TZL 1455 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

August 29, 2022, Issue 1455 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Increasing workloads

It’s fitting that we seek out this highly engineered desert oasis as a place of celebration. Engineering a celebration

FIRM INDEX ADEC Innovations.......................................4 Baisch Engineering...................................6 Balfour Beatty.............................................12 BL Companies, Inc.....................................4 Bowman Consulting Group Ltd.......... 10Colliers Engineering & Design.10 Fabre Engineering, Inc.........................10 McMahon Associates, Inc.....................4 MORE ARTICLES n JULIA DEFRANCES: The impact of giving back Page 3 n Life-long learner: Todd Van Gompel Page 6 n ALEXIS EADES: Are you helping or hindering your team? Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Move over, Grover Page 11 Employees at Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For were asked to rate their level of agreement with the statement “My workload is appropriate” on a 1-5 scale with “5” representing “Strongly Agree.” Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

Z weig Group is elated to host the upcoming 2022 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala in Las Vegas. Running September 14- 16, this event celebrates the best and brightest from the AEC industry, furthering our goal to elevate the industry. It is truly fitting that this conference be hosted in a town of celebration, especially one whose very existence and origins are feats of engineering in their own right. Prior to the 20th century, there had never been a large settlement in the area where Las Vegas now sits. Native American tribes lived in the area for short periods of time, congregating near several natural wells before moving to the nearby mountains. In the 19th century, Mormon missionaries built a fort in the area, which supported a small, shifting population throughout the century. In 1902, the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad purchased the land. Amongst the first actions taken when the land was purchased by the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad was to improve upon the existing natural wells and pipe water to the settlement. This made it an attractive stop for wagons and trails moving further West. During America’s most rapid expansion of railroad infrastructure, Las Vegas played a crucial role in connecting important routes. When the railroad was completed in 1905, it linked two growing areas in Los Angeles and Salt Lake. The settlement at Las Vegas played an important part in the development and service of this line. As a result, Las Vegas continued to grow for several decades until the railroad industry started to decline in the 1920s. However, another larger infrastructure project located nearby provided an even more powerful catalyst for the city’s growth. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed a bill to begin construction on the Boulder Dam, which would later be renamed Hoover Dam. Located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border of Arizona and Nevada, the plan was to create a concrete structure the likes of which had never been built before. Nearly 30 years of studies and investigations had been conducted to select the location for the new project. Its completion would generate power for a vast swath of the American West and Southwest, proving critical for the area’s growing settlements and cities. The plan was to construct a massive concrete arch-gravity dam. This wedge-shaped structure would be considerably thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top. At 660 feet thick at the bottom and 45 feet at

Luke Carothers




TRANSACTIONS BANCROFT ACQUIRES THE NATION’S SENIOR STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING FIRM Structural Engineering Associates of Kansas City has become the newest member of the Bancroft family of companies. Effective immediately, the historic firm, founded in 1909, becomes a permanent addition to Bancroft Architects + Engineers. Bancroft started in 2009 as a firm of 10 MEP engineers. In 2012 the company added architects and has since grown to

a full-time staff of 60. The addition of SEA will enable Bancroft to provide structural engineering for its own projects while continuing to serve SEA’s clients. Bancroft is headquartered in suburban Chicago, with offices around the country. Structural Engineering Associates will continue to thrive in its current location in downtown Kansas City. Bancroft is a service-disabled Veteran-owned small business, a set-aside status that conveys immediately to SEA.

Interested in learning more

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

LUKE CAROTHERS , from page 1

the top, the structure would leave room for a highway at the top which would connect Nevada and Arizona. The labor force needed to create such a structure would be vast, and Las Vegas soon became part of the plan to support this influx of workers. Las Vegas played a pivotal role in supporting the construction of this critical piece of infrastructure. Before construction began on the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas had a population hovering around 5,000 people. Just one year later, when construction started in 1931, the population had exploded to more than 25,000 people. This influx of workers meant that not only new housing and utilities had to be constructed, but also places to entertain the new population. Like most Western towns, gambling has always been part of the culture in Las Vegas, despite being outlawed in Nevada in 1910. In 1931, gambling was legalized at the local level. This was done both to capitalize monetarily on the expanding population of young men working in the area and to curtail the presence of illegal gambling. These first casinos initially served this young working population, but their continued presence laid the groundwork for Las Vegas’ eventual status as a world icon when it comes to gaming. After the dam was completed in 1935 and opened in 1936, the population of Las Vegas declined as there were no longer men working on the dam. However, this shifting population provided fertile ground for Las Vegas to grow into what it is today. The Hoover Dam’s stunning beauty, as well as that of Lake Mead, have made them into attractions that draw tourists from all over the world. These attractions, as well as the early presence of legalized gambling and the power generated from the Hoover Dam, meant that Las Vegas would continue to grow into what we know today – a sparkling jewel in the desert. It is fitting that we, and many others, seek this desert oasis as a place of celebration. For us – the AEC industry – to celebrate our accomplishments in this city is especially poignant. Unlike most places where humans have settled, Las Vegas offers no natural advantages. Not only the existence, but the thriving expansion of its development are a testament to feats of ingenuity from the people who came before us in our industry – from the first wells, water lines, and railroad tracks to the soaring beauty of the Hoover Dam. In this environment, we are poised to celebrate the continuation of that tradition and look forward to how we can continue to elevate the industry. If you want to join us in this momentous celebration of what the AEC industry can achieve, visit our website for more information. Luke Carothers is editor of Civil + Structural Engineer Media at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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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.

2022 ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA Registration is open for the annual in-person conference in Las Vegas, September 14-16. The 2022 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Excellence in Client Experience, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards will be celebrated at the iconic black-tie awards gala. Register now for the AEC industry’s top learning and networking event of the year!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




The impact of giving back

Giving back can be a valuable tool for attracting and retaining talent – and it gives employees a good reason to be proud of where they work.

I n the aftermath of the pandemic, as some things return to normal and some other things don’t, many workers are opting to leave unhappy workplaces for greener pastures. This “great resignation” is a concern for many firms, but it can also be an opportunity to gain new talent. The question is, how can your firm become a greener pasture? And what makes employees stay?

Julia DeFrances

If your pay and benefits are competitive, but your firm is still suffering from resignations or staff shortages, it may be time to look at your culture. One of the main reasons employees leave is because of burnout, which even well-meaning companies struggle to treat. Often firms focus too much on what individual employees can do about burnout, rather than addressing the cultural or organizational issues causing it. Encouraging self-care is good, but a lunchtime walk or daily meditation won’t make deadlines disappear. It won’t make your boss easier to work with or make you feel valued. If you truly want to transform your firm into a burnout-free environment that no employee wants to leave, you need to look at it from a firm-level.

Of the main causes of burnout, some have relatively straightforward fixes. An overworked and overloaded employee is more susceptible to burnout than an employee with fewer projects or deliverables, so you need to make sure you hire enough staff and say no to new projects if folks are frequently overloaded. Employees who aren’t recognized or rewarded for their efforts are at risk too, so make sure you acknowledge good work beyond the annual review. But what about more complex issues? Burnout can also creep in when employees feel their work is meaningless, when they feel their values don’t align with the firm’s, or when they feel no sense of




ON THE MOVE ZWEIG GROUP PLACES PRESIDENT OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR ADEC INNOVATIONS Zweig Group, a full- service AEC management advisory firm, announced its executive search team has successfully placed Brian Myller with its client ADEC Innovations as president of its global Professional Services businesses. As a leader of practices, initiatives, and business units at several of the country’s largest environmental science and engineering firms, Myller will have overall responsibility for leading the global growth strategy across ADEC Innovations’ Professional Services brands and businesses. Zweig Group’s executive search team, led by Chad Coldiron – a principal and director of executive search at Zweig Group – completed this search for ADEC Innovations. “One of the most difficult recruiting scenarios a professional services firm can be involved with is successfully bringing in a top-level leader from outside of the organization. That process becomes even more difficult when firms lead this process from an internal lens. It goes well beyond a candidate’s past experience

and technical skills – it takes a nuanced approach to find the right fit to lead your organization,” Coldiron said. “Brian has impacted some of the most well-known professional services firms in the world and we are excited to see what’s next as he joins the ADEC Innovations family of companies.” ADEC Innovations designs, develops and delivers innovative solutions and services in ESG, knowledge management, healthcare, and sustainable development. Prior to joining ADEC Innovations, Myller has led successful staff and technical practice development, discipline integration, technology innovation, and business development initiatives at a number of environmental science and engineering firms. “Brian’s experience demonstrates a passion for innovation and staff development that strongly aligns with our goals and business philosophy of making a difference while working in a collaborative, team-oriented environment,” said James Donovan, global CEO of ADEC Innovations. “We are confident that Brian will successfully lead

our Professional Services businesses through our next phase of growth by applying his holistic perspective for cross-connecting disciplines, services, and people that strengthen the value we provide our clients and society.” To learn more about Zweig Group’s executive search services, click here. Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the leading research, publishing, and consulting resource for the built environment. The firm provides strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, marketing, business development, market research, financial management, project management, recruiting and executive search services nationwide. Zweig Group also provides a comprehensive suite of products including industry reports and surveys, executive training, and business conferences covering virtually every aspect of AEC firm management. For more information, visit zweiggroup. com or call (800) 466-6275.

and keeping in-person volunteering opportunities local to each office. The important thing is that our initiatives build a sense of community and meaning. One of our most popular giving back events each year is our Pet Photo Contest which raises funds and supplies for animal shelters around the country. It’s a fully virtual event, but it still creates a great sense of community and camaraderie because it lets employees connect while sharing something they love. Our employees would still donate to animal shelters if we asked. However, going beyond just asking for donations and making it into a fun contest has proven more impactful in terms of our culture. Another successful program is our “Giving Back Spotlight,” which is a mini newsletter highlighting one employee and a cause they are passionate about. Your firm can’t support every worthy cause, but giving employees a platform to share their personal causes can foster a sense that their firm shares their values. Giving back isn’t a magic wand, but it can be a valuable tool for attracting and retaining talent or combating burnout. A giving back program won’t increase pay or lighten workloads, but it will give employees a sense of meaning and belonging. And perhaps most importantly, it gives employees a good reason to be proud of where they work. Julia DeFrances is a senior marketing coordinator at BL Companies, Inc. She can be reached at jdefrances@

JULIA DEFRANCES , from page 3

community among their coworkers. More complex issues require more complex solutions, but at BL we’ve found that giving back is one simple tool that creates meaning and builds a sense of community. “We’ve found that giving back is one simple tool that creates meaning and builds a sense of community. Overall, giving back is good for mental health; it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and helps create a sense of fulfillment on an individual level.” Overall, giving back is good for mental health; it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and helps create a sense of fulfillment on an individual level. But firm-sponsored giving back initiatives or pro bono projects can help employees feel their work matters and can bolster a sense of community. There’s a lot of different ways to give back, so how your firm approaches giving back is less important than the impact it has on employees. For large firms, offering paid time off for volunteering may make more sense than trying to organize volunteering events internally, whereas the opposite may be true for smaller firms. As a multi-state firm, BL has better success with firm-wide virtual drives and donation matching

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Life-long learner: Todd Van Gompel President at Baisch Engineering (Kaukauna, WI), a consulting engineering firm that provides full-service integration engineering to industrial clients worldwide.


S ince 1958, Baisch Engineering Inc. has provided engineering and consulting services that cater to the pulp/ paper, food processing, bulk-material handling, energy, utility/ power, building/construction and mining/refining industries. The company specializes in process engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering, architectural consulting, electrical engineering, and process controls. It offers several solutions throughout the project construction phase or capital expansion phase of the project, including discipline coverage, checkout/start-up assistance, and contract administration services. Todd Van Gompel has been with Baisch for more than 15 years and became company president in 2019. One of his first challenges came in 2020 when, like so many others, the firm pivoted from an office-based team to a completely remote one in less than two weeks. “Initially, Baisch didn’t have a telecommuting policy,” Van Gompel says. “Most of our team was set up to work remotely

at jobsites around the country, however, the focus wasn’t on telecommuting from home.” Luckily, late in 2019, the firm switched to Microsoft Teams and started to investigate using the cloud for its team so when March 2020 happened, they were ready for action. “We learned a lot during this period,” he says. “We were able to continue to serve our clients in an efficient and timely manner and opened the office back up in June of 2021. Now, we have a flexible work environment and, as we look for new team members, our search has expanded to include potential teammates located outside our geographical area.” A LITTLE FACELIFT. Along with a move to a more flexible work environment, Baisch also recently underwent a brand refresh. It’s been well received and something that the company had been working on for some time. “A brand refresh encompasses a lot of items,” Van Gompel says. “Our strategy was to implement the brand refresh in



stages. First, we concentrated on the logo and the main color themes. From there we adjusted our standard documents and templates. Finally, we refreshed our website and social media channels.” The new website features a modern design and provides a clean and organized structure. It makes it easier for visitors to access and to learn all about Baisch – what they do and why they do it. Its “responsive design” resizes automatically to fit the visitor’s browser, whether that device be a computer, tablet, or phone. This design enables easy viewing on any platform. This brand refresh also serves to instill trust in its clients – trust that Baisch continues to evolve with the times, while holding true to its roots and vision. “Trust is crucial. Our clients trust us to turn their ideas into production systems that will transform the way they manufacture products.” “Trust is crucial,” Van Gompel says. “Our clients trust us to turn their ideas into production systems that will transform the way they manufacture products.” For Baisch, that trust starts with a solid reputation and culture for making its clients a raging success. From there, it translates into establishing a positive project culture together and executing it. “Becoming partners on a project naturally leads to trust,” he explains. WHERE’S THE JUICE? And when partners work together well, input is listened to from both sides. For example, a blog on Baisch’s website titled, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” was inspired by a client who wanted to make sure the team was always looking at the most value-added items on the project. The client would always ask, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” It’s a question teams now ask of themselves when deciding whether a project is worth moving forward to the next phase. Van Gompel suggests that these two phases will help to determine that: 1. Ask the question, “Are we in the ballpark?” Develop the project at a high level during this phase. Be careful not to over- engineer the project or get too detailed as you are trying to decide if this project will move to the next phase. You should

be around the 50 percent range during this phase. Depending upon the project size and complexity, this phase should take anywhere from two to 12 weeks to develop. What is the project? Why is this project important? How much could it cost? What are the potential benefits? What are the potential risks? What does project success look like? If it looks like the juice may be worth the squeeze, move on to the next step. 2. During the “Paper Doll” phase, the goal is to evaluate several potential layouts and designs to identify the most efficient solution. Depending upon the project size, this step should take between 12 to 36 weeks to develop. The project cost and benefits are developed to the 10 percent range during this phase. Researching and involving potential vendors and contractors during this phase will help the project move more efficiently during the execution phase. If the project still looks like the juice may be worth the squeeze, move on to the project funding and execution phases. Spending time and energy upfront to develop the project has several advantages. It helps control the project budget and scope creep. It engages equipment vendors and contractors early in the project development phase which helps identify constructability, timing issues, and solutions. It also helps to develop the project culture. Working with a well-rounded team consisting of the owner, the engineer, the contractor, and the vendors for several months to develop the project helps to create the necessary relationships to execute a successful project. “One of my favorite quotes is from Charles Mingus: ‘Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.’ We’re involved with many complex projects. Our job, as engineers, is to break these complex projects into simple steps,” Van Gompel says. As president, Van Gompel describes his number one job role as “friction remover.” He says he’s responsible for identifying and removing obstacles or nonvalue-added items that prevent the team from getting things done efficiently. “Recently, we’ve been exploring and implementing Power BI into our reporting process,” he says. Power BI allows Baisch to create real-time, interactive dashboards to help convey See LIFE-LONG LEARNER , page 8






■ ■ Pulp/paper

■ ■ Food processing

■ ■ Bulk-material handling

■ ■ Energy

■ ■ Utility/power

■ ■ Building/construction

■ ■ Mining/refining


■ ■ Process engineering

■ ■ Civil engineering

■ ■ Structural engineering

■ ■ Architectural consulting

■ ■ Electrical engineering

■ ■ Process controls

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

GUST 29, 2022, ISSUE 1455


An event held in June celebrated team members who retired when no gatherings happened during COVID. Baisch celebrated 14 individuals who, when added together, had dedicated nearly 400 years to the company’s work.

says that this allows him to constantly be an “undercover boss” without being undercover. “I get to interact and learn from our team, our clients, and our contracting and vendor partners. For these interactions, we continue to evolve our culture to take advantage of the positive things and eliminate or adjust the things that aren’t quite working,” he explains. “We have a flexible work environment now, and as we look for new team members, our search has expanded to include potential teammates located outside our geographical area.” In addition to a people-first culture, Baisch has a long history of contributing generously to its retirements. Combining its company match and profit sharing, Baisch contributes up to 13 percent each year to its retirement accounts. And a new benefit that they’re very excited about is paid volunteer time off. This allows their team paid time off to volunteer in the communities where they work and live. For Van Gompel, the bottom line is that you cannot please all the people, all the time. He says that trying things that you’ve never done before helps to develop your experience and your decision either works out or you learn from it and improve. “Make the best decision you can with the information you have, be a life-long learner, and enjoy the journey with the people you get to work with,” he says.

LIFE-LONG LEARNER, from page 7

progress to their design team, clients, and contracting partners which greatly increases efficiencies. “I’m always looking for opportunities to continue to make Baisch great for our team and clients,” he adds. HAPPY PEOPLE; STRONG CULTURE. People stay at Baisch because the company has always focused on relationships. Creating strong relationships helps them to trust each other and to develop a constructive atmosphere where they can have difficult conversations. They incorporate activities outside the typical work environment to help grow their relationships with each other. They have lunches together throughout the year, celebrations for anniversaries and friendly competitions within the office contribute to the team atmosphere and to encourage the team to engage with people outside their typical departments. They also host family events, such as a night at the local minor league baseball team, to get to know each other’s families outside of work. Van Gompel knows that there are many skills required to lead a successful firm, but he considers two of the most important to be emotional intelligence and empathy. “Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions in yourself and those around you, while empathy is the ability to understand how others feel. These two skills have helped me navigate the everchanging COVID environment as well as other office dynamics,” he says. And, while Baisch has always had active principals, he says that working in the business and on the business ebbs and flows throughout the years. Being actively involved with projects has huge benefits for working on the business and he

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




You can work to improve retention by promoting a positive culture, giving employees autonomy and empowerment, and actively showing appreciation. Are you helping or hindering your team?

I n the time of the great resignation, what is it about company culture that can make or break an employee’s desire to stay? How do you as a manager inspire your team?

EMPLOYEE-CURATED CULTURE. It’s been said that there are people who see life as a pie, and if one person gets a bigger slice, they see it as less for the other people. And there are people who trust that they can just make or buy another pie. Put differently, there are people who see success as a limited resource and those who know there’s room for everyone to succeed. Studies show that companies that encourage employees to compete, brag about cut-throat environments, and incentivize individualism over teamwork have more turnover. In fact, “When an employee’s success reflects poorly on his coworkers, then the work environment will likely grow tense and even hostile. The way leaders communicate about competition can make employees experience anxiety or excitement about competing.” On the other hand, companies that promote creativity, open and honest communication, and teamwork see better results. Harvard Business Review reports

that productivity and retention are both boosted by friendly company cultures. THE POWER OF AUTONOMY. In an article from Harvard Business Review , the authors write, “The more control employees feel over their own day- to-day, the happier they will be. Autonomy is a key driver of human motivation, performance, and fulfillment; in the context of hybrid working, it is also directly correlated to the amount of flexibility a given employee has access to in their work arrangement.” The leadership at Colliers Engineering & Design have implemented an entrepreneurial style of business, and geographic and regional diversification, with the importance of autonomy in mind. Kevin Haney, president and CEO of Colliers Engineering & Design, has emphasized that the company’s growth means opportunity for employees. He understands that more services and more locations mean an employee has more power to redefine his/her role, location,

Alexis Eades

See ALEXIS EADES, page 10



TRANSACTIONS BOWMAN EXPANDS IN GULF COAST THROUGH ACQUISITION OF FABRE ENGINEERING, INC. Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. announced the purchase of Fabre Engineering, Inc. Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Pensacola, Florida, Fabre provides comprehensive civil engineering and land surveying to a variety of public and private clients in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Fabre specializes in water, stormwater and wastewater solutions, airports, land use planning for private developers and municipal agencies, and broad-based geomatics and land surveying services. “Frank and the extended Fabre team have a long history in the Gulf Coast,” said Gary Bowman, CEO of Bowman. “Our

southeast region will no doubt benefit from the addition of Fabre’s skilled workforce and diverse base of clients. We are all excited to welcome Fabre’s team of experienced professionals to Bowman and look forward to the cross- selling, service line augmentation and collaboration opportunities that will result from this acquisition.” “There’s a significant amount of synergy between Fabre and Bowman,” said Frank Fabre, founder and president of Fabre. “We’re looking forward to joining with an organization that shares our work ethic and commitment to quality. I’m confident we’ve found the right fit for our people and clients and I believe our team will be able to contribute meaningfully to

Bowman’s growth along the Gulf Coast and throughout the southeast.” Bowman expects the Fabre acquisition to initially contribute approximately $1.5 million of annualized net service billing. “Fabre is another exciting acquisition that is aligned with our long-term strategic growth initiative,” said Bruce Labovitz, Bowman’s CFO. “The Fabre acquisition was closed at a favorable multiple relative to our stated range and it meets all objectives for operating metrics. As is our practice, we will provide more detailed information on M&A activities, pipeline, and guidance in connection with our scheduled quarterly communications.”

also encouraged through our performance review process to routinely and directly point out the good work their employees do. INFORMATION IS POWER. Do you know what your employees are unhappy about and why? Research suggests that employees who feel like their concerns are taken seriously and that their input is valued, are more likely to stay loyal to their company. Companies can use this information to help them make decisions, decide procedures, and address the concerns their employees may have. For the past eight years, Colliers Engineering & Design has been honored to be recognized in Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For awards. The ranking for this award is determined by information gathered through an employer questionnaire and a confidential employee survey. The information collected through the survey as well as the Glint survey issued by CED’s parent company enables leadership to focus efforts and resources on continually improving the firm in ways employees appreciate the most, supporting their desire to be recognized as a Best Firm To Work For. There are also regional surveys, which enable companies to see region-specific feedback, and how they compare with their competitors in that area. You can work to improve retention by promoting a positive culture, giving employees autonomy and empowerment, actively showing appreciation, and asking them directly what their thoughts are. So, as a manager, how are you affecting your team? Alexis Eades is a communications specialist for Colliers Engineering & Design. A graduate of Rutgers University, she has a passion for writing, learning, and traveling. You can read more from her here.

ALEXIS EADES , from page 9

and path. They can move to different parts of the country and work out of different offices, and there are more chances for promotion. “We’ve always been a firm that prioritized individuals having the power to create their own success, and that is now truer than ever.” DO YOUR EMPLOYEES FEEL APPRECIATED? You may have heard the story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA during his presidency and meeting a janitor there. He asked the man what he did, and the man said he was helping to put a man on the moon – which was true. If NASA didn’t have a janitor, how could the scientists and engineers do their jobs? That janitor saw the bigger picture of what he was doing. But if the scientists treated him with disrespect and acted like he was lesser than the other people working different jobs in that building, he might not have had this attitude. Does everyone on your team feel valued? Porschia Parker reports that “63 percent of people who are ‘always’ or ‘usually’ recognized at work consider themselves ‘very unlikely’ to seek a new job in the next three to six months.” Do you, as a manager, explicitly vocalize to each employee why you appreciate them? Do you give them positive feedback as well as constructive criticism? The Leadership Quarterly published a study showing that employees’ brains light up in regions related to avoidance, narrowed attention, and negative emotions when they view leadership they think of as unempathetic. Colliers Engineering & Design’s Core Value Champ program, Accelerating Success Awards, employee newsletter features, and formalized means to share employee feedback through HR via kudos, and monetary rewards for work anniversaries and referrals are all established ways the firm shows appreciation for employees, but managers are

2022 ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA Registration is open for the annual in-person conference in Las Vegas, September 14-16. The 2022 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Excellence in Client Experience, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards will be celebrated at the iconic black-tie awards gala. Register now for the AEC industry’s top learning and networking event of the year!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Move over, Grover

If you want your business to be a multi-generational enterprise, you need to recognize when it’s time to step aside and pass the reins to your successor.

A huge problem in the AEC industry is the founders or CEOs who cling to their positions and will not get out of the way so an actual leadership (and often ownership) transition can occur. When this happens, it destroys morale and motivation at all levels beneath that top individual. And unfortunately, I have witnessed this way too often over my 42 years in this business and am still seeing it today.

Mark Zweig

The typical evolution of the problem goes something like this: A successful firm is led by someone who is good at what they do. It’s growing and profitable. They either started the business or assumed control of it at some point in the past. That person gets very used to the power and authority, as well as the perks and rewards that go along with the job. They like it – who wouldn’t? If they are lucky, they build a competent team of people underneath them. Then, they age in place. The world changes around them. Over time, their client base evolves and other people in the business start bringing in and maintaining their own clients. Those people naturally want to see their opportunities and rewards expanded. And they do – for a while. At some point, the awareness sinks in. The top person

isn’t going to hand the reins over to anyone else. This person may not actually say that but their actions prove that is the plan. No specific time frame for them to move over is ever established. Or if it is, that time comes and goes and there is no change, justified for any number of reasons – the economy, firm valuation is not high enough, no single person is ready to take over, the firm’s financial strength won’t allow them to buy their ownership back – or any variety of other conditions exist that “legitimize” no change. Then the second tier starts slowing down. Their motivation wanes. Maybe the best of them leave to go somewhere else. Maybe those people then take some of the best people below them. Revenues flatten, maybe they even decline some. The firm

See MARK ZWEIG , page 12



BUSINESS NEWS BALFOUR BEATTY PROJECTS RECOGNIZED AT STUDENT HOUSING INNOVATOR AWARDS Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, a leading developer and operator of infrastructure projects for the college and university market, was recently recognized with two Student Housing Business Innovator Awards, including ‘Best New Development’ for the Student Housing Village project at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and ‘Best Public/Private Partnership Development’ for the Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Center at Bowie State University. The 12th Annual Innovator Awards were presented during the InterFace Student Housing Conference in Austin, Texas hosted by Student Housing Business magazine. Balfour Beatty’s Student Housing Village project for the University of North Carolina Wilmington helped reshape the on-campus residential experience for first and second-year students and meet the growing demand for on- campus housing. The development added 1,814 beds and program spaces, including a student success center, classrooms, maker spaces, large meeting rooms, and dining venues on a vibrant market-like street connecting students to the academic heart of campus. The project’s design extended the campus’ architectural tradition and shaped a grand village quad where students enjoy outdoor recreation. Both

phases of the project were delivered on-time and within budget, despite two hurricanes and the market disruptions of the global pandemic, earning it the award for Best New Development by a University. Project team members include Collegiate Housing Foundation, RBC Capital Markets, Balfour Beatty Construction, and Clark Nexsen Architecture and Engineering. Balfour Beatty’s Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community project for Bowie State University is a vibrant mixed- use development that incorporates entrepreneurship into the daily lives of students. The outward facing community fuses living, learning, retail and innovation and is home to the Bowie Business Innovation Center and the Bowie Entrepreneurship Academy. The 170,000 SF development brings 557 beds to the campus, as well as a variety of amenities, including lounges, flexible classroom space, a fitness center, laundry facilities, community kitchens and parking. The development was accomplished using a fast-track design/build/ finance process to complete the project under budget and on time for the 2021 fall semester. Team members include Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), RBC Capital Markets, Balfour Beatty Construction, Smoot Construction Company of Washington DC (SmootDC), Design Collective, Inc. and Site Resources, Inc.

“Our team has developed a reputation for working collaboratively with both our university clients and team partners to craft and deliver innovative spaces that embody the unique spirit and vision of each campus,” said Bob Shepko, president of Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions. “It is very gratifying to see our hard work recognized and these projects honored as best-in-class amongst the many new student housing developments that came online over the past two years.” The Innovator Awards honor excellence in student housing development, design, financing, marketing and operations. More than 100 student housing industry experts judged the 130+ entries in this year’s contest. Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, LLC provides development, asset/property management, and other real estate services to higher education with a focus on public-private partnerships that underpin the strategic vision of an institution. The company offers public-private partnership (P3) solutions for funding and delivery of capital plans, including residential, academic, administrative, and faculty offices, research, athletic/recreation, student centers, dining, parking, and infrastructure.

of the way. It doesn’t mean you can’t stick around and help out if that’s what you and your successor(s) want. But don’t be so selfish and put that ego aside so you can do what you know you need to do, when you need to do it. The business can outlive you and truly be a multi-generational enterprise IF your actions support that goal. And isn’t that what you really want your legacy to be? Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “A huge problem in the AEC industry is the founders or CEOs who cling to their positions and will not get out of the way so an actual leadership (and often ownership) transition can occur. When this happens, it destroys morale and motivation at all levels.”

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

finances compound the problem. It’s harder to replace those people. The CEO’s retirement goals are less likely to be able to be met. The firm is in an even worse position to be able to afford the transition. Nothing changes at the top. More people leave. Eventually, the only option is an external sale because by now only those with the least ability to run the business are left. And the external sale at this point yields a much lower value than would have been achieved years earlier had it been pursued then. My point is this: Firm leaders – don’t stay at the party too long. If you just can’t leave the party because you are having such a great time, be the one who helps the host clean up. Don’t outlive your usefulness. There is a window of opportunity – for both you and your people – to have a smooth transition and ensure the firm’s continued prosperity. It probably won’t stay open forever. Your best people have high expectations for themselves. If you can’t move over and let someone else take the wheel, those people can’t move over and let their best people have more responsibility, either. It all starts at the top. Go out on a high note instead of a low note. Or at least get out

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