm, says that the firm’s mission is “to provide a fulfilling life for a lifetime by making lives better with an enjoyable experience.” “Because of our culture, our clients often tell us that they enjoy working with us, and so not only are we providing a quality place to work, but we are improving the lives of our clients with happy, productive employees responding to our needs.” Founded by Tony Schroeder, Tom Coverstone, Jeff Puthoff, Sharon Maurice, and Brian Barhorst, Choice One was created in 1994 to: ❚ ❚ provide a stable place to work ❚ ❚ enjoy work ❚ ❚ provide responsibility and opportunity to its employees DRINK THE COLA “We also connect with people who

See CHOICE ONE , page 10


11. Barr Engineering Company 12. West Yost Associates 13. Criado & Associates 14. Calibre Engineering 15. J.L. Patterson & Associates

16. R.A. Smith National 17. Wolverton & Associates 18. McAdams 19. Simpson Gumpertz & Heger 20. Slater Hanifan Group

21. McMahon Associates 22. SCJ Alliance 23. LJA Engineering 24. Thomas & Hutton Engineering 25. AE2S

26. BKF Engineers 27. EMCS 28. Gunda Corporation 29. Geotechnical & Environmental Services



CHOICE ONE , from page 9

nesspeople” who “think, act, and feel” like owners. It provides a stake in the outcome and shows people exactly how they can make a difference. HELPING HR. Mitch Thobe, one of the firm’s 11 owners, has been with the company for five years. For the past three, he has been tasked with recruiting college co-ops and helping leadership recruit, interview, and hire new employees. “The competition for our company to attract ‘A’ players is becoming progressively more challenging due to the ever growing competition of more and more compa- nies looking to hire interns and full-time staff,” Thobe says. “When a job seeker sees Choice One Engineering as being the No. 1 Civil Engineering firm to work for in the nation, it instantly catches their interest and communicates our commitment to our employees.” Additionally, Thobe says that they are fortunate enough to have a culture worthy of award to publicize to universities and career-development networks. Allen Bertke has been a project manager in the survey department for nine years. He says that Choice One is his “second family.” “Coming into the office is not work – instead it’s been my home away from home for the last nine years. Everyone has a role in our extended family, and, because of this ,we are able to provide the best experiences for our customers. Each employee is em- powered to make a difference, which makes Choice One better each and every day.” Choice One takes a personable approach to civil engineering because its leaders think surveying, civil engineering, and the service opportunities they provide can be really fun – as in satisfying, enjoyable, and fulfilling. “Because of our culture, our clients often tell us that they enjoy working with us, and so, not only are we providing a quality place to work, but we are improving the lives of our clients with happy, productive employees responding to our needs,” Bertke says. ALL ABOARD. In 2014, Choice One made strides in developing a representative orga- nizational chart that truly identifies the roles and relations of each employee; it’s represented as a train. “The engineer (no pun intended) driving the train is our president,” Borchers says. “His role is to guide the company strategically. Trains can’t be turned on a dime, and neither can strategy. Strategy is looking ahead to the future and making slow adjust- ments that result in big changes over time.” The caboose is their chief production officer. The CPO views the train from the rear, overseeing production and the workings of the entire train. He or she can see the en- tire company from its final product and can direct the people in the cars in front to adjust to make the train more efficient at it moves along its track. The rest of the staff fills the train cars. Each department has a developer who over- sees the educational, professional, and fundamental development of the employ- ees in his/her department. Engineers and designers have specialties (e.g., site plans, roadway reconstruction), as do business development/marketing personnel (e.g., graphic designers, grant writers, client relations specialists) and so on. “Most notable is the flatness of the organization. There is no hierarchy in the compa- ny. In this way, we are accompany of leaders. During a typical day, an employee might have three different ‘bosses’ and actually might switch roles performing as a ‘boss’ of someone who is his/her ‘boss’ in a different situation. We, therefore, remove the ‘boss’ idea from our language and call everyone ‘leaders,’ ” Borchers explains. THE BOTTOM LINE. Choice One wants to change the way that people do business in the industry (and the world, if it can)!

Zweig Group’s Best Firms to Work For award recognizes the top architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, environmental, and multidiscipline firms in the U.S. and Canada based on their workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, and more. Participating in the award process is an effective and efficient way for firms to gain employee insight – all participating organizations receive a summary report of their employees’ survey responses and a report containing valuable benchmarking data from all firms in their submission category. The award process was upgraded this year to a mobile-friendly platform for a better and more streamlined user- experience. Application process : Step 1: Firms register online and pay an application fee for each desired entry category. Step 2: Firms complete the corporate survey, which includes questions about the organization and structure that should be answered from a management point of view by someone with access to financial and policy information. Step 3: Firms receive a link to the anonymous employee survey, which they share with employees. Firms with 25 employees or more must have at least 25 percent of their staff complete the survey. Firms with less than 25 employees, must have at least 40 percent of their staff complete the employee survey. Step 4: The two surveys are graded and combined to determine a final score. Step 5: Firms register for the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference.

Entrants receive:

A summary from firms’ employee surveys and an aggregate benchmark summary from all participating firms in the submittal categories.

Entry Criteria:

At least 40 percent of 2014 fiscal year gross revenue must have been derived from the selected discipline category. Public entities, such as departments of transportation or municipal public works offices, are not eligible. Firms must have a minimum of 10 full-time employees, with at least five design or engineering professionals.


THE ZWEIG LETTER AUGUST 10, 2015, ISSUE 1115 THE COMPLETE LIST OF ZWEIG GROUP’S 2015 BEST FIRMS TO WORK FOR 30. The Blueline Group 31. R&M Consultants 32. Foresite Group 33. Schnabel Engineering 34. Traffic Planning and Design 35. Frank Surveying 36. DH Charles Engineering 37. Process Plus 38. Jones & Carter 39. Hattenburg, Dilley, & Linnell

45. Trigon Associates 46. W.K. Dickson & Co.

40. Wallace, Montgomery & Associates 41. EMC Engineering Services 42. Chen Moore & Associates 43. Draper Aden Associates 44. Gomez and Sullivan Engineers

ARCHITECTURE 1. The Collaborative 2. Randall-Paulson Arc itects

© Copyright 2015. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.



Stretching limits The Collaborative strives for constant improvement through recruitment, retention, a commitment to excellence, and constantly seeking new ways to impress clients.

By Liisa Andreassen Correspondent

T eamwork is its guiding principle. And the name – The Collaborative Inc . – is a literal reflection of how this firm came to be and continues to operate. Based in Toledo, Ohio, this 45-person architectur- al and design firm is a fellowship of diverse design professionals committed to: ❚ ❚ creating environments of excellence and distinction that enrich the human experience

❚ ❚ exceeding client expectations ❚ ❚ thriving on team relationships

❚ ❚ fostering environmental stewardship ❚ ❚ enhancing the value of the organization

In the late 1960s, three design firms worked to- gether on a major resort in Durango, Colorado. In the 1970s, their client decided to develop a second resort north of Tampa, Florida, and the three com- panies opted to merge together to facilitate design and coordinate efforts. In 1973, The Collaborative was born.

“We are always striving to be better, to retain and recruit

principals of the firm are true leaders and men- tors. They lead by example and encourage the bet- terment of the employees. The strong emphasis on culture reflects throughout our internal and ex- ternal firm perception. We are ‘The Collaborative’ – one firm comprised of multiple talents, varying personalities, and collective passion for incompa- rable design.” The Collaborative’s principals are dedicated to the well-being of its employees. They are a family; they work hard and play hard as a team. In addition to the already generous benefits, the attention paid to extra benefits and professional training out-shines most other companies of the same size. For exam- ple, each employee is given an AAA membership annually. “As The Collaborative pursues a growth strategy, by opening new offices and recruiting talent, the Best

IT TAKES A VILLAGE. Brook Jones, director of market- ing and perceptions, says that the firm has gradu- ally matured into a recognized multi-disciplined practice that is known for its design excellence, cli- ent service, and an innovative management style. “We are always striving to be better, to retain and recruit exceptional talent, and to find ways to continuously impress our clients,” she says. “The leaders and mentors. They lead by example and encourage the betterment of the employees.” exceptional talent, and to find ways to continuously impress our clients. The principals of the firm are true



8. EAPC Architects Engineers 9. SHP Leading Design 10. ROSSETTI

13. McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING 1. Huckabee 2. Mulhern & Kulp Structural Engineering

3. Hinman Consulting Engineers 4. Barrish Pelham & Associates 5. SidePlate Systems 6. KL&A 7. Ehlert/Bryan

3. Huckabee 4. FKP Architects 5. English + Associates Architects

THE ZWEIG LETTER AUGUST 10, 2015, ISSUE 1115 11. Cuhaci & Peterson Architects 12. Bergland & Cram Architects

6. JLG Architects 7. KSQ Architects


Firm to Work For award will bolster our na- tional reach. In addition to recruitment of talent, the award acts as a reminder to our current employees of the incredible culture and firm they are helping to build. Retaining current talent is at the forefront of our future strategies,” Jones says. WHAT ARE “COLLABORATORS” SAYING? Audie Bates, architect and senior professional, has worked for the company for eight years. He says that they provide a flexible environment to take calculated risks, work independently within set parameters, and challenging opportuni- ties to stretch limits beyond one’s comfort zone. “The camaraderie resembles family rivalry with a desire to support one another in ef- forts in place of the anticipated ladder-climb- ing competition found in architectural firms of similar size. Other design firms are highly risk-adverse, and the environment stifles in- novation, exploration, and discovery; all of the key elements required for award-winning design and creativity. This makes The Collab- orative an exciting and enjoyable environ- ment to develop a career,” he says. Keith Russeau, architect and principal, joined the firm 18 years ago, when he was in college. “I stayed here because of the care that was shown towards advancing my career. That ex- perience, working beside senior leaders who went out of their way to provide insight and opportunities for professional growth, was invaluable. This award celebrates and pro- motes the value that The Collaborative has, for so many years, placed on mentoring, professional enrichment, work-life balance, and the culture that makes us so unique. It provides us with additional validation that should prove beneficial as we continue to seek out and recruit talented and top-tier profes- sionals at multiple office locations,” he says. Jones adds that the Best Firms to Work For award provides proof that what the employ- ees declare, is actually true. “Announcing this award to potential, future collaborators at career fairs and social media outlets will build buzz around our firm. At the very least, the new recruits will wonder: ‘What’s so special about The Collaborative?’ I say: ‘Come on by, and you’ll see!’ ” THE COLLABORATIVE , from page 11

Past top-ranking Best Firms to Work For have included:

❚ ❚ Multidiscipline: Bowers + Kubota Consulting Inc. ❚ ❚ Structural Engineering: Barrish Pelham & Associates Inc. 2012 ❚ ❚ Architecture: ACAI Associates Inc. ❚ ❚ Civil Engineering: Bowers + Kubota Consulting Inc. ❚ ❚ Environmental: Hodges, Harbin, Newberry & Tribble Inc. ❚ ❚ Multidiscipline: GATE Inc. ❚ ❚ Structural Engineering: Degenkolb Engineers

2014 ❚ ❚ Architecture: Davis Bews Design Group Inc. ❚ ❚ Civil Engineering: Bowers + Kubota Consulting Inc. ❚ ❚ Environmental: EHS Support ❚ ❚ Multidiscipline: Bowers + Kubota Consulting Inc. ❚ ❚ Structural Engineering: Hinman Consulting Engineers Inc. 2013 ❚ ❚ Architecture: Davis Bews Design Group Inc. ❚ ❚ Civil Engineering: Affinis Corp. ❚ ❚ Environmental: Comprehensive Environmental Inc.

APPRECIATED PERKS IN OUR INDUSTRY Respondents to Zweig Group’s 2015 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey of A/E/P and Environmental Firms were asked if their organizations provided any special benefits that employees especially appreciated. Responses included*: Vacation/tip off/trips: 84 percent Social events/celebrations: 79 percent Fitness/wellness benefits: 46 percent Financial benefits : 45 percent Tickets/passes to events: 26 percent Parking/transportation: 23 percent Some participants elaborated on the special benefits offered by their firms: Vacation/time off/trips: Flexible work hours or time off for family Paid time off to participate in community service Work remotely/from home (telecommute): 70 percent Breakfasts/lunches/free food: 50 percent Patient advocacy program to assist with healthcare management Financial

Financial wellness program Licensing cost-sharing Professional education reimbursement

“In good years, we send one employee to Italy for study

Social events/celebrations:


Bicycle tune-up benefit event

9/80 work schedule, with every other Friday off Casual dress policy Employee assistance program Employee recognition program


On-site biometric screenings and health risk assessments On-site flu vaccination program On-site gym

*Totals sum to more than 100 because answer choices were not mutually exclusive.


What are you most looking forward to at # HotFirm2015 ? Tweet us @ZweigLetter and/or @ZweigGroup , and come to the conference ready to live- tweet along!


8. Cornerstone Structural Engineering Group 9. GACE CoConsulting Engineers 10. Simpson Gumpertz & Heger 11. Baldridge & Associates 12. Reaveley Engineers + Associates 13. Eclipse Engineering 14. DH Charles Engineering

15. Beaudette Consulting Engineers 16. PES Structural Engineers 17. O’Donnell & Naccarato 18. Jaster-Quintanilla 19. Bliss & Nyitray

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