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Years of experience

If you don’t have a social media and online marketing strategy for your AEC firm, now is the time to get started. Social media in 2020

Zweig Group’s Mid-Year Update 2020 Salary Report of AEC Firms shows typical year ranges of experience for more than 100 job titles within the industry. The chart above shows the typical career progression for architects by level in firms. Architect interns jump to junior level after three or four years, then to intermediate level after six to eight years, and finally to senior level staff after 15 or more years in the industry. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

S ocial media has come up as a hot topic again recently, and it’s as polarizing as the election. Almost all AEC firms (98 percent) are using social media in some way. Since the pandemic started, we’re spending more time on social media than ever before, yet most AEC firms still aren’t convinced it’s an effective way to market, and many are still questioning their ROI. Here are the top issues I’m seeing: 1)Absolutely no strategy. If you’re using social media for marketing or BD, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every firm needs a unique strategy tailored to their brand, goals, and even each individual channel. Each one of these social media channels is developing and changing rapidly – so be ready to adjust quickly and often to take advantage of new features and algorithms. 2)There’s a disconnect between the social media strategy (if there is one) and what is being posted, and how this content is received by the intended viewer. For most AEC firms, the intended audience is similar to those individuals in the firm. If you don’t know who your desired clients are and who the decision makers are, it’s your No. 1 problem! Regardless, it’s still a human being who will view your post. If your message seems fake, phony, contrived, or robotic, it’s going to be perceived as these things. Is that really the message of your brand? Many firms are not thinking about what they truly want to accomplish with the messages they are sending out and also struggling with authenticity. 3)Social media is for being social. Zweig Group research shows that AEC industry firms are not re-sharing, commenting, or encouraging interaction on LinkedIn (42 percent), Twitter (54 percent), Facebook (52 percent), or Instagram (64 percent). None of these channels are a pegboard for announcements. If you’re just looking to post a weekly update on newsworthy headlines coming out of your firm, learn to write a good press release (here’s an article on that) and send it out to contacts who work for publications. Participating in and starting conversations is integral to effectively marketing on social media. 4)Social media channels are not all the same. Every channel deserves its own strategy, unique content, and specialized methods of interacting. Instagram is for beautiful photos – but it also has “stories,” a polling feature, and the ability to create highlighted collections of similar images – all of these should be used. Facebook and LinkedIn have highly interactive groups where people discuss everything from diversity and inclusion, to bridge building techniques, to engineering projects at a public park. Join these groups and participate in these conversations – this is the biggest source of immediate leads on social media. 5)Pressure! I recently moderated a roundtable and some of the

Christina Zweig Niehues

F I R M I N D E X Payette. ..................................................6

R.E. Warner & Associates, Inc...............12




Ware Malcomb..................................8, 10

MO R E A R T I C L E S xz GREG KANZ & SARIKA BHAKTA: Diversity drives innovation Page 3 xz Design excellence: Kevin Sullivan Page 6 xz MARK ZWEIG: Where are all the entrepreneurs? Page 9 xz SANDI MATGOURANIS: Remote work lessons learned Page 11




BUSINESS NEWS NEW TANGRAM CONSTRUCTION TRADES DIVISION CONSOLIDATESAND EXPANDS SERVICESTO PROVIDE ONE-STOP SUBCONTRACTING SUPPORT Tangram , a curator of highly creative commercial interior environments and workspaces, has announced an evolution and expansion of its construction services capabilities under the banner of Tangram Construction Trades. The TCT team brings more than 25 years of construction expertise in the specification, installation and ongoing care of several trades within the corporate, hospitality, education and entertainment markets. Founded in 2002 as Tangram Flooring, it has organically developed over the years into what could be viewed as a super-subcontractor. The group has grown substantially from providing flooring solutions to now offering subcontracting support. As its service offerings expanded to meet industry needs, the team was rebranded as Tangram Construction Trades to more accurately represent those capabilities. The unit also now includes Tangram Workplace Sanitization as a dedicated maintenance program available on a quarterly and annual basis. This three-tiered program is designed to address each facility’s unique characteristics and operational complexities while minimizing impact on occupants. Additionally, Tangram recently formed partnerships with Falkbuilt and Wytcote Technologies to provide an advanced, long- term solution for building entry and symptom checking. By combining digital construction with a

touchless temperature and check-in system, Tangram can create custom-skinned kiosks and wellness stations that are scalable from one to many. “Our goal is to make subcontracting easier and less stressful by consolidating multiple construction services under one roof. This integrated approach offers multiple benefits across the overall project and supports our commitment to delivering results on time and within budget,” said Dave Teper, TCT general manager. Tangram Construction Trades services include consultation, estimating, pre-installation, delivery and build, and close-out and review in the following areas: Concrete, masonry, wood and plastics, thermal and moisture protection, doors and windows, finishes, specialties, furnishings, special construction, and electrical. Tangram is a flagship dealer for Steelcase, Inc., and the leading commercial interior solutions provider in Southern California with offices in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, and Fresno counties. Tangram has nurtured a collaborative and people-focused culture in the belief that people fuel innovation. That culture has led to the organic growth of multiple business units complementing the firm’s core contract furniture offering: custom furniture, ancillary furniture, flooring and light construction, audio- visual integration, architectural walls, on-site furniture reconditioning, asset management and storage, delivery and installation, and corporate moves.

Driving Financial Results Webinar


Solid financial management is crucial to the success of any company, and firms in the AEC industry are no exception. This short course provides an overview of business financial management – specifically tailored to our industry – to help firm leaders make informed decisions that drive results.


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CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES, from page 1 participants talked about the pressure to post and put things on social media, even though they weren’t sure they were effective. This goes back to point No. 1 and also the most important part of social media, authenticity! Just because every other AEC firm posts work anniversaries on Facebook doesn’t mean you need to. Stick to a strategy with defined, reasonable goals, don’t just do what you think everyone else is doing. 6)Terrible mug-shot like new hire posts. Yes, this one deserves its own bullet point because it’s so commonly done and they are so bad. Don’t post employee mugshots! Don’t post unflattering pictures of any person or project/building/job site; they do more damage than good. Social media can be used to effectively market, and it’s here to stay. A recent McKinsey and Company survey shockingly found that only 20 percent of B2B buyers want to interact with sales reps in person, even post COVID-19. If you don’t have a social media and online marketing strategy for your AEC firm, now is the time to get started. CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES is director of marketing and media at Zweig Group. Contact her at

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

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

Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year) $250 for one-year print subscription; free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2020, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES FEATURED IN SMPS’S MARKETER Christy’s article “Talent Numbers in the AEC Industries” was featured in the October 2020 issue of Marketer , SMPS’s bimonthly journal which reports on current business development and marketing practices, issues, and trends. Click here to see the full October issue of Marketer .

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Diversity drives innovation

T hinking ahead to 2021 and beyond, how will your strategic plan drive innovation? Is it a technology investment? Will you add new services to differentiate your firm? How will you unlock the potential of your people? In an increasingly global marketplace, equity, diversity, inclusion, and engagement strategies will be integral to the success of your organization for the foreseeable future.

As an industry that solves problems, people remain the most important driver of innovation. For your upcoming strategic planning, what people-focused investments are you most excited about? What do you think will create long-term business value? In an increasingly global marketplace, equity, diversity, inclusion, and engagement (EDI&E) strategies will be integral to the success of your organization for the foreseeable future. Key drivers of diversity are globalization, technology, competition and changing demographics impacting your workforce and marketplace. UNPACKING THE TERMS. Sarika Bhakta of Nikeya Diversity Consulting says the business case for EDI&E is compelling due to existing research. “Organizations that leverage diversity as an asset with equity, inclusion, and engagement initiatives can foster agile workplace cultures to drive

more innovation,” Bhakta says. “When EDI&E is embedded in your firm’s culture diverse teams are more innovative – stronger at anticipating shifts in client and market needs to adapt, survive, and thrive when faced with industry disruptors.” Diversity is multi-dimensional – racial/ethnic, gender identity, perspectives, leadership styles, sexual orientation, geography, and more. Equity is “what we have access to – systems, institutions, processes, and procedures that create fair and just opportunities for all leading to equal outcomes,” Bhakta says. “Inclusion is what we do. Are we inviting people to the table, letting their voices be heard, involving them in the process?” Simply including others does not necessarily mean they are engaged. We must be cognizant of how a person is feeling – a sense of belonging, feeling valued, making a difference.

Greg Kanz

Sarika Bhakta




ON THE MOVE JAY GAUDLITZ JOINS STANTEC TO LEAD AND GROW FEDERAL PROGRAMS ACROSS CALIFORNIA, HAWAII, AND THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION Jay Gaudlitz, PG, PMP, CCM, joined Stantec – a global AEC firm – as senior principal leading the federal program across California, Hawaii, and the Asia Pacific region. Gaudlitz will work from Stantec’s Honolulu office to provide regional leadership and support for critical Federal programs, while strengthening the firm’s relationships with federal clients. Gaudlitz has decades of experience as a results-oriented team builder with proven success winning and delivering projects and programs in the military construction, environmental, major capital improvements, civil works, and oil and gas market sectors in the U.S., Asia Pacific, and Middle East. This hire – along with the recent additions of Michelle French and Tony Pregel – enhances Stantec’s core U.S. federal team with a deep knowledge of the federal market while supporting unprecedented growth.

Throughout his 30-plus year career, Gaudlitz has helped win and successfully deliver hundreds of consulting, design, and construction contracts through strong client relationships built on trust and respect with U.S. government clients. Prior tohis roleat Stantec, he servedasprogram director for $2 billion of new construction at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia; assistant program manager, Vertical Facilities, for the $11 billion relocation program of U.S. Force Korea in the Republic of Korea; and Federal Sales and Operations manager – delivering environmental, design, and construction services – to the U.S. Department of Defense in the Asia Pacific Region for a global engineering firm. “Jay brings an impressive skill set and deep knowledge of the federal market to our growing U.S. team,” said Chris Williams, senior vice president for Stantec’s U.S. federal program. “His extensive local experience on the Islands, coupled with his track record of proven

success delivering large scale, complex federal programs globally will be a huge asset to our team. I’m thrilled to welcome him to Stantec as we look to deepen our strong relationships with federal clients across California, Hawaii, and the Asia Pacific region.” Gaudlitz graduated from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, with a bachelor’s degree in geology before continuing his executive management training at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Stantec always designs with community in mind. The firm cares about the communities it serves. This allows Stantec to assess what’s needed and connect expertise, to appreciate nuances and envision what’s never been considered, to bring together diverse perspectives so the firm can collaborate toward a shared success. At Stantec, sesigners, engineers, scientists, and project managers innovate together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships.


the hour-long service compared to the three-hour Baptist experience.) This is an experience that changed our own perspective and understanding of what worship could be. Shive-Hattery experienced the benefits of varied voices with a Future Trends Taskforce. This diverse team of employees of varying ages, professional backgrounds, and perspectives consider big questions about the future. Through research and dialog, this group offered a fresh perspective for ways forward, especially in terms of design technology and innovation. MAKING IT STRATEGIC. For your organization’s journey, an EDI&E strategic plan is a crucial roadmap which proactively and intentionally guides you to truly drive innovation. First, conduct an EDI&E cultural assessment which helps to diagnose where your organization currently stands. This will dictate what initiatives must be prioritized in your strategic plan while establishing a baseline to gauge and monitor progress moving forward. Secondly, ensure your EDI&E strategic plan is tied to your organization’s overarching strategic plan. This will reflect leadership’s commitment in making this a priority while ensuring it gets the support, funding, and resources to successfully embed it organization-wide. Lastly, apply EDI&E to business metrics. This is essential to building a high performing organization. Make the business case for your initiatives by measuring continuous cultural change with regular employee engagement feedback, accountability of performance, and impact on quality and the client experience. Stories are the best evidence of progress. Be sure to share yours. GREG KANZ is marketing director for Shive-Hattery, a 425-person architecture and engineering firm. SARIKA BHAKTA is president of Nikeya Diversity Consulting LLC. Contact them at gregkanz@shive- and

ACQUIRED DIVERSITY. There are a myriad of ways to make equity, diversity, inclusion, and engagement intentional. Where do you start? Take a step back and understand this is a journey with no end point. Bhakta says you, as an individual, are on a journey, along with your organization and your community. “This takes time, but with strategic intent you can create culture change for your organization and community,” she says. “For your organization’s journey, an equity, diversity, inclusion, and engagement strategic plan is a crucial roadmap which proactively and intentionally guides you to truly drive innovation.” One of the most interesting concepts shared in Nikeya Diversity Consulting training is acquired diversity. Beyond inherent diversity – like age, nationality, and race – there is an opportunity to “acquire diversity,” traits gained from experience and exposure to differences to enhance cultural competency. Examples include working with an overseas team, a millennial volunteering at a senior citizens center, or engaging in a robust religious study for a different faith than yours. My favorite experience with enhancing cultural competency was taking a First Presbyterian youth group to a Mount Zion Baptist Church service. The “Frozen Chosen” as we are sometimes known for our somewhat reserved nature, loved the emotional worship experience with its full gospel band and rousing sermon. (The kids still prefer

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




November 9th. This session will serve as an overview of current rules and legislation governing the Federal Re- search and Development (R&D) tax credit, how it applies to the A\E\C industries. Learn 4 common mistakes business leaders, and their trusted financial advisors, make when evaluating the merits and alignment of this incentive with- in the design industry! If you are curious to find other avenues of reducing over- head rates (specifically direct labor expenses), increasing cash flow, increasing profit-To- Earnings Ratios, permanent tax savings, reduction in effective tax rates, and an alterna- tive source of cash to fund growth in technical-based jobs, this will be the most valuable session of our Summit experi- ence this week. Watch this session for free.




November 10th. An ESOP, or employee stock ownership plan, provides a tax-advantaged solution that can meet a company’s needs in a variety of situations. ESOPs can be used to generate shareholder liquidity, create a market for the shares of a close- ly held company, increase employees’ productivity by making them beneficial owners, and support a tax-advantageous exit strategy for departing shareholder(s). Ed Renenger, President and CEO of SES ESOP Strategies, will provide an introduction to ESOPs and review the benefits, risks and process involved in establishing employee ownership in your firm. Watch this session for free.




QUESTIONS? For group discounts or if you have any questions, contact Olivia Thomas at 479-713-0429, or visit

Everything we do is in pursuit of elevating the AEC industry, bringing awareness of the incredible impact that engineers, architects, environmental professionals, surveyors, planners, landscape architects and related professional service providers have on the world. Empowering organiza- tions 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.




Design excellence: Kevin Sullivan President and CEO of Payette (Boston, MA), a firm that values the close relationships it builds with its collaborators on the journey from design to reality.


S ullivan joined Payette in 1987, became a partner in 1998, and president in 2014. He provides strategic direction, vision, and intellectual design leadership. His body of work includes seminal healthcare, science, and campus planning projects which have been consistently recognized nationally for their attention to detail, social geometry, and integration of the landscape into transformative spaces. “I think it is extremely important to focus on developing staff with leadership potential, especially individuals who are stronger and more talented than you are,” Sullivan says. “This makes it obvious when it is time to promote someone; you have to do it and if the firm has to change to allow it to happen, the firm changes. You have no other choice.” A CONVERSATION WITH KEVIN SULLIVAN. The Zweig Letter: You’ve been with Payette for more than 30 years. What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen during this time?

Kevin Sullivan: Design excellence. While we have always been a design-focused firm, we have consistently continued to raise the bar on design excellence in our practice. Thirty years ago, our firm was a strong regional firm. Now we are a national firm with a high visibility design practice working on high-profile projects around the world. We are also now the most highly-awarded firm in New England for design excellence over the past 15 years. TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? KS: We’ve been working remotely since March 13 and plan on continuing to do so at least until the end of June. After this time and as we return to the office, working in the office will not be a requirement, especially with so many of our staff taking mass transit to work and with so many young families needing to stay home due to school, camp, and day care issues. We felt that we needed to be flexible, assist in keeping our staff healthy, and use the office more as a resource, rather than as a workplace in the foreseeable



TZL: #PayetteForward. When did this hashtag come about? How is it used in marketing? What does it mean to your firm? How are you paying it forward? KS: #PayetteForward reflects our attitude and a culture that is driven to advance and innovate continuously. Our blog reflects this attitude. The hashtag came about as we rebranded our website, worked on our AIA Architecture Firm Award Submission, and also worked on our new book, Fusion: The Performance of Architecture , which is being published by Monacelli. #PayetteForward has become part of our identity and it always makes people ask this question, which is a good thing. “We believe that diversity is essential to innovation and that a great idea can come from anyone at any time. It is part of our secret sauce.” 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? KS: Yes, our client base are academic medical centers and academic science for colleges and universities. Because of this, we are continuously exposed to the latest technology and talent in the innovation economy. We have several staff who teach at architecture schools and we also feel that because we are a single-office practice based in Boston, which is a hotbed for both research and academia, this gives us access to the best and brightest minds. TZL: How do you handle a long-term principal who is resting on his or her laurels? What effect does a low performing, entitled principal or department head have on firm morale? KS: We are very, very patient. I do not think any of our principals, past or present, have rested on their laurels. From time to time, some of our principals have underperformed expectations and when the situation does not improve over time, it is addressed, but with much discussion and dialogue over time. The bigger issue is when it becomes obvious that a person in a leadership position is not a cultural fit and is no longer respected as a leader; this is the most disruptive for morale. See DESIGN EXCELLENCE, page 8

future due to COVID-19. After COVID-19, I fully expect that many more people will choose to work from home with much more frequency, and that will be fine with us. TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? KS: We can usually predict our workload and cashflow out at least six months, any longer than that, then the margin for error is quite high. TZL: How has COVID affected your business on a daily basis? KS: Thankfully, not as much as I had feared when we first started working remotely in March. Initially, I was very concerned about our cash flow and projects stopping. Fortunately, this has not been as big an issue as it could have been, and we have been very productive working remotely; however, not all of our staff roles work in a remote setting. I am now more concerned about what it is going to be like in the next few months. With so many of our clients in the academic and healthcare fields, if the major universities and hospitals continue to be significantly affected it is bound to affect us, particularly new opportunities going forward. Typically, 20 percent of the annual net revenue that runs through the firm each year is revenue that is awarded in the same calendar year. I think that we may need to be more conservative as we budget looking toward 2021 if the fall shows signs of slowing down. 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. KS: Over the past four years we have grown the scale of our partnership by 50 percent to assure adequate overlap during future leadership transitions. New principals do not mature overnight, so you need three to five years of ramp up. This was something that we planned over time with a lot of discussion with our tenured staff. Our tenured staff is highly compensated, and many are compensated at a principal level. The most important thing is that they feel that they have influence, are valued, and get to work on interesting projects and build teams. As a testament to this approach, 81 percent of our titled staff have been with the firm for more than 10 years.

HEADQUARTERS: Boston, MA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 177 YEAR FOUNDED: 1932 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 1 SERVICES: ❚ ❚ Architecture ❚ ❚ Landscape architecture ❚ ❚ Interior design ❚ ❚ Building science ❚ ❚ Space strategies ❚ ❚ Design visualization ❚ ❚ Fabrication ❚ ❚ Computation ❚ ❚ Research MARKETS: ❚ ❚ Academic science ❚ ❚ Research ❚ ❚ Healthcare MOST RECENT AWARD: AIA 2019

Architecture Firm Award NUMBER OF PARTNERS: 15

SUSTAINABILITY FACTS: 66 percent of waste materials are composted or recycled; 49 percent reduction in electricity use compared to previous office space; and 81 percent of staff walks, bikes, or takes public transportation to work.

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

EMBER 9, 2020, ISSUE 1367


ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES RAMZAH KHAN HAS JOINED AS STUDIO MANAGER IN DC OFFICE Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced Ramzah Khan has joined the Washington, D.C. office as Studio Manager, Interior Architecture & Design. In this role, she oversees the Interior Architecture & Design Studio for the Washington, D.C. office and manages select projects. “We are very excited to have Ramzah join our team in Washington, D.C.,” said Michael Christensen, Regional Director of Ware Malcomb’s Washington, D.C. office. “Her experience in both corporate interiors and commercial real estate will help strengthen Ware Malcomb’s ever-growing presence in the D.C. metro area and expand our reach in the market. We look forward to her contributions in the years ahead.”

Ramzah’s experience working in commercial and residential design includes a variety of project types such as corporate office, law firm, multifamily, nonprofit, associations and tech. In addition to her experience with project design and management, Ramzah also brings urban planning experience to the team. Ramzah earned a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and a master’s degree in interior design from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She holds the LEED Green Associate Accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council and has been involved in numerous industry organizations, including IIDA, CoreNet Global, USGBC, Commercial Real Estate Women, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate

Development Association and CREBA, and in prior leadership roles at the American Society of Interior Designers Chapter. 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 a Hot Firm by Zweig Group.


KS: Most individuals who are promoted to principal at Payette are promoted based on potential rather than their portfolio of clients. Design talent, marketing savvy, and business acumen are all part of the equation. There is no magic age, but I would say typically people are promoted on average in their mid- to late-40s. TZL: Payette received the 2019 AIA Architecture Firm Award. Please tell me a little about the project that provided you with this honor. KS: This is an award that recognizes design excellence and contributions to the profession over a 10-year period. We were honored with the award for our innovative approach to design, the FUSION of Design and Performance. The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex at Northeastern University is the embodiment of this concept and was featured in our submission. It is an iconic building defined by its organically shaped solar veil and a cutting-edge culture for science within. It also received a 2019 AIA COTE Top 10 Award as one of the top 10 most sustainable projects in the world, along with the Harleston Parker Medal, awarded to the most beautiful building in Boston. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? KS: We have been talking about diversity for a long time and measuring our progress across the practice in terms of our leadership, design staff, new hires, within our typologies and firm-wide. We are 177 people that hail from 32 different countries, 22 states, and we work in 20 different countries. Currently we are 45 percent women/55 percent men and 28 percent of our staff are minorities. We are extremely proud of our progress and we have become a very different firm from the one that I joined more than 30 years ago. We believe that diversity is essential to innovation and that a great idea can come from anyone at any time. It is part of our secret sauce, at least that is the part that I can share with you.

TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What is the biggest pitfall to avoid? KS: I think it is extremely important to focus on developing staff with leadership potential, especially individuals who are stronger and more talented than you are. This makes it obvious when it is time to promote someone; you have to do it and if the firm has to change to allow it to happen, the firm changes. You have no other choice. The biggest pitfall is waiting too long or waiting for the perfect moment in the economy. I feel often younger principals grow exponentially when they are promoted, and the firm benefits tremendously from their growth. “While we have always been a design- focused firm, we have consistently continued to raise the bar on design excellence in our practice. Thirty years ago, our firm was a strong regional firm. Now we are a national firm with a high visibility design practice working on high-profile projects around the world.” TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? KS: A former mentor once told me, “Every crisis is an opportunity. Whenever you are in one of the most difficult moments of a project, don’t run away from it, dive into it. Real client loyalty comes from pulling through difficult moments together.” I always remember this advice during difficult moments and it is always true. TZL: How many years of experience – or large enough book of business – is enough to become a principal in your firm? Are you naming principals in their 20s or 30s?

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Entrepreneurs and small business owners have fundamentally different views on the opportunity each has in front of them. Where are all the entrepreneurs?

W hen I look out over the pool of roughly 100,000 A/E or environmental consulting firms, I see lots of small company owners – but few entrepreneurs.

I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise. Few people choose to become architects, engineers, planners, land surveyors, or scientists because they are interested in business. If they were that interested in business, they’d have started out with a business degree, right? But you would think some – more than those who actually do – would get seduced by the business opportunity they have with their A/E or environmental firms. Let me step back a moment. You might wonder what I am talking about here. If these people own a business they are by definition, “entrepreneurs,” aren’t they? No – they aren’t necessarily, and that is one of the things that drives me mad about the popular media. They act as if anyone who has a lemonade stand is an entrepreneur. The primary distinction between someone who is an entrepreneur and someone who is just a small business owner is the entrepreneur believes in

and works toward creating value in their business which they can harvest upon exit. The small business owner only seeks to maximize the living they can earn from their business as they operate it. These are two fundamentally different ways to view the opportunity each has in front of them. So, besides the fact these people didn’t set out to be businesspeople, why aren’t more owners of A/E firms entrepreneurs? Here are my thoughts: 1)They don’t understand that to be an entrepreneur your business HAS to grow. This is the single most important thing for many reasons. First and foremost, growth is the best indication the market served by the firm like what they do. But another good reason is growth rate directly impacts the value of the firm. Why do you think start-ups in other industries that are growing quickly are worth so much money?

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 10



ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF KATE LYLE TO STUDIO MANAGER SPECIALIZING IN INDUSTRIAL COLD AND FOOD SECTOR Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced Kate Lyle has been promoted to Studio Manager, Industrial Cold and Food in the Irvine, California-based headquarters office. In this role, Lyle leads the growth of the Industrial Cold & Food Studio and manages select projects. Lyle joined Ware Malcomb in 2019 as Senior Project Architect, specializing in complex project types including food processing, manufacturing, and cold storage. She is active in the Controlled Environments Building Association and excels in planning, interpreting, organizing and managing these specialized projects through all phases of development, including monitoring budgets and managing the project team. “Kate’s devotion to her work, financial astuteness, attention to detail, and skill with our clientele has quickly made her an integral part of the Ware Malcomb team,” said Greg Spon, Director, Architecture of Ware Malcomb’s Irvine office. “As the Industrial Cold and Food sector continues to grow across the country, we look forward to her continued contributions and success at Ware Malcomb.”

Ware Malcomb is an industry leader in Cold Building projects, a unique and highly specialized sector within the industrial real estate market that includes cold storage, food processing and production facilities, cold laboratories, and cold medical and pharmaceutical facilities. The complex requirements of Cold Building construction and renovation include refrigeration systems, material handling, fire suppression systems, and the latest food safety requirements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Health Departments. The firm combines this knowledge with the latest developments in technology, trucking, rail, automation and third-party logistics to design aesthetically pleasing buildings that are highly functional. A licensed architect in the state of California, Lyle brings more than 15 years of architectural design expertise to the Ware Malcomb team. Her expertise includes project management, programming and conceptual design, design development, construction drawings, and construction administration. In addition to being a Cold Building specialist, Lyle’s experience includes a wide variety of project types such as

industrial, office, corporate, commercial, retail, governmental and education projects. Lyle holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. 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.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 9

the ownership of the firm doesn’t often lend itself to making the kinds of investments that are required to keep the firm growing. And yet it is far more common than an “investment approach” applied to the ownership of an A/E firm. We are all limited by our unique set of experiences. 4)They are naturally risk-averse. It’s OK and completely understandable. These people have been schooled in how to reduce risk. To expect them to take chances with their business (i.e., attempt to transform it into something it currently isn’t) is pretty unrealistic. On top of that, if you honestly consider the fact that what most firms do in the majority of their projects is based on applied technology versus new technology, this is a very conservative lot indeed. 5)They have gotten a lot of bad advice. The small accountants and attorneys, along with the single-person management and marketing consultants, that most firms in this business rely on for advice every day are limited by their own perspectives and orientations. They are geared to minimize tax obligations, reduce risk, and provide typical solutions to problems that they feel are proven. None of these preconceived notions about how to do things may be good for the entrepreneurial A/E firm owner who needs to do whatever it takes to make their business grow at a faster rate than the rest of the industry. In spite of these things, some entrepreneurial firm owners can and do emerge, and build valuable companies. Zweig Group’s annual Hot Firm List of the 100 fastest-growing companies in this business is proof of that. The success of some of these businesses really is phenomenal! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

2)They don’t understand what the real economic opportunity of being an owner of an entrepreneurial A/E firm is. If I told you that I know a guy who paid about $60,000 for the stock he bought in the firm he worked for and when it was acquired by a publicly-traded firm 20 years later it was worth $16 million, would you believe me? It happened. Or would you believe it if I told you a second- generation partner (one of many) in a planning and landscape architecture firm 30 years after buying in was making millions of dollars a year? That, too, happened. My point is ownership of a rapidly-growing, entrepreneurial A/E firm in whole or in part is a valuable asset – far beyond whatever the balance sheet says about assets minus liabilities being “owner’s equity.” “The primary distinction between someone who is an entrepreneur and someone who is just a small business owner is the entrepreneur believes in and works toward creating value in their business which they can harvest upon exit.” 3)They have been conditioned by their experience. They may have started out in the firm they are in or another where the ownership is passed down from generation to generation with the assumption it has little value beyond the income you can extract from it annually. This “income club” approach to

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Remote work lessons learned

Firms are discovering new ways of operating that will allow them to be more effective and efficient throughout the rest of the pandemic and after.

L ike many others in the AEC industry, the sudden and drastic changes in society as a result of COVID-19 significantly affected our firm’s operations. As an essential business serving utilities, municipalities, manufacturers, and others also considered essential, we had to quickly arrange for the majority of our staff to become remote workers. We faced a variety of challenges for which we had to find solutions, and as a result have many “lessons learned” to share. The journey of figuring out how to continue to work productively during this time has been arduous, but through it we have discovered new ways of operating that will allow our firm to be effective and efficient throughout the rest of the pandemic and after.

Sandi Matgouranis

When this started, we were a firm that was not yet set up to accommodate a majority of staff working remotely. We had technology that allowed those out in the field or who needed to work from home in a one-off instance to do so, but the experience was more disjointed than we would have liked. Coincidentally, we had been working on improving this, and in early March we had started giving laptops to all technical staff to replace their desktops. With the arrival of COVID-19, that timeline was accelerated to warp speed. We went from having a handful of staff working remotely at any one time to approximately 60 percent

working remotely full-time. Our IT manager had the herculean task of purchasing and setting up dozens of laptops in just a couple of weeks. Now that we’re through it, we expect that as we go forward, we will primarily utilize transportable technologies as the main work tools for all staff, and will need to keep abreast of which new ones make sense to invest in. Also, while this had already been in the works for technical staff, the pandemic has caused us to realize these tools are useful for administration, too.





this ordeal while continuing to work. In addition, it has provided time efficiencies that have benefitted productivity – commuting time has been saved and staff have the ability to tackle work tasks while thinking about them instead of waiting to get into the office. The latest challenge we are navigating is bringing our own staff back to the office as safely as possible as well as helping clients do so. The pandemic came along during an era where open office plans have been popular for collaboration/open communication benefits. These spaces do not easily accommodate the COVID-19 back- to-work guidelines. We are finding that we are redoing or at least reorganizing or modifying brand new offices and revamping standards that were just recently developed. Unfortunately, we have found that these changes are not as budget friendly as owners/clients, including ourselves, would like. The two things needed to prep a workplace for social distancing in order to bring staff back – space and furniture – are expensive; fortunately, however, there are funds available through the CARES Act to implement workspace changes. On another note, we are hearing that companies are finding that staff can work from home just as effectively as they did in the office, so we think businesses will be reassessing the type and amount of office space they need in the future, resulting in another round of renovations to meet the needs of offices with limited or “hoteling” staff. We are learning that COVID-19 is going to have a permanent effect on how our society works, and subsequently, the form and function of physical offices/real estate. In closing, we believe that going to work in an office will still provide benefits, as will in-person client meetings. Staff have said they miss certain amenities and equipment found in an office – laser printer/scanners/copiers, large whiteboards, mailing/shipping supplies and pickup, and more. But moreso, they are saying that while they enjoy not having a commute and other flexibility remote work provides, they miss the change of scenery from their residence, having some separation between work and home, and most importantly the social interaction in the office. Chat and video calls cannot replace the sense of camaraderie that develops working alongside one another, and for business development, the rapport that is built through meeting in person. With regard to meetings, it is harder to read body language on a group video call, which can make it difficult to have open and honest discussions. In addition, because virtual communication must be actively scheduled or initiated, there is little to no opportunity for serendipitous interactions and relationship-building conversations. Further, there is some wariness that, were we all to work remotely permanently, the soft skills that develop in the office and allow successful teamwork, would fade. In short, we have learned that people are missing the social aspects of work, and for that reason, though it may change, the office will still have a place. SANDI MATGOURANIS is a marketing communications specialist with R.E. Warner & Associates, Inc. Contact her at

Purchasing and setting up equipment was not the only hurdle to getting up and running with remote work; there was also the learning curve of everyone becoming comfortable with various software for digital collaboration and communication. As a multi-discipline firm, our staff are highly collaborative. We typically spend much of our days sitting together, looking at digital or paper drawings and talking through engineering/design solutions and approaches. Some of our staff members were already comfortable collaborating remotely due to working on projects outside of our local area, but others were not; so, there was some concern that remote work would be a communication barrier. However, the necessity of figuring out how to communicate and collaborate while not working in the same physical space meant that everyone quickly got up to speed and it became the norm. In our office, we primarily used Microsoft Teams for video call/conference, chat, and document sharing, which proved to be effective. That said, with technology comes technical difficulties, and we have experienced challenges such as distracting background noise, screen sharing lags, etc. However, because the use of this technology became so commonplace, the technical difficulties arising from inexperience with the technology have been sorted out. In addition, while technical difficulties are a drawback, we have discovered many benefits. We are saving travel time for client meetings, allowing us to be more efficient. There is also more flexibility in scheduling meetings since participants can simply call in. This is especially helpful for our managerial staff who travel frequently. And the use of FaceTime and video messaging to share ideas and talk through solutions while looking at the same issue has helped to provide a visual component to something that may have just been described in an email in the past, which has improved communication. Plus, we have found screen sharing to be more seamless than sharing a mouse and looking at one person’s screen. While in-person client meetings and internal collaboration will still have their place post-pandemic, we have discovered that many meetings can be effectively accomplished virtually, and for all the previous reasons we expect to meet and collaborate virtually more often going forward. Being forced to use remote work technology helped us learn when and how to use these tools to improve our productivity and communication as a complement to the way we regularly work. We’ve also come to recognize that, assuming most of our industry embraces remote work more fully, firms will need to invest in additional tools to perform our work entirely on electronic platforms to truly become integrated in a remote work society. Another lesson we’ve learned through this is that we can give staff more flexibility, which is good for their work/life balance and good for business. The ability to work remotely has allowed our staff to handle childcare, help family, and otherwise attend to personal responsibilities throughout

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