TZL 1402 (web)

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Principals’ compensation

How will the new infrastructure bill impact M&A activity in the AEC industry? The new infrastructure bill

F I R M I N D E X Ayres. ...................................................12 BASE....................................................10 Bowman Consulting Group.....................2 Dewberry..............................................10 Edmonds Engineering...........................10 FitzGerald. ..............................................6 Gausman & Moore................................12 Neumann Monson Architects..................4 Ware Malcomb........................................4 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz TIM SCHROEDER: From founder- led to purpose-led Page 3 xz The human factor: Mike DeRouin Page 6 xz MARK HIRSCHI: Mentoring culture Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG: Move over, Grover Page 11 In Zweig Group’s 2021 Principals, Partners & Owners Report of AEC Firms , principals were asked to provide their current compensation data. Shown are the base salaries of all principals in the survey sample by median and mean value. Over the last five years, there has been a steady increase in base compensation among principals in the AEC industry. While bonus pay has flatlined over that same stretch, shareholder distributions have also increased in that five-year span. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

T he need for investment in infrastructure in America is long overdue, and that has been documented more heavily in recent months. The details of the infrastructure bill put forth by President Joe Biden are still up in the air, but a deal is expected to be finalized in spite of the slow-moving active negotiations happening in Congress, according to CNBC. As much as the positioning and lobbying of Congress can give us all a slight migraine, the details of this bill when it is inevitably pushed through will be of grave importance as AEC firm leaders are making critical decisions about their firm’s futures on a daily basis. According to The American Jobs Plan Fact Sheet, “The United States of America is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we rank 13th when it comes to the overall quality of our infrastructure. After decades of disinvestment, our roads, bridges, and water systems are crumbling. Our electric grid is vulnerable to catastrophic outages. Too many lack access to affordable, high- speed internet and to quality housing. The past year has led to job losses and threatened economic security, eroding more than 30 years of progress in women’s labor force participation. It has unmasked the fragility of our caregiving infrastructure.” This deal will have monumental impacts on architects, engineers, and environmental consultants for the next 10 years and beyond. As noted in the Fact Sheet above (and further at whitehouse. gov), it will create an influx of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, much of which will go toward areas that AEC firms serve – with investments into roads, wind/solar energy, and multi- and single-family housing, to name just a few examples. AEC firms and firm leaders that position themselves to take advantage of this opportunity will see significant, and perhaps unprecedented, growth over the next decade. In order to keep up with this new demand, many AEC firms will have no choice but to turn to mergers and acquisitions to find the people they need to meet the increased demand and continue growing. Here are a few ways that M&A activity in the AEC industry will be impacted by the new infrastructure bill: 1)More opportunities. More dollars equals more projects, more projects equals growth for AEC firms, and that growth will lead to an abundance of M&A activity, the likes of which we have not seen before in this industry. This bill, along with the other reasons I outlined in my last article for The Zweig Letter , “Why You Should Be Open to M&A,” will cause more AEC firms than ever to be looking to acquire another firm or to be acquired themselves. There may be more “swings at the plate” when looking for M&A opportunities

John Bray

See JOHN BRAY, page 2



BUSINESS NEWS BOWMAN CONSULTING GROUP AWARDED $10 MILLION TASK ORDER WITH COOK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS Bowman Consulting Group , announced that it has received a $10 million task order contract award with the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways in Illinois relating to the County’s Pavement Preservation and Rehabilitation program. The term of the Award is for three years with two one-year renewal and extension options for the County. Under the terms of the Award, Bowman will provide construction management services to include engineering and inspection services on a sole-source, task order basis for pre-construction, construction, and post- construction phases of the PPR. The County may expand the Award to include other construction management and engineering related tasks outside the PPR at its discretion. The Company will record backlog associated with the Award as individual task order assignments are issued. “This meaningful win for our company

derives from our extensive transportation and construction management experience and represents the increased demand we are experiencing for infrastructure related projects,” said Gary Bowman, chairman and CEO of Bowman. “We are proud to have been selected for this assignment and look forward to expanding our relationship with Cook County. We expect the revenue associated with the PPR project to ramp up slowly during the remainder of 2021, with the bulk of the spending coming in 2022 and 2023.” Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Bowman is a professional services firm delivering innovative engineering solutions to customers who own, develop, and maintain the built environment. With 800 employees and more than 30 offices throughout the United Sates, Bowman provides a variety of planning, engineering, construction management, commissioning, environmental consulting, geomatics, survey, land procurement and other technical services to customers operating in a diverse set of regulated end markets.

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

JOHN BRAY, from page 1

going forward for this reason, and this could give a firm that goes about the process in a diligent way more options when they get to the negotiating table. 2)More competition. For simplicity's sake, let’s assume you are a buyer in the M&A market for a moment. In addition to the increased opportunities you may find for acquisition, you may also find that a growing number of companies are looking for targets in similar geographies and market sectors as you. This makes it all the more important that, if you do decide that M&A is the best growth strategy for you, you make it a top priority and “come correct” in developing your strategy as well as with any promising leads that you come across. The opportunities will be there – what are you doing to differentiate yourself from the competitors in the market who are looking for the same things you are? 3)Out-of-industry buyers. Private equity groups, investment banks, family offices, and tech companies are just a few of the examples of non-AEC groups that will become more interested in making investments in this industry. These groups are typically more sophisticated when it comes to M&A, but less experienced when it comes to AEC firms specifically. Their lack of experience in AEC can lead to confusion during negotiations if they do not have an advisor who understands this industry. They may also be willing to pay a higher price tag at times, but that will often come to the detriment of the selling firm’s staff who aren’t shareholders. 4)Higher valuations. The increased demand for this industry along with the increased interest from out-of-industry buyers should bring valuations higher. Although the supply should also increase, as outlined in No. 1 above, the increased activity will justify higher projections and multiples which will inevitably lead to higher closing prices for the deals that do get across the finish line. JOHN BRAY, CM&AA is an advisor with Zweig Group’s M&A and executive search teams. Contact him at

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Making incremental changes to pay attention to what’s important to your people and rallying your team behind a common goal could lead to astonishing results. From founder-led to purpose-led

I n 2012, Neumann Monson Architects began prioritizing employee engagement. Like many architecture firms, we had long operated on a founder-led model. Our team was divided into six separate studios, each led by a principal architect. Although we received steady work, our traditional model no longer seemed sustainable with the way our firm was growing. Our six studios rarely interacted, and the staff was detached from client interactions and day-to-day decision-making, which was overseen by the principals. Meanwhile, our firm was attracting younger talent. More than half of our employees were millennials, and their generation desired opportunities to learn and solve challenging problems. We needed a new organizational model that would engage our staff, but the path to change was not clear.

Tim Schroeder

STARTING ON THE PATH TO CHANGE. That summer, we hosted a firm-wide retreat that sparked a grassroots effort to envision a successful future. With the help of a facilitator, staff volunteers sent an anonymous employee survey. The results reflected a desire to shift our focus to design excellence. Client relationships and fiscal solvency were largely vacant from the input we received. For the principals, this response pointed to the opacity of our organization. Although design excellence was important, the staff did not

understand the full scope of the business. A history of not engaging the staff left our team with a limited perspective. In the wake of the retreat, the staff was energized and engaged, but unfortunately, change did not occur immediately. Projects and clients became the principals’ priority and the results of the retreat were placed on the backburner. Employee engagement was low once again, and as one team




ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES BILL SOTOMAYOR PROMOTED TO PRINCIPAL IN NORTHEAST REGION Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced Bill Sotomayor has been promoted to principal in the New York office. In this position, Sotomayor is responsible for the overall leadership and growth of the New York office, as well as regional leadership of the interiors practice in the Northeast. Before joining Ware Malcomb in 2014, Sotomayor ran his own company, providing architectural and interior design services to corporate, retail, publishing, media and law firm clients. He expanded his New York City-based firm to a second location in New Jersey, and later sold and merged with a large architectural design firm. He opened the Ware Malcomb New York office as regional director and has led the office’s growth with his expansive regional knowledge and savvy business development acumen.

Sotomayor continues to successfully foster and expand client relationships and has been a key contributor to the success of the New York office, as well as the region. “Bill has led the New York office’s impressive growth, and we look forward to his continued success in New York and leading the interiors practice across the Northeast,” said Kenneth Wink, chief executive officer of Ware Malcomb. “His more than 35 years of industry knowledge and dedication to Ware Malcomb’s vision makes him a tremendous asset to the company.” Sotomayor holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the New York Institute of Technology. He is a founding member of the Knights of York, a New York City based nonprofit organization of devoted business leaders helping children in need. Sotomayor is also a past Chairman and Board Member of the National Hispanic Business Group and a member of CoreNet Global.

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

TIM SCHROEDER, from page 3

project teams creates a cross-weave of communication, interdependency, and accountability. As our non-hierarchal model developed, we embraced a culture of feedback. Starting with anonymous reviews of the directors, we implemented a 360-review system where everyone receives feedback from the directors and a cross-section of their peers. The success of our internal reviews encouraged us to adopt a similar system with our clients. We began using the Client Feedback Tool to track stakeholder expectations throughout a project’s lifecycle. In 2017, we made client experience our top strategic priority. Less than a decade ago, client experience was in the hands of the principals. Today, it is the overarching goal that guides the entire team’s work. DRIVING POSITIVE CHANGE. Since transitioning to a purpose-led model in 2012, our firm has witnessed many measurable successes. Our design quality initiatives have increased our recognitions with the American Institute of Architects. Since 2013, we have received 34 AIA Iowa recognitions, 22 AIA Central States Region recognitions, an AIA Knowledge Community design recognition, and a COTE Top Ten Award. We have also increased our level of employee engagement. In addition to our recognition from Zweig Group as a Best Firm To Work For, AIA Central States has recognized us as an Emerging Professionals Friendly Firm with an “outstanding” recognition in 2018 and 2019. Perhaps most importantly, we have rallied our team behind a common goal: Client experience. In the last decade, we have received CXps awards for Client Experience, Satisfaction, and Connectedness; our Net Promoter score is in the top 1 percent of 300 firms worldwide. Client experience is built on employee experience. Our path to increasing employee engagement was not easy, but as our story demonstrates, incremental change can lead to astonishing results. TIM SCHROEDER, AIA CDT LEED AP is president with Neumann Monson Architects. Contact him at

member put in his notice, he said five words I will never forget: “You aren’t capable of change.” NEVER CHANGING? So how did we change? After meeting with the principals, we decided to set aside time to focus on internal culture, and I volunteered to lessen my project load to fill this role. Incrementally, we implemented changes that took our firm in a new direction, starting with simple fixes to illustrate our agility as larger changes developed. We removed physical barriers in our Iowa City office, creating an open, collaborative environment. The principals, who sat at the edge of the office, moved to the center, signaling to the staff that we were there to help them. Additionally, we circulated books throughout the office to create a shared language to articulate what we were doing wrong and right. The principals stopped defending the status quo and started listening. We led weekly focus groups where we could receive ongoing feedback from the staff and provided progress reports. FOSTERING AGILITY AND EMPATHY. Incremental change led to an overhaul of our traditional management structure. Instead of siloed teams led by principals, we embraced resource planning software to build our teams around projects. Gradually, we established a layer of self-managed teams that engage the staff in our firm’s leadership. These teams focus on design quality, client experience, quality assurance, and sustainability. Most of the staff is engaged in at least one of these teams, and their overlap with our employee engagement was not easy, but as our story demonstrates, incremental change can lead to astonishing results." "Client experience is built on employee experience. Our path to increasing

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

Two conferences. One mission.

In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala The 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado on November 3-5, 2021. Withmuch optimism and excitement, Zweig Group is thrilled to restore the full annual in-person conference this fall; presenting the highest level of curated thought leadership, numerous networking opportunities, and the iconic black-tie awards gala celebrating all our 2021 winners of the Hot Firm List, Best Firms toWork For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award! The 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala will be the industry’s top conference of 2021 with new networking and learning opportunities for leaders across the country. Trust us, you will not want tomiss this! Register now to guarantee your spot.

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

NOV. 3 - 5, 2021 Denver, CO REGISTER FOR IN-PERSON NOW $1,995/attendee

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

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



The human factor: Mike DeRouin President at FitzGerald (Chicago, IL), a nationally recognized architecture firm with roots dating back more than 100 years.


D eRouin has guided a broad range of project teams in the design of complex, mixed-use buildings that accommodate commercial office tenants; affordable and market-rate multifamily residences at every scale; neighborhood and big box retail; and parking uses. He also has considerable experience converting existing obsolete buildings to new commercial and residential uses. He’s a professional problem solver and offers himself as a consultant and mentor both in and out of the workplace. “We try to communicate with staff on a deeper level, so we become an engaging work place,” DeRouin says. “They’re not just an asset. You can’t lose sight of the human factor. If they want to grow, they have a path here to do it.” A CONVERSATION WITH MIKE DEROUIN. The Zweig Letter: Your bio states that you have a great deal of experience with converting obsolete buildings into new commercial and residential spaces. Can you give me an example of a favorite project and tell me why it tops your list?

Mike DeRouin: I love putting new life into old buildings and there’s so much potential with current building construction technology. The Stoney Island Arts Bank is a project that springs to mind. Fitzgerald worked with artist and community leader Theaster Gates and Catapult Real Estate Development on the rehabilitation of the Stony Island State Savings Bank building located in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood. We were tasked with coordinating the rehabilitation of the three- story, 26,700-square-foot building, which was rescued from demolition in 2012 by Gates after standing vacant for more than 20 years. FitzGerald developed plans to rejuvenate the building in support of Gates’ vision that the site flourish as a hub for creative and cultural activities and create an anchor in the neighborhood. We’re also working to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places. Some prospective uses include a restaurant with culinary training facilities; artists’ studios and offices; exhibit spaces; and a library housing the collection of John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines. Special plans have been made to restore the building’s



780-square-foot basement bank vault, which may be used as a special gathering space. TZL: How do you anticipate COVID-19 permanently impacting your firm’s policy on telecommuting? MD: Like many firms, we’re designing more of a hybrid office. We’re in the process of moving our office into the heart of downtown Chicago, so the timing is right. We dipped our toe in the water two years ago with working from home and we now know that with the right technology, it’s possible. Between the cloud and Microsoft Teams we saw very few glitches. When we do move into our new office space, we’ll be in the office three days a week and at home the rest of the time. The goal is seamless integration between participants from wherever they are – local or remote – through the latest integrated digital collaboration tools. This new office gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our belief in the future of workplace design and will be a sort of showroom for our design ideas. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? MD: All of our managers have one-on-one conversations with their team members on a weekly basis for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes it’s about work, sometimes it’s not. This helps to build better relationships among the team and ensures that the lines of communication are open. It’s also important to make sure that people understand why things happen. They have a better buy-in then. We also have an annual advance, and quarterly follow- ups that all firm leaders attend. It’s key to spend time together in order to grow together. "I love putting new life into old buildings and there’s so much potential with current building construction technology." TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? MD: I believe this is a unique challenge for the overall industry. When I was in school, at least 50 percent of the people going into the industry were women. Now, it’s more like 10 percent. I’m not sure why that is. At our firm, Kathy Graham, the COO, recently

became an owner. As an industry, we need to show more examples of women-driven leadership. We’re also focusing on how to bring more people of color into the room. We have consultations about places to recruit; are involved in the ACE Mentor Program of America which is a free after school program targeting high school kids interested in careers in the AEC industry; and are active in the Newhouse and Future City competitions. We also hired a company to provide cultural awareness training. "We’re constantly having discussions about how to win work, project planning, and profitability. Everything changes so quickly so you have to stay as current as possible." TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation – which is at an all-time high – with rewards for tenured staff? This has always been a challenge, but seems heightened as investments in development have increased. MD: We provide a flexible work environment and are accelerating training and sharing of information. We’re constantly having discussions about how to win work, project planning, and profitability. Everything changes so quickly so you have to stay as current as possible. The main challenge of investing in the next generation is to explain how and why work happens. They don’t teach the “why” in school regarding why certain things happen. We try to communicate with staff on a deeper level, so we become an engaging work place. They’re not just an asset. You can’t lose sight of the human factor. If they want to grow, they have a path here to do it. We’re also focused on their safety and wellness. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? MD: We’ve been very fortunate here. The average tenure is five years. We have the most consistent and talented group of designers. Many other firms harp on the idea of staff members having to “pay their dues” before moving into other roles. We don’t. We provide opportunities and we also open our Design Lab meetings to everyone in the firm. If someone would






❚ ❚ Architecture

❚ ❚ BIM

❚ ❚ Entitlements

❚ ❚ Feasibility study

❚ ❚ Interior design

❚ ❚ Master planning

❚ ❚ Tenant improvement


❚ ❚ Civic

❚ ❚ Hospitality

❚ ❚ Mixed-use

❚ ❚ Multifamily

❚ ❚ Recreational

❚ ❚ Retail

❚ ❚ Senior housing

❚ ❚ Single family

❚ ❚ Student housing

❚ ❚ Townhomes

❚ ❚ Workplace

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE US TO KNOW: FitzGerald is a firm that fosters a diverse community of talented people.


© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

GUST 2, 2021, ISSUE 1402


THE HUMAN FACTOR, from page 7

like to offer an opinion, or just sit in and listen, they’re welcome to. We provide as much interactions on projects as they can handle and pride ourselves on forming strong teams. We want them to see the great designs that come out of working together well as a team. It provides ownership of the work they do. TZL: Does your firm work closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology, experience, and innovation and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? MD: Our recruitment is mostly based on referrals. We tend to get many people who are first-job changers. They tend to resonate with us well. Quite often, they go to work for a firm that they think is what they want and then they realize they want something different. Here, we don’t have a studio system. We combine client relationships with project skills and work to make a proactive building team. The teams change for projects and we have cross training too. It keeps things interesting. "We’re starting a new office in Denver. We’re slowly working our way out west and have projects in Phoenix right now. We’re growing into a national design firm with a great deal of diversity." TZL: The firm has a more than 100 year history. Impressive! What are you doing to ensure the firm continues to lead the way into the future while keeping an eye on its past? MD: We have big shoes to fill. We’ve always had a hand in multi-family housing which is going to become more and more interesting post-COVID. It’s not just about creating housing. It’s about creating sustainable architecture and design too. We’re actively pursuing work in Washington, D.C. which has helped to bolster our commercial building development and we’re starting a new office in Denver. We’re slowly working our way out west and have projects in Phoenix right now. We’re growing into a national design firm with a great deal of diversity. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? MD: Pat FitzGerald, the firm’s founder. He hired me as

FitzGerald's 727 West Madison project in Chicago, a 45-story, 492-unit luxury rental tower with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space.

an intern and gave me more opportunities than I could have ever asked for. I try to do the same for others today. He was insightful and inspirational and a true agent of change. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? MD: We celebrate lessons learned every week with what we call “gold bricks.” This helps everyone to share and learn from mistakes. It’s the greatest mistake not to share mistakes. Mistakes largely happen in isolation so the more checks and balances you have in a group, the better off you are – safety in numbers as they say.

ZWEIG GROUP'S MID-YEAR UPDATE 2021 SALARY REPORT OF AEC FIRMS The Mid-Year Update 2021 Salary Report of AEC Firms contains data gathered after January 2021 and is designed to help firms evaluate how salaries have changed during the first half of 2021. This publication includes salary information on nearly every job role at engineering, architecture, and environmental firms. Statistics are broken down by firm staff size and region of office for more accurate benchmarking and comparisons. Job descriptions and average years of experience are included for all titles in the survey. Unlike Zweig Group's traditional Salary Reports , all regions of the U.S. are included in this publication. Click here to learn more.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Mentoring culture

Mentoring remains the most effective mode of knowledge transfer from older professionals to younger generations.

A s the last contingent of baby boomers prepare to retire, many firms are struggling to transfer the knowledge that baby boomers have developed over decades- long careers to younger employees. While authoring training material or developing detailed procedures may succeed in preserving this knowledge, mentoring remains the most effective mode of knowledge transfer from older professionals to younger professionals. However, many firms continue to struggle in establishing and maintaining a mentoring culture. This article seeks to offer some advice from our firm on developing and maintaining a culture of mentoring that can facilitate this critical transfer of knowledge.

Mark Hirschi

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a good mentoring culture begins with supporting mentors and recognizing their efforts. Firm leadership needs to acknowledge the time commitments that mentoring involves, both ensuring that mentors are afforded time in their regular schedules to coach younger staff and recognizing that some performance-based metrics (e.g., billable ratios) do not effectively measure mentors’ contributions to the success of the firm. Firms need to get comfortable losing money on some projects when training younger engineers to allow them to develop under real world circumstances. While there may be short-term losses on projects,

the long-term gains of developing a competent workforce are significantly larger. Firms should never be afraid to spend time and money training people due to the possibility that they may leave. A progressive firm that invests in its employees’ development is a firm that should not struggle to attract and retain talent. Some companies use formal mentoring programs with assigned mentors, set times where mentoring occurs, and sometimes even set curricula for mentoring. At BASE, we have found that younger

See MARK HIRSCHI, page 10



TRANSACT IONS EDMONDS ENGINEERING JOINS DEWBERRY Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, announced the acquisition of Edmonds Engineering . Edmonds Engineering is a full-service mechanical and electrical design and facilities engineering company based in the Southeast. The more than 75 person firm has five locations with offices in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, with its headquarters located in Birmingham, Alabama. “Our immediate comradery and strategic alignment are two of the many reasons why Edmonds Engineering is excited to join Dewberry. Thiswill allowus toprovide resources from a national firm with expertise across the U.S. and encompassing many markets and services,” says Edmonds Engineering CEO Dan Blackman, PE. “We anticipate business as normal with our leadership and project staff in place with outstanding opportunities for our staff to have improved access to training and development programs, an expanded knowledge base, and project diversity, which we will leverage in support of our clients and continue our culture of execution.”

“As a family-owned, client-centric, and community-driven firm, we believe that welcoming Edmonds Engineering into Dewberry is a strategic move that will allow us all to better serve our clients, given that both organizations have similar values and goals,” says Dewberry Executive Chairman of the Board Barry K. Dewberry. “Edmonds Engineering has a large footprint in the southeast, and a strong reputation as an MEP firm in several market segments, including healthcare, education, laboratories, municipal, industrial, commercial, and federal,” adds Dewberry Chief Executive Officer Donald E. Stone, Jr., PE. Dewberry Chief Operating Officer Dan M. Pleasant, PE, says, “As we welcome Edmonds Engineering, we are able to provide our clients across the federal, commercial, and state/ local markets with added capacity and deeper subject matter expertise from an expanded geographic platform.” “Dewberry’s existing MEP service group of more than 200 is thrilled to welcome Edmonds Engineering,” says Dewberry Senior Vice

President Shepard Hockaday, PE, LEED AP. “As we continue to make clients a priority in healthcare, education, community facility, energy, industrial, and water market segments, Dewberry | Edmonds will be a welcome and natural fit with how we do business.” As Dewberry | Edmonds, the firm’s existing leadership will continue to lead operations across the various Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee offices, delivering quality services to their clients. 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.

MARK HIRSCHI, from page 9

mentoring without trust is impossible. Without trust, potential mentors hold on to information to avoid losing their standing and mentees may withhold questions that they perceive to be foolish or elementary and will be distrustful of information they do receive. Finally, mentors should not forget soft skills. It is important that firm leaders teach younger employees the business side of their profession. Communication, project management, contract review, insurance, licensing, proposal writing, fee development, business development, marketing, and other topics that dominate firm leadership’s time are excellent topics for discussion. Covering these topics not only trains future leaders for the business but also prevents mentoring from straying too far into the technical realm and reassures young employees of senior leaders’ contributions to the firm, that they are not just reaping the rewards for younger employees’ efforts. Personal skills are also good topics. Well-rounded and happy people make good employees. Don’t be afraid to coach on financial literacy, saving for retirement, mental wellness, organization, and other topics relevant to promoting employees’ wellbeing outside of the workplace. Firms should just take care to ensure that mentors are competent to discuss these topics and that mentors are aware of topics that need to remain off limits for human resources, legal, political, or other reasons. By establishing and maintaining a strong culture of mentoring, firms can ensure knowledge is transferred to younger generations and not lost to employee turnover while naturally developing future leaders from within. MARK HIRSCHI is an associate with BASE, based out of its Chicago office. Connect with him on LinkedIn and contact him at mhirschi@

generations are naturally inquisitive and actively seek out mentoring, thus diminishing the need for a formal program to drive mentorship. Without the formal program, we are able to follow a more organic approach and allow younger employees to gravitate to different mentors for different reasons, whether that’s personal preference or the natural tendency for mentors to have different areas of expertise. This approach also allows mentors to emerge naturally as long as they have the inclination and are supported by firm leadership in doing so. In an environment where they can connect naturally, mentorship will happen on a regular basis just through day-to-day conversation. Some of the best mentoring at BASE occurs during impromptu shared lunches, breaks, and downtime. "By establishing and maintaining a strong culture of mentoring, firms can ensure knowledge is transferred to younger generations and not lost to employee turnover while naturally developing future leaders from within." Another key aspect in establishing a mentoring culture is maintaining a healthy team environment built around trust. Mentoring is founded on trust, with mentees trusting that the information mentors communicate is complete and truthful and mentors trusting that mentees will not play politics with either the information they receive or the relationships they develop. Successful

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Move over, Grover

You need to be identifying your successor and preparing the road for them so they can be successful.

L et’s face it. If you work as a manager in an AEC organization of any size or scale, and if you don’t want to be doing the same job for the rest of your life, you need to be identifying your successor and preparing the road for them so they can be successful. If you don’t do this, you’re stuck. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being stuck!

Mark Zweig

You may be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but I don’t have a successor. No one could do my job as well as I can.” It’s normal to think that way (I’ve done it myself at various times), but that doesn’t make it right. I think what you are really saying is, “No one will do my job the same way I do,” and that’s OK. My personal experience is they may eventually do a better job than you do in your role but it’s up to you to make that happen. Finding the right successor and getting them up to speed may not be as simple as saying you want to do it. My experience is that internal candidates are almost always preferred, IF a suitable candidate is already in the firm. Newcomers are more likely to adopt one of two “modes” for lack of a better word. They will either a) not do anything for fear of being rejected by the team. That isn’t good. Or b) they will start changing things too quickly because

they don’t understand the culture and get shot in the back by their own team. That isn’t good, either. Yet in spite of these two potential negative outcomes, there are times it is necessary to find someone outside with certain skills and attributes and bring them on board. The good news about an outside successor versus an internal one is that they may have new ideas that they can bring to the organization. There are many firms in this business that are so inbred because they have very little turnover. That isn’t good. Internal candidates, on the other hand, are bound to know the rest of the team and better understand the culture and systems in place. That may help them get up to speed in your role faster and lead to a greater chance of their being accepted by the team. My personal preference

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACT IONS AYRES ANNOUNCES MERGER WITH MEP FIRM GAUSMAN & MOORE Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design firm Gausman & Moore has merged with Eau Claire-based consultant Ayres , resulting in an approximately 350-person firm with offices in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Colorado, California, and Wyoming. Gausman & Moore, operating as a division of Ayres, adds MEP, renewable energy, energy modeling, and design software to Ayres’ diverse services, which include the following: civil and municipal engineering, architecture, transportation, structural design and inspection, environmental, geospatial, landscape architecture, planning and development, river engineering and water resources, and telecommunications and subsurface utility engineering. Gausman & Moore, with offices in Minneapolis/ St. Paul and Los Angeles metro areas, has a

more than 80-year history of providing MEP consulting services. Ayres was established 62 years ago in the engineering and architecture fields, expanding into many more service offerings over the ensuing decades. Both firms enter the merger with ambitious growth plans. Gausman & Moore will continue to team with its longtime base of architecture clients to design efficiency into buildings with its MEP, energy modeling, and renewable energy expertise. Gausman & Moore’s services can also be employed on Ayres’ utility, dam, moveable bridge, renewable energy, industrial, municipal, and street lighting and signalization projects. This energy expertise also adds breadth to the vision Ayres’ planning and development experts can provide as they imagine the potential of sites that developers are transforming in the Southeast, Midwest, and West. Gausman & Moore’s expertise has been instrumental in helping clients achieve LEED certified and equivalent projects.

“We are honored and excited to be joining with Ayres,” says Daniel Sandoval, PE, Gausman & Moore’s president, who transitions to vice president of the new Gausman & Moore division of Ayres. “The cultures and business synergies between our firms align very well. I don’t think we could have found a better partner with whom to forge our future.” “Ayres and Gausman & Moore share strong reputations in the government and commercial markets, and our combined experience in the education, energy, health care, residential, and industrial markets will bring our clients even greater confidence in our leadership in these areas,” says Bruce Ommen, PE, president of Ayres. “Culturally, this merger joins firms that are virtual twins, with our commitment to delivering creative solutions to clients we treat as partners, as well as our passion for giving back to the communities where we work.”

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

equipped to take on your job, you will need to show interest in them and spend time with them before and after they assume your role. To make that time and your coaching most effective, having some sort of set time to talk every week and a regular agenda to guide your discussion will be helpful. These will have to be two-way discussions, with you doing plenty of listening to them. Hopefully, whomever you pick is coachable. If he or she already knows everything and doesn’t value your input, odds are they won’t work out. You could have picked wrong. If and when you become aware the successor isn’t going to work out, whether before or after you have passed off the baton, it’s up to you to fix the situation. You can’t let it go on. That may mean you will need to step back again and start all over. Little is more painful or frustrating. But it doesn’t change the fact that you will need to do it. Make a better pick next time and do a better job with your coaching, as well as a better job prepping your team to be ready for someone different, and hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes again. Divorce is painful, but sometimes necessary. I think this whole subject needs a lot more attention than it gets. If you look at a list of Zweig Group's clients, there are some rapidly growing companies that make up the bulk of that list. These successful, growing firms have many management transitions taking place at once. It’s super critical that these transitions go well or the company will have costly turnover and their growth will be stymied. One thing I know for sure is that everyone needs to identify their successors or nothing will happen. You may need to force each of your key people to take that first step NOW if this is something you believe is important to your long- term success! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

is to go internal if at all possible, which may mean certain criteria for years of experience or educational or registration credentials will have to be compromised because cultural knowledge is more important. Whomever you pick, the more time you have to get them and everyone else ready for them to assume your role, the better. You can see how others react to them. You can coach them on the nuances of the role and share your insights and experiences with the other team members. Obviously, you don’t want to pass on any prejudices about the people to them, so you have to be careful about what you share with them. "Whomever you pick, the more time you have to get them and everyone else ready for them to assume your role, the better." As far as the rest of your team goes, the longer they have to get used to the reality that there will eventually be a change, the better. The worst thing that can happen is you send out an email on a Friday evening that someone else will be taking your job. That will shock (and scare) your team. Getting a new boss is always disconcerting on a certain level, unless you have no allegiance from your team. He or she may not understand you and the expectations that have been laid on you for your job. Changing those expectations quickly is stressful. I liken the naming of a successor well before they take over to the situation of changing a company policy. My experience is telling everyone that in 90 days one of your policies will change is more likely to be accepted than changing it and saying the new policy will take effect immediately. People need time to mentally prepare. If your successor – whomever that is – is going to be

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