TZL 1366 (web)

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Entry-level engineer salaries

With remote work burnout setting in for many, here are some ideas to take care of your people now and for the foreseeable future. Homesick

Zweig Group’s Mid-Year Update 2020 Salary Report of AEC Firms provides salary data for the AEC industry across the U.S. including multi-year trends. Looking specifically at entry level engineers, we saw an upward trend in base salary across disciplines from the beginning of 2019 to now. Electrical , mechanical , and civil engineers at the entry level have seen a 6 percent to 8 percent increase in median base salary since the start of 2019. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

P eople have been separated from the place they spend more time than any other in the world – the office. Most of us have probably said at one time in our careers, “I could do most of my work from home and would love it.” Well, here we are amidst a global pandemic and are hearing from a lot of people who aren’t loving it so much anymore. What we’ve heard from a lot of our clients recently is that they are taking extra precautions with any business or personal travel, but leadership teams are generally working from the office each day with the majority of staff working from home. According to Zweig Group’s latest COVID-19 AEC Industry Data Report , 74 percent of firms have changed their policies on telecommuting to allow any employee to telecommute at any time. Believe it or not, the AEC industry was ready for this moment. The office and the work we do there will undoubtedly change forever due to the impact of the current pandemic. Major events like this can have unforeseen impacts both physically and mentally and we must consider both the employees’ struggles as well as our own. One minute you’re a design professional enjoying the perks of an office space built to maximize your efficiency, and now the highlight of your day may include a trip to your curbside mailbox. It’s perfectly natural to miss the office and the platform it provides for your work productivity. Offices are clean, quiet, and calm for the most part right now while our homes have become our new bubbles. Dining room tables, spare bedrooms, garages, and living rooms have all been transformed into workspaces, and this fall those same areas have also turned into classrooms for school. For some, this is a rather simple transition; just stay home and work. For others, this can cause problems and decrease production in work and life. With cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise in most U.S. states, no viable vaccine at the moment, and predictions that we might be social distancing well into 2022, how can firm leaders continue to take on this challenge for the foreseeable future? Here are some key things to consider while planning for the new era: ❚ ❚ Culture preservation. You need to be focused on retaining one of your top assets: your employees. There are all sorts of small things that can be done to boost morale like swag bags, virtual happy hours, gift cards, public shoutouts, equipment donations, and extended flexible work hours. Lots of firms have found ways to reduce overhead during 2020, so there should be some room in the budget for a few surprise- and-delights to go around. Putting out the effort is what is most important.

Chad Coldiron

F I R M I N D E X Constantine Builders...............................8


EPS Group..............................................6



TLC Engineering Solutions, Inc..............13

Ware Malcomb........................................8

MO R E A R T I C L E S xz ROB HUGHES: How well is your firm protected? Page 3 xz Quality: Elijah Williams Page 6 xz MARK ZWEIG: Making leadership transition real Page 9

xz TREVOR LUNDE: Technical problems need human solutions Page 12





features a series of discussion opportunities to engage with underrepresented demographics, as well as reassess, evaluate and improve workplace culture. This card deck is available for download on the website here. was designed and is hosted by NWABrand. 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. Headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Dallas, Texas. The firm’s mission, elevate the industry, has five tenets: promote, diversify, educate, change, and celebrate. Zweig Group’s vision is to facilitate action in pursuit of elevating individuals, firms, and thus the industry. More than a mission, this is a movement to advance the AEC profession, creating a world that celebrates the built environment and recognizes its impact on individuals, communities, and commerce. For more information, visit or call 800.466.6275.

ELEVATEHER™ LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE Zweig Group’s ElevateHER™ program has launched a new website dedicated to providing solutions to combat recruitment and retention issues while ensuring equal opportunities for everyone in the AEC industry. In addition to providing information about the ElevateHER™ program, this new website showcases ElevateHER™ project team resources for the industry and provides a place to connect and interact with others. From March to October of this year, Zweig Group’s ElevateHER 2020 Cohort members worked in smaller project groups on self- chosen focused topics with an end goal of a focused deliverable designed to be shared with the rest of the industry at Zweig Group’s

ElevateHer symposium and Elevate AEC Conference. Project topics ran the gamut including methods to support individuals in the industry at all stages and phases of their life, addressing conflict and implicit biases, designing career paths, awarding and incentivizing diverse projects and firms, and much more. The website was spearheaded by project team, “WeRise,” comprised of Blake Calvert, Janki DePalma, Jacqueline Devereaux, Elide Pantoli, Dara Davulcu, Susan Dawson, Ginger Lacy, Susan Osterberg, Jennifer Porter, Jason Pereira, and Veronica Porter. One outcome from Team WeRise was a deck of 24 cards to encourage engaged employees. Created in partnership with industry leaders, it

CHAD COLDIRON, from page 1

❚ ❚ Empathy burnout. This can happen when anyone devotes so much time trying to deeply relate to the problems and stress of others that they forget to care for themselves. Keep an eye on your staff’s PTO bank and make sure they are getting the most out of it. Many people have fallen into the habit of staying in this year and are not using their PTO. ❚ ❚ Forty hours. It’s important to recognize that no one is expecting you to be sitting in front of your computer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. all day long. There are times when work productivity in the office is low but culture is being built and that is perfectly fine. Find a schedule you enjoy and that also works well with your team. We’re not robots – yet. ❚ ❚ Show face. Video communication tools are becoming extremely popular for a reason. Much of that reason is because it helps a lot of us communicate better. I’d suggest turning your camera on when possible and engage those you are working with. I don’t think most mind seeing an unruly child or pet on the screen. ❚ ❚ Keep communicating! Employees across the AEC industry have ranked communication as one of the most improved areas at their firm during the pandemic. Leaders must recognize this and not let it go to waste. Keep investing in technology that will make your employees’ lives easier at home. One last thing – remember to afford some extra grace where you can and to care for one another as we head toward the end of the year. Everyone is going through something new right now. CHAD COLDIRON is director of executive search at Zweig Group. Contact him at ccoldiron@

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Christina Zweig | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Issued weekly (48 issues/year) $250 for one-year print subscription; free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2020, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Keep tabs on your insurers in a difficult economy by reviewing evaluations by popular ratings agencies. How well is your firm protected?

I n addition to the health, safety, operational, and economic turmoil wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial property/casualty insurers in the U.S. and around the world have had to navigate large losses from a spate of natural disasters in recent years (i.e., the California fires), deteriorating loss experience in certain lines, and intense competition in others.

Rob Hughes

Historically, A.M. Best Company has been the most widely used source of ratings for insurers. A.M. Best’s letter rating provides an assessment of an insurer’s security; the Roman numeral refers to the insurer’s financial size. Together, the two “As design firms manage various aspects of their business in these difficult times, they need to be sure they work with financially sound insurers that can be counted on if and when they’re needed.”

With these issues converging to bring nearly unprecedented uncertainty as to the economy and financial stability of a wide swath of business, including insurance companies, AEC firms need to be especially diligent in choosing their insurers and monitoring their financial condition. Accordingly, it may be instructive to review how insurers are evaluated by popular ratings agencies in terms of financial security and claims-paying ability. This is relevant not just for the long-term viability of the AEC firms’ carriers to be “around” to pay for claims, but also for you to remain compliant with any contractual obligations that may require your firm to be insured by carriers with a minimum A. M. Best rating (typically “A-VII” or higher).

See ROB HUGHES, page 4



ROB HUGHES, from page 3

Weiss Ratings range from A (Excellent) to F (Failed). Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Duff & Phelps are other companies that also analyze insurers’ financial strength. While A.M. Best rating may be generally sufficient; a second opinion might be worth checking if A.M. Best assigns a negative outlook to an insurer. “AEC firms should determine what rating meets their own threshold of acceptability. Because you are relying on your insurance broker to “vet” carriers they present to you during your renewals, ask them to confirm their own requirements for carrier security.” MEETING CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS. Even though the primary reason to choose insurers with strong ratings is to rely on them to honor their financial obligations and pay claims, design firms also must scrutinize carrier ratings to comply with their contractual obligations. In many professional service contracts it’s common for clients to stipulate not only the insurance limits to maintain, but also to set minimum ratings requirements of the design firm’s insurers. If an insurer’s rating drops below what’s acceptable, the design firm will be in breach of this provision. This breach is a basis not to pay you and force you to secure replacement coverage (in some instances, such an event allows your client to secure replacement coverage and charge you any amounts incurred to do so). In the current economic environment, it’s prudent for design firms to try including a clause in their contracts that designates a specific timeframe, such as 60-90 days, to replace their coverage if their insurer’s rating falls below the required level. Additionally, design firms should consider requesting a similar modification to the cancellation clause in their insurance policies. Most insurance policies impose costly penalties on insureds for cancelling coverage before their policy expires; however, if cancellation is prompted by the carrier’s ratings downgrade, it should be an excusable event for which the policy holder is not penalized. As design firms manage various aspects of their business in these difficult times, they need to be sure they work with financially sound insurers that can be counted on if and when they’re needed. In addition to using ratings agencies, AEC firms can get valuable information by reviewing their publicly held insurers’ financial reports, checking with peers in trade associations, and consulting their insurance advisors. Besides helping you choose insurance companies that meet your criteria for financial security, brokers can help you stay abreast of material developments that might affect an insurer’s financial condition. ROB HUGHES, senior vice president and partner, Ames & Gough. He can be reached at

ratings represent A.M. Best’s assessment of how well an insurer will be able to meet its ongoing obligations to investigate and pay claims. SECURITY RATINGS. A.M Best’s security ratings range from A++, meaning “Superior,” to F for “In Liquidation,” and S for “Rating Suspended.” There are also ratings beginning with “N” for such conditions as NR-1 for “Insufficient Data” and NR-2 for “Insufficient Size and/or Operating Experience.” A.M. Best considers three key elements in determining an insurer’s letter rating: 1) Capital (combined liquid and fixed assets) 2) Operating performance (underwriting results over time) 3) Business profile and management, including major niches (such as architects and engineers), and related track record of management and insurer FINANCIAL SIZE RATING. This rating is based on an insurer’s policyholders’ surplus, or net worth. The rankings range from Category I (policyholders’ surplus under $1 million) to Category XV, $2 billion or more. RATING OUTLOOKS. A third aspect of A.M. Best ratings, “Rating Outlooks,” indicates whether the insurer’s prospects are considered improving, stable, or deteriorating. The outlooks, which have ratings from A++ to D, indicate the insurer’s potential direction typically 12-36 months into the future. The outlooks can be: positive, reflecting a possible upgrade in the near term; negative, a pending potential downgrade; or stable (no change anticipated). Be aware that although any rating outlook is not a guarantee of future viability, it may offer some insight. While an upgrade – either in security rating or financial size – might be considered a positive development, a downgrade calls for further examination. “AEC firms need to be especially diligent in choosing their insurers and monitoring their financial condition. Accordingly, it may be instructive to review how insurers are evaluated by popular ratings agencies in terms of financial security and claims- paying ability.” AEC firms should determine what rating meets their own threshold of acceptability. Because you are relying on your insurance broker to “vet” carriers they present to you during your renewals, ask them to confirm their own requirements for carrier security; many only work with insurers with certain A. M. Best ratings or better. In addition to A.M. Best, other prominent ratings companies include Standard & Poor’s and Weiss Ratings. S&P’s ratings range from AAA (extremely strong) to R (regulatory action pertaining to solvency); it considers insurers with BBB rating or higher “highly likely” to be able to meet their “financial commitments.”

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




November 4th. We will celebrate the 2020 Hot Firm list with a video countdown of the list, in- cluding celebration footage submitted from winning firms. The video celebration will be followed by a panel discussion of the top 5 Hot Firms. Attendees will celebrate success while learning new ways to drive growth from the fastest growing firms in AEC.




November 2nd. In the past, the virtual experience was bal- anced with in-person, customized engagement necessary for leaders and client-facing teams to build trusting relation- ships with clients, suppliers, and teams at home and abroad and learn about their motivations, needs, and expectations. For companies operating globally, those engagements, and in-person face-time, was essential to unpacking the many lay- ers and nuances of the cultures in which they operated; to bet- ter understand the differences in attitudes and values critical for effective communication and performance. It still is.




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.




Quality: Elijah Williams President of EPS Group (Mesa, AZ), a full-service consulting firm that is dedicated to exceeding expectations.


A s president of EPS Group, Williams is responsible for all corporate functions including corporate strategic planning, financial oversight, and various general administrative functions. He also leads the public works department, and as a project manager, he’s responsible for design direction and review, resource allocation, scheduling, budget monitoring, client and agency coordination, public involvement, and sub-consultant management. “The word ‘Group’ in EPS Group, is indicative of the partners that form the ownership of the company,” Williams says. “I am blessed to have partners and executives who handle various aspects of the business and free up my time to do what I love about my job – designing/managing great projects.” A CONVERSATION WITH ELIJAH WILLIAMS. The Zweig Letter: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely?

Elijah Williams: We did very little remote working before COVID-19 and do a great deal of it now. Most of our design staff work remotely. We have not decided if telecommuting will be part of our future once this pandemic has passed. TZL: Tell me about the “Feeding Arizona” commitment you made to provide 250,000 meals. Did you reach your goal? How did the project go overall? I see that your firm is very philanthropic (i.e., donating student computers). EW: We have always strived to support local charities with a focus on sustaining families. Early in the pandemic, we searched for ways we could help support families struggling with the economic effects of the stay-at- home orders. With the unprecedented demands on local food banks, we quickly identified St. Mary’s as our non- profit partner of choice and with their membership with Feed America, we had an opportunity to help families throughout Arizona. We just exceeded our goal of 250,000 meals. With respect to the computers for schools, we



recognized that once kids were sent home from school due to the virus outbreak, many kids from low-income families would not be able to continue their education due to a lack of computer access. We contacted a local school district and provided 32 computers with software to support these kids. “Successful ownership transition has always been a goal of EPS Group. Having this as a focus from the inception of the firm allowed us to put in place well-defined protocols that have facilitated this transition.” TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? EW: Although we develop our workload projections for up to a year, we can reliably predict our workload out to about six months. Beyond that, the crystal ball gets hazier. Cashflow has been a focus of ours over the last couple of years and we have developed a variety of approaches to ensure better and more timely receipts. This has reduced our day’s sales outstanding and led to a more predictable cashflow. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? EW: My family is more important than my career. If my career began to negatively impact my family, then I would adjust my career approach. I do try to keep career and family separate and be home when I’m home and at work when I’m at work, but that can be difficult at times. TZL: You recently acquired Azimi. How did the acquisition go? What was main reason for acquisition and what, if any, were the main challenges in incorporating this new firm into existing culture? How many people were added? EW: We are excited to welcome Azimi! The acquisition is going well and we look forward to the future. We acquired Azimi (five staff) to bolster the engineering resources of our recently opened Southern California office. As a local firm, Azimi had the experience we were looking for. To help with the cultural transition, we had the firm principal, Ali Azimi, come to our primary office in Mesa and work

with us for several weeks. This allowed him the opportunity to get to know us, our processes, procedures, and company culture. TZL: Trust is crucial. How do you earn the trust of your clients? EW: We bring great expertise and ideas to the table and then do what we say we will do. TZL: How has COVID affected your business on a daily basis? EW: Like most firms, the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially altered how we do our business. Nearly all of our design staff now work remotely. Our field survey crews must follow new safety protocols. Despite these and many other disruptions, and to the credit of our associates and teams, our utilization has actually increased during the pandemic. We have had many projects put on hold or canceled due to the economic impacts of the virus. Thankfully, however, we have thus far been able to secure other work to sustain our staffing. TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit? If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? EW: We have been using this credit for several years. Its value varies from year to year based on the varying nature of our work. “We’ve always embraced the idea that our staff is our greatest asset. I know this concept is so repeated these days and that it now sounds trite, but it really is our approach.” 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? EW: We have worked with our local universities for several years in helping us identify new talent. We have often provided a firm partner to sponsor senior design projects so that we get to know the new graduates more personally and professionally. This gives us better insight into each candidate’s technical ability and See QUALITY, page 8


❚ ❚ Tucson, AZ ❚ ❚ Flagstaff, AZ ❚ ❚ Tustin, CA ❚ ❚ North Phoenix, AZ SERVICES: ❚ ❚ Transportation ❚ ❚ Survey/geospatial ❚ ❚ Land development ❚ ❚ Planning

❚ ❚ Landscape architecture ❚ ❚ Municipal engineering ❚ ❚ Water resources/drainage ❚ ❚ Construction management MARKET SECTORS: ❚ ❚ Civic ❚ ❚ Commercial ❚ ❚ Education ❚ ❚ Federal ❚ ❚ Healthcare/senior living

❚ ❚ Multi-family ❚ ❚ Mixed-use ❚ ❚ Native American ❚ ❚ Presidential ❚ ❚ Sports/recreation ❚ ❚ Worship ❚ ❚ Public infrastructure VALUES: ❚ ❚ Reliability ❚ ❚ Quality ❚ ❚ Integrity ❚ ❚ Vision ❚ ❚ Mission

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

EMBER 2, 2020, ISSUE 1366


BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES CONSTRUCTION IS COMPLETE ON RECOOP SPA IN SEATTLE Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced construction is complete on the new Recoop Spa located at 2908 1st Avenue in Seattle, Washington. Ware Malcomb provided interior architecture and design services for the project. The new 3,696 square foot luxury Recoop Spa is located on the ground floor retail space of an existing five-story multifamily residential building. The design incorporates a reception and retail area, nail salon (including eight manicure stations and eight pedicure stations), day spa with six treatment rooms (four massage and two facial rooms), relaxation room, restroom/shower, locker room, employee break room and laundry room. The interior design includes a combination of modern and rustic features. The reception area incorporates a reclaimed wood feature wall, polished concrete floors, custom millwork to display retail items, and barn doors to welcome visitors into the nail salon. A unique entry panel by Interlam Surfaces with a custom Recoop Spa logo completes the space. “We enjoyed working with Recoop Spa to create an inviting, luxurious environment for its customers and employees,” said Cindy Kang, Director, Interior Architecture & Design of Ware Malcomb’s Seattle office. “At the same time, the layout is designed to maximize the available space to accommodate the wide variety of services offered at the spa.”

With this new opening, Recoop Spa now has two locations to serve customers in both Seattle and Bellevue. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Recoop Spa is operating under strict new sanitation standards based on guidelines established by the Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The general contractor for the project was Constantine Builders . 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 & technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/institutional facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as a Hot Firm by Zweig Group. WARE MALCOMB CHAIRMAN LAWRENCE R. ARMSTRONG TO EXHIBIT ARTWORK AT AMSTERDAM WHITNEY GALLERY IN NEW YORK CITY Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced its Chairman Lawrence R. Armstrong, who is also an accomplished artist, will have his artwork displayed at the Chelsea Biennale fall exhibition at the Amsterdam Whitney International Fine Art Gallery located at 531

West 25th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. The exhibition is running now through December 1, 2020. The metal and acrylic pieces displayed include “Hatch” and Midge 1.0” from Armstrong’s “Layered Vision” series, which highlights the artist’s ongoing fascination with the concept of layers. The series explores the natural tension inherent in varying environmental settings. It also evokes the multifaceted experience of the immense complexity that constitutes our world. “It is an honor to be exhibiting my artwork at this prestigious gallery alongside other inspiring artists,” said Armstrong. “I want to thank the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery for this opportunity, and for their continued dedication to showcasing the work of contemporary artists from around the world.” Armstrong’s artwork has previously been exhibited at the Grimandi Art Gallery in New York City, ArtPalmBeach Contemporary Art Fair in West Palm Beach, Florida, Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair in Chicago, Galleria 360 EmozionArte show in Florence, Italy, Spectrum Miami Art Show, and Artblend Summer Exhibit in Fort Lauderdale. 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.

QUALITY, from page 7

the incoming partner. The biggest challenge to successful ownership transition is to make sure that the incoming partner proves to be a long-term asset to the firm and who embraces the company philosophies of quality and client service. “We have always strived to support local charities with a focus on sustaining families. Early in the pandemic, we searched for ways we could help support families struggling with the economic effects of the stay-at-home orders.” TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? EW: We’ve always embraced the idea that our staff is our greatest asset. I know this concept is so repeated these days and that it now sounds trite, but it really is our approach. We demonstrate our commitment by providing growth and incentive programs that we believe are unmatched in our region. This allows high achievers to not only feel valued but to also receive value for their contributions.

compatibility with our firm culture. TZL: I see that you are both president and project leader for the public works department. How do you divide time between the two roles or are they interchangeable? EW: The word “Group” in EPS Group, is indicative of the partners that form the ownership of the company. I am blessed to have partners and executives who handle various aspects of the business and free up my time to do what I love about my job – designing/managing great projects. As such, I usually spend less than eight hours a week on corporate matters allowing the remainder of my time to be dedicated to my clients. 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? EW: Successful ownership transition has always been a goal of EPS Group. Having this as a focus from the inception of the firm (17 years ago) allowed us to put in place well-defined protocols that have facilitated this transition. Key to this approach has been developing a stock purchase program that protects the firm and selling shareholder, without financially overburdening

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




W hen you have been working with A/E firms as long as I have, you will have seen many attempts at leadership transition for the CEO (or whatever the top person’s title is). Some of these transitions have been successful, while many have not. These are some of the common elements that are often present in the most successful leadership transitions. Making leadership transition real

Here are some of the common elements that are often present in the most successful transitions – and I will define “success” here as the company continues to grow and be profitable post- transition: 1)It starts way before the baton is actually passed. Leaders at all levels – but especially the top – need to identify those who have the best odds of becoming their successors early on. This possibility needs to be clearly expressed to the potential successor so he or she can act accordingly. Nothing is worse than having someone you thought would be your successor leave because that individual didn’t know they were going to be the successor. 2)There are no secrets. Why is the future successor often kept a secret – one that can be sprung on the employees with no warning after a business planning retreat or on the first of the year? Besides telling the successor what your thoughts are about them being the successor, share those plans with everyone else as well. Everyone needs to get used to the idea and expect the change before it happens,

as opposed to them feeling ambushed when it happens.

Mark Zweig

3)Whomever is picked is someone the other employees will respect. It helps if that successor has proved themselves as a high performer in the “business of the business.“ In other words, if the firm is a high design architectural firm, the successor has the best chances for acceptance if they are known to be a competent designer. Like it or not, this is the reality of our business. 4)The person doing the handoff spends a great deal of time with their successor. There just isn’t any substitute for lots and lots of communication with your successor. There has to be a good relationship there if you want a smooth transition. It will take time from two already busy people to make that happen. If it has to be formally scheduled to make sure this does occur, then that should be done. 5)The successor is open and willing to learn. Having some humility and respect for the predecessor is

See MARK ZWEIG, page 10



BUSINESS NEWS CAPITOL CROSSING PROJECT RECEIVES USGBC NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION AWARD Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced that Capitol Crossing – 200 Massachusetts Avenue was recently awarded the 2020 Community Leader Award for Innovative Design, New Construction- Commercial by the U.S. Green Building Council National Capital Region chapter. Dewberry provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services for the LEEDPlatinum project. Award winners were announced at USGBC’s annual event, “A Midsummer Night’s Green” in July. The virtual event featured recognition for buildings across the Washington, D.C., area. Capitol Crossing is one of the largest active development projects in Washington, D.C., spanning three city blocks. Once complete, the development will feature five mixed-use buildings with office, residential, and retail space. 200 Massachusetts Ave. is the first of five buildings to be completed in the Capitol Crossing project. Dewberry provided MEP services for the 12-story building. The building was commended for design innovations

resulting in part from its location and the challenges that the site provided, requiring construction directly over I-395. Dewberry’s heating, ventilation, and air- conditioning design resulted in 15 points for energy optimization toward the LEED Platinum certification as the design demonstrated a 32.5 percent savings in energy over the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers baseline code- minimum requirements. HVAC enhancements that led to the high energy efficiency include a high-efficiency, low temperature, wide temperature-differential chilled water system with energy/heat recovery dedicated outdoor air systems units; low temperature air handling units; and a series of fan terminals to eliminate re-heat. “We had the opportunity to solve some unique MEP challenges posed by working over a highway,” says Dewberry Senior Project Manager Kevin McNiff, PE. “We accomplished this by creating simplified and economical solutions. The MEP design also provided accommodations for multiple expansive restaurants on the first floor of 200 Massachusetts Ave. We are presently

providing the MEP engineering services for the first two. In addition, the care we put into the design allows for maximum flexibility for two future buildings in the Center Block. Once completed, I believe that Capitol Crossing will be one of the most recognizable developments in the entire city, and I feel honored to have been part of it.” In addition to the work performed on 200 and 250 Massachusetts Avenue, Dewberry is also providing MEP services across the entire development. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 9

create distance from their predecessor. Some successors tend to do this and it’s almost always a mistake. The reason usually is based on ego or a desire to put their own stamp on the company, but it’s the last thing they should probably do. What may be forgotten is the predecessor had their own relationships with the people of the organization and any perceived attacks on them will create morale problems with those who cared for and respected the predecessor. Not to mention it just makes the successor look bad and untrustworthy if they would do that to the person responsible for elevating them. 9)The successor stays on a quest to constantly identify the things the company did that made them successful so they can be sure to keep doing them, while at the same time working to change the things that are no longer appropriate because of a changing business environment and world. This is perhaps the most difficult task of all for a successor. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. At the same time, you may and probably do need to make some changes. Discerning between the two takes some real wisdom on the part of the successor. They don’t all have it – at least at first. That’s why it may be important for them to act with adequate deliberation – especially for their first year or two in their new role. Of course if the financial situation the firm finds itself in is dire, the successor will have to act more quickly. One thing is for certain. It takes a lot of work from both predecessors and successors to make ANY transition successful. The relationship – if it is going to survive – will take a lot of empathy and mutual respect from both parties. Leaders – pick your successors wisely. And successors – act wisely once you get in the job. MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

essential for the successor. They can’t behave in such a way that they seem to think they already know everything they will need to know to do the job. 6)The leader who is making the transition doesn’t expect everything to be exactly the same as when they did the job, and they allow the successor to do their job. This is really hard for many older leaders in A/E firms but is absolutely necessary if they are going to give their successor a real chance to succeed. And even if they disagree with changes being made, other than expressing that to their successors, they should keep that to themselves. This gets particularly difficult if the financial results of the business go in the tank and the successor is depending on a strong performance from the firm so they are able to make their ongoing buyback payments related to the transition. 7)When members of the organization try to go around the new boss to the old boss, the old boss discourages that. The predecessor needs to send the complainer or problem identifier to the successor or whomever would be more appropriate. This is so important. Anything less will communicate that the transition really wasn’t real. 8)The successor, once in the job, doesn’t try to vilify or “It takes a lot of work from both predecessors and successors to make any transition successful. The relationship – if it is going to survive – will take a lot of empathy and mutual respect from both parties.”

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




T he reality of construction is changing. An industry challenged by labor shortages and the effects of climate change and increasing urbanization now has the headwind of the global COVID-19 pandemic. To thrive in the future, accelerating innovation and adopting a more dynamic approach are more important than ever. We must apply our human intelligence to identify the real problems and leverage technology as a platform to bridge the gaps between tools, people, and processes. Technical problems need human solutions

Trevor Lunde

GLY has always embraced new technology. We were one of the first firms in our region to hire an architect in-house to lead the development of BIM (building information modeling). We collaborated with AutoDesk and their partners to develop an innovative new application for one of their tools. Our growing team of integrated design managers and engineers now touches every project we work on, and our R&D manager position reflects our desire to continue to explore the application of robotics and artificial intelligence in construction. However, we learned some hard lessons along the way. First and foremost, technology – no matter how smart or advanced – is not a panacea. In fact, to be blunt, our industry wastes significant amounts of time and energy trying to apply tech to problems fundamentally caused by simple human error. Delivering one of today’s highly complex buildings

in current market conditions has never been more challenging. It is characterized by: ❚ ❚ Condensed schedules ❚ ❚ Escalating finances ❚ ❚ Limited time and resources available only at a premium ❚ ❚ High stress ❚ ❚ Inefficient legacy processes and contractual agreements that mire the industry in the past TECH IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM ISN’T A SOLUTION. As tempting as it is to grab the newest shiny object, advances in technology alone will not solve these problems. The solutions lie in how we apply our human intelligence to identify the real problems and leverage technology as a platform to bridge the gaps between tools, people, and processes.

See TREVOR LUNDE, page 13

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


ON THE MOVE TLC ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS, INC. NAMES DERICK THOMPSON AS STRUCTURAL DIRECTOR Derick Thompson, formerly structural operations manager has been promoted to the role of director in the Orlando-based Structural Engineering Operating Group. Thompson joined TLC in February of 2020 and has assisted the group by enhancing project delivery as well as identifying and winning new opportunities, expanding TLC’s structural practice. The previous director, Steve Shelt, will continue to serve the group as a senior structural engineer. Upon promoting Thompson to Orlando structural director, COO Jim Ferris, PE stated,

“During his time at TLC, Derick has excelled at increasing recognition and opportunities for our Structural team. He is a natural-born leader who inspires others to perform their best work. As a Director, we expect that Derick will continue to illustrate strong leadership, our culture of quality work, and grow our structural presence in all TLC locations. ” With both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in structural engineering from the University of Oklahoma, Thompson has more than 15 years of experience in the industry managing structural engineering projects, as well as developing opportunities, most recently in the Central Florida marketplace.

TLC’s structural group is bringing clients’ visions to reality on an array of project types, including the recently opened St. Pete Pier, multiple Amazon warehouses, Margaritaville Hotel, and Legoland Hotel. TLC is an award-winning, nationally ranked consulting engineering firm serving healthcare, education, transportation, government and commercial markets across the United States and around the world. TLC provides exceptional MEP, fire protection, life safety, technology, structural engineering, energy and sustainability consulting and building commissioning, as well as theatre/venue and acoustical consulting services.

TREVOR LUNDE, from page 12

environment, but we still duplicate efforts and make little progress toward eliminating inefficient steps. We still separate design from construction in the documentation process. Why would we not replace design intent elements with actual shop-drawing-level information provided by those who are installing the work? 2)Shift our mindset through data sharing. There is a tension within our industry characterized by, “this is how we’ve always done it.” We need to shift the conversation from what we should do to why we need to solve the problem by sharing information across disciplines. The forward-thinking stakeholders and innovators in the industry today identify new and unique problems. We need a mindset that allows us to recognize these as new challenges and work together to solve the problems at hand. 3)Embrace iterative innovation. The speed at which new problems emerge means we won’t always get it right the first time. We must embrace mistakes as an opportunity to innovate. Through collaboration we can react quickly, execute solutions, recognize failures, and rebound, leveraging lessons learned to move forward. As a traditionally risk averse industry, our fear of failure tends to hold us back from innovation and experimentation. We need to create a culture of tolerance for innovation, failure, and learning/rebounding. 4)Data-smart outcomes . We can’t know what we don’t know. We need to cut through the volume of data and select the quality information that will allow the entire team to transform data into usable information that can help drive decisions. EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY EMPOWERS THE FUTURE. The future of design solutions, construction, and building management sits at our doorstep today. We are striving to better understand the interaction of the built environment, occupants, and the devices we interact with. The demand for smarter and more integrated buildings will only become more prevalent as we look to capture more data and better understand the occupant experience. We must remain comfortably uncomfortable in our approach and accomplishments. This is how we’ll stay on the (responsible) leading edge of development, productivity, and partner interactions. TREVOR LUNDE is design manager at GLY. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

This is not a tech challenge, but a leadership challenge. We have been taking a long hard look at how we can leverage BIM not simply as a tool, but rather as a platform for greater collaboration. Rethinking the role of BIM in the construction process requires new ways of working together, a shift in mindset and a willingness to leave behind old assumptions that no longer serve. As a general contractor responsible for coordinating multiple disciplines, vendors, and design partners to meet our clients’ expectations, the immediate question for us is, “how can we all coalesce around the problems we need to solve?” We know everyone wants the project to be successful. What if we let go of our traditional silos and pain points and took a different approach? TECHNOLOGY AS A PLATFORM, NOT A TOOL. The single most important first step in the construction process is to bring together the client and key stakeholders in goal setting. The modeled environment we operate in today allows us to replace the traditional matrix with a series of drawings that are produced with the goal of visually depicting opportunities. This medium allows us to create a shared vision – together in real time – and better understand different approaches to resolving design intent. At GLY, we effectively leverage tech as the platform that puts us all on the same page from day one. We no longer struggle with determining a solid starting point. In short, everyone holds the same map to our final destination. We all begin from the same place, united in our journey. All we have to do is travel down the path together and work through any thorny challenges we identified earlier. CREATING A CULTURE THAT ALLOWS TECH TO SHINE. GLY has a culture of autonomy and collaboration, of allowing the right people the freedom to explore and innovate. Through “fast failures” we’ve identified the critical success factors that will allow us to leverage this powerful tech platform to its fullest potential: 1)Build new partnerships. We need to break down traditional approaches and reach out to build new partnerships in order to accelerate the sharing of resources. The design team (architectural and structural) along with the GC team coordinates quite comfortably together in a single


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