TZL 1463 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

TRENDLINES Ownership vs. management team transition October 31, 2022, Issue 1463 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM

How does a brand create a long-lasting legacy well beyond any individual contributor or even just its founders? The Addams Family legacy

I t’s a fact that successfully surviving a founder transition can be one of the most difficult times in an AEC firm’s history. Not everyone is ready to be a leader or sage enough to shepherd a firm into the relatively unknown. When cartoonist Charles Addams began doodling out what soon became some 150 individual tile cartoons for The New Yorker in the 1930s, did he envision everything that would result from that? Whether he knew or not, the content, brand, and legacy of The Addams Family make a great case study for a Halloween day publication. Let’s take a walk down to 001 Cemetery Lane and see the impacts that can be made by a strong brand and legacy. ■ Cross marketing. This is where a lot of AEC firms fall short in their overall marketing efforts. Firms need to promote their work in ways that attract other industries to buy into the value of their services beyond what design or project management functions provide. AEC firms must concentrate on furthering their influence beyond the AEC industry. For example, there are technology/ software development companies and government associations lobbying higher education institutions across the U.S. to encourage enrollment in technology focused majors. In some cases, institutions are even heavily financially incentivized to do just that. When recruiting and retention is one of the greatest challenges in the AEC industry today, why aren’t we exerting that same type of influence? ■ Recruiting and retention. We encounter too many firms saying the exact same things to draw attention to their brands through the lens of recruiting and retention. Most promote things like “We work on exciting and innovative projects” or “We offer a competitive (which often means standard) benefits package and compensation.” This repetition furthers the sense of firms being seen as a commodity and not as innovative thought leaders responsible for our built environment. It’s also not enough to achieve the type of growth firms need to keep up with current and future demands for work. Creating and promoting a brand around your passions and employees’ interests are much better ways to uniquely create a strong brand and legacy. ■ Culture. The Addams Family has had a profound influence on American media culture. It’s helped inspire an entire gothic

FIRM INDEX AECOM.......................................................................... 4 Bowman Consulting Group Ltd................. 8 Conti Federal Services ................................... 10 E4H ................................................................................ 12 Fleis & VandenBrink ......................................... 10 Huckabee Architects ....................................... 12 Image Engineering Group ........................... 12 Rachlin Partners .................................................. 12 Shear Structural ...................................................... 4 TSK Architects ...................................................... 12 Westwood.................................................................. 6 MORE ARTICLES n MALORY ATKINSON: Marketing is about more than proposals Page 3 n Taking care of people: Ken Hanifan Page 6 n DAVID HARVEY: The value of training your people Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Ownership transition needs to start now Page 11 In Zweig Group’s 2022 Financial Performance Report of AEC Firms , firms shared their timeline for ownership and management team transitions. Most firms in the survey look to transition their top executive team in the next three to 10 years, but aren’t considering ownership transition for another five to 10 years. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

Chad Coldiron




BUSINESS NEWS IMPORTANT UPDATES FROM ZWEIG GROUP’S ELEVATEHER™ PROGRAM On the heels of a highly successful inaugural ElevateHER™ Symposium, Zweig Group has opened applications for the 2023 Cohort and announced February 15, 2023 in Dallas, Texas, as the date and location of the 2023 Symposium. ElevateHER ensures underrepresented demographics find success in the AEC industry by serving as an advisor and a hub of information and resources. The ElevateHER™ cohort is a special task force comprised of individuals with a commitment to promote diversity as a means to combat recruiting and retention challenges in the AEC industry. The previous three cohorts worked in specific project teams, each concentrating on a particular challenge or focus area in order to provide an end product or strategy that can make a measurable impact on the AEC industry. The 2023 cohort will focus on continuing these projects as well as some new ideas and initiatives. “Through ElevateHER, so many diverse individuals have come together to support one another and create inspiring

projects and programs. We’re starting to see the effects of these projects spread throughout AEC firms and the industry at large,” said Jamie Claire Kiser, managing principal and founder of ElevateHER. All individuals, regardless of age, experience, gender, background, or job role, were welcome and encouraged to apply. View the application here . Download 2023 Sponsorship Prospectus here . Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: mergers and acquisitions, strategic planning, valuation, executive search, board of director services, ownership transition, marketing and branding, and business development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Interested in learning more

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

CHAD COLDIRON, from page 1

subculture and the tangibles (additional revenue opportunities) that go along with it. They are considered such an American icon the family is as well-known as some of the most famous families in our history, fictional or not. It’s rare to encounter AEC firms whose brand is powerful enough to impact our teeming culture at this point. ■ Additional revenue streams. Since its inception, The Addams Family brand has been so attractive that other media outlets like television, film, video games, comic books, Broadway productions, and a massive merchandising effort have seen the opportunity to carry on this legacy. It’s easy to imagine the brand awareness today is well beyond anything Charles Addams envisioned in its creation. Until very recently, it was almost impossible to find the AEC industry being celebrated through a variety of different industry channels like The Addams Family . I wish we could ask Charles about all of this but, well, he’s been dead about as long as I’ve been alive. Something tells me he would love the macabre associated with that coincidence. Happy Halloween! Chad Coldiron is a principal and director of executive search at Zweig Group. Contact him at

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

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

ELEVATEHER SYMPOSIUM Join Zweig Group and the newly inducted 2023 ElevateHER Cohort at the ElevateHER Symposium in Dallas on February 15, 2023. The symposium will include presentation overviews of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 ElevateHER cohort’s research findings, team projects, powerful panel discussions, and DEI focused keynote presentations from industry change agents. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A s defined by the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Challenge your marketing team to think beyond proposals and begin to work to strategically impact the entire client experience. Marketing is about more than proposals

Alternatively, as defined by a former boss, “Marketing is really just proposals.” Marketing is not just proposals. Take this opportunity to realign and redefine marketing for your firm. Let’s lean into the AMA definition where marketing guides the communication and delivery strategy for our professional services. If we are to stay relevant to our clients and competitive in a talent war with other sophisticated industries (i.e. tech), we must move our industry beyond a proposal-centric, project-pursuit only approach to AEC marketing. As architects, engineers, and builders, we are responsible for the spaces and places that people interact and engage with each and every day. We have an immense responsibility, and also a tremendous opportunity, to influence the built environment – to shape the lives and experiences of

so many people. The same way the iPhone influenced the way we connect with one another, the built environment impacts our experiences at school, work, and home. Why don’t we consider, talk about, and value that more? In today’s incredibly competitive labor market, we need to inspire the next generation to eagerly want to work for our firms. Let’s take a few steps back in history. In the early 20th century, marketing one’s professional practice was actually forbidden by the AIA. Concerned that underbidders would produce something of a lesser quality, the first Principles of Practice adopted in 1909 by the association barred architects from marketing themselves. Advertising in any form, even proposals and sketches, was prohibited by the professional organization, and it wasn’t until 1972 that the AIA finally agreed to allow members to market their services.

Malory Atkinson, CPSM




ON THE MOVE AECOM APPOINTS DAWN MACDONALD AS GLOBAL OFFSHORE WIND SECTOR LEAD AECOM, the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, announced today it has appointed Dawn MacDonald as its Global Offshore Wind Market Sector Lead. In this role, MacDonald will work across the globe to advance an integrated offshore wind offering that leverages AECOM’s leading environmental and port infrastructure expertise to new and existing clients. “We are excited to welcome Dawn to AECOM as we continue to advance our Sustainable Legacies strategy and extend our global capabilities in the growing offshore wind energy market,” said Lara Poloni, AECOM’s president. “We have a deep commitment to positively impacting the environment and helping our clients realize their low-carbon energy ambitions, and Dawn’s industry- leading offshore wind experience will further enhance AECOM’s multi-decade track record of delivering best-in-class environmental services and leadership in the ports and marine design sector.’’ Global offshore wind generation is expected to rapidly grow over the next

decade, driven by government net- zero commitments and incentives, the need for reliability through the energy transition, implementation of new technologies, and major leases coming online. AECOM’s unique combination of services in permitting, port design, energy, construction, and program management allows the firm to serve its clients across the complexities associated with their wind development projects. “I am delighted to join AECOM and work closely with technical experts around the world to deliver large-scale projects that reinforce our position as an offshore wind leader,” said MacDonald. “With governments moving quickly to boost new renewable energy capacity and meet their carbon reduction goals, I am also looking forward to helping our clients accelerate delivery and significantly de-risk these projects by reducing complexities through extensive collaboration with developers, key suppliers and contractors, local ports, and agencies.” An energy industry veteran with more than 20 years in the sector and

a professional engineer by trade, MacDonald brings an impressive portfolio of offshore wind experience, having overseen development, construction, and operations projects as part of the Maple Power joint venture in Europe. Prior to that role, she was based out of Calgary, Canada and oversaw the technical development of North American megaprojects and evaluation of energy sector investment opportunities. AECOM is the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, delivering professional services throughout the project lifecycle – from planning, design and engineering to program and construction management. On projects spanning transportation, buildings, water, new energy and the environment, our public- and private-sector clients trust AECOM to solve their most complex challenges. AECOM’s teams are driven by a common purpose to deliver a better world through unrivaled technical expertise and innovation, a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion, and a commitment to environmental, social and governance priorities.

more than just proposals. Marketers can help differentiate and position our firms to be more profitable and use less resources to win projects. Here are five questions to ask your marketing team: 1. Who is our ideal client and how do we best reach clients matching that profile? 2. What is our ideal project and how do we align our services to meet that need? 3. What’s our value proposition and how can we communicate that value better? 4. What are our competitors doing? 5. How are we tracking, measuring, and reporting KPIs? Let’s work smarter, together – technical and non-technical. Start aligning marketing goals to your business goals. Challenge your marketers to think beyond proposals and begin to work to strategically impact the entire client experience. You’ll have happier clients and more profitable projects. Malory Atkinson, CPSM is a co-founder and managing partner of Shear Structural. She is the non-technical business partner, leading the firm’s marketing, finance, and strategic planning efforts. The firm has been named a Hot New Venture and Best Firm to Work For by Zweig Group. She can be reached at

MALORY ATKINSON, from page 3

As a result, marketing became an increasingly vital part of design firms; helping bring in new clients, adding value to the brand, and helping to attract and retain top talent. But sometimes I personally feel like we’re stuck 50 years in the past where just doing “good work” will get you more work, and where owners and firm leaders de-value the strategic marketing suggestions and efforts of the professionals they’ve hired. They place talented, creative non-technical individuals in proposal burnout factories and wonder why their hit rates aren’t improving. They value the creativity and innovation of the designer, but not the marketer. And they place technical professionals at the top of the marketing team to lead these non-technical professionals. “Let’s celebrate our marketers, listen to their creative ideas to make our brands modern and relevant, implement their strategic communications, and give them responsibilities more than just proposals.” It’s time we give it its due. Let’s celebrate our marketers, let’s listen to their creative ideas to make our brands modern and relevant (perhaps a logo redesign?), let’s implement their strategic communications, and give them responsibilities

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Want to learn more? Get in touch. Kevin Johns Shareholder, A&E



Taking care of people: Ken Hanifan Vice president of strategy at Westwood (Minneapolis, MN), an awarding-winning firm that provides multi-disciplined surveying and engineering services.


H anifan supports Westwood in its development, execution, and monitoring of the strategic plan objectives to achieve the company goals. He oversees the company acquisition pipeline and is a member of the team responsible for identifying and evaluating potential acquisitions. “At Westwood, we work hard to integrate the seller at a pace that is comfortable for them,” Hanifan says. “We listen to the challenges and work very hard to overcome them. This is a people business and our number one priority is to take care of the people.” A CONVERSATION WITH KEN HANIFAN. The Zweig Letter: Your firm was acquired by Westwood in 2019. Tell me about the transition. What was your role before and how has it changed? Ken Hanifan: Prior to the acquisition, my role in Slater Hanifan Group was as CEO and president. Post transaction, my role changed several times throughout the more than four years since the transaction. Fortunately, Westwood’s leadership has worked with me to find a seat on the bus that is rewarding. In

my current role, we work on the short-, mid-, and long-term strategic planning for the company, including mergers and acquisitions. TZL: Your online bio states that you’re responsible for identifying and evaluating potential acquisitions. What are the key factors that most influence your decision to move forward or not? KH: There are several key factors that play into our decision to move forward including: Do our services match up well? What is the depth of their bench at the leadership level? Will our cultures blend well? What are the future plans for the leadership team? How will they integrate into Westwood? Do they want to continue to grow? TZL: Since you’ve been in this role, what have been the most challenging acquisitions Westwood has made and why? How were those challenges met? KH: Each acquisition has its own challenges, but most revolve around the people. Change is difficult and it is the seller’s and buyer’s responsibility to help the people integrate into



the new company. It could easily take 18 months for people to get comfortable with the changes that occur and to discover whether the buyer has lived up to the promises made. At Westwood, we work hard to integrate the seller at a pace that is comfortable for them. We listen to the challenges and work very hard to overcome them. This is a people business and our number one priority is to take care of the people. “Each acquisition has its own challenges, but most revolve around the people. Change is difficult and it is the seller’s and buyer’s responsibility to help the people integrate into the new company.” TZL: What do you think is the most important skill that sets you up for success? Does your engineering background play a role? How? KH: An engineering background does help with my role as it’s geared around solving problems. There’s always an opportunity with every challenge. The most important skill set that helps us be successful is our ability to listen, relate, and work toward a common solution. TZL: Tell me a little about the process involved when it comes to researching potential mergers and acquisitions? How are they researched? How long does it take? Who’s involved? KH: Finding the right company to acquire is quite extensive. Are they looking to sell? Brokers have been amazing at bringing opportunities to us. The more experience the broker has in our industry the better. Warm introductions work the best. Cold calling never goes away. Every cold call that gets answered at least ends up in a good conversation and perhaps someday an acquisition. The internet and well-crafted CIMs are helpful in getting the due diligence started. We like to have as much information as possible upfront to help put together a good valuation. Brokers that educate the sellers on the true value of their company are exceptional. A thorough due diligence period takes about 90 days and if the seller is not truly a seller, this process could take several months to develop the relationship to the point where it’s time to take that next step. At Westwood, our initial calls involve just a few people and as the potential increases, we bring in the appropriate people to help each side get to know each other

better (HR, finance, directors of specific services or markets, etc.). TZL: How many acquisitions has Westwood completed since you joined them in 2019? KH: Three. TZL: How does Westwood attract so many strong acquisition partners in such a competitive M&A environment? What differentiates you? KH: We’re looking for great partners who we can work with for several years into the future. We’re not looking for someone who just wants the highest payout and then is gone. There are companies out there that recognize this and that they will not just become a number in a much larger organization. TZL: What advice would you have for a buyer or seller that is considering M&A for the first time? KH: Do your homework. Ask the right questions. What type of buyer are you looking for – PE, public, or a company like yours? Attend some conferences to learn about all the options. Are you ready to take that step of not being in charge? Make sure the leadership/culture you are teaming with fits yours. TZL: Many expect record transaction volume in 2022, but high valuations and macro factors such as inflation, talent shortages, and rising material costs bear watching. How has the risk environment changed in the last two years? Will transaction volumes wax or wane amid a dynamic business landscape? KH: The transaction volume in 2022 will be high as many companies are enticed by the higher valuations being presented at each offer. I believe there will be a pull back as inflation and the threat of a recession becomes more of a reality, but that will be delayed. Especially with the infrastructure bill out there. Companies that focus on private development will be hit first, presenting an opportunity for buyers. Companies that are positioned well will continue to acquire for quite some time. “We’re looking at which markets may be affected by a recession. We’re also looking for opportunities that might present.”




OFFICE LOCATIONS: Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin

MARKETS: Power, Wind, Solar, Energy

Storage, Power Delivery, Commercial, Residential, Industrial, Institutional, Aviation, Municipalities

SERVICES: Civil, Surveying, Water Resources, Water/ Wastewater,

Transportation, Planning, Landscape Architecture, Environmental, Construction Management, Electrical, Substation, Transmission & Distribution, Geotechnical, Structural


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

TOBER 31, 2022, ISSUE 1463


ON THE MOVE BOWMAN CONSULTING GROUP LTD. APPOINTS CLAY WORLEY AS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. appointed Clay Worley as executive vice president and chief human resources officer. He brings more than 30 years in the HR field including global experience with public companies. Worley will be responsible for the oversight and strategic direction of Bowman’s HR and talent acquisition departments and will work closely with the firm’s dedicated integration team for company acquisitions. “Clay’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable to us as we continue to implement our strategic growth initiative,” said Bowman CEO Gary Bowman. “Clay is passionate about the development and execution of effective people strategies and has extensive experience guiding a growing public company like Bowman through the human capital challenges of achieving increasing scale. We are confident Clay will be a terrific addition to our executive leadership team.”

Before joining Bowman, Worley worked at NCI, Inc. as senior vice president and chief human resources officer. He also served as NCI’s chief ethics officer and was responsible for the development and execution of all human capital and talent management strategies, programs, and systems to build a diverse, productive, collaborative, and ethical culture. Prior to NCI, Worley was vice president of HR at DXC Technologies (formerly Hewlett Packard Enterprise) where he served as the senior HR executive supporting over 9,500 employees. “At Bowman, I intend to focus on our investments in human capital and work to optimize our HR infrastructure to help everyone be more successful,” stated Worley. “I look forward to collaborating closely with our team of strong and experienced HR professionals to continue building a department oriented toward supporting, encouraging and empowering our current and future employees. Acquisitions, competitive benefits, robust professional development programming and a

thoughtful and thorough integration process are all critical to Bowman’s success. I am confident we will be up to the challenges.” At the HR Alliance DC, he is dedicated to giving back to the HR community and advocating for growth and development through a program that targets highly marginalized communities and provides HR support. Worley’s involvement in the HR field is also exemplified by his many professional memberships including the Society for Human Resources Management, HRCI, a credentialing and learning organization for the human resources profession, and the Human Capital Institute. Worley earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Louisville and furthered his studies at the University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business from which he earned a master’s degree in business administration.

evaluate potential acquisitions which are ultimately approved by the board. Members of the Endurance team provide many years of experience and knowledge in helping us to achieve our vision. However, the Endurance team relies on our leadership to build the company. TZL: Some buyers and sellers think it best to “discuss the numbers” early on in an M&A process to be sure that both parties are in the same ballpark before diving too deeply into cultural fit and operational viability. What is your opinion on this? KH: We prefer parallel paths. Getting to know each other is critical in the evaluation of the company. Both sides must be comfortable with each other in evaluating the numbers as some companies are more sophisticated in financial reporting than others. Having a good relationship helps with the ability to ask some direct questions about the numbers. That does not mean to wait too long in making sure both parties are in the ballpark. “At Westwood, we work hard to integrate the seller at a pace that is comfortable for them. We listen to the challenges and work very hard to overcome them. This is a people business and our number one priority is to take care of the people.”


TZL: Is Westwood taking any precautionary measures relating to what some believe is an impending recession? KH: Yes. We’re looking at which markets may be affected by a recession. We’re also looking for opportunities that might present and shoring up the areas that may be negatively affected. TZL: How has the partnership of HSG and Westwood created opportunities for HSG’s staff that wouldn’t have been possible previously? KH: Initially, there was that fear of change. We had to work through that with some of our team and now they have become an integral part of the Westwood leadership team. We’ve had people relocate to other offices to advance their careers which was not possible without the acquisition. With the acquisitions that we have made since then, people who were part of SHG have not taken on more of a regional/ national role. TZL: How, if at all, does Westwood’s partnership with Endurance Partners shape your approach to M&A? How involved is Endurance’s team in the decision-making of Westwood’s acquisition strategy? KH: The Endurance partnership has brought many opportunities for us to take advantage of including financial backing, experience sharing from the board and putting us on the map to being able to achieve our hefty goals that we have set for ourselves. We have an M&A committee that helps to

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




The value of training your people

When well-trained staff are equipped with the skills needed to do their jobs well, everyone will reap the benefits.

A t Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering, we know the importance of developing staff in a tight talent market. With the demographics of the AEC industry today, there’s a lot of baby boomers and millennials, but not as many Gen Xers to step into leadership roles.

Keeping that pipeline of staff with leadership abilities is the responsibility of firm managers. This professional development is an investment for long- term sustainability, and it’s critical to embrace young engineers and strive to keep them on a growth track. Admittedly, it’s not easy and it doesn’t come with a written manual. But with the unemployment rate so low in the engineering field today, we know we must grow our firm from the inside and focus on individualized mentoring. Mentoring, coaching, and challenging staff with authentic real-world experience are keys to successful training. Sharing institutional knowledge with them is extremely important. The goal is to make them better than you are.

For nearly three decades, F&V has readily acknowledged that our employees are our greatest asset. We invest in staff, even if it increases the risk of losing them, because investing in training increases employee loyalty and retention. Although engineering graduates today have grown up with personal computers and are tech-savvy, the challenge is getting engineers-in-training involved in meaningful work from day one without throwing too much at them too soon. The training and development process, which never ends, focuses on new tasks and skills that they can try out in a controlled environment – much like learning to walk before you run.

David Harvey, P.E.

See DAVID HARVEY , page 10



BUSINESS NEWS CONTI FEDERAL AWARDED $140.9M CONTRACT TO CONSTRUCT NEW AIRCRAFT COMPLEX AT F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE Conti Federal Services, a leading U.S. government construction and engineering firm specializing in military and secure construction, has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract in the amount of $140,907,850 to construct a new aircraft complex at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, the contract will support the construction of a new complex that includes Helicopter Squadron Operations, Tactical Response Force Alert Crew Facility, Alert Aircraft Shelter, Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Aircraft Maintenance Shelter, Aircraft

Simulator complex, including a Satellite Fire Station. The associated site improvements will also include new taxiways, runway, helipads, and airfield lighting. While this is Conti Federal’s first project in Wyoming, the firm has worked extensively with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District on several other mission-critical projects, including their most recent contract to construct a Fighter Alert Shelter at the 115th Fighter Wing for the Air National Guard at Truax Field. “This is a very exciting project for us, and we’re honored that we were selected to build the new aircraft complex at F. E. Warren Air Force Base,” says Peter Ceribelli, Conti Federal’s CEO. “We are

looking forward to working with the Omaha District and the 90th Missile Wing at FE Warren to get the job ‘Done Once and Done Right’.” In addition to expertise in military and secure construction, Conti Federal has extensive experience working on complex critical infrastructure, disaster response & recovery, and environmental remediation projects. The firm has built a reputation for delivering projects on- time and on-budget, a crucial element in the success of contracts of this scope. Known for integrity and great communication with clients as well as subcontractors, Conti Federal stands out among other firms of its kind. The project is estimated to be completed in April 2025.

not all engineers are alike. Younger staff see firsthand how experienced project managers interact with clients, owners, contractors, and operators. They also see and learn how to effectively communicate with stakeholders. Striking a balance between the technical training and the human side is also encouraged because everyone interacts with others daily. Stressing skills like conflict resolution, time management, networking, and active listening during training is critical because younger staff need to convey their ideas to colleagues, leaders, and ultimately, clients. With the recent pandemic issues, in-person training proved to be most challenging. But with constant feedback from staff, we were able to continue training throughout the pandemic utilizing various tools and technology. Like many firms, we rely on “SMART” goals to monitor our training. The goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. There are annual reviews and quarterly check-ins to see how everyone is faring. Continuous improvement and feedback are vital. At Fleis & VandenBrink, we believe in the old and familiar adage of billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” If you don’t train employees in a tight talent market, your firm cannot grow and realize its full potential. You may also lose more than one valuable resource. Our secret ingredient is not that secret! We train employees to become supervisors which allows more growth for all staff. When well-trained staff are equipped with the skills needed to do their jobs well, everyone will reap the benefits. David Harvey, P.E., is a senior project manager for the Process Group at Fleis & VandenBrink. Contact him at dharvey@fveng. com.

DAVID HARVEY , from page 9

But the key to training is for project managers to give young engineers the knowledge, skill sets, and enough latitude to take ownership and work through the design or problem using their abilities. Project managers must also be careful not to give them too much responsibility before they are ready, or throw them into projects without the proper skills and burn them out. Throughout the training process, the leadership team is readily available to answer questions, so staff know what exactly is required of them. We like challenging many of our younger staff and instill in them the scary but exhilarating feeling that the buck stops with them. Given an opportunity and the support to take a leap, many engineers surprise themselves with their ability to execute on hard problems. It may seem like a time-consuming task but delegating and answering questions has proven invaluable. It makes your firm more efficient because you have knowledgeable senior staff who can train the younger staff. An associate and a process engineer at F&V explained how he grew within five years at the firm. “I was given the opportunity and freedom to run projects and make decisions with F&V giving me the confidence,” he said. “F&V always gave me the support and guidance to deliver successful projects. Now I am looking forward to working with younger staff and helping them gain the valuable experience that I was able to receive as a young engineer.” Staff who receive ongoing training and development opportunities feel valued and are usually happier with their progression. We believe it’s led to higher levels of employee retention, engagement, and morale. F&V does not have a rigid mentoring program because

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




The future will be here before you know it, so there is no time to delay your ownership transition planning efforts. Ownership transition needs to start now

O wnership transition is one of those things that many owners of AEC firms really don’t think much about. They hope it will all somehow work out when the time comes, but don’t really understand it. They know it’s important, but they think of their exit as something that will take place a long time into the future, so any decisions about ownership transition get pushed out.

Mark Zweig

That’s a problem. Whatever your personal plans are, you need to start now. Why is that, you may ask? Here are my thoughts: 1. Anything could happen. You may find yourself sick, or worse, die unexpectedly. You want your family to be taken care of and you want your business to survive. So it’s best to plan now. Do you have a buy/sell or shareholder agreement or an LLC operating agreement that specifies how your ownership interest is valued? If not, get that fixed now. Do you have life insurance with the company being the beneficiary so they can buy your stock back? If not, get it. You don’t want to deal with these issues when it’s too late. 2. Ownership transition could take a long time. It will always be easier and less painful for all involved if you start sooner. Who says it needs to be a switch that is flipped so it all happens at

once? Maybe paying for your ownership stake over 20 or 30 years will be less painful than doing it at once or over five years. So if you start the process and sell a little bit of it every year between now and the time you plan to retire that could create less strain on everyone. It will also supply you with a certain amount of income you wouldn’t otherwise get which could allow you to take less out of the company at tax time to meet your tax obligations, and that will help the company have a stronger balance sheet. There are many reasons to start the process early! 3. Ownership is a critical tool to motivate and retain your top talent. It is – and always has been as long as I have been working in this industry – a career objective of many people. Why hold them off? If you can sell these people some ownership

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12





Rachlin Partners, TSK Architects, Image Engineering Group, and E4H, the MOREgroup today comprises a network of 700 employees in 21 offices across the U.S. Each MOREgroup brand will retain the distinct focus that led it to success, while also contributing to a holistic network of services, expertise, and innovation that will be shared across markets. With significant combined expertise across architectural, design, engineering, and consulting services focused on the education, government, healthcare, and life sciences markets, the MOREgroup family of brands together will provide best-in-class planning and design services and solutions to its clients as it strives to deliver on its mission to create environments that inspire. Christopher Huckabee will spearhead the organization as MOREgroup’s CEO and serve on its board of directors. “MORE is embedded in everything we do – our mission, expertise, client experience and culture,” he said. “Our family of brands are known for going the extra mile by doing more, being more and believing there is always more to give to clients. In that spirit, we look forward to continuing to expand the combined geographic reach and sector expertise of our shared platform by welcoming E4H, as it grants MOREgroup a significant foothold and strong reputation in the U.S. healthcare and life sciences sectors.”

Jim Johnson, president of E4H, said, “We are thrilled to partner with Godspeed Capital and join MOREgroup, whose significant resources, deep expertise across a range of architectural sectors, and broad national footprint position us for strong future growth. We look forward to operating as part of the MOREgroup platform, and to leveraging the people, technology, and ideas necessary to continue delivering a best-in-class experience to our clients.” Douglas Lake, Jr., founder and managing partner of Godspeed Capital, said, “Godspeed Capital is proud to have assembled this capable leadership team by establishing MOREgroup as the platform brand for our host of exceptional architecture, design, and engineering firms. The combined resources and interdisciplinary architectural expertise this platform will deliver to customers across the education, government, healthcare, and life sciences sectors is unparalleled nationwide. Through continued organic expansion, investment in our people and technology, and future add-on acquisitions, we look forward to continuing to build MOREgroup into the nationally recognized architecture, engineering, consulting, and design services and solutions platform of choice for project developers across the country.”






Godspeed Capital Management LP, a private equity firm, announced the successful acquisition of E4H Environments for Health Architecture, a leading provider of consulting, planning, and facility design architecture services for the healthcare and health science and technology industry. Founded in 1982, E4H, the largest Healthcare architectural firm in the nation, has more than 40 years of experience exclusively designing state- of-the-art healthcare and life sciences facilities across the U.S. With a national footprint comprising of nine offices across eight states, E4H has a deep portfolio of more than 9,000 completed projects across 45 states – a testament to the efficacy of the firm’s highly- skilled, industry-recognized workforce dedicated to creating economically and environmentally sustainable facilities that enhance the well-being of patients, staff, and families. Following the transaction, E4H will join MOREgroup, Godspeed Capital’s newly rebranded platform of design brands with robust sector focused industry experience. Formed through the combination of Huckabee Architects,

how so many companies do not have this – a model that shows the estimated value of ownership for each owner based on projections for what is likely to occur – one that is updated continuously based on actual financial results and changes in ownership that have occurred. It’s not that hard to do, and Zweig Group could help here if you need it. So hopefully by now you understand why there is no time to delay your ownership transition planning efforts. The future will be here before you know it! Take it from me – I’m 64 and it’s hard to believe it because I still feel like I’m 27! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “Ownership transition is one of those things that many owners of AEC firms really don’t think much about. They hope it will all somehow work out when the time comes, but don’t really understand it.”

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

sooner rather than later, you will be more likely to keep them in your company. You may even get a non-compete. It will get these people into thinking about the overall business more than just their own discipline, or office or team. There are many reasons to get your best people into ownership sooner rather than later. 4. You also need to be readying someone to take over your job. Leadership succession goes hand-in-hand with ownership transition – or at least it should. I had five years to prepare my successor, Chad Clinehens, at Zweig Group, and another year or so after that before he became the majority owner. It gives someone time to work in each area of the business, to form relationships inside and out of the company, to prove themselves and to learn how everything works while you are still there. The transition is much more likely to succeed as a result. You don’t want to be rushed. You could make a mistake and pick the wrong person and that would put you back at square one. You will need more time to recover from that if that happens. So start early! 5. You need a financial model. It has always amazed me

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12

Made with FlippingBook Annual report