TZL 1385 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S M a r c h 2 9 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 3 8 5 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

COVID-19’s impact on staff

The decisions firms make today will determine the talent available for the next professional generation. Women in the workplace

In Zweig Group’s ongoing 2021 AEC Industry Outlook and Response to COVID-19 Survey , firms were asked how their employees were impacted by effects of the pandemic. About two in five firms (39 percent) said they had employees volunteer to reduce their hours and/or pay since March 2020. A median of 5 percent of their staff volunteered for these reductions in their hours or compensation. Additionally, about one in five firms (22 percent) had employees quit or resign since March 2020 due to COVID-19 related factors. Participate in a short questionnaire to receive a free report of this survey’s findings. F I R M I N D E X Garmann Miller........................................6 Genesis AEC.........................................12 kW Mission Critical Engineering.............10 tk1sc.....................................................10 WGI, Inc................................................12 WSP Global Inc.....................................10 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz ROB HUGHES: Using ERM to strengthen your firm Page 3 xz Set the vision: Eric Baltzell Page 6 xz MARK ZWEIG: Making remote workers feel connected Page 9 xz KATIE CRAWFORD: The power of storytelling Page 11

T he lessons learned from previous crises tell us diversity and inclusion programs are at risk of receding from the forefront as a strategic priority, as companies focus on basic needs to transition to the new normal. This could cripple organizations and, indeed, the entire AEC community, in the future as companies seek to stabilize, flourish, and grow. Before COVID-19, the AEC industries were in a precarious position related to diversity – and especially women – in the workplace. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ (NCARB) 2019 survey of the profession, conducted in partnership with National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), found that women are twice as likely to stop pursuing a licensure after taking one of the six divisions of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). Zweig Group studies similarly reflect a downward trend of those who self-identify as female from entry into the AEC workforce through licensure, with representation dropping from 36 percent for ages 18 to 25, down to 29 percent by ages 44 to 55. According to Zweig Group’s 2020 Principals, Partners, and Owners Report of AEC Firms , 94 percent of firm principals are white; 84 percent are male; 82 percent are 50 or older; and only 2 percent are under age 40. The same NCARB and NOMA study found that 66 percent of African Americans don’t see themselves reflected in firm leadership. BRIDGING THE GAPS. The representation gap is significant, but taking action requires support from the very top of the organizational chart. It also takes thought leadership from the C-suite across the entire AEC industry. Despite the gap in retention and leadership attainment of women within AEC, the No. 1 challenge identified by the award-winning firms within our Hot Firm and Best Firm To Work For awards is recruitment and retention. Marrying the needs identified by C-suite leaders of fast-growing and culture-conscious AEC firms with the gaps found in the demographic data was a perfect launching point for our ElevateHer movement to bring senior executives to the table to commit to working together to find solutions. To us, the opportunity was clear: We cannot begin to fight the talent war without reckoning with the reality that we haven’t done all we can to recruit, retain, inspire, and develop every bright mind with an interest in STEM. ElevateHer started in 2018 as an open letter about my personal experience serving the AEC industries as a consultant that turned into a Facebook community. As the community grew, the virtual network Editor’s note: This article first appeared in ©Marketer , The Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, February 2021, It appears here with permission from SMPS.

Jamie Claire Kiser




scale the ladder and make it to the C-suite after experiencing a year at home and realizing the magnitude of the pre-pandemic sacrifices many made in pursuit of the next promotion? This is a likely scenario, according to the 2020 Women in the Workplace report, the largest study of women in corporate America, published by McKinsey & Company in coordination with The study found that after six years of slow progress in the representation of women in corporate America, one in four women are now considering leaving the workforce or downshifting careers due to COVID-19. Senior-level women juggling professional and personal demands cited burnout as the primary reason in almost three out of four responses. This is especially troubling as senior-level women make meaningful impacts on company culture, serving as mentors, allies, and sponsors to women and, importantly, women of color, at a higher participation rate than senior-level men, according to the study. BUILDING A BETTER WORKFORCE. The pandemic has provided a reimagining of everything about the workplace. If this sounds overwhelming, it is. But this is an opportunity to review all of the rules that governed career engagement and to be deliberate and thoughtful in applying the lessons learned to rebuilding a better, more sustainable workforce. Groups like ElevateHer have spent time developing resources to make this attainable. The Women in the Workplace study found that fewer than one in three Black women report their manager has checked in on them in light of recent racial violence. And only a similar percentage say their manager has fostered an inclusive culture on their team, meaning the majority feel managers haven’t fostered such an environment. One of the ElevateHer cohort teams created a deck of cards that can be downloaded for free, with discussion opportunities designed to engage with underrepresented demographics and reassess, evaluate, and improve workplace culture. These cards can help jump-start conversations, making it easier for a committed leader uncertain of where to begin to connect with their team. Card topics reflect those cited in the study that have further isolated staff during such an overwhelmingly isolated year. The path to building companies that better reflect the clients and communities we serve is an effort that Zweig Group has invested energy and resources to address. We launched ElevateHer as a way to combat the AEC industries’ recruiting and retention challenges. The additional challenges of 2020 truly have the potential to set this important work back by an entire professional generation if we don’t take seriously the genuine fissures in our workforce and workplace practices. The firms that can find opportunity in the circumstance, though, will be remembered for how they responded as entrepreneurs, leaders, and humans for years to come. JAMIE CLAIRE KISER is managing principal and director of advisory services at Zweig Group. Contact her at


spurred in-person conversations at conferences and industry panels. More than a year ago, in September 2019 at Zweig Group’s Elevate AEC Conference, we announced the formation of the ElevateHer cohort, calling for those interested in joining us to form a think tank to identify a topic and develop implementation-ready plans. These would be available to anyone free of charge and centered on tackling recruiting and retention challenges that threaten the long-term vibrancy of the AEC industries. They would focus on working together to better address where we’re falling short for an entire gender. We see this initiative as a way to bring people together across disciplines, ages, positions, tenure, and professional backgrounds to find solutions, not to polarize or factionalize. We also involved the C-suite directly, encouraging a visible, cross-disciplinary commitment instead of delegating a proxy to sign up for a networking group. We knew we had to get leader participation to encourage the next generation to choose civil engineering, for example, over a career in medicine or technology. Their involvement also provided representation to build networks that retain and support the careers of talented staff who share backgrounds with the communities and clients we serve. RECRUITING AND RETENTION REALITIES. Just a couple of weeks after our inaugural ElevateHer cohort met in person in early 2020 to begin our work on thesis topics, the pandemic changed the narrative entirely. COVID-19 brought to the surface two unspoken realities that are deeply tied to recruiting and retention. When it comes down to it, women are the first to exit the workforce, based on family conversations about whose career takes priority. Several female members of the cohort were directly impacted – some lost their positions or had hours reduced, while others chose to leave the workforce voluntarily to focus on their families, which is consistent with national labor statistics. An industry-agnostic study by FlexJobs of more than 2,500 working parents with children under the age of 18 living at home found that 17 percent of working mothers quit their jobs during the pandemic, and 38 percent of those who left don’t plan to return to the workforce. We can’t un-ring this bell. The context may have been the pandemic, but I believe we will see the outcomes of these decisions for years to come. For example, after the pandemic, will a firm have to work harder to convince a woman to move across the country to take a new role if, in the back of her mind, she’s reflecting on her initial conversation with her family about who would give their job up first if needed? The second unspoken reality is that many female employees weren’t all that happy to begin with. According to Zweig Group’s latest Principals, Partners, and Owners Survey of AEC Firms , there’s a gender split in response to the question “Would you recommend your career track to family and friends?” Only 69 percent of female principals said they would, compared to 88 percent of male principals. Will the burnout many feel today translate to less aspiration to

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T he COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy, construction, and business operations, along with the growing array of exposures confronting AEC firms has left many of them looking for new ways to strengthen their risk management and insurance initiatives. Enterprise risk management provides a formal process for firms to examine their critical risks in context, and implement cost-effective risk management and risk-financing solutions. Using ERM to strengthen your firm

Rob Hughes

In recent years, more AEC firms have looked into enterprise risk management, or ERM, to address their need for a more holistic and sophisticated process to identify, assess, quantify, and manage the increasingly complex risks they face. ERM offers a way to address critical risks as part of an integrated, strategic, and firm-wide process. It can provide a wider context for evaluating critical business decisions, including whether to expand into new disciplines or geographic markets, whether to take on different types of projects, or whether to acquire or merge with other design firms. Using ERM, design firms engage in a robust process to optimize protection against their most serious potential exposures while achieving efficiencies in their insurance program and driving down their overall cost of risk. Implementing ERM starts by educating the firm’s senior leadership and gaining their buy-in. ERM initiatives often require firm-wide participation in an ongoing process, so they are most likely to

succeed when leadership understands the value they bring and becomes fully engaged. Next, designate an ERM team to organize the effort and keep it on track. The ERM team reports directly to leadership and typically includes a cross-section of firm management, administration, and key thought leaders. Every AEC firm has its own risk profile and appetite, which may be related to its disciplines, project mix, geographical distribution, financial structure, and compensation practices. A firm’s risk appetite may also be reflected in its investment in risk management, as well as portion of overall risk transferred through insurance versus self-insured. Ultimately, a firm must determine its “risk appetite” or how much risk it is willing to take to achieve its growth and sustainability objectives. Note that this can evolve over time, depending on the firm’s financial strength, economic conditions, market forces, and other factors.

See ROB HUGHES, page 4



❚ ❚ Project management and client relationships ❚ ❚ Professional responsibility and ethics issues ❚ ❚ Regulatory and/or legislative compliance ❚ ❚ Operational/business risks: ❚ ❚ Firm governance and management approach ❚ ❚ Office space and lease agreements ❚ ❚ Business interruption/natural disasters ❚ ❚ Staffing levels ❚ ❚ Subconsultant selection, management and oversight ❚ ❚ Information technology risks: ❚ ❚ Intellectual property exposures, including loss or theft of

ROB HUGHES, from page 3

After defining their firm’s risk appetite, or level of risk it is willing to take to achieve its growth and sustainability objective, the ERM team can proceed to identify and quantify its risks. One way to do this involves holding a firm-wide exercise or workshop to get input from everyone involved, and then to organize and analyze all the information captured. Keep in mind, this approach may be more time-intensive for firms with multiple offices in varied locations. Depending on your firm’s size, the ERM team might gather the necessary information through one-on-one interviews with key leaders of the firm or by having all employees participate in an online firm-wide survey. Although such surveys can be completed quickly, the quality of responses may not be optimal and the lack of face time forgoes the opportunity to create an ERM culture. Once critical risks are identified, they can be examined individually, assigned relative monetary values and probability of occurrence. Each risk can be weighted and mapped graphically for comparison. One approach uses a statistical scattergram with a horizontal axis ranging from low to high probability of occurrence and a vertical axis showing the potential financial impact of a loss event. In setting priorities, higher impact events with higher probabilities are the most critical to assess carefully and mitigate or manage. For analyzing individual risks, some firms use key risk indicators, which help track the potential presence, level, or trend of a risk. For instance, a spike in “days outstanding” for accounts receivable may signal issues with billing, collections, or individual client relationships. To identify key risk indicators, you can check the firm’s applications for management liability and professional liability insurance. They typically have questions about significant potential risks and can help the firm see if it has the best practice, procedure, or system in place. Examining risk in a wider context may also identify off- setting risks. If certain events might result in a decrease in billings in one area of a firm’s business, it may be offset by increased activity in another. For instance, COVID-19 may have led some owners to postpone some projects, but may have triggered increases in others, such as those in healthcare. To facilitate effective risk analysis, some firms categorize risks into groups, such as: ❚ ❚ Strategic risks:

client blueprints and schematics ❚ ❚ Data security and ethical walls ❚ ❚ Third-party suppliers and outsourcing ❚ ❚ Human resources risks: ❚ ❚ Retaining key design professionals and staff ❚ ❚ Compensation practices ❚ ❚ Benefits plans and adequacy/cost ❚ ❚ Training and development ❚ ❚ Financial risks: ❚ ❚ Cash flow and capital requirements ❚ ❚ Financial controls ❚ ❚ Uninsured and under-insured losses ❚ ❚ Pension obligations ❚ ❚ Client insolvency ❚ ❚ Fraud/embezzlement of firm and client assets ❚ ❚ Accounts receivable/fee disputes

A key element of ERM involves establishing risk measurements to monitor results. For example, in assessing the firm’s financial risks, some measures might include billing trends, receivables over 90 days, credit line utilization, and pay down rate. In addition, some ERM teams conduct formal annual “risk audits” to assess performance against key risk metrics, which helps determine if the firm was able to reduce potential hazards. ERM provides a formal process for firms to examine their critical risks in context, and implement cost-effective risk management and risk-financing solutions that yield measurable results. An experienced risk advisor can help you determine the most effective ways to deploy ERM within your firm. ROB HUGHES, senior vice president and partner, Ames & Gough. He can be reached at AUTHOR’S NOTE: Some ideas and processes mentioned in this article were gleaned from: Fraser, John and Simpkins, Betty J. Enterprise Risk Management: Today’s Leading Research and Best Practices for Tomorrow’s Executives . Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010.

❚ ❚ Practice disciplines ❚ ❚ Target client base ❚ ❚ Geographic focus (projects or offices) ❚ ❚ Organic growth vs. M&A ❚ ❚ Reputational issues ❚ ❚ Practice management risks: ❚ ❚ Contract hygiene

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.



The Principals Academy Virtual Seminar




The Principals Academy is Zweig Group’s flagship training program encompass- ing all aspects of managing a professional AEC service firm. Elevate your ability to lead and grow your firm with this program designed to inspire and inform existing and emerging AEC firm leaders in key areas of firm management lead- ership, financial management, recruiting, marketing, business development, and project management. Learning and networking at this premiere event challeng- es traditional seminar formats and integrates participatory idea exchange led by Zweig Group’s CEO, Chad Clinehens, PE, and Zweig Group’s Managing Principal, Jamie Claire Kiser, as well as the firm’s top line up of advisors. Zweig Group’s leadership team draws from our 30+ year history working with AEC firms to teach the latest approaches to managing and operating success- ful firms – using our comprehensive data set of industry benchmarks and best practices. The Principals Academy is like a mini-MBA for design and technical professionals and is an impactful way you can spend learning to build your ca- reer and your firm.


PAST ATTENDEE FEEDBACK: • “Great course, each presenter was very knowledgeable and I often shared a summary of key points immediately with management or other employees. Well worth our time, thank you!” • “It was great hearing the high level perspectives from the Zweig staff and their ability to bring real world experience to the topics was very helpful.” • “Everything about Ownership and being a Principal was well organized into one com- prehensive seminar. The topics and presenters were well organized. I recommend this course to new owners/principals coming in, and as refresher course to existing AE busi- ness owners for reviewing best practices.”


Zweig Group is an approved provider by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).




Set the vision: Eric Baltzell CEO of Garmann Miller (Minster, OH), a multi-discipline design firm that impacts communities through dedicated service and smart design.


G armann Miller is one of the largest architectural and engineering firms in Ohio. Baltzell started with the company nearly 20 years ago as an electrical engineer, and mainly attributes its growth and success to company culture. “I, along with our board of directors, need to set the vision and the example,” Baltzell says. “I have to follow through on our why, which is to impact communities through dedicated service and smart design. My goal is to motivate our people to join me in that journey. I try to be that steady voice, reminding them who we are, why we do what

engineer hired. A month later, I was able to get our now COO, Chris Monnin, to join me at Garmann Miller. I was electrical and Chris was mechanical, and we led our departments, working hand in hand with its founders, Brad Garmann and Bruce Miller. A succession discussion took place for the long-term, and I was voted CEO, and Chris, COO. We began our roles in early 2017. When it comes to challenges, you can’t compare anything to what we’ve experienced in 2020. We’ve had to be flexible and try our best to adapt to the changes, which we are still doing on a daily basis. My approach is to provide clarity to our team and effectively communicate the plan and procedures we put in place. TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? EB: We already had a process in place prior to COVID-19 for working remotely, which included converting our team from desktops to laptops. Having three offices now, we needed to have that remote aspect for our team, and we invested in technology to make that possible. It wasn’t

we do, and where we’re going.” A CONVERSATION WITH ERIC BALTZELL.

The Zweig Letter: Tell me a little about your path to being CEO. When did you become CEO? Since being CEO, what’s been your greatest challenge and how was it solved? Eric Baltzell: I started with the firm in 2001 as its first



a big issue when we first had to work at home; it was surprisingly effective, using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other platforms to communicate. Our clients were in the same boat. These platforms make it easy to have quick meetings and not having to travel saves so much time. As convenient as the virtual meetings are though, we still value in-person meetings and events. “We aim to maintain the culture that the firm’s founders first mapped out. That culture was to create quality design, provide exceptional service, and always do what’s right.” TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? EB: I’d say six to nine months. Having a full-time controller on our team has been great, with managing our systems to monitor schedules and invoicing, targeted goals with business development, what revenue we’re targeting, and leveraging that with schedules and revenue. TZL: Trust is crucial. How do you earn the trust of your clients? EB: I believe trust is earned with the client by following through with what you say you are going to do – following through on a promise and delivering on it. We are above industry norms on meeting schedules and producing quality documents with minimal change orders, but the personal experience with listening and meeting needs is crucial in a service industry. We value our client relationships and go to extensive lengths to get them involved in every step of the project process. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? EB: As architects and engineers, we weren’t trained to manage people. We recognize and value the need for professional training and development. We provide ongoing training to our managers that includes programs focused on effectively communicating with people and dealing with and resolving conflicts. We’ve also set up training with a local therapist who helps with people skills. His counseling addresses issues such as what’s happening in their life outside of work and developing

ways to handle life challenges in a healthy, productive way. TZL: How often do you valuate your firm and what key metrics do you use in the process? Do you valuate using in-house staff or is it outsourced? EB: We valuate the firm every three years. Company value gets re-assessed, using a formula with net revenue and net income as the key metrics. Formula is a weighted scale; five years back would be the least weighted, through that sets a value for the company and what shares are worth. We outsource an accounting firm and an attorney who work from the same formula and basis throughout and how it is to be handled. TZL: Zweig Group named your firm No. 1 full-service Best Firm To Work For. What do you most attribute that recognition to? What do you feel truly distinguishes your firm from other competitors? EB: Our culture. We aim to maintain the culture that the firm’s founders first mapped out. That culture was to create quality design, provide exceptional service, and always do what’s right. We’ve been very intentional regarding who we want on our team. When we talk with job candidates, we dedicate a significant amount of time to explaining who we are and what we’re about, as well as the day- to-day responsibilities. We also put time into getting to know them and their goals and make sure they understand our vision. As for what separates us, I believe it’s our exceptional service, responsiveness, and listening. These lead to fully understanding a client’s challenges and needs. We’re then committed to providing solutions and answers. Everyone here is willing to jump in; there are no egos, everyone works together to do what’s best for the client. 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? EB: One key was to plan in plenty of time. We had a 10-year transition, which sounds “We value our client relationships and go to extensive lengths to get them involved in every step of the project process.”

HEADQUARTERS: Minster, OH NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 60+ YEAR FOUNDED: 1993 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 3 SERVICES: ❚ ❚ Architecture ❚ ❚ Engineering ❚ ❚ Landscape architecture ❚ ❚ Interior design ❚ ❚ Technology ❚ ❚ Construction administration

❚ ❚ Graphic design ❚ ❚ Master planning ❚ ❚ Pre-bond MARKET SECTORS: ❚ ❚ Civic

❚ ❚ Education ❚ ❚ Healthcare ❚ ❚ Industrial ❚ ❚ Parks and recreation ❚ ❚ Worship

RECENT PROJECT: A new $3.6 million courthouse plaza that reflects the historic 1880s courthouse. The plaza, located in downtown Troy, was designed by Garmann Miller. MOST RECENT AWARD: Architectural Record – 250 on the Top 300 Firms list.

See SET THE VISION, page 8

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

RCH 29, 2021, ISSUE 1385


ON THE MOVE WYCLIFFE OGEGA JOINS DEWBERRY Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced that Wycliffe Ogega, PE, has joined the firm as a project manager in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office. With nearly 10 years of experience, Ogega join’s the firm’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing group to expand its power systems services. He serves healthcare, municipal, commercial, industrial, and institutional clients

by performing short circuit, protective device coordination, arc flash, and load flow studies. In addition to his responsibilities as a power systems designer, Ogega is responsible for leading arc flash training and data collection exercises for clients and staff. Ogega earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National

Society of Black Engineers. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.

SET THE VISION, from page 7

drones are all part of this modern tech we’re using, and it continues to advance. For our policies, I like to always encourage family first and keep a good work-life balance. Even before the pandemic, we adjusted our policy to allow more flexibility in working from home and investing in the hardware and software for our team to do that. It benefits all of us if we give our people freedom and have the resources to be productive, not only in the office, but at home as well. Finally, opening two offices outside of Minster – Columbus in 2018 and Indianapolis this year – has been exciting. This has allowed us to expand our reach and enter into new markets. “Having someone from outside the business to turn to as an advisor is important. Sometimes it takes that outside perspective to offer a different way of doing things.” TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? EB: Lead. I, along with our board of directors, need to set the vision and the example. I have to follow through on our why, which is to impact communities through dedicated service and smart design. My goal is to motivate our people to join me in that journey. I try to be that steady voice, reminding them who we are, why we do what we do, and where we’re going. It’s important to me that our people value our vision, mission, and values. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? EB: I believe it goes back to providing a culture where everyone feels valued and respected. We also want to put them in the best position to grow personally and professionally. To do this we’ve implemented social and wellness committees and created a team specifically for giving back to the communities we serve with volunteer and philanthropic efforts. The company also provides access to RightNow Media, which is a great resource for faith, professional, and personal growth with its video- based content. We’ve provided a competitive benefits package with profit sharing, paying overtime, flexible work hours, etc. At the end of the day, we want a total team effort, creating an environment where we’re all working toward and sharing in the success.

long, but it actually was done strategically. We had to be very intentional with our transition plan and not rush the process. It’s difficult to just turn over the keys to a business without training and coaching on how the business is run; there’s a lot of transfer of knowledge that has to happen. And for me, it was important to keep the legacy of what the founders built. Another key was using a business advisor. They guided us through some key components to work through in the transition, such as vision, mission, values, organizational chart, and strategic planning. Having someone from outside the business to turn to as an advisor is important. Sometimes it takes that outside perspective to offer a different way of doing things. TZL: What unique or innovative pricing strategies have you developed, or are you developing, to combat the commoditization of engineering services? EB: We’d rather not combat commoditization with pricing strategies. Companies can get caught up in pricing wars at times, and we prefer to set ourselves apart. In accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, it must be qualification-based in the public sector when an owner selects a design firm. We want to partner with a client who values us for who we are, the quality of work we do, and our level of service. TZL: Research shows that PMs are overworked, understaffed and that many firms do not have formal training programs for PMs. What is your firm doing to support its PMs? EB: We understand how important it is to invest in training and professional development for our PMs. They are given outside formal training on the project management role, and internally, we meet to discuss what it means to be a PM at Garmann Miller, what challenges they have, and what tools they need to be successful. We have a weekly production meeting and weekly PM meetings, which give them the opportunity to talk about what help they need and what’s going on. We’ve also implemented monthly check-ins to stay connected and allow for training opportunities. TZL: Since you started with Garmann Miller, what are some of the more significant changes you’ve experienced (new technology, policies, new service lines, etc.)? EB: AutoCAD to Revit, modeling in 3D design, has been significant. I’m really proud of our group. They’ve embraced this technology, and I’m amazed by how talented they are working in it. 3D animations, laser scanning, and

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Remote workers are not going to go away as soon as this pandemic is over. Make sure they still feel connected to your firm. Making remote workers feel connected

L et’s face it – remote workers in A/E firms are not going to go away as soon as this pandemic is over. We’ve all figured out that it actually can work out. Some people are every bit as (or even more) productive working from home every day instead of having to come to the office. Firms are discovering they are better able to hire the people they need if the best candidate doesn’t have to relocate. There may be less drama and conflict between people. And firms may have been able to cut their office overhead. All good stuff.

Mark Zweig

2)Open-book management. Share the key financial performance metrics with every single employee. I will probably be saying this until I can no longer write or speak. It’s just so important and it costs so little to do. It helps train everyone in how the business operates and makes money. I’m sorry, but your excuses for NOT doing it just aren’t valid. Open-book firms perform better than those that don’t share this information and it is an important part of how you can keep people connected to your enterprise. 3)Shared rewards. This is another key element to keep people feeling like they are part of something bigger than themselves. When the firm performs

So assuming that some (if not all) of this remote work is going to continue into the future, how can we be sure that our people still feel they are connected to the enterprise so they work hard to make the business successful and stick around for the long haul? Here are my thoughts: 1)Shared business planning. This was the topic of my article in The Zweig Letter last week so I won’t flog it here. But it is worth restating that getting everyone’s involvement in the business planning process in some way – along with sharing the full plan with all employees – is a critical part of the effort to keep them plugged into the business. And don’t forget to track the actual results achieved throughout the year compared to your goals and share those numbers with everyone as well.

See MARK ZWEIG, page 10



TRANSACT IONS WSP CONTINUES TO EXPAND IN HIGH GROWTH US DATA CENTRE AND HEALTHCARE MARKETS WSP Global Inc. is pleased to announce that it has acquired kW Mission Critical Engineering , a leading 175-employee engineering firm based in Troy, New York serving the data center market. WSP is also pleased to announce the acquisition of tk1sc , a 240-employee mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering firm based in Irvine, California. Both transactions will further consolidate WSP’s Property and Buildings business in the complex data center, healthcare, and science and technology markets in the United States. “Welcoming kW Mission Critical Engineering and tk1sc into the WSP family further expands our building sector capabilities in the high growth data center, healthcare and science + technology markets in the United States while also significantly increasing our presence on the West Coast and providing us a platform to expand our data center capabilities in Europe and Asia,” commented Alexandre L’Heureux, WSP’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “In line with our 2019-2021 Global Strategic Plan, these acquisitions solidify our already strong presence in these complex markets, which will now represent in excess of 65 percent of our Property and Buildings practice in the United States.” The acquisitions reflect WSP’s focus on growing markets that will continue to have a profound impact on our society globally. Demands for healthcare, science and technology, and data center facilities have been on an upward trajectory for many years. The positive outlook for the data center market has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic, with business closures and stay-at-home orders around the world fueling an increase in streaming services, digital communication and

workplace coordination technologies, among others. “We have been committed to growing these complex markets for several years, resulting in our position as the largest engineering firm in the United States serving healthcare clients and the second largest in laboratory facilities,” said Lou Cornell, president and CEO of WSP USA. “Adding tk1sc solidifies our leadership in both of these markets, while adding kW Mission Critical Engineering will place us in the top five engineering firms serving data center clients.” Commenting on the transaction, kW MCE co- founders Chris Kurkjian and James Warren said: “Combining our mission critical expertise with WSP’s global footprint will allow us to continue our growth plan, offer opportunities to our employees, and better support the expansion goals of our partners and clients.” Also commenting on the transaction in a joint statement, tk1sc CEO Roger Carter and CFO Ray Swartz said, “Becoming a member of WSP is great news for our company and employees. By joining WSP, we will be able to provide additional opportunities for employees to grow, expand our client base and play a key role in further developing WSP’s building sector on the West Coast.” Launched in 2012, kW MCE is dedicated to engineering data centers and buildings with a continuous uptime requirement. The high-performance consulting firm offers comprehensive mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, controls, telecommunications, and security system design for buildings that operate 24/7 forever. From strategic campus master planning, to specialized system design, and multi-phase building assessments, kW MCE provides

expertise on critical power and cooling infrastructure decisions to meet clients’ operational demands – all with an emphasis on budget, schedule, and risk. tk1sc, headquartered in Southern California, is a multi-discipline professional engineering firm with over 240 employees that for the past 40 years has been an integral part of shaping the built environment in the Western United States. Working collaboratively with industry partners, tk1sc is a leader at providing innovative, environmentally appropriate design solutions for technical challenges across a large variety of building types and market sectors. The wide-ranging engineering services that tk1sc provides include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology, fire protection, security, lighting, commissioning and energy and sustainability. This comprehensive mix of services allows tk1sc to maximize performance of building systems and indoor environmental quality while minimizing the effect on the environment by conserving energy and water. As one of the world’s leading professional services firms, WSP provides engineering and design services to clients in the transportation and infrastructure, property and buildings, environment, power and energy, resources and industry sectors, as well as offering strategic advisory services. WSP’s global experts include engineers, advisors, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, environmental specialists and surveyors, in addition to other design, program and construction management professionals. Our talented people are well positioned to deliver successful and sustainable projects, wherever clients need us.

sometimes. But these things are important if you want to keep your people feeling like they still have co-workers and a (work) “place” to call home. So do them! There’s no magic bullet in any of this stuff. But business is not the same and it won’t return to what we used to call “normal.” You just have to do it and adapt – or you will get left behind. It really is that simple. MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “Zoom coffee sessions and lunches and happy hours can be awkward and feel like a waste of time sometimes. But these things are important if you want to keep your people feeling like they still have co- workers and a (work) ‘place’ to call home.”

MARK ZWEIG, from page 9

well, everyone who is there should benefit. Some firm principals are hell-bent on only sharing the spoils amongst the smallest, high-performing group of individuals they can, thinking that is what being a good manager is all about. But it isn’t. What constitutes being a good manager is having an ENTIRE business that as a whole consistently performs and achieves its goals. Getting everyone sharing in some of the spoils is doubly important when workers are not in the office. It’s another way to tether them to the company. 4)Lots of communication from the direct supervisor. People need to hear often from their managers. Calls, Zoom meetings, and emails all contribute to that. You cannot minimize the importance of this stuff if you want to keep people from feeling they have been forgotten or left behind. And you want to be sure they don’t get critical information through the grapevine. You want to control the messaging and explain the “why” of things to your remote workers. 5)Shared social events. Yes, Zoom coffee sessions and lunches and happy hours can be awkward and feel like a waste of time

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




The power of storytelling

Look beyond the project scope and consider how the client or even the community will be impacted by the improvements your team is making.

W ith the world in virtual mode for the foreseeable future, the quality of the content your marketing team is producing is more important than ever. As marketers, we understand the power a story can hold. In the AEC industry, every project tells a story. It can often seem daunting to our technical staff to determine the direction of a story when they’re deep in the day-to-day scope of the project. But, finding that story doesn’t need to be painful, and I’ve found that the most genuine project stories can be found by just having a general conversation about the project between the marketing and project teams.

Katie Crawford

article. On the other hand, there are many who would rather jump on a call and talk through the project while allowing me to draft the entire article for their review. “I’ve found that the most genuine project stories can be found by just having a general conversation about the project between the marketing and project teams.”

Getting your colleagues engaged in the process can be easier than you think. When I send out a call for content, I get a variety of ideas from colleagues who may not have worked on an article with me in the past. The first step I always take is to determine what level of involvement they want to have in the process. As surprising as it may be to some, many of my technical colleagues actually enjoy writing as it differs so greatly from their day-to-day work. It also helps to remind them that they can lean on me to do the heavy lifting of formatting, editing, providing graphic assistance, and any other way to improve the quality of the




ON THE MOVE WGI HIRES MARCÍA ALVARADO AS TAMPA STRUCTURAL MARKET LEADER National engineering design and professional services firm WGI, Inc. is proud to announce the hire of Marcía Alvarado, P.E. as its new Tampa Structural Market Leader. Headquartered in West Palm Beach, WGI is a nationwide leader in providing sustainable, technology-based solutions for the planning and design of public infrastructure and private land-development projects. Tampa is one of WGI’s most significant locations and a pivot point for both Florida and WGI’s national presence. Marcía will be responsible for all aspects of WGI’s Structural engineering practice in the Tampa Bay region including client interaction, recruiting, and developing team members, while overseeing her department’s production and business operations. She provides a unique skill set including structural engineering utilizing the latest Building InformationModeling (BIM) for coordination as a project manager, along with 16 years of structural engineering experience and project management of new construction and renovation in healthcare, commercial, higher education, multi-story residential, federal, aviation, and parking garages. “I’m proud to joinWGI and apply my experience to its continuing expansion in the Tampa Bay region,” she says. “This is a major step forward for both WGI and me, and I’m excited to start building – both our team and projects.” Marcía is also experienced in restoration construction and forensic engineering investigations; analysis for existing buildings for seismic, wind, and AT/FP blast resistance; and progressive collapse upgrades, including National Technical Reviews for various FEMA

programs. She is licensed as a professional engineer in Florida, New York, and North Carolina. Arnaud Thibonnier, PE, SE and Director, Structures + Parking, says, “Marcía is key to WGI’s significant expansion of our Florida Structural and Parking platform, helping our focus on growth and synergy utilizing her high profile in the Tampa Bay region.” “Marcía’s wide-ranging experience and her activism are a perfect combination for WGI,” adds WGI Vice President/Buildings Shad Shafie. “Her commitment to mentorship, leadership, and inclusion are vital to WGI.” “One of our over-arching objectives is to be a great place to work for our associates,” adds Senior Vice President/Transportation Nancy Clements, PE. “To that end, Marcía will be among a select group of firm leaders who will renew and grow our diversity and inclusion efforts. Her DEI expertise will be a huge asset for WGI, and I’m really looking forward to working alongside her in those efforts.” Marcía is a graduate of Leadership Tampa Bay, and serves as its Diversity and Inclusion Chair for the Board of Directors. She served on the Board of Directors as President/Vice Chair for ACE Mentor Program of Greater Tampa Bay, and has been a part of the program since its inception. She received the University of South Florida (USF) College of Engineering Young Alumnus Award, and named a “Top 40 Under 40” by the Building Design + Construction , a national architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) industry publication, as an emerging design professional. She also created a consultancy geared toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consulting in 2020.

Marcía graduated from Florida Institute of Technology with a degree in Civil Engineering while playing collegiate basketball, and then started her career in structural engineering in New York City. She received her master’s degree from the University of South Florida. Marcía is also an advisor with Zweig Group’s ElevateHer program. ElevateHer is amovement and a commitment to Zweig Group’s mission to Elevate the Industry. ElevateHer is about the future of the AEC industry and Zweig Group’s commitment to embrace, promote, and ensuring equal opportunities for everyone in the AEC industry regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. As a multidisciplinary solutions-providing consulting firm, WGI has 18 offices in eight states, serving an active client base in over 30 states, specializing in the following disciplines: geospatial and land surveying, traffic and transportation engineering, mobility planning, land development/municipal engineering, parking solutions, subsurface utility engineering, restoration and structural engineering, landscape architecture, environmental sciences and water resources, architecture, land planning, and MEP engineering. In 2020, ENR ranked WGI No. 187 – up 37 places – on its list of the Top 500 Design Firms, No. 43 on its 2020 Top Southeast Design Firms, and No. 18 in the Florida market. South Florida Business Journal ranked WGI in the top four on its 2020 Top 25 Engineering Firms – for the fourth consecutive year, and No. 59 in its 2020 list of Top 100 Private Companies.

At the end of the day, my job is to polish the story so that my colleagues have a story they’re proud of. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as marketing manager is the excitement and sense of accomplishment my colleagues feel when their article is published, whether it’s on our blog, in our digital magazine, or in an industry publication. KATIE CRAWFORD is marketing manager at Genesis AEC. She can be reached at “Our technical staff wants to include the measurement of every road or pipe included in the project, while the reader wants to know what the social impact of those technical solutions means to them and to their community.”

KATIE CRAWFORD, from page 11

No matter what approach we take, the key is to think beyond the project scope at how the client or even the community will be impacted by the improvements our team is making. Determining the middle ground is often the most difficult part of the process. Our technical staff wants to include the measurement of every road or pipe included in the project, while the reader wants to know what the social impact of those technical solutions means to them and to their community. Once we have that impact nailed down, it’s a matter of providing details to tell the full story that will appeal to a wide audience , while still incorporating the technical detail that sets us apart as experts. Often, as soon as you start including details beyond the scope of the project, the story tells itself. How would the client get buy-in from other stakeholders about this project? Those details are just as important, and especially for clients where you have strong relationships. They will make themselves available and are anxious to be a part of the storytelling.

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