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BUSINESS NEWS ENGEO BRINGS CALTRANS-CERTIFIED MATERIALS TESTING LABORATORY TO SAN FRANCISCO ENGEO ’s San Francisco materials testing laboratory is now Caltrans certified. “Our San Francisco laboratory is conveniently located in the middle of the Bay on Treasure Island. Clients can take advantage of our easy access, abundance of free parking, and highly qualified, friendly staff to take care of their laboratory testing needs,” says Stefanos Papadopulos, Associate, leading ENGEO’s San Francisco office and laboratory. ENGEO maintains six soil and materials testing laboratories managed by registered geotechnical engineers. ENGEO’s laboratories are accredited through USACE, AASHTO Re:source, Caltrans, and DSA. Quality assurance programs such as AASHTO

Re:source, and CCRL are utilized for laboratory control and quality assurance. ENGEO goes above and beyond these programs by requiring laboratory results and final reports to be reviewed by the appropriate senior professionals. Our laboratory technicians are well trained and responsive, so your results are fast, accurate, and credible. ENGEO’s unique capabilities include Cyclic Simple Shear and Constant Rate of Strain Consolidation testing in addition to the wide range of soil and materials tests already offered. ENGEO laboratories are located in San Francisco, San Ramon, Lathrop, Reno, Rocklin, and Valencia. Founded in 1971, ENGEO is an award winning, employee-owned California

Corporation of geotechnical engineers, geologists, environmental scientists, hydrologists and construction-phase field representatives. ENGEO serves a diverse range of public and private clients through projects in transportation, infrastructure, water resources, geologic hazard abatement, flood control, energy, industrial development, entertainment facilities, manufacturing, critical and civic facilities, residential and mixed-use communities, urban infill, Brownfields, and transit-oriented developments. ENGEO has offices in California, Nevada, Washington, Guam, New Zealand, and Australia. A firm that has received many awards for technical excellence and workplace culture, ENGEOwas recently recognized as one of the Top Ten Best Places to Work in the Nation by Entrepreneur and Great Place to Work Institute.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 9

employees or more that work for a broad range of clients – get their average collection periods down as low as 40 days. It IS possible. It won’t be if you do everything as you always have done it, however. 3)Pricing. Contract forms, regularly raising hourly billing rates and fees, making sure markups are allowed and applied for all reimbursable expenses, and much more related to pricing are all areas where competent financial management can help out. 4)Financial reporting and forecasting. Having clear reports that anyone can understand and that show trends is something a really good financial manager can do for a firm. And better yet, forecasting future performance in terms of profit or loss and cashflow is something a competent financial manager can do, and a common weakness in firms in this business. 5)Banking and credit. Making sure the company has the best and most credit available to it should they need it is typically a role for a strong financial manager. And getting the principals out of personal guarantees or at least limiting those is something that can also be accomplished. 6)Ownership transition. Modeling the current ownership structure in terms of valuation and forecasting the effects of departing or incoming shareholders on the capital structure of the firm is a critical function that a strong financial manager can provide. As critical as this is, it is too often ignored. 7)Mergers and acquisitions. A good financial manager can help with due diligence, deal structuring, finding consolidation cost savings, financing, and so much more for those companies that want to grow by merger or acquisition. The input of the top financial person on the company is invaluable here. Hopefully, if you are a firm principal, by the time you finish this article, you can see some of the ways an experienced and competent financial manager could make a huge difference in your company’s and your personal financial well-being. So what are you waiting for? MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

do new ideas and processes and tactics come from to significantly improve cash flow or improve profitability, or where does new thinking about capitalization and ownership structure come into the picture? It probably doesn’t, as we are too inbred and likely to perpetuate less- than-optimal thinking about financial management. Third, some firm principals just don’t allow the top financial person to actually do their job. They are slow to turn in timesheets or expense reports, so financial management cannot bill. These same principals don’t respond to requests for information about contracts or billing so that, too, slows things down. Financial managers typically have little say about who the firm actually works for, and slow-paying clients continue to be served because “principal X” has a relationship with someone in the client organization that trumps good business practices. And then on top of it, because the top financial person is not typically an architect or engineer, or someone who came from a line function in the firm, he or she may be denied a seat at the board table, or top management table, or may not be allowed to become a principal. So this person’s voice isn’t heard and their influence is limited. It is because of these reasons that really outstanding financial management practices that could make a huge difference in the company’s financial performance often cannot take hold. You might now ask yourself, what would those areas of improvement be? Here are a few of them that in my experience are often fruitful for financial management to focus on: 1)Contracts and credit policies. Getting someone who knows what they are doing to read these things and help formulate billing milestones and weigh in on the credit worthiness of any given client can be super helpful. 2)Billing and collection. Sure, we may have average collection periods of 70-80 days or more in most firms in this business but that doesn’t mean it is the best one can do. I have seen A/E firms – even relatively large ones with 400-500

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