TZL 1460 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

October 10, 2022, Issue 1460 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Board of directors’ value

Key points from this year’s ElevateHER Symposium and ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala. Trends and takeaways

FIRM INDEX Accurate Group, Inc.............................................4 Applied Research Associates, Inc.............4 Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. .................4 CRANSTON............................................................... 8 Croy..................................................................................4 ECS Group of Companies............................10 Global Infrastructure Solutions Inc.......10 GSG Consultants, Inc..........................................4 HFW Companies...................................................8 Hill International, Inc.........................................10 Huckabee Architects, Inc.............................12 Princeton Technical Services, Inc. .............4 Rachlin Partners .................................................. 12 R.M. Chin & Associates ......................................4 TSK Architects......................................................12 MORE ARTICLES n SCOTT MCNALLY: Knock it out of the park Page 3 n Shaping the world: Stewart Osgood Page 6 n AMBER MILOT: Winning in today’s difficult job market Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Things I would teach my project managers Page 11 In Zweig Group’s Principals, Partners & Owners survey, AEC firm principals were asked if they felt their firm’s board of directors provided value to the firm. In the past five years, the highest percentage of principals responded “yes” in 2020 with 89 percent. The lowest was this year, with only 79 percent of principals responding “yes.” Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

O ur annual ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala always leaves me with a flurry of new ideas and threads connecting what I see in the (proverbial) trenches in my work as Zweig Group’s director of advisory services with broader, industry-wide conversations. This year was no different. A few key points from this year’s conference: 1. Breaking news! Private equity has fueled a record number of AEC transactions in 2022, and we do not see this trend slowing down anytime soon. When private equity enters an industry, it can change everything. Metrics, accountability for senior leadership to hit those aforementioned metrics, partnership from investors in helping support hitting these metrics, transparency behind the drivers of these metrics, etc. all become reality. With great financial partners, we see incredible investments in technology and in operational excellence as well as less debt-aversion and more openness to debt as simply another available resource for growth than we may in a non-financially-backed AEC firm. Valuation multiples have increased (though we tend to feel that AEC overall was generally undervalued prior to the influx of PE investment and feel that some of this correction is very positive for the industry overall). We recently supported a pure architecture recapitalization, marking a yet-further expansion of private equity investment into AEC (environmental and engineering have been the overwhelmingly preferred investments for PE previously). Because private equity is fairly new within AEC, we don’t have many examples of second and third transaction events, so it will be interesting to see how EBITDA multiple arbitrage plays out in 10 years and how it impacts our own work in mergers and acquisitions . 2. ESOP’s are also becoming an increasingly common form of ownership transition, and ESOP transactions within AEC are trending smaller, providing an interesting opportunity for firms that want to remain as legacy firms, retain great staff, and also transition a large block of ownership. I sat down with Ed Renenger, founder of SES ESOP Strategies , to discuss these in a conversation moderated by Will Swearingen, Zweig Group’s director of ownership transition advisory services , and learned a lot about the “state of the ESOP.” The key to an outstanding ESOP conversion: overspend compared to the industry for internal communication. The power and potential of the ESOP as a long-term retention tool requires constant education and reinforcement. Some of the fastest-growing firms in our industry are ESOPs, and they also win Marketing Excellence Awards – these firms know the importance of communication.

Jamie Claire Kiser





3. Remote work was a major topic of conversation at ElevateAEC. Unfortunately, it still appears to be seen as either “good” or “bad” by many firms, versus being discussed as a fact and circumstance and a possible opportunity (though the cultural impact and massive mentoring challenges cannot be ignored either). Much of the discussion has been about the impact of how to handle this as firm owners and leaders – surprisingly little attention at the conference this year was focused on simply capitalizing on the business case for either option and what this could do for designers in creating the offices of the future (though we realize the discussions are happening, it was notable to me that they were not the focus of the panelists and speakers at our event this year). It is my perception that the firms that focus on investing in office design that results in physical offices serving as a magnet for employees and a place people want to spend time in to collaborate and learn within are the ones we see as best-positioned to stay ahead of the turnover metrics (I’ll even wager that this will fare better than the firms that spike up bonuses). We’ll see who wins our Best Firms To Work For accolades in the coming years (overlaid with our Hot Firm list to see who is continuing to be able to grow and thrive) before this is something I feel like we have a grasp on as advisors to this space. That said, in the small sample set of conversations I have with firm leaders, the companies that have issued strict mandates and are unwilling to compromise may (or may not) risk their place as an employer of choice in the coming years. 4. Indulge me in another acronym: ESG, or environmental, social and governance. I knew the concept, but only understood it after working with ADEC for a few years as their growth has continued to explode . A recent direct acquisition by Boston Consulting Group is evidence of the market demand for ESG expertise and, frankly an opportunity for environmental design firms to expand their expertise to include a whole different variety of “consulting” as ESG expectations continue. We’re also tracking WELL- building technology and the other technology investments being made to ramp up efforts within the built environment to align with sustainability expectations. 5. The ElevateHER Symposium as well as our closing keynote by Zhetique Gunn and Melvalean McLemore, AIA highlights the real need to be a more inclusive industry. The power dynamic between employer and employee has totally shifted; there is so much demand for services and there is a real need for businesses to be flexible, adaptable, and committed to true employee well-being. Burnout is real and the professionals within AEC have wildly transferrable skills – we have to be more protective of our staff and their work-life balances or available staff will dwindle. In an ecosystem with rapidly increasing compensation expectations and often a much-delayed ability to increase fees to offset these increases, it will be the firms that actually commit to culture and can find ways to be welcoming to all employees who can drive the company forward. Our ElevateHER cohort teams have been three years ahead of the curve on this; join us next year to be part of the future. 6. We had just two breakout sessions with poor attendance: one on cybersecurity and one on the metaverse. That makes digital transformation and, broadly, enterprise risk management absolutely no less fundamentally important. Don’t be one of the firms that waits until they are a statistic to pay attention to these topics. My job compels me to wrap up this article with some actual advice. With so many variables in the conversation this year that are novel to most principals of AEC firms, the very best advice I can give you: first, this is the time to invest in a thoughtful board of directors that includes outside perspectives. Second, if your firm can really listen to and harness the Gen Z energy and the generation’s insistence on a standard of living that is more sustainable than what may have been tolerated before (“back in my day”), you will be a trailblazer. Find someone young with wild strategic potential in your firm and bring them into executive conversations “before they are ready.” Trust me that this is an important feature of tomorrow’s fastest-growing firms. There were many more discussions at our event that were truly thought-provoking and that will come back up over the next eleven months before we gather (and golf) together in Frisco, Texas, for ElevateAEC 2023 ! Jamie Claire Kiser is managing principal and director of advisory services at Zweig Group. Contact her at

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Knock it out of the park

B ottom of the ninth. Full count. Two outs. Bases loaded. McNally steps up to the plate. The windup. The pitch – and the crowd goes wild! If you swing for the fence, remember the fans, watch for curveballs, and rally your team, your firm will be successful.

Every child who steps on that hallowed diamond knows this scenario. It’s every backyard, every sandlot, every kid’s dream. All those feelings came flooding back to me as I stood on the mound of Powder Springs Park, the very field where I grew up playing ball. Only this time, as the memories rushed back, I was holding a set of design plans in my hand, beginning a journey to re-design some of the park where I developed my love for the game. From this park – through high school and travel-ball, all the way to Division I – baseball defined my life. Plans quickly changed when a blown elbow and a love for math steered me toward a career in civil engineering. It was time to hang up the glove and spikes. Standing on the field again that day I realized that we never lose the dreams and character we developed playing under those lights, and it’s these ideals that still drive my designs to this day. So, here are a few of those lessons:

1. Swing for the fence. If you’ve played baseball, you know the best time to hit one out of the park is early in the count because that’s when you get the best pitches to hit (plus, who really wants to bunt anyway?). It’s no different with a park project. Come out with your best foot forward. Don’t go into the meeting telling the client what’s affordable, or what seems most practical, or what’s easiest for your project budget. Step up to the plate, grip it, and rip it. In other words, dream big and think outside the box (or the fence) with your project. Going above and beyond and paying close attention to detail is what sets you apart. If the game was played by just pure talent, I would’ve never won a game. It was the preparation and attention to detail that allowed me to be

Scott McNally, PE




BUSINESS NEWS BOWMAN CONSULTING GROUP LTD. AWARDED $2 MILLION PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING SERVICES CONTRACT BY THE FOREST PRESERVES OF COOK COUNTY Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. announced that the Forest Preserves of Cook County awarded the company a $2 million, three-year contract for professional engineering services for districtwide transportation improvements. Bowman is pleased to partner with the following subconsultants on this project: Accurate Group, Inc.,

Applied Research Associates, Inc., GSG Consultants, Inc., Princeton Technical Services, Inc. and R.M. Chin & Associates. The contract includes both Phase II design engineering and Phase III construction engineering services for the Forest Preserves, which operates and maintains more than 300 parking lot access areas, 155 miles of paved trails and 70,000 acres of land in Cook County, Illinois. Project work will involve site inspections, pavement coring, surveys, coordination, engineering design,

plan and bid document preparation, construction cost estimating, permitting, and construction management services for rehabilitating parking lots, access roads and trails. “We look forward to this opportunity,” said Jeff Druckman, Bowman senior vice president. “We specifically assembled a highly qualified, multi-disciplined and diverse team to provide the Forest Preserves with the professional services they require.”

plan to hit the curve, you’ll be ready to swing as soon as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. 4. Rally the team. You can’t do it alone. In baseball you’re relying on the other eight guys out there with you on the field to win the game. And don’t forget the rally caps and cheers coming from the dugout, too. From the parks director and his team, surveyors, engineers, architects, and contractors, we all work together in unison toward the ultimate goal of getting the job done. This means communication and collaboration are key to bringing a project to life. At the end of the day, we have to remember that a run is a run, and a win is a win. A sacrifice bunt is just as good as a base hit, and creating teamwork within stakeholders helps everyone to check egos at the door and remember the point of the game. 5. Love the game. When I left the game, I thought my days with baseball outside of spectating were over, but who knew getting into civil engineering would get me right back into it? Designing parks and baseball fields where I spent the majority of my childhood life has been such a unique and unbelievable opportunity; it has kept that love of the game burning inside me. I got to dust off that old glove and slip right back into those stinky cleats. My college debut was a memorable one – from first pitch to last with a burst of adrenaline and no runs while I was on the mound. I’ll never forget it. These are the memories I hold on to as I design parks. I think of other young aspiring players making memories with their teammates, coaches, and fans. The rush of knowing scouts could be watching you. The playful cheers in the distance of little siblings on the playground and by the concession stand. Can you see it all now? A park is so much more than just grass and dirt. It’s memories. Life lessons. A lifestyle, even. Some families spend their whole summer at ballparks. That’s not to be taken lightly. If we swing for the fence, remember the fans, watch for curveballs, and rally our team, we will be successful. Because that’s what the game is all about. And I love it. Scott McNally, PE, is a site development department manager at Croy. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

SCOTT MCNALLY, from page 3

successful. I use this strategy in engineering as I prepare for a meeting, drawing from past experiences. Of course, if you’ve ever watched a baseball game, you know even the best players don’t hit a home run every time they’re up to bat. But they still step up to the plate. Don’t let the fear of striking out stop you from swinging. Mistakes happen, it’s part of all aspects of life, but if you run from it and always leave the bat on your shoulder, it will never take you anywhere. Learn from your mistakes and take another swing. 2. It’s all about the fans. There is a lot of pride in design, but I try to never set my goals for the project above that of my clients and end-users – because, in the end, it’s all about them. When I begin to work on a park project, or any project for that matter, I always envision how different users will interact with, and throughout, the space. To create a place that helps people create memories and feel welcomed, I recommend considering ways to incorporate creative placemaking into the design. For example, secluded areas for quiet conversations, wide pathways to accommodate a family, or lighting that creates a safe environment. Make your bathrooms easy to access and maintain. Or, design places with unique architecture, local public art displays, or distinctive signage that encourages photos and memories (and marketing for your community). 3. Watch out for curveballs. Greg Maddux is the best pitcher the world has ever seen. Did he throw fastballs all day? No! There will always be curveballs, and I like to identify those early and plan for them. To do this, meet with your client and develop a risk register to help avoid striking out on a job. Questions to ask during this phase include: † What are their concerns? † What could delay construction (permitting, land acquisition, public engagement, politics, etc.)? † What may increase costs? At Croy, we work to develop plans early in the project process in case we encounter the unexpected: large amounts of rock, bad soil, or high construction costs. If you

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Shaping the world: Stewart Osgood President and CEO of DOWL, LLC, a firm that offers a wide range of engineering services to public and private clients, from the Arctic Ocean to the Rio Grande.


A s president and CEO, Osgood has led DOWL, LLC (Redmond, WA) through record growth while simultaneously managing key transportation projects. His affinity for project management and client interaction remains a top passion. “I feel grateful and blessed to serve a wonderful group of owners and employees who are all about people and projects and clients,” Osgood says. “Our charter says it all – ‘Positively shaping the world with exemplary professional service.’” A CONVERSATION WITH STEWART OSGOOD. The Zweig Letter: Your online bio says you’ve led the company through unprecedented growth during your tenure. To what do you most attribute this? What were some key tactics? Stewart Osgood: Perhaps DOWL measures growth differently than is common in the industry. We have grown in top line gross revenue, and more importantly in bottom line performance. But when we say growth, we also mean

organizational maturity, wisdom, and sustainability. As an example, our client mix, regional stability, and practice area diversification improves year-over-year. And all the while we focus on three main things: people and culture, quality and efficiency, and profitable growth. For example, several years ago we committed to become ISO 9001 certified for quality. In the short-term, this was a drag on top- and bottom-line financial performance, but the long play was for a more mature and disciplined organization. That is real growth to me while also keeping a conservative position on the balance sheet and play with our own money (e.g., retained earnings). TZL: What’s your growth plan look like for the next five years? Plans for organic or inorganic growth? Why or why not? SO: We’re continuing to prepare for our version of growth, with time and treasure aimed at organizational maturity, wisdom, and being more sustainable in all senses of the word. That will likely mean attracting partners that want to be part of our little firm, whether they be 300-person firms or individuals who are attracted to our cultural lightening.



TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? SO: When I was in college at the University of Vermont in the mid-1980s, I landed a co-op job with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Engineering Lab in New Hampshire. I met many wonderful professionals there, but the man who changed my life more than any other was Wayne. He was (and is to this day) the hardest working, most honest, dedicated, and gritty professional I have ever worked with. He taught me that success is generally as much about hard work and commitment as it is about intelligence. Wayne died within the past couple of years from cancer. We lost a giant. “We have grown in top line gross revenue, and more importantly in bottom line performance. But when we say growth, we also mean organizational maturity, wisdom, and sustainability.” TZL: Keeping up with employees is a large part of your job. How do you ensure people feel connected when they’re working in different locations? SO: I travel a lot and that helps me connect with people. I slowed down a bit through the pandemic, but I never fully stopped traveling and connecting one-on-one. I also think that it’s important to remain humble and never forget that as the CEO, your employees are as much your boss as is the board (perhaps more so). Many folks talk about “servant leadership” but I am not sure that all of them actually carry that philosophy in their hearts. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? SO: When DOWL performs at a level below our standard (yes, it happens), I try to use it as a moment of proving ourselves to our charter as a company. One of the key tenants is “honesty and quality work builds successful relationships.” We don’t hide behind technicalities or contract clauses or ambiguity in the scope of work. We try to step forward, find a solution, and iron out the wrinkles. Most clients do not expect perfection. We’re delivering at or above standard 98 percent of the time, but every once in a while there’s a hiccup. We use that moment to do the right thing and build long-term trust.

TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? SO: I try to be honest, not freak out, maintain a rudder, and generally attenuate the size of the wave that hits the company. A recent example is that we lost a very talented PM and engineer. She went to work for a public agency that is a client of ours. There was a whole lot of freaking out over the loss of this talented lady and what it would mean for others in the organization. Without the benefit of 30 years in business, the chasm might have seemed too wide to bridge. But I have seen other A-players leave DOWL over the years (unfortunately) and we find a way forward together. It has always been that way, and it always will be. TZL: What’s a top challenge for you in this moment in time? How are you working to solve it? SO: My leadership team is trying to prepare for choppy waters ahead because we continue to feel that August 2023 will be quite different than August 2022. We are not pessimistic about the future, but we collectively feel that another economic or geo-political seismic event may be headed our way. We’re trying to maintain our fitness as a firm and remain nimble to adjust to whatever the future brings. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? SO: I’ve made the mistake of promoting people too quickly because I wanted them to advance. I now understand that we need to consult with people about their career aspirations and desire to take on more responsibility and perhaps get further from the technical work. “We don’t hide behind technicalities or contract clauses or ambiguity in the scope of work. We try to step forward, find a solution, and iron out the wrinkles.” TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? SO: For people who are deeper into their career, we have a program where we put them in a category of open leave with unlimited vacation, if they log a minimum number of hours per year. It works well for folks who


Redmond, WA






Transportation, and Heavy


SERVICES: Environmental,


Geosciences, Land Use

Planning, Real Estate

Services, Aviation,

Highway Planning

and Design, Public

Involvement, Bridges

and Structures, Water

and Wastewater, Dams

and River Systems,

Irrigation, Commercial and

Heavy Civil Engineering

and Development,

Construction Related

Services, Alternative

Delivery Expertise


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

OBER 10, 2022, ISSUE 1460


TRANSACTIONS THE HFW COMPANIES FORMS STRATEGIC GROWTH PARTNERSHIP WITH GEORGIA-BASED CRANSTON TO ACCELERATE EXPANSION The HFW Companies, a fast-growing professional services firm with a national focus on the AEC industry, announced a strategic growth partnership with CRANSTON, a legacy engineering, landscape architecture, planning, and surveying firm that has been serving Southeast communities for more than half a century. The new partnership allows CRANSTON to accelerate its strategic vision for growth and expand even more aggressively throughout “the heart of the Southeast” with additional services, locations, and people, according to Scott Williams, PE, president of CRANSTON. “CRANSTON, with record growth over the past few years, recently had set its long- term sights on expanding its reach and empowering every community across the heart of the Southeast to thrive,” said Williams. “This new partnership with HFW gives us a platform on which to achieve that vision much faster and with much greater opportunity for both our hard- working team and the communities we serve while allowing us to forge ahead in growing the CRANSTON brand. We’re

excited to align ourselves with HFW and its network of brands.” CRANSTON grew out of a merger in 1967 between Baldwin Engineering Company and Cranston Associates. The combined firm, headed by CRANSTON founder Craig Cranston, became Baldwin & Cranston Associates and, eventually, CRANSTON. Today, the firm employs 75 people and serves its project partners and communities from offices in Augusta, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. CRANSTON, in partnering with HFW, joins a growing network of growth- oriented AEC firms whose teams will be able to share best practices, economies of scale, and unique areas of expertise, according to Michael Hein, AIA, chief executive officer of St. Louis-based HFW. HFW’s business model, he said, is designed to retain and leverage each partnering firm’s own brand identity, loyal employee base, and the allegiance of its project partners to build what he describes as a nationwide “house of brands” network of member firms. “CRANSTON’s brand legacy has such great long-term growth potential,” said

Hein. “It aligns nicely with our growth strategy of investing in architecture and engineering firms that serve metropolitan and infrastructure markets and are open to aligning with a partner for growth. “This investment represents another significant step in our effort,” he added, “to build a nationally preeminent network of AE firms concentrating on the country’s infrastructure. We’re looking forward to growing together.” Based in St. Louis, HFW is an AEC industry professional services company investing in architecture and engineering firms that serve metropolitan and infrastructure markets and are open to aligning with a partner for growth. Our member firms, grounded by technical excellence, solve the most important problems facing our built environment, making communities better through creative design, engineering, and planning. CRANSTON has been leveraging its diverse civil and structural engineering, landscape architecture, surveying, and planning expertise for more than half a century to improve the quality of life in communities throughout the heart of the Southeast.

SHAPING THE WORLD, from page 7

work big hours some weeks, but maybe want to take December off to vacation in France or ride their bike in New Zealand or coach their kids’ basketball team. TZL: How do you typically begin the day? Exercise? Coffee? Breakfast? The news? Basically, what gets your motor running? SO: I’m an early riser, so my day usually starts with my partner and I walking our dogs and bonding. I then usually follow up with a brisk walk or a bike ride to get the blood flowing and the ideas organized in my head. 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? SO: Make money as a company and reward the people who are most responsible for driving your firm’s success. Once a firm is seen as a fabulous place to work, but there is no appetite for stock purchases, it’s game over. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? SO: Create a strong internal appetite for owning company stock.

DOWL won the ACEC Oregon Chapter’s Award of Excellence in January with its Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort’s Sahale Lodge Addition project.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Creating a recruiting culture and focusing on retention are business savvy strategies to help your organization continue to thrive in today’s job market. Winning in today’s difficult job market

I n 2022, finding talented individuals is more challenging than acquiring customers and building new business. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and retiring baby boomers, the job market has become extremely competitive and there are simply fewer potential employees to choose from. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022 job openings in the United States exceeded 11.5 million, compared to 7.5 million in 2018. To win in today’s difficult job market, companies must implement two key business strategies: developing a recruiting culture and prioritizing employee retention as the most important recruitment tool.

Amber Milot

RECRUITING CULTURE. Developing a recruiting culture means making your entire organization a part of the talent acquisition process. To develop a recruiting culture, recruiting must be top of mind for current employees – not only managers or recruiters, but for all team members from project managers to field staff to senior leadership. Some practical ways to build a recruiting culture are: ■ Include a recruiting update during every management meeting. These reminders will keep managers aware of recruitment needs and prompt them to continue networking – not only for business, but for top talent.

■ Set monthly recruiting calls with hiring managers to discuss open positions. Hiring managers have a lot on their plate; that is why they are looking to hire, so this call helps hiring managers concentrate on their most pressing needs. ■ Provide employee referral bonuses. Be sure that employees are aware of the policy in place and how they can take advantage of the bonus. ■ Develop an internal transition program for current employees to relocate to different locations across the company footprint.

See AMBER MILOT, page 10





serving global infrastructure markets,” said GISI President, CEO and Board Director Rick Newman. “Growing this segment of GISI’s consulting platform has been a strategic priority since our 2016 inception. Hill International’s addition to the GISI family of companies enables us to extend our value proposition to more clients, employees, our shareholders and the communities we serve.” Hill International CEO Raouf Ghali said of the decision to join GISI: “Since our founding in 1976, Hill has grown into an industry-leading program, project, and construction management company. By joining the GISI family of companies, Hill will be well-positioned to continue to take advantage of the opportunities the industry offers while concurrently enhancing the quality of our client

services thanks to GISI’s focus on long- term success.” “As with our prior mergers, GISI will work to preserve the Hill brand and legacy because of the value Raouf Ghali and his team have created over the years,” Newman said. “Although shares of Hill International will no longer be publicly traded when this transaction closes, Hill management and employees will be offered participation in GISI’s distinctive employee-ownership program where legally permissible. We believe that the employee stock ownership program is a key element of GISI’s success; our employees act like owners because they are owners. GISI is a corporate enterprise of shared responsibility and reward.”

ANNOUNCE MERGER Global Infrastructure Solutions Inc. and Hill International, Inc. announced that their boards of directors have approved a definitive agreement to merge the diversified construction management companies, setting the stage for increased competitiveness and accelerated organic growth in global, for-fee infrastructure consulting markets. The all-cash transaction does not include a financing contingency, has the unanimous support from the Hill board of directors, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, pending regulatory review. STRATEGIC “Hill International is the largest independent project management and construction management for-fee firm

is one thing for a career map or path to be available, but do your managers have open dialogue with direct reports about these opportunities? In addition to providing career growth, it is crucial to provide training and development opportunities to expand their capabilities. These trainings encourage employees to learn new skills that will serve them as they grow in their career and investing in them through programs like tuition assistance can make a big impact on employee loyalty. While employees can leave for many reasons, according to the SHRM survey, one reason employees leave is inadequate management. Investing in management training for managers and leadership is another way to support your retention strategy while also building soft skills for your employees. Practical ways to build people management skills include: † Providing training to reduce negative interactions. † Performing regular anonymous surveys to all employees to assess management performance. † Providing assimilation practices that promote socialization – this includes a strong onboarding and integration system. Look for opportunities for staff to build relationships and connect with local team members. † Enforcing fair treatment from all supervisors. Now is the time to focus on and invest in your employees. They are your best advocates and brand ambassadors even when they are off the clock. Creating a recruiting culture and focusing on retention are business savvy strategies to help your organization continue to thrive in today’s job market. Amber Milot is the director of mergers and acquisitions for ECS Group of Companies. Prior to her role, she was the director of talent acquisition for ECS for five years. She can be reached at

AMBER MILOT, from page 9

■ Take every opportunity to talk about the importance of recruiting. EMPLOYEE RETENTION. In the past year, employees’ attitudes and approaches to work have changed drastically. They expect more from their employers, so businesses must get creative to attract and retain the best talent. Companies that have a successful retention strategy focus on the following: employees, working for a company with purpose is key to feeling fulfilled in their job. It allows them to see how their own role contributes to the company’s greater goals and feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. This sense of purpose has been shown to boost employee satisfaction and motivation, as well as trust amongst team members which in turn benefits the bottom line of the business. A Society for Human Resource Management survey of more than 9,000 workers in 12 different countries shows that a workplace culture with transparent and clear communication that builds trust is one of the best ways to ward off high turnover. When actions are aligned with the organization’s values, that builds trust while also contributing to purpose- driven work. When employees feel like their work has significance, they are more likely to be productive and committed to their organization. Prioritizing employee engagement should be a key goal for any leader who wants to create a thriving business. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and environmental, social, and governance initiatives can provide purpose and build engagement. These are initiatives that communicate the values of the organization. ■ Building trust and providing purpose. To many ■ Employee development. Developing your employees is essential in providing opportunities for growth. Even more important is communicating those opportunities. It

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




E veryone agrees that project management is a critical discipline for any firm in the AEC business. That’s why we spend as much as we do on PM training. Yet, somehow, I have always felt like most PM training missed the mark. If your project managers did these six things consistently, your projects and your firm would be more successful. Things I would teach my project managers

If I ran an AEC firm today, there are a number of behaviors I would be trying to teach my project managers. Here are my thoughts on what is really important for them to know and do: 1. Be ultra-responsive to every call, email, and text. This is so important. Speed is not only crucial to the impression you make on your clients of your service quality, but also critical to everyone else working on the project IF you don’t want to lose momentum, and don’t want anyone else to waste their time and effort. That shows respect for everyone else. 2. Take and immediately distribute accurate notes after every call or meeting. This is a discipline. Again, see point No. 1. Not doing this can potentially allow other team members inside and outside of the company to waste their time doing work that is either wrong or unnecessary

– not the way to conserve resources, generate goodwill, or make anyone happy. 3. If you are confronted with a mistake, acknowledge it and make it right. Doing anything else erodes trust and hurts the firm and its reputation. The truth will come out one way or another. So fess up and then do what it takes to make it right. 4. If a client wants to do something that is not in their best interests, acknowledge their desire but inform them why that would be a bad decision and then document it in writing. Tone is critical. No anger, sarcasm, or condescension is acceptable. But you don’t want to take blame in the future for a bad decision made by a client. You owe them your honesty and best thinking.

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS GODSPEED CAPITAL-BACKED HUCKABEE ARCHITECTS INVESTS IN TSK ARCHITECTS Godspeed Capital Management LP announced it has invested in TSK Architects, a highly acclaimed architecture, planning, and interior design firm with corporate headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada and additional offices in Los Angeles, California, Phoenix, Arizona, and Reno- Tahoe, Nevada. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Founded in 1960, TSK is a leading Southwestern US-focused architecture firm, providing architectural and interior design, master planning, construction administration, and consulting services for K-12 and higher education clients as well as federal, state, and local government clients. TSK has earned over 90 design awards for design excellence, sustainable practice, exceptional service, and high-performing architecture, and was awarded the 2020 AIA Nevada Architecture Firm of the Year. TSK joins Rachlin Partners as part of Huckabee Architects, Inc., Godspeed Capital’s recently launched AEC services and solutions growth platform focused on education and government markets. TSK’s integration will grow the reach of

the Huckabee platform into Nevada, Arizona, and California’s AEC markets, and will enhance the diversity of its traditional K-12 customer base while also allowing for immediate expansion into federal, state, and local government markets. TSK’s current leadership and management team will remain in place and co-invest equity in the transaction. Windom Kimsey, president and CEO of TSK Architects, said, “We are excited to partner with Godspeed Capital and join the Huckabee platform, whose proven capabilities and deep expertise will enable TSK to scale our own offerings into new customers and markets. We are eager to build upon and integrate our core services within Huckabee’s diverse strategy and provide end-market diversification to best serve our growing client base.” Chris Huckabee, CEO of Huckabee, said, “We are thrilled to welcome TSK to the Huckabee platform as we further accelerate the execution of our strategic growth objectives. TSK’s federal government practice not only diversifies our customer and end-market portfolio, but importantly provides Huckabee with immediate access, past performance, and qualifications to grow into the

massive federal government market. We intend to fully utilize Huckabee’s in- house technology and data solutions capabilities to support TSK’s award winning design and consulting work to drive growth and opportunities for our employees. We look forward to developing a strong and collaborative partnership with TSK as we capitalize on the attractive pipeline of Federal, State, and Local government projects and market leading presence in the southwestern architecture market they bring to the platform.” Ahmed Abdel-Saheb, principal at Godspeed, said, “TSK Architects’ decades-long, award-winning track record within the education and government architecture sectors will bolster Huckabee’s comprehensive AEC services platform through the addition of a significant Federal, State, and Local Government practice, and further enhances our geographic footprint by expanding it within the fast-growing southwestern region of the United States. We are excited for the additional opportunities that TSK will create for the Huckabee platform and look forward to continuing to provide our support to our growing customer portfolio.”

on next week, and any other special issues or unresolved questions. Can you imagine if your PMs did these six things consistently? Do you think your projects would be more successful? Do you think your firm would be more successful? If the answers to these two questions are “yes,” then what are you waiting for? Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “If I ran an AEC firm today, there are a number of behaviors I would be trying to teach my project managers. Here are my thoughts on what is really important for them to know and do.”

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

5. Any out-of-scope requests for additional services made by a client that require an extra services agreement must be dealt with within 24 hours of the request. Waiting does nothing but hurt your ability to get paid for extra work you did not anticipate doing. Get the extra services agreements out immediately and get the client’s acknowledgement that they will owe you for this. 6. Prepare and send a weekly project progress report to all team members, both inside and outside of the company. These reports should commence from the first week you get authorization to work on the project and continue until the project is finished. Include all team members inside and outside the company including any subconsultants, the client, and the client’s supervisor if there is one on the distribution list. Format the report to include three topic areas – what you did this week, what you will be working

PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS In this interactive one-day course, attendees will learn how to identify and track key project data, how to structure key project interactions to get the right information to the right people at the right time, and the key interpersonal behaviors that build successful teams. Attendees will leave armed with the key tenets of the Perfect Process Framework that can be quickly and easily adapted to their individual firms so that they can immediately begin driving greater project value. Join us in Dallas November 2! Click here to learn more!

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