Rendering of the new South Amboy Ferry Terminal, an intermodal transportation facility that will soon break ground. FPA is providing a wide range of multi-disciplinary engineering and design services for this project. Photo credit USA Architects.
INTEGRITY, from page 7
one essential factor for a successful internal transition is time. An orderly, internal ownership transition should not be a light-switch event. Our transition took 10 years for the stock sales, with payments for the stock purchases requiring an additional seven years to complete the process. That adds up to a total of 17 years. The process will be continuous, as several “new” owners are approaching the beginning of their sales period. The biggest pitfall would be to not have a structured plan with adequate time for implementation. “An orderly, internal ownership transition should not be a light-switch event. Our transition took 10 years for the stock sales, with payments for the stock purchases requiring an additional seven years to complete the process.” TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? ST: Beyond having competitive salaries and benefits, providing opportunities for growth are essential. The growth opportunities of interest to staff will vary by individual and will change over the course of an employee’s career. A young staff engineer may initially only be interested in working on unique and challenging projects; however, this may transition to advancements in title and authority, and perhaps ownership opportunities. With the help of our HR department and strategies like internal surveys and open dialogue, we’re able to keep a finger on the pulse of our staff and adapt to their evolving needs and professional ambitions.
and effort. We like to expose staff to management topics early in their career to develop them as quickly and completely as possible. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? ST: Yes, I’ve had several mentors. I was fortunate to be mentored by a very talented, old-school engineer right out of college. His name was Sam Kleinberg. Sam set a framework for my technical development and encouraged me to explore my passion for engineering across a diverse range of disciplines. Later, I was mentored by Jim Heller, Argo Parrello, and Larry French – three of FPA’s founding members. Jim and Argo not only helped me further my technical knowledge, but also taught me about the financial aspects of running a business, as well as related legal considerations. Larry French educated me on business development and political matters. TZL: How often do you valuate your firm and what key metrics do you use in the process? Do you valuate using in-house staff or is it outsourced? ST: We valuate the firm yearly. We use the principal’s reporting method, which considers the firm’s book value, yearly revenue, and earnings before distribution. The valuation, which is prepared by in-house staff, is based on a five-year weighted average of standalone calculations for each of the past five years. TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? ST: We have just completed an internal ownership transition, from the original owners to other staff. The
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THE ZWEIG LETTER NOVEMBER 8, 2021, ISSUE 1416
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