TZL 1450

July 25, 2022, Issue 1450 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Travel and entertainment costs

The words you use have the power to influence your audience: choose them carefully. Words have power

FIRM INDEX DRMP, Inc...................................................................6 Lynch Mykins............................................................2 Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC................4 PPM Consultants, Inc.......................................10 Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc..................12 Speedie and Associates................................10 TYLin...............................................................................4 Universal Engineering Sciences.............10 Wilson & Company, Inc....................................8 MORE ARTICLES n JOSEPH LAUK: Secret sauce Page 3 n Above and beyond: Larry Smith Page 6 n TODD PERRY: Permission to launch Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Turn HR upside down Page 11 Zweig Group’s 2022 Financial Performance Report of AEC Firms analyzes data from income statements and balance sheets to understand key trends in the industry. One of the more interesting income statement line items was travel and entertainment costs, shown as a percentage of net service revenue in the chart above. After hitting an all-time low during the pandemic in 2020, these costs have seen a bounce-back in the 2021 fiscal year. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

J ust 13 percent of firms with fewer than 25 people have a full-time dedicated marketing person, according to Zweig Group research. For those firms without, these responsibilities most often fall to the president/CEO (46 percent of firms) or a principal/partner/vice president (38 percent of firms). Even with a talented marketing team at your disposal, if you have a leadership position in an AEC firm, chances are you’re going to have to do some writing. Here are a few tips for making your writing process less painful so you can get the best results possible: 1. Before you start writing anything, think about what it is you want to accomplish. This sounds like an obvious and oversimplistic statement, but once you open a blank Word document, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can forget the end goal. If you’re writing a cover letter for a proposal, your job is to capture the interest of your potential client, convince them to keep reading, and ultimately make them want to work with your firm. If you’re writing copy for the “about” page on your website, you need to make sure you’re clearly communicating the things that define your firm in a memorable way. 2. Know your audience – clients are people too. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is going to be reading what you’re writing. How many other things will they read that day? If they already know your firm has done projects in 32 states and has a strong team in civil, don’t restate that; say something else! Does the reader have a particular problem or challenge they are looking to solve with what you are presenting? If so, lead with that! Show you understand what your target is going through by concisely explaining the issue and then presenting a compelling solution. 3. Differentiate. Peruse the websites of some of your competitors, you’ll likely see some of the same sentences used over and over. These are the statements you don’t want to use. I promise your firm won’t lose a job because you don’t say you “provide cost-effective innovative solutions.” Don’t be afraid to show off your impact in figures – use case studies, testimonials, and data points. 4. Make a visual impact. Lead with a powerful headline. Use bullet points, numbered lists, and bold statements appropriately and effectively. Don’t clutter the page or your sentences. If you cut

Christina Zweig Niehues




BUSINESS NEWS LYNCH MYKINS CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS OF GROWTH Lynch Mykins, a full-service structural engineering firm, announced its five-year anniversary by releasing a Flash-mob dance video showcasing the company’s unique culture, diverse workforce, and mad dance skills. Since current owners acquired Stroud Pence in 2017 and rebranded as Lynch Mykins, the company has grown revenue 2,000 percent by focusing on personal growth of their team members in the areas of emotional intelligence, communication, mindfulness, and adaptability – skills that aren’t taught in engineering school but are surely needed in the AEC industry. “When we started Lynch Mykins, I wanted to build a different kind of engineering firm,” said Anna Lynch P.E., CEO of Lynch Mykins. “Our focus would be on people, culture and cultivating the essential power skills, or soft skills, in our engineers that we felt were critical to adapting more quickly and thriving as the economy, our industry, and the future of technology in our work continues to evolve.” “We’ve done federal work with Lynch Mykins for years across the country and plan on sticking with them for the long term,” said Tim Williams, project manager with RLF. “We’ve collaborated with Lynch Mykins

on dozens of projects throughout the Southeast for more than 13 years,” said Chris Carlson, SVP at Whiting Turner Contracting Company, a long-standing partner of Lynch Mykins. “Anna’s dedication to Lynch Mykins’ success in just a very short five years is absolutely staggering. Congratulations to everyone on the Lynch Mykins team for making this come to fruition.” Lynch Mykins has a bright future, especially since it exited the pandemic with a talented team, record revenue, diverse customers, and a growing portfolio. “It has always been my vision to see Lynch Mykins become one of nation’s most successful and trusted structural engineering firms. To achieve this reputation with a team that puts people first, values diversity, and truly collaborates with its customers is a life dream realized for me,” added Lynch. “I couldn’t have done it without my Lynch Mykins family of engineers and staff.” Lynch Mykins provides full-service structural engineering services to a wide range of industries, including corporate campuses, high-rise, emergency response, entertainment and arts, federal, healthcare, higher education, restoration, hospitality, K-12, libraries, life science, commercial, and sports and recreation.

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unnecessary statements and words from your sentences, those left behind will pack a greater punch! 5. Be authentic. You and your firm have a unique personality; don’t be afraid to show it. Use words you understand, believe in, and could use in a conversation. Although you shouldn’t be repetitive, don’t pull out the thesaurus and select words your client may have to google to understand properly! Effective writing, especially on websites, proposals, and other promotional materials, has a lot of room for improvement in our industry. Those who put forth the effort will see returns on the investment. Zweig Group is currently collecting data for the 2022 Marketing Report – please click here to participate . Participants will receive 50 percent off Zweig Group research. Christina Zweig Niehues is Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce. She can be reached at

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.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS This program provides AEC professionals with the skills to become more competent leaders and helps attendees develop and affirm the leadership skills, strategies, and techniques necessary to grow personally and professionally. Join us in New Orleans August 11-12. Click here to learn more!

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Secret sauce

Firms often have the same “ingredients” for creating great places to work. Your success really boils down to how you choose and blend these elements together.

L ast year, I attended Zweig Group’s ElevateAEC Conference – a unique event that draws AEC firm leaders from across the country to network, learn, and celebrate. The conference included many sessions where peers discussed lessons learned and ongoing research regarding trending topics. Additionally, firms were recognized for several prestigious awards, including the Best Firms To Work For Award. As a representative of Patel, Greene and Associates, a multiyear winner in the category, many of the conversations I had at the conference started with the question: “What is your firm’s secret sauce?”

Joseph Lauk, P.E.

I had previously thought about this question in the sense of “What is our secret ingredient?” rather than “secret sauce,” which explains why I have struggled to answer it. Firms often have the same “ingredients” for creating great places to work. Tangible items like quality staff, competitive salaries and benefits, and the intangible items that we develop, like culture, professional experiences, and advancement opportunities. Rarely do we, or other firms, have that one “thing” to point to that is completely unique. Since the question is about the sauce and not the ingredients, it boils down to the best blend of all these individual elements and, in most cases, the

process in which those elements are chosen, that makes everyone want to be a part of it. To be honest, unlike a can Bush’s Baked Beans, our sauce is not a secret. It often changes as we adapt to the market, industry, feedback from staff, or as a result of conversations about topics our leadership learns through conferences like ElevateAEC. However, it is really our mission that guides us and the principles by which we operate that allow us to continuously tweak, try, and adapt. Our firm is driven by our core principles of Integrity, Commitment, and Excellence, meaning

See JOSEPH LAUK, page 4



ON THE MOVE TYLIN HIRES KIMBERLY KELSEY, PE, PMP, AS SECTOR MANAGER, WATER, NORTHWEST AREA TYLin, a globally recognized full-service infrastructure consulting firm, announced that Kimberly Kelsey, PE, PMP has been hired as sector manager, Water. In her role, Kelsey will lead TYLI’s local Water Sector Team in addition to strategic business development efforts to expand the Water sector in North America.

Kelsey joins TYLI with more than 26 years of progressive leadership and management experience, growing the regional water business and leading multi-disciplinary teams towards the successful implementation of large infrastructure projects. She most recently worked as a client account manager for a global engineering firm where she provided regional business development and growth leadership, as well as project management for municipal engineering

projects throughout various stages of planning, design, and construction. “Kimberly’s arrival signifies a pivotal milestone in our strategic vision, helping lead us to support the unique needs of clients in the U.S. Water market,” said Abe Khademi, P.E., TYLI senior vice president, Water, Americas. “We are thrilled to have Kimberly join the TYLin team as our water sector manager.”

a necessity to stay relevant, but to also understand that change takes time – it’s a delicate balance. ■ ■ Are there ways to provide “better than industry standards”? To provide better, you have to know what the industry is doing. Firm leaders should be engaged with industry organizations and have mechanisms to follow trends closely, especially for benefits and compensation. Being strategically proactive, rather than reactive to changing trends will save firms from playing catch-up constantly. It’s understood that exceeding industry standards for all benefits does not come without significant costs and firms have to remain fair and competitive for their clients and shareholders. However, to be the best to work for, staff must be a priority over the bottom line. ■ ■ Is your decision-making process transparent? If you take anything from this article, let it be this – be transparent. Two firms make the same decision, go in the same direction, and have identical missions – if one firm is led without transparency, it will not see the same level of success as the other because its staff will not feel engaged. As a father of five children, I often learn life’s toughest lessons through their eyes, and transparency doesn’t apply only to the office. It can be quite humbling to reflect on times where my lack of transparency at home created significant disappointment – the exact thing I seek to avoid in the office. As business leaders, we often make decisions that can have unintended consequences – reducing one benefit to provide for another, deferring the start of a company initiative, or simply changing the type of coffee in the breakroom. All could be considered minor decisions but, if done in a vacuum, could create significant frustrations that impact staff morale. If I convinced you that a small decision could make such an impact, think about what a significant decision could mean. Transparency drives success. Joseph Lauk, P.E. is a principal and vice president at Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

JOSEPH LAUK , from page 3

we do the things we say we will do, particularly when no one is watching, and we do them to the best of our abilities. We talk about this often, make it known to our staff, and encourage everyone to think about our mission when making business decisions. Understanding that decisions need to be made with the bottom line in mind, but not simply to serve that number. With this approach we have been very successful in creating and maintaining a great working environment, while drawing the best talent in the industry. So, what can you do to craft your recipe? Like everything, start with your mission and lean on your principles, because why have them if you are not going to live them, right? Also, if you have not completed a strategic plan within the past five years – it is time to reassess because things are changing fast! From there, gather your leadership to discuss the following: ■ ■ Does your current blend of “ingredients” serve employee needs and expectations? What worked in the past may not work in the future. This requires consistent evaluating, assessing, and brainstorming. Our leadership relies on employer surveys, industry surveys, and feedback we receive directly from staff. As a growing firm, staff expectations can change rapidly. We encourage staff to share thoughts and ideas on topics including staffing levels, benefits, mentoring, community engagement, and especially the fun stuff like office happy hours and holiday parties. Additionally, we look to improve where we may have fallen short and conduct exit interviews because we can’t improve if we don’t know what to fix. ■ ■ Do you have leaders who can see the bigger picture and can ask the tough questions? Your organization needs diverse leaders who are engaged and willing to break status quo. Changes don’t have to come immediately or completely switch the direction of the firm, but conversations with new or unique perspectives will keep decision making meaningful. Executive management should encourage firm leaders to think about change as

2022 ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA Registration is open for the annual in-person conference in Las Vegas, September 14-16. Celebrate the iconic black-tie awards gala 2022 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards. Register now for the AEC industry’s top in-person learning and networking event of the year. Zweig Group is excited to see you in Las Vegas! Click here to learn more.

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Above and beyond: Larry Smith President and CEO of DRMP, Inc. (Orlando, FL), an employee-owned, multi-discipline firm that creates innovative design solutions for infrastructure development.


S mith works with managing principals and senior team leaders to guide the direction of the firm, its growth, and adherence to DRMP’s culture and core values. His personal vision for the firm is to continue to grow at a steady pace, provide internal growth for employees and continue to be an up-and-coming industry leader. He says it all hinges on a “people first” culture. “Being fair, going above and beyond, and looking out for your clients’ best interests go a long way in keeping long-term working relationships with our clients,” Smith says. “They know

Larry Smith: While we had strategic growth initiatives in place to benefit our internal growth for employees, our recent partnership with our equity partner, Trilon Group, supported us in accelerating those initiatives and providing a tremendous amount of opportunity for our employees. 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? LS: My first and main mentor was my father, who was also a civil engineer. I grew up having engineering discussions at the dinner table and during our family vacations and I didn’t think twice about going into the profession. I’ve also had many mentors in this business and what I’ve learned is that they don’t have to be senior to you. If you keep an open mind, you can learn from anyone. And those lessons don’t always have to benefit me professionally, there are key life lessons that I’ve learned too.

what they’re getting when they hire DRMP.” A CONVERSATION WITH LARRY SMITH.

The Zweig Letter: As president, your goals are to continue to grow at a steady pace and to provide internal growth for employees. What are some things that you’re currently doing to meet those ends?



TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? LS: We earn and keep the trust of our clients by truly working to embody our core values – expertise, quality, leadership, trust, and respect – in everything we do, every day. What we find is that it is not just the technical knowledge and expertise that you bring to the table, but it’s about relationships. Being fair, going above and beyond, and looking out for your clients’ best interests go a long way in keeping long-term working relationships with our clients. They know what they’re getting when they hire DRMP. “The best part about this job is the people I work with on a daily basis. When you surround yourself with fantastic people, your job is fun.” TZL: You joined DRMP in 1987 and became managing principal in 1999. What advice would you give to someone who looks to grow into a leadership position? What’s the best plan of attack, so to speak? LS: Learn as much as you can early in your career; that is key. I’ve always told people if you want to be successful you need to learn how to do something and do it better than someone else. That is what elevates you into opportunities. Also, being kind, humble, and checking your ego at the door are all important. I’ve always told my kids they can get more in life with honey rather than vinegar. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? LS: My family understands my role as the president of DRMP and that it’s a 24/7 job. There’s a separation, but there’s a tremendous amount of overlap. At the end of the day, I’m not neglecting them and I’m not neglecting the firm. My wife and kids are understanding; the grandkids and the dogs – not so much. TZL: What’s happening at DRMP that you’re really excited about right now? LS: The opportunities that will continue with our controlled growth with the support of our partners, the Trilon Group. There’s a buzz around our firm and the firms that have been brought on so far. Our staff is getting to know our partners and we have started connecting the dots in our service offerings. With every step in this process, I grow more and more

excited about our future and what it could mean for our employees. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? LS: To be successful in this industry you need to have maturity in the business. Being an engineer, I wish I had the opportunity to learn earlier how businesses operate and the psychology of people. That’s where maturity comes into play, in knowing the flow of business and why people think the way they do and truly listening. Over time, I’ve learned both and I’m still learning. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? LS: Establishing our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee was our first step, then taking steps to provide training at the leadership level first in laying the groundwork. Also, understanding that we must remain open-minded to learning and seeking to understand. Along with race, sexual orientation, gender equality, and other important topics, as a firm we must consider diversity as it relates to DRMP. That includes employees who work in the field and office, those who work in our regional offices versus headquarters, those who work in support departments, and learn how we all can come together for DRMP’s shared success. At the end of the day, we want the best and brightest working for us, and having this committee is one of the tools to make sure there is inclusion for future and current staff. TZL: In your opinion, what’s one of the greatest challenges facing the industry as a whole in the next 10 years? LS: The greatest challenge is finding good, qualified people to do the work, and I don’t see that changing soon because of the job market. All of us in the AEC industry have to focus on creating an industry pipeline, possibly even as early as the elementary school level to spark interest. TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to “All of us in the AEC industry have to focus on creating an industry pipeline, possibly even as early as the elementary school level to spark interest.”

HEADQUARTERS: Orlando, FL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 500 YEAR FOUNDED: 1977 19 OFFICE LOCATIONS IN THREE STATES: ■ ■ Florida ■ ■ Georgia ■ ■ North Carolina MARKETS: Southeast U.S. SERVICES: ■ ■ Alternative delivery ■ ■ Construction services ■ ■ Ecological services ■ ■ Federal services ■ ■ Geographic information systems ■ ■ Land development ■ ■ Structural engineering ■ ■ Subsurface utility engineering ■ ■ Surveying and mapping/geospatial ■ ■ Trails/parks and recreation facilities ■ ■ Transportation ■ ■ Utilities engineering ■ ■ Water resources/ stormwater management ■ ■ Visualization services

See LARRY SMITH , page 8

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

ULY 25, 2022, ISSUE 1450


ON THE MOVE WILSON & COMPANY PROMOTES NEW ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENTS Wilson & Company, Inc., Engineers & Architects has promoted Brian Ambrogi, Tyler Glissman, Ed Latimer, Derek Smith and Jim Townsend to associate vice president positions. These acclaimed industry professionals will support the executive leadership team at Wilson & Company in delivering high-quality services while developing lasting Higher Relationships. Brian Ambrogi, PE, has more than 20 years of experience in civil engineering, specializing in water and wastewater projects. At Wilson & Company, Ambrogi serves as the water and wastewater operations manager in New Mexico and has experience on a range of projects from conceptual design through construction. Tyler Glissman, PE, brings more than 25 years of experience as a design engineer, project engineer and project manager on a variety of transportation

projects. Glissman’s experience includes urban and rural transportation projects, including highways and streets, rail, bridge, drainage, airport, developmental and environmental projects around the country. Ed Latimer, PH.D., PE, is an accomplished leader with 35 years of experience in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. Latimer’s areas of expertise include water resources engineering, water quality regulatory compliance, irrigation engineering and erosion and sediment control technologies. Derek Smith serves as Wilson & Company’s geospatial operations manager and project manager for numerous aerial acquisition projects and mapping projects with 18 years of experience. His expertise in different types of field surveys, photogrammetry, LiDAR and GIS data extraction and processing, as well as his focus on client needs, makes him a leading staff

member for input on all projects at Wilson & Company. Jim Townsend, AICP, brings more than 25 years of experience from both the public and private sectors. He leads Wilson & Company’s Midwest region transportation planning and traffic engineering practice. Townsend’s broad- based, multimodal background and exposure enable him to provide national experience to our clients. Wilson & Company continues to grow, and the new associate vice presidents will support the company’s Multi-Horizon Growth Plan. Wilson & Company, Inc., Engineers & Architects, has brought more than 600 people together in 15 offices over nine states to build Higher Relationships through discipline, intensity, collaboration, shared ownership and solutions with its clients, partners, and communities.

LARRY SMITH, from page 9

say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? LS: Communication and creating opportunities are key in ownership transition and transition in management. With our partnership with Trilon there was a tremendous amount of thought and strategy put into how we would introduce to our staff first, through discussions, presentations, one-on- ones, etc. Our employees were always front of mind and in communicating the partnership within the firm, and we wanted our staff to know that. That took many discussions and leadership meetings among other things. As far as management, we’re creating room for others to be placed on our board and steering committee. If I could go back, more people would have been promoted to the next level to create more opportunities in management. “If you keep an open mind, you can learn from anyone. And those lessons don’t always have to benefit me professionally, there are key life lessons that I’ve learned too.” TZL: What do you enjoy most about your current position? Least? LS: The best part about this job is the people I work with on a daily basis. When you surround yourself with fantastic people, your job is fun. They are easy to work with, dedicated,

DRMP’s award-winning SR 528 (Beachline) widening project from Interstate-4 to McCoy Road in Orange County, Florida.

and do their part, and they allow me to do my part to help DRMP remain successful. The least is not getting to do true engineering design work, but that’s what comes with being a president/CEO and a principal. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? LS: One of the things I’m proudest of is our longevity at DRMP. About 100 employees have been with us for at least 10 years; 30 have been working at the firm for at least 20 years; and nearly 20 employees have at least 30-year careers at DRMP. I believe it’s our people-first culture. We always keep in mind how the decisions, policies, etc. we consider benefit staff, and ultimately our goal is to do what is best for them.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Permission to launch

Lessons learned after taking a big risk to launch a new firm in an up-and-coming sector.

“I know we can do it better.” Simple words, but words that launched our environmental consulting firm. In the early ‘90s, the environmental business was very new, and it was a bit like the gold rush during the mid-1800s. Two of our founders practiced at a nationwide consulting firm and became tired of the bureaucracy and wasteful culture. So, three geologists in their 20s and early 30s decided to form our firm in the early winter of 1993. The first consideration was, would we have any business?

Todd Perry, P.G.

We performed calculations on a dinner napkin in an early exercise of workload forecasting. Once we were confident that we could develop a revenue stream, the real fun began. The early days were an absolute blur of stationary, workspace, telephones, insurance, accounting software, and on and on. We worked 12-hour plus days selling and doing the work and performed back office planning and functions in the remaining waking hours. Success came quickly because we founded our firm on the golden rule’s simple, true, and timeless principle. It meant treating our clients, staff, subs, vendors, and everyone as we would want to be treated in every interaction. My father, who had built a successful service company of his own, took note of our passion and work ethic and loaned us $150,000

to get started. We were able to pay him back, but as we quickly grew into an Inc. 500 company, we needed additional capital to fund that growth. Thank goodness our prayers paid off and some great advisors introduced some young scientists with no business background to high finance. This capital provided the resources to cash flow the operation and build it into what it is today. So, what did we learn, do right, and get wrong? ■ ■ Belief and passion. From day one, we knew we could build a consulting firm that put our clients and staff first, and our passion for the business drove us relentlessly through all of the challenges we encountered, and there were a lot of them!

See TODD PERRY , page 10



TRANSACTIONS UNIVERSAL ENGINEERING SCIENCES ACQUIRES SPEEDIE AND ASSOCIATES Universal Engineering Sciences, a national leading engineering and consulting company specializing in geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, building code compliance, threshold inspections and environmental consulting, has acquired Speedie and Associates, an Arizona- based company offering geotechnical, environmental, construction materials testing, and inspection services, marking UES’ first acquisition in the state. Speedie and Associates, established by the late James “Jim” Speedie in 1980, includes 160 professional and technical staff based in offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. Recent projects include work on the Sky Train at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, the Mayo Clinic West Tower, the Sun Devil Stadium expansion at ASU, the X Phoenix multi-family tower, and the $20 billion expansion for East Valley Semiconductor Plant. “Universal Engineering Sciences continues to grow, and we’re particularly excited to continue expanding our presence in the West,” said UES CEO Dave Witsken. “Speedie and Associates is another example of our strategic approach to partner with best-in-class engineering firms in key, high-growth markets. Speedie and Associates’ reputation for excellence, dedication, and expertise make them a great fit with our culture and our vision.”

Under the leadership of CEO Gregg Creaser, PE, RLS, and Senior Vice President and CFO Brett Creaser, PE, Speedie and Associates has grown over the last four decades to provide services throughout Arizona. The company’s leadership team will continue to operate the day-to-day business, joining the existing Western region of UES. “The opportunity to join UES is a significant milestone in our growth and allows us to provide a more diverse range of expertise to our clients,” said Speedie and Associates President and CEO Gregg Creaser, PE, RLS. “We’re excited to join UES during this exciting time of growth.” With nearly six decades of experience and recognition as the premier engineering and consulting firm in the geotechnical engineering space, UES is well-positioned to serve the needs of commercial, residential, and civic customers across the country. UES’s recent acquisitions include prominent engineering firms such as GFA International, Inc., NOVA Geotechnical & Inspection Services, Contour Engineering, Wallace-Kuhl & Associates, Construction Testing & Engineering, SUMMIT Engineering, Laboratory & Testing, P.C., GEOServices, LLC, McGinley & Associates, Geotechnology, Inc., Alpha Testing, GSI Engineering, and now Speedie & Associates have made Universal Engineering Sciences one of the largest, most resource-rich organizations of its kind nationwide.

Mike Cauley from IBG Fox & Fin advised Speedie & Associates on this transaction. Speedie and Associates was established in 1980 and is a consulting engineering firm specializing in geotechnical, environmental, and construction materials testing. They are an Arizona operated business and currently have offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. Speedie and Associates is owned and managed by four long-time employees including Gregg and Brett Creaser, Donald Cornelison, and Jason Wells. Their staff of 160 includes engineers, geologists, laboratory field technicians, environmental professionals, support personnel, and others. Universal Engineering Sciences is a privately held, rapidly growing engineering and consulting firm with nearly six decades of experience in geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, building code compliance, threshold inspections and environmental consulting. With nearly 3,300 professionals across more than 70 branches in high growth markets in the U.S., UES consults on projects of all sizes for public and private clients in industries ranging from transportation and healthcare to commercial, residential, and education. UES was named the Hot Firm of the Year by the Zweig Group for 2021 and 2022.

learned to exercise patience, pray, and seek counsel at every crossroads. ■ ■ Don’t get too comfortable. It is easy to become trapped in successes, but founding a firm is an adventure and journey. Trust me, the next storm is right around the corner, and if you are not vigilant and prepared, it can wreak havoc and create undue stress. ■ ■ Leaders eat last. I have heard this phrase, it is a truth, and you will be tested. As a founder/leader, you will need to make many sacrifices to ensure the success of your team and firm: Be prepared to make them. In our next installment, “Welcome to the Show,” we will share some of our early successes, failures, and significant challenges, how we navigated through them, and what we learned. I bet many of you will be able to relate to them. Todd Perry, P.G., is a principal and senior geologist at PPM Consultants, Inc. Contact him at

TODD PERRY, from page 9

■ ■ Learning to be flexible. We quickly discovered that many assumptions we made about business were wrong, and without being open-minded and the drive to do it right, we would have failed. “Success came quickly because we founded our firm on the golden rule’s simple, true, and timeless principle. It meant treating our clients, staff, subs, vendors, and everyone as we would want to be treated.” ■ ■ Patience is a virtue. As we reminisce about the early days, we were confronted with many opportunities, hurdles, and crossroads. There were a number of them that if we had chosen incorrectly, we would have lost everything. We

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Turn HR upside down

A EC firms are usually too slow to change. I have always said we figure stuff out 10-15 years after the rest of American industry. In that vein – in this employee-driven job market we are in – you may conclude it is time to turn HR upside down. That means doing some seemingly radical things that may conflict with your thinking up ‘til now. It’s time to turn your firm’s HR upside down and make some big changes to your policies and practices.

Mark Zweig

Here are some big changes to your HR policies and practices that I would suggest if you want to keep up: 1. Pay review frequency. The old days of once a year pay reviews are gone. With inflation rates higher than 9 percent, and the average firm needing 15-20 percent more staff than it has (this is an estimate), I would strongly urge you to look at everyone four times a year. It doesn’t mean they will get four raises a year, although some of your most junior people could. It means that their pay is reviewed that often. Most of you reading this would never consider what I am suggesting, but you may be smart to consider it when you think about the time, expense, lost revenue, and disruption of replacing someone who quits.

2. Performance appraisals. I despise them and always have. So, for the most part, do your managers and your employees, which explains why you will probably have a hard time getting these done on time. They take up valuable time, cause stress, and are typically fundamentally flawed for a wide variety of reasons. How about giving people feedback when they need it? Immediate and frequent. I can tell you that when I was a manager, I never saved anything for review time. I did it now. Stop following what everyone else does and strongly consider dropping your formal reviews. 3. Recruitment is selling. Stop putting lists of

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS RIMKUS CONSULTING GROUP, INC. ACQUIRES CORE HUMAN FACTORS Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc., a worldwide provider of forensic engineering and technical consulting services, today announced the acquisition of Core Human Factors, a human factors analysis firm that provides research and guidance on consumer, industrial, and healthcare-related products. The acquisition provides Rimkus’ Human Factors Practice with an extended suite of services focusing on medical devices and regulatory guidance. “With 10 acquisitions in the last two years, our aggressive growth strategy will continue in 2022, focusing on areas that drive value for our clients. Core HF’s team brings a medical device lens to our Human Factors Practice. We believe the combination of Core HF and our current Human Factors group will make Rimkus a global leader in the field of Human Factors and we look forward to seeing how our clients will benefit from this unmatched team of experts. We are committed to expanding Rimkus, providing enhanced services, and

supporting our team as we drive growth and innovation together,” said Curtis Brown, chairman and executive director, Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. “The Core HF team draws on an extraordinary wealth of experience and truly understands how to bring a personal aspect to their work, much like we do at Rimkus. Additionally, their team’s collaborative approach and advanced technology made this an ideal acquisition. Together, we’ll be able to customize the customer experience and continue elevating Rimkus as an industry leader,” said Robert Kocher, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. Core Human Factors’ mission is to apply a human touch to all aspects of user research: serving their clients, connecting with their study participants, collaborating with their co-workers, and improving the usability and safety of products and services. They use a variety of analytical and observational research methods to help companies improve their products at all points in the design

lifecycle, from conceptualization through post-market troubleshooting. Their niche is medical and drug delivery devices, and they align their efforts with their clients’ human factors engineering programs as team contributors or develop and manage all HFE efforts when requested. “We’re honored to join the Rimkus family and to work alongside their team of seasoned and established experts. Our two companies are aligned in our shared vision of being a global leader in engineering and technical consulting. Together, we will continue to provide and expand our professional expertise and client service to our valued clients,” said Adam Shames, MBA, founder and CEO, Core Human Factors. Since 2020, Rimkus has completed 10 acquisitions worldwide, growing their network to more than 1,200 employees and over 100 offices. Through the acquisitions, Rimkus has enhanced their existing practice areas to stay ahead of their global customers’ requirements and invested in solutions that enable the company to remain a leader.

this out monthly or quarterly, not next April after the fiscal year closes. The faster rewards are tied to overall company financial performance, the more consistent your performance will be. 5. Work from home. You may think it’s better with everyone in the office and I wouldn’t disagree. I think it’s great when everyone is in one place working together. But like it or not, COVID proved many people can work from home and do perfectly well. Work with your people. And people have other options for where to work, many of which will offer that opportunity. Don’t have a one-size-fits-all policy on this stuff. You could lose some good people you need if you are too hard-line on this one. 6. Job titles. In my experience, the more you have, the worse morale will be. This is especially true with “status” titles like vice president, senior vice president, associate, senior associate, etc. I don’t want people feeling bad because someone got a title they didn’t get. Focus on functional roles – and what someone does if in that role. And roles change. Some people fill multiple roles. It’s a team. You don’t see baseball or football teams with status titles. There is no “senior pitcher.” That’s because they are unnecessary. You want to look more like a tech company than a stodgy, no- growth law firm? If so, turn HR upside down and do something different, now! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG , from page 11

questions together that could trip up a job candidate and instead devote your time to figuring out how you can make them desperately want to join your firm. Find the best realtor in your area who can sell out-of-towners on living there. Find the best route from the airport that shows off your area. Get your best people meeting with job candidates instead of those with nothing better to do. Meet at good restaurants. Have an office that looks like an exciting place to be. Show them your best projects. Give them a summary of all your unique benefits and policies other firms don’t have. SELL instead of thinking your job is to eliminate bad apples. Change your orientation. “The old days of once a year pay reviews are gone. With inflation rates higher than 9 percent, and the average firm needing 15-20 percent more staff than it has, I would strongly urge you to look at everyone four times a year.” 4. Peanut butter profit distributions. Some percentage of the firm profits needs to go to everyone. It’s not “socialism.” It’s just smart. Make everyone feel like they are owners. Reward everyone for being part of a high-performing overall company. Encourage cooperation. If someone doesn’t deserve to get anything, either “fix” them or fire them. Your job as a manager is to do just that. And pay

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