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Ap r i l 1 1 , 2022 , I s sue 1 436 W W W . Z W E I G G R O U P . C O M


Equity value per profit

Succession planning requires owners and leaders to wake up and get out of their own way. Wake up!

W e do it every day. We wake up and face a new day, a new set of opportunities, new challenges, and a world that is changing quicker than ever before. It can be difficult to focus and prioritize each day. We have our routines, our responsibilities, and our ways of processing information. As we age, we get more set in our ways and our routines – probably because our hearing, eyesight, and stamina begin to deteriorate and we stick to what’s familiar. But young people don’t operate like this; they are quite the opposite. They consume information at breakneck speeds and can lose sight of the big picture, but they crave purpose. This requires your attention. Recently, I’ve been challenged with our 2-year-old’s 4:45 a.m. wake up routine. Luckily, he’s easy to please at that hour. He just wants Fruity Pebbles and “lechita.” Some of us, like my wife, have insomnia and do not sleep at all. Others savor every minute of rest, and yet others relish the sound of an alarm clock. Regardless of whether you’re up early or snooze to the last minute, getting out of bed and putting your feet on the ground is a defining moment. It’s the moment we set our course and begin to program our moves for the day. In this industry, we have been slow to wake up, put our feet down, and program our moves for the foreseeable future. Looking around and listening to the highly fragmented industry, I can’t help but think that many leaders have been asleep at the wheel for some time. I get it, it’s difficult to balance the daily requirements of our staff, our clients, and proactively challenge our business model, while focusing on the long- term goals. It takes time, money, energy, and an element of risk to stay in front of the trends – or even just keep up. But maintaining an edge in the market requires a constant reimagining of howwe do things. This is imperative to achieving our goals. Being from Northwest Arkansas, I’ve been privileged to witness the growth and transformation of a perennial Fortune 500 No. 1 company in my backyard. In recent history, Walmart made fresh produce a huge focus and used this as a differentiator in the market as Amazon and other online retailers surged. Walmart aggressively grew its online presence, but it focused on fresh food and fresh produce as an area where its brick-and-mortar stranglehold could maintain its global dominance. Similarly, fresh perspectives and fresh ideas must be embraced in your

F I R M I N D E X Balfour Beatty....................................................... 12 OAC Services Inc................................................10 RLG Consulting Engineers............................ 6 The Kleinfelder Group, Inc.............................2 Ware Malcomb ....................................................... 8 MO R E A R T I C L E S n PETER ATHERTON: Design your ideal day to end the chaos Page 3 n Positive influence: David Cumming Page 6 n CALLUM ROXBOROUGH: Leveraging in-house legal counsel Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Get more aggressive with your recruiting Page 11 In Zweig Group’s 2022 Valuation Report of AEC Firms , the disparity in equity value per profit among valuations done on behalf of controlling owners (4.13) relative to those done on behalf of minority owners (3.58) is shown. Overall, valuations performed on behalf of the majority ownership resulted in value ratios that were 15 percent higher than valuations performed on behalf of the minority of non-controlling owners. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

Will Swearingen




ON THE MOVE SCOTT HILLMAN JOINS KLEINFELDER AS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL The Kleinfelder Group, Inc., a leading engineering, design, construction management, construction materials inspection and testing, and environmental professional services firm, announced that Scott Hillman has joined Kleinfelder as senior vice president and general counsel. In this role, Hillman will lead Kleinfelder’s multinational legal, compliance, and ethics responsibilities, and serve as corporate secretary to the board of directors. Hillman has held multiple high-ranking legal positions throughout his more than 30 years in the AEC industry. Before joining Kleinfelder, Hillman most recently served as general counsel for Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc., where he oversaw all legal, risk, compliance, and corporate governance matters for the 1,300-employee organization. Prior to Langan, Hillman served as vice president and region chief counsel for AECOM, Inc. | URS Corporation where he managed all legal operations within the Gulf Coast/ Southwest region. “We are excited for Scott to join Kleinfelder. His industry understanding coupled with his accomplishments as a legal and compliance leader underscores Kleinfelder’s commitment to growth and

our future,” commented president and CEO Louis Armstrong. Hillman holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University, a master’s degree in business from Johns Hopkins University, and a juris doctorate from the University of Baltimore. Hillman is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the American Bar Association, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. “I am honored to join Kleinfelder as General Counsel and look forward to working with Louis and other members of the highly respected team,” said Hillman. “Kleinfelder has a strong reputation as an industry leader, and I am eager to help the company achieve even greater results.” Founded in 1961, Kleinfelder is a leading engineering, design, construction management, construction materials inspection and testing, and environmental professional services firm. Kleinfelder employs more than 3,000 professionals and operates from more than 100 office locations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California. Poised for growth, Kleinfelder continues to provide high- quality solutions for our diverse client base.

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Shirley Che | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Group-1030428053722402 Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year). Free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2022, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

firm as it looks to differentiate itself in the marketplace. Your employees have plenty of options for employment, so owners and leaders must focus on creating a firm that’s viewed as an employer of choice. It’s critical to the viability of your business, as the expectations from staff change and become increasingly urgent. Right now, we’re in the midst of the “great retirement.” An entire generation of owners and leaders are looking to exit the profession. This brings operational and business continuity challenges, but it also exposes a common dynamic in this industry. Many owners have been the main obstacle preventing them from realizing the true value of their equity investments. Succession planning requires owners and leaders to wake up and get out of their own way. It’s only natural for people to cling to the tasks and responsibilities that elevated them to a role of importance. But, if you pick your head up and look around, you’ll find several capable people who are eager to help carry the load. Change is inevitable. Embrace change by working with the next generation to equip them with the tools needed to become a leader, understand what it means to be an owner and what it means to carry the coffee pot for the next generation. Will Swearingen is a principal and director of ownership transition advisory services at Zweig Group. He can be reached at WILL SWEARINGEN, from page 1

2022 AEC EXECUTIVE ROUNDTABLE This roundtable is a unique opportunity for AEC firm leaders to engage and interact with industry peers to discuss current issues facing firms today, explore industry trends and next practices, and confront the biggest challenges they face leading their firms. See you this June 22-24 in Dallas!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




M anaging our time and energy has been – and always will be – critical to our success in almost all aspects of our lives. Leaders and managers especially need to proactively “change the game” and establish a new model for better time management. A “lack of time” can no longer be an excuse for not doing what needs to be done or not investing in what needs to be invested in. Design your ideal day to end the chaos

A lack of time (and inability to effectively manage time) is not only holding many of us back from taking advantage of new opportunities, it’s hurting us individually and organizationally. The number one reason most often expressed to me in planning and development work for not taking advantage of new opportunities is a “lack of time.” We have the power right now to better manage our time, and as leaders and senior managers, a “lack of time” can no longer be an excuse for not doing what needs to be done or not investing in what needs to be invested in, because: 1. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and we make time for what we value or what we are “valuing.” 2. In the eyes of top talent and clients, constantly

being busy and consumed is not a badge of honor. In fact, it’s become a red flag. 3. Asking ourselves and most others to just put in more time is untenable. So, how can you begin to solve the “lack of time” problem? Learning how to design your ideal day and then aligning it with others is a great place to start. I recommend five key steps in designing your ideal day: 1. Account for your time. If we are going to design and live more of an ideal day, it’s important to knowwhere we’re starting. Collecting and documenting data on howwe actually spend our time is more accurate and powerful than the story we tell ourselves about where we spend our time. This can be as simple as making a list of all

Peter Atherton




this is what I call “margin time.” Margin time is designated “white space” in your day to think, plan, and process. It comes in two forms: † † Form 1 is before or after meetings (or major events) during the workday. This can be time taken right before meetings to get fully prepared and in the right mindset to participate, as well as time immediately after meetings to take and review notes. Block 30 minutes before and after meetings or start and end meetings on the quarter and/or three-quarter hour to build in natural 15-minute buffers. † † Form 2 is routine work-life planning and transition time. Ideally, this is at least 30 to 60 minutes a day, four to five days per week, and scheduled immediately before or following your deep work. This is prime time for specific learning, either through reading or listening to podcasts, and developing your to-do list. It’s time for thinking, processing, and connecting dots through journaling or through quiet prayer or meditation. 4. Align with your team. Statistically, most of us are morning people. So, why would we routinely schedule meetings or do anything other than our most important deep work and creative tasks in the mornings? Why not try to have all meetings in the afternoons, or end our days (or whenever we are the least productive) with the more administrative aspects of our job? 5. Iterate and fine tune. Not every day or week will go as planned, and certain projects or months can (and will!) disrupt us. But, what will be the benefits of having one, two, or three days a week more ideal than not? Nothing is stopping us from doing this other than the chaotic, distractive, disruptive, and most often exhausting rhythms we’ve either created or have allowed to exist. Allowing more of the same will not increase efficiency, effectiveness, or engagement, and it will not create an environment for our talent to thrive. There’s certainly more to this, and it takes work. However, I hope this has provided you with a reason, permission, and a framework to proactively “change the game” and establish a new model for better time management. Our work success doesn’t need to be a career or a life “sentence” to prolonged work overload and missed opportunities or, in some cases, a path to burnout and burnout-induced disengagement. Use this as a way to end the chaos in your day and take advantage of more opportunities to grow and prosper! Peter Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider with 29 years of experience, having spent more than 24 as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms. Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners , and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.. Pete is also the host of The AEC Leadership Today Podcast . Connect with him at pete@

PETER ATHERTON, from page 3

the things you spend time on each day over the course of two to three weeks and then aggregating and reviewing the data. 2. Recognize the chaos inherent in most of our days. Technology has changed our work ecosystems. In less than three decades, we’ve gone from mailcarts and memos to a constantly changing and chaotic mix of unscheduled and asynchronous communication across multiple inboxes, channels, platforms, and devices. This is ultimately distracting, disruptive, inefficient, and exhausting. In response to these environmental changes, most of us “switch task,” which further adds to exhaustion and lack of productivity. We may think we’re multitasking, but the concept of multitasking is a myth for virtually all of us – and that’s brain science! On top of this, many of us are also experiencing much denser days with more, lower-quality meetings either back-to-back or randomly dispersed throughout the day, which also makes you less productive. If you’re going to end the chaos, you need to take control! 3. Defragment your days with time blocking and prioritization. In designing your ideal day, there are four key time blocks to build on and around: ■ ■ Deep work. This is focused time to perform highly thoughtful, creative, or contemplative work with hopes of getting into a “flow state” – where you can lose track of time and produce a disproportionate output. The ability to focus and get into flow state is typically tied to our “chronobiology” (i.e. the time of the day you’re most often able to do your best work). In practical terms, this is identifying – and leaning into – whether you’re a morning, afternoon, or evening person. In terms of designing your ideal day, you’ll want to plan your most important work to be in this “deep work” time block, which is typically two to four hours per day. ■ ■ Meetings. You’ll want to build your second two- to four-hour time block into your next best time of day to work for meetings. You still have gas in the tank, and having previously ensured time for deep work, you’ll probably feel better entering the meetings and have more to report. ■ ■ Spontaneity and administration. This could be your least productive time of the day, when you’ve completed your deep work, had some productive meetings, and now need to do some less creative administrative or organizational work. This is the time to respond to emails and messages and network on social media. It could also be time to designate “office hours” – something more top organizations and teams are doing to be more available for unplanned and spontaneous interactions that aren’t disruptive (because they’re planned). ■ ■ Margin. The most important time block for leaders is the fourth time block connected with defragmenting;

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Positive influence: David Cumming Principal at RLG Consulting Engineers (Dallas, TX), a firm that specializes in civil, structural, survey, and forensic engineering.


A s structural and forensics principal at RLG Consulting Engineers, Cumming has the knowledge and capability to handle a wide variety of project types which require a broad range of problem solving. Projects have ranged from structural assessments to peer reviews to additions and renovations to the design of numerous high-rise structures. He has led recovery efforts from tornado events and reviewed buildings after blast loads, hurricanes, fire damage, and waterline breaks. “Challenge yourself daily to refine and grow your engineering talents,” Cumming says. “Licensed engineers are trusted with public safety, so clarity in thought and ethical conduct is essential. Proactively face challenges and be a positive influence on those around you.” A CONVERSATIONWITH DAVID CUMMING. RLG: What made you decide to go to college to become an engineer? David Cumming: As a kid, I enjoyed building snow forts with tunnels and arches during the winter, working on small

projects around the house with my dad, and seeing how bridges and buildings were built. I started writing computer programs on the TI-99/4A home computer in middle school. Several years later, I started college in computer science and spent hours compiling programs to run on those green- screen terminals. Then, looking for a better direction with more challenges, I transferred to an engineering school and continued my interest in buildings. RLG: What was your first on-the-job experience as an engineer? DC: My career in engineering now spans almost 30 years. In the early ‘90s, my first engineering internship was at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the project was an important highway interchange. On returning for my second year of a summer internship, my supervisor placed an office phone on my desk and said, “Here you go.” This meant my supervisor trusted me to lead this high-profile project. After graduating with my undergraduate civil engineering



degree from the University of Wisconsin- Platteville, I attended the University of Minnesota and received a Master of Science degree. My thesis was on the shear capacity of high-strength concrete prestressed girders, which, when completed, was a two-volume set and was a 430-page document. This research project required testing full-size bridge girders and required a significant amount of time in two laboratories to test these four full-size members, each 50 feet long and about five feet tall. RLG: When did you start at RLG? DC: In 1997, I moved to Dallas, Texas, and started with RLG. My first major project at RLG was a seven-story concrete building connected to the main hospital by three levels of steel framing over a public street. Later this year, I will reach 25 years at RLG, which will be a significant career milestone. One way to encompass the changes over the years is to look at the historic tech changes. I started with faxing hand-drawn sketches to solve problems in the field, and now most communication is by email. The analysis software has changed from simple DOS programs to complex 3D-finite element programs. The storage systems have changed from floppy disks to cloud-based storage and computing and, most of all, the development of cell phones and social media. The underlying trend is rapidly increasing data which can get overwhelming if not managed. A takeaway is that this creates a premium for clear visions to deliver sound results. RLG: What is your role at RLG? DC: I oversee engineers, write proposals, review reports, and numerous office leadership tasks as a principal. RLG: What is your area of focus? DC: Over the years, I have been involved with everything from disaster response assistance to structural assessments to designing many high-rise structures. Based on my experience in solving a wide range of construction issues, we’ve provided engineering assistance to several general contractors. This type of effort goes beyond a formal peer review. Instead, we search the provided documents for potential savings on the structure, determine areas of possible hidden cost or potential coordination issues, and provide guidance on constructability. RLG: You have been at RLG for more than 24 years; what has been your most tremendous success?

DC: Challenges and successes have worked together to shape my career. Two years ago, a tornado hit a private school in Dallas with winds reported near 165 mph. At our client’s request, we were on-site at the first light of the next day, providing engineering assistance. The storm damage was significant with downed power lines, broken trees, overturned vehicles, and piles of debris. Building issues ranged from minor debris hits to collapsed structures. Our role was to perform structural assessments and document the degree of damage to on-campus buildings and site structures. Over the following two months, our staff discovered and categorized the hazards, assisted in stabilizing damaged structures, provided daily status reports, provided repair details, and led the daily briefing meetings between staff and contractors. The overall goal of the recovery effort was to reopen the school safely and promptly. Two weeks after the storm, the campus reopened, and students returned. Various repairs were coordinated and continued up to one year after the storm. This event was both incredibly challenging and professionally rewarding. RLG: How did you get started with projects that required forensics (or strengthening and repair, etc.)? DC: Over the years, RLG has done many renovations and additions on various building types. In addition, my engineering experience has dealt with field construction issues which have served us well in determining and assessing those structural issues. RLG: Can you elaborate on the services offered by the RLG Forensics department? DC: Typically, our process starts with a forensics assessment and may lead to additional structural services like strengthening and repairing the existing structure. Our clients requesting these forensics services range from hospitals to retail to schools to buyers/sellers of commercial properties. Forensic assessments start with visual observations of a given situation and then photos. This may lead to a floor elevation survey and additional measurements. If construction documents are available, then those documents will be reviewed and provide further insight into the original design or how the components were detailed. We will write reports based on our engineering insight. The end product of these assessments may conclude that there are minimal structural concerns, that additional evaluations are to be

HEADQUARTERS: Dallas, TX NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 71 YEAR FOUNDED: 1953 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ■ ■ Dallas, TX ■ ■ Fort Worth, TX ■ ■ Peoria, IL SERVICES: ■ ■ Civil engineering ■ ■ Structural engineering ■ ■ Forensics/repair/ strengthening ■ ■ Surveying PROJECTS: ■ ■ Civil

■ ■ Structural ■ ■ Surveying ■ ■ Forensics ■ ■ Data center ■ ■ Education ■ ■ Healthcare ■ ■ High-rise ■ ■ Hospitality ■ ■ Library ■ ■ Multifamily

■ ■ Offices ■ ■ Parking ■ ■ Retail ■ ■ Senior living ■ ■ Sports facilities


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

PRIL 11, 2022, ISSUE 1436


ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB PROMOTES RENÉ SANCHEZ TO STUDIO MANAGER, ARCHITECTURE INMEXICOCITYOFFICE Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, announced René Sanchez has been promoted to studio manager, architecture in the firm’s Mexico City office. In this role, Sanchez will help lead the growth and management of the architecture studio for the Mexico City office and manage select projects. “Since joining our team, René has been instrumental in our continued growth in the Mexico City market,” said Andres Galvis, regional director, Latin America forWare Malcomb. “We congratulate him

on this significant promotion and look forward to his continued contributions for many years to come.” Sanchez joined Ware Malcomb’s Production Studio in 2013 to help lay the foundation forwhat is now the company’s largest resource group. Ware Malcomb’s in-house production studio provides a unique and innovative approach to the production of contract documents as part of the firm’s project delivery system. Transfering to the architecture studio in 2018, René has taken on the leadership of all of the Mexico City office’s developer accounts, generated new business, and built a strong culture of collaboration and learning. He has in-depth experience

in various project types including industrial, manufacturing, corporate headquarters, retail, office and residential projects. Sanchez holds a License in Architecture from Univesidad Autonoma de Baja California. 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. Ware Malcomb is recognized as a Hot Firm by Zweig Group.

industry will likely provide the spark. Then, those technologies will be reapplied to construction. This could lead to significant advances in productivity and improve the quality and speed of construction. RLG: How has RLG grown in those 24 years that you have been with them? DC: As stated before, the methods of communication and technology have changed, but it ultimately remains serving our clients and looking out for their best interests. RLG: Can you elaborate on this? Are entry-level employees more talented right out of school than they used to be? DC: The entry-level employees are very talented, comfortable, and schooled with technology and modeling. Still, this comfort can lead to a lack of understanding of the assumptions and limitations of any given software. Also, as the technology and models become more complex, essential troubleshooting skills are more necessary. RLG: What advice would you give someone who is about to graduate? DC: College graduation is just the start, and there is a lot to learn about engineering, the construction industry, and your client needs. Challenge yourself daily to refine and grow your engineering talents. Licensed engineers are trusted with public safety, so clarity in thought and ethical conduct is essential. Proactively face challenges and be a positive influence on those around you. RLG: Tell us about the strengthening and repair presentation you have given. DC: This seminar provides architects and contractors with a working knowledge of what options are available for repairing structures. Repair options are discussed with a list of pros and cons for each method. The seminar has been presented more than 30 times and continues to be very well received. Each seminar is adjusted to include notable recent events to keep it current.


conducted now or in the future, or that immediate remedial action is required. RLG: What is the biggest challenge faced by the forensics department? DC: The biggest challenge is that we have a wide range of clients combined with a broad range of structural issues. A common challenge is helping the client define the problems so that a focused proposal and solutions can best meet the client’s needs. “Challenge yourself daily to refine and grow your engineering talents. Licensed engineers are trusted with public safety, so clarity in thought and ethical conduct is essential. Proactively face challenges and be a positive influence on those around you.” RLG: How do you think the AEC industry will evolve in the next five years? Ten years? DC: The construction industry requires a significant amount of labor. Likely, the labor shortage will continue, bringing innovative technologies to bear. The technologies could allow skilled laborers to do more work and unskilled laborers to develop skills. For example, drones/robots may add or replace highly repetitive tasks. Some changes take years to take root, but the most significant changes can occur with just a tiny spark. Those sparks will likely come from outside of the construction industry. RLG: What industries are leading this “spark” or change? DC: Due to the high cost of research and development, the automobile industry, military industry, or even the fast-food

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Lawyers and in-house counsel can be strategic partners for AEC firms when consulted at the right junctures. Leveraging in-house legal counsel

L awyers aren’t always leveraged correctly in the AEC industry. According to Amber Hardwick, in-house general counsel and corporate secretary for OAC Services, Inc., “Lawyers and in-house counsel can be strategic partners when consulted at the right junctures.” Hardwick is one of Washington State’s notable construction attorneys, having chaired Washington Bar’s Construction Law Section in 2019-2020. She has remained active in the construction law community and spent 10 years as a litigation and transactional attorney, representing architects, engineers, and construction professionals.

Callum Roxborough

There is a misconception that lawyers should only be involved in “legal” matters. What constitutes “legal” matters is subject to interpretation and, unfortunately, sometimes legal consultation is initiated too late to avoid conflict. AEC professionals often approach challenges without consulting their trusted legal advisors on the misguided basis that an issue “hasn’t reached the level” requiring legal input or in the interest of saving on costs. This approach risks losing focus on the big picture. Hardwick says, “Lawyers are trained in critical thinking. Critical thinking is driven by questions, not by answers. This means that lawyers, if leveraged at the right time, can prompt project teams to ask the

right questions to entirely avoid or mitigate claims and disputes.” Here are the top advantages to clients and firms utilizing in-house counsel: ■ ■ Providing clients with a competitive edge. Firms with in-house legal departments have an edge. “The main difference between in-house and outside counsel is that outside counsel looks at specific questions or items, providing targeted responses, without necessarily ever seeing the big picture,” Hardwick says. “When you have in-house counsel, that legal expertise




counsel play a pivotal role in navigating. The unique role contracts play in managing the risks of the AEC industry was recognized byWashington’s Supreme Court case of Berschauer/Phillips Constr. Co. v. Seattle School District. No. 1, 124 Wn.2d 816, 826-827 (1994): “The fees charged by architects, engineers, contractors, developers, vendors, and so on are founded on their expected liability exposure as bargained and provided for in the contract.” The AEC industry is necessarily high risk. On every construction project a group of loosely associated AEC companies work collaboratively without direct contract relationships. Whether maximizing for insurance coverage, limiting liabilities, or anticipating changed conditions, construction contracts are ubiquitous in the AEC industry. In-house counsel is critical to ensuring the company goes in with “eyes wide open.” Hardwick regularly engages with company leadership about the feasibility, challenges, and negotiation possibilities of clauses, stating: “As general counsel, my role is to ensure the company takes on only that amount of risk it absolutely must in order to secure the contract.” Whether in-house counsel directly negotiates contract changes or supports the project team, the goal is to get to “yes.” This highlights another difference between in-house and outside counsel: In-house counsel is closer to the teams performing the contracts and better able to make recommendations which outside counsel might find too risky. ■ ■ Saving time and money. In-house counsel can also save companies and clients time and money. There is a time commitment associated with getting outside legal counsel up to speed – time that costs money. While in-house counsel might have expertise in some areas, Hardwick opines that “knowing when to bring in outside counsel, triaging issues before we meet with them, and speaking the same language all help toward minimizing fees spent on outside legal consulting.” In fact, bringing in outside legal counsel only when necessary is an important business strategy, given the rising cost of legal services. As AEC companies continue to bring legal counsel in- house, involving them in board and shareholder meetings, leadership decisions, and contract negotiations, is key to minimizing costs. Having legal perspectives that are integrated into the business decisions of a company, means that better decisions are made, and risk and prevention are taken into consideration along with overall legal issues for the benefit of the client and the firm. “Large project management firms, as they scale- up, will need to have a legal department integrated into the company,” Hardwick says. “My primary function at OAC is to set the company up for successful growth. I want to ensure that the scaling-up of their business, project ventures, and client support is done in a risk-controlled manner and helps to identify any roadblocks that need to be avoided. Letting AEC experts be experts in their field, while I focus on risk assessment and expertise in my area, means that they have their minds focused on the needs of the client.” Callum Roxborough is a marketing specialist with OAC Services Inc. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


is more holistically leveraged by someone with insight into many parts of the company.” By bringing a top-notch construction lawyer like Hardwick in-house, OAC gave its project teams the edge of having that critical thinking at their fingertips. In fact, once monthly, Hardwick leads OAC project managers in a meeting dedicated to risk management best practices, analyzing hypothetical challenges and issues that commonly occur in the construction setting – a net benefit for their clients who are looking to OAC to provide detailed risk assessment at key parts of a contract and project, thus minimizing the number of claims and conflicts experienced later. Indeed, the crucial role of in-house legal counsel becomes more evident when examining organizational structures of leading AEC companies. More and more AEC leadership teams feature general counsel as key members of the team. The industry has begun recognizing that integration and collaboration of the legal team is essential for better company performance and better client results. “Having legal perspectives that are integrated into the business decisions of a company, means that better decisions are made, and risk and prevention are taken into consideration along with overall legal issues for the benefit of the client and the firm.” ■ ■ Conflict avoidance. The reasoned and considered guidance of experienced legal counsel is a differentiator when it comes to providing strategies to avoid conflict and to bolster relationships through clear and defined communication. The difference between project litigation and delay, or conflict resolution and avoidance often depend on when the parties consult their lawyers. Normalizing hard conversations is a net positive for maintaining healthy client relationships. For example, Hardwick described how, in the early part of the COVID-19 outbreak, many owners wanted construction to continue for their project sites without adjusting the schedule or the project cost. “We found that taking a proactive approach and engaging clients in online seminars about issues like force majeure clauses, [a term of art, commonly used to reference ‘an act of God’ or something beyond either party’s control] and compensable delays.” OAC project teams, Hardwick contends, ultimately came better prepared to advise owners about means for minimizing remobilization costs, managing schedule challenges, and forestalling large impact claims. In short, OAC was a case study for how an AEC company can leverage its in-house counsel to mitigate risk and possible conflicts for the benefit of all parties to the project. ■ ■ Supporting contracts and negotiation. Construction contracting carries unique risks which in-house legal

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




I n any professional sports team, recruiting is a really big deal. Teams are made or broken based on how effective they are at recruiting the best raw talent and experienced players alike. Both are critical to their short- and long-range success. Just like any professional sports team, your firm is made or broken based on how effective you are at recruiting talent. Get more aggressive with your recruiting

Firms in our business are in much the same situation, except our “season” never ends! When it comes down to it, what AEC firms really do is assemble teams and then market the talents of those individual and collective team members to their clients. Those teams perform the work that the client wants or needs done – either successfully or not so well. That’s it! So recruiting is a really big deal and a function that has to be done well. Here are some things you can do that I have found actually work when it comes to recruiting: 1. Save every single resume and application that ever comes into your firm indefinitely. Get all of these into a searchable database. If you have any firm of 50 people or more and you do this over a period of years, you will eventually have information on thousands of people you may want to hire at some point. Just because you

passed the first time doesn’t mean they won’t be someone you’d want to hire after they just got four more years of experience working for a competitor, or someone you’d want to hire for a completely different role or location than what you were looking for when they first contacted you. Go back to them. Update your information. See if they would be willing to talk to you now. I could fill as many as 50 percent of job openings an individual firm may have through a database like this if it was built over a multi-year period. 2. Find out who is in the role you need filled at one of your competitors. Call them directly and tell them you would like to get to know them better. Suggest a lunch or coffee meeting. Stroke their egos. Tell them you want to “compare notes” on what is happening in the marketplace. Ease them into the idea of a job change slowly. And if they

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE BALFOUR BEATTY PROMOTES LESLEE MALLINSON TO SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT Balfour Beatty announced the promotion of Leslee Mallinson to senior vice president of Brand and Communications for the company’s national operations. In her role, Mallinson serves on the company’s executive leadership team and leads the delivery of strategic communications counsel and brand management across the Balfour Beatty’s U.S. Buildings and Civils businesses. Mallinson joined Balfour Beatty in 2000 and has been an instrumental member of the company’s executive leadership team for the last eight years. As an experienced and passionate communications advisor, she manages and oversees the company’s internal and external communications activities including employee communications, media and public relations, crisis and issuemanagement, socialmedia, national marketing and brand management. Additionally, Mallinson works closely

with Balfour Beatty’s Operational, Marketing and Shared Services teams where she directs effective and impactful communications to the company’s many stakeholders with the goal of fostering authentic connections. Her most recent accomplishments include working to create a shared services communications model to support the company’s Buildings, Civils and Investments businesses, championing Balfour Beatty’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, advancing the tools and technologies to communicate effectively among many more important initiatives. “We are pleased to announce Leslee’s promotion to senior vice president of Brand and Communications at Balfour Beatty,” said Eric Stenman, president of Balfour Beatty U.S. “Leslee is an esteemed partner on the executive leadership team who holds the bar high for us to not only focus on our overall business strategy, but our most valuable asset – our people. She is the epitome of a Relentless Ally in our

business, and it is an honor to witness her leadership and passion for shepherding an authentic brand voice, promoting innovative solutions and advocating for our employees.” Mallinson is a graduate of Austin College and Southern Methodist University and is an active volunteer in the Dallas community in which Balfour Beatty helped build. Balfour Beatty is an industry-leading provider of general contracting, at-risk construction management and design- build services for public and private sector clients across the United States. Performing heavy civil and vertical construction, the company is part of Balfour Beatty plc, a leading international infrastructure group that provides innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. Balfour Beatty is ranked among the top domestic building contractors in the United States by Engineering News- Record.

4. Involve your CEO in the effort. You may think it doesn’t make any difference, but believe me, it does. If the top person in a recognized firm shows interest in hiring someone, that person will be much more willing to talk in the first place – and, if the CEO creates a positive impression, more likely to take the job should an offer eventually be made. Use this resource! Putting the right people on your “team” is super important. Act like it is. And while I am on this subject, use your top technical and design staffers more as the first contact with your potential hires as opposed to someone in your HR department who has been with you for a year or two. People are much more likely to go to the next step if someone they would actually work for and with shows an interest in them. 5. Promote the unique aspects of working at your firm. Are you totally flexible on where and when your line professionals work? That’s a huge deal if so. Are you an open-book company that shares all of its financials? Not every company is. Do you sell stock to key people or are you an ESOP company? Talk about it. Do you have any unusual benefits? Share them and promote them. Stop acting like the whole universe of potential job candidates already knows this stuff. They don’t. As I regularly find myself saying to our readers, past and present clients, and friends, there is ALWAYS something you can do. You don’t need a big plan. You need action. Meet and talk less about what you COULD do, and instead just start doing it! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

turn down your invitation, don’t just give up. Try again at a later date. So much of recruiting is about timing. Just because someone won’t consider making a move today doesn’t mean they won’t want to six months from now or two years from now. Persistence wins the race. “There is always something you can do. You don’t need a big plan. You need action. Meet and talk less about what you could do, and instead just start doing it!” 3. Get your marketing people to help you. Do you have a video where actual employees are interviewed giving testimonials on what a great place your firm is to work for? If not, you need one. Do you sprinkle quotes from those people on the recruitment section of your website? If not you need to. Do you even have a recruitment section on your website that is more than a list of job openings? If not, you need one. Do you ever send out recruitment emails to a database of potential candidates – one that you put together through state professional registration lists, rented magazine subscriber lists, or other lists you assembled in-house? If not, you should. Do you ever send out any press releases to the media about what a cool company you are to work for? If not, you had better start. These things all take the help of your marketing department. Involve them.

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