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
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