TZL 1445 (web)

June 13, 2022, Issue 1444 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Revenue per employee

Actionable solutions for owners and employees alike to promote the longevity of high performers in today’s workplace. Preventing burnout in 2022

Zweig Group’s 2022 Financial Performance Report of AEC Firms analyzes annual trends for a variety of key financial metrics. Between the 2017 and 2020 fiscal years, net service revenue per full-time equivalent (NSR/ FTE) among AEC firms was increasing, but by a lower percentage each year. However, NSR/FTE saw a 5 percent increase from 2020 to 2021 to just under $160,000. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

P er the Mayo Clinic, “Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress – a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Exhausted, unmotivated, and stressed employees are a benefit to nobody but alcohol and pharmaceutical companies. Firm owners and employees all agree that burnout should be avoided, but I think that today’s work environment is vastly different from that of several years ago and deserves an updated and refreshed set of approaches to solve the issue. Here are some actionable solutions for both owners and employees alike to promote the longevity of high performers in the workplace: 1. Take a real lunch break. Research shows that during COVID, employees were working an average of 48.5 minutes more each day. While working from home, many of us find ourselves eating in front of our computers while trying to crunch out one of our tasks for the day. When we work through lunch, we deprive ourselves of the following benefits: † † Increased productivity. Taking breaks might sound counterintuitive when it comes to boosting productivity, but it’s one of the best ways to do so. You may find that you’ve renewed your level of focus and energy when you return to your tasks. † † Improved mental well-being. Our brains need time to recharge. Taking some time away from the desk to go for a quick walk or unplug from your devices has a way of reducing stress and improving mental well-being. In Peace in Every Step , Thich Nhat Hanh expands on the benefits of ensuring that you find a consistent time to disconnect from your devices (amongst other things) every day. † † Creativity boost. Taking a break can give you a fresh perspective on challenging projects. If you find yourself spinning your tires for a bit too long on something, take a breather and come back to it with a fresh mind. 2. For employers: Create immediate rewards for positive behavior. People often say that the human brain is an incredibly complex supercomputer that we haven’t even come close to understanding

Andy Chavez, CM&AA

FIRM INDEX ECS Southeast, LLP.............................................4

LJA Engineering, Inc..........................................8

Nathelyne A. Kennedy & Associates......6

Paragon Consulting Group............................8

WSB................................................................................ 6

MORE ARTICLES n DEREK CLYBURN: Be your own best advocate Page 3 n A true role model: Nathelyne A. Kennedy Page 6 n ANGELIQUE SILVESTRE: Team building in an evolving work model Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Personal reflections Page 11

See ANDY CHAVEZ, page 2



ANDY CHAVEZ, from page 1

yet. While this may be true for the most part, we’ve also learned that there are simple ways to train this supercomputer and encourage it to create positive habits via positive reinforcement (aka rewards). The most common and well known, tangible form of positive reinforcement in the workplace is merit-based bonuses. If you notice your employee putting in extra hours and effort to help you execute on your vision and build your company, you reward them at the end of the quarter/ year with additional compensation. From an employee’s perspective, this is always appreciated, but I don’t think it’s effective at combatting burnout. In Atomic Habits , James Clear explains that the more time there is between a reward and an action, the less effective our brains are at associating the two together to create a habit. Long-term rewards require more conscious thought and decision making from the employee to hold on to that motivation and put in the extra time necessary to claim the reward at the end of the period. Long-term rewards require more discipline and willpower. I suggest supplementing your long-term reward with a short-term reward that offers more frequent positive reinforcement of the behavior that the employee is displaying. My suggestion: if your employee is working late into the evening, allow them to order and expense dinner. It costs roughly $20 to have Chipotle delivered to wherever your employee is working, and it acts as an immediate reward and display of your appreciation for the additional effort that they are putting in. To the brain, the thought of working additional hours until the end of your bonus period is a much more daunting endeavor than working until your Chipotle arrives in an hour or two. Our brains are complex but creating and fostering productive habits can be simple. 3. Utilize locational cues if working from home. In Atomic Habits , Clear also explains that our brains use locations as “cues” that are to be followed by an action. In other words, our brains naturally associate certain locations with certain actions and/ or habits. (This is why the urge to use the restroom is amplified as you get closer to the toilet.) Before COVID, the locational cues for work versus relaxation were clear for most. Now those lines have been blurred and many are struggling to find and maintain a balance between work and life that is sustainable. For some, they may have found issues remaining productive at home with all of the distractions. For others, they may have been too successful in bringing their work home and now have issues finding time to unwind, causing them to feel more stressed and burned out than ever. Clear’s suggestion: create more precise locational cues within your home. This requires a bit of discipline, but it’s effective if you’re persistent and intentional. For me, this means that I no longer allow myself to bring my work laptop to my couch, bed, or dinner table. Those locations are used exclusively for leisure and relaxation. This also means that under no circumstances am I allowed to peruse social media or watch YouTube videos while sitting at my desk. That location is used to complete productive tasks and get work done. This method of separating work from relaxation when working from home requires a fair amount of discipline and an almost comically strict implementation of the ground rules (yes, you have to stand up and walk to your couch to scroll through Instagram). However, it becomes more habitual over time and has been an effective way for me to find a healthy work-life balance that promotes longevity and prevents burnout. There’s not a “one-size-fits-all” solution to combat burnout as every person is unique, but hopefully one of these suggestions proves to be useful to you. Andy Chavez, CM&AA is an advisor within Zweig Group’s M&A advisory services team. Contact him at

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2022 AEC EXECUTIVE ROUNDTABLE This roundtable is a unique opportunity for AEC firm leaders to engage and interact with industry peers to discuss current issues facing firms today, explore industry trends and next practices, and confront the biggest challenges they face leading their firms. See you this June 23-24 in Dallas!

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Be your own best advocate

AEC firms and the industry as a whole should be communicating the value we provide at every level of interaction and throughout the design process.

L icensed professional engineers tend to be humble by nature. Now more than ever, it is important to promote the engineering industry’s essential value to society. The value that AEC professionals bring to the marketplace and society has been underappreciated for far too long. The AEC industry’s services are needed to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of our communities in addition to being at the foundation of all infrastructure, transportation, and economic development projects.

Derek Clyburn, P.E.

Our work isn’t always about tackling the largest or most impressive projects, such as the amazing SoFi Stadium and Entertainment Complex in Inglewood, California, or the innovative Mark Basnight Bridge in North Carolina. The AEC industry also responds in times of community crisis and by providing practical economic solutions for clients during emergency situations, even when the work goes unnoticed. The expertise required to respond in these situations should not be thought of by the marketplace as a commodity! The battle against the commoditization of engineering services and the idea that public sector,

and even sometimes private sector clients, think of the services our firms provide as a product is not a new fight. However, as an industry, we have not made progress in this battle, because a lot of it comes down to how we talk about our own value, how we see our value, and how that translates into the way we structure contracts or organize how we’re going to go after business. The delivery of professional engineering services requires lots of thought, collaboration, creativity, and imagination underpinned by specialized training coming up against sometimes very complex




the overall project. You should talk about how your work on public projects saved money for the taxpayers or how your work saved time and money for private clients. Without the industry’s voice, the value provided goes unnoticed. For example, a recent multi-state industry event in Charleston, South Carolina, focused on the global importance of ports and how they connect communities and commerce. Traditionally, many people do not consider how important the reliability of port infrastructure and interconnected transportation networks are, and how the connectivity from ports to inland ports via rail, bridges, and the safe crossing of intersections have on how commerce flows. Without that flowing of commerce made possible by the AEC industry, the marketplace would not function. Without solutions designed by our industry, supply chains would be broken and would stop. When you share about the value that professional services bring in making the world a better place, that is one way to become top of mind with key public, private, and legislative marketplace stakeholders – including current and future stakeholders in the STEM space. FIGHT FOR TALENT. Many well documented factors have led to a fight for talent throughout the AEC industry. And now more than ever, the fight for talent is even more intense and complex. It is known that Gen Z wants to make an impact in the world, however, many may not realize the impact that licensed professional engineers provide. Unless the AEC industry communicates the value it brings, future stakeholders will not be aware of it as a rewarding and fulfilling career option. From improving communities through sustainable and resilient design, to breaking down barriers that allow communities to better integrate and designing safe mobility solutions for people who may not have them – there are so many rewarding examples of delivering value that may resonate to future industry participants. In addition to the impact that an individual can make via this industry, it is also key that the workforce is diverse. The engineering industry is made up of a very diverse group of individuals from different geographic regions and educational backgrounds, and the diversity of thought and experience provides more opportunities to problem solve in unique ways. Communicating the impact engineers make, diversity, as well as increased compensation, will help in attracting talent to the industry. If you want to have your voice heard, if you want your life’s work to be meaningful and impactful, engineering is the place for it. So, instead of being humble regarding the discussion of the value that the AEC industry brings to the marketplace, be bold, take action, and be an advocate for the industry by communicating the value that the industry brings. Derek Clyburn, P.E. is the president of ECS Southeast, LLP part of the ECS Group of Companies. He can be reached at

DEREK CLYBURN, from page 3

challenges, and meeting those challenges with very novel solutions. You can’t do that with a product or service that’s homogenized. The methodology and approach to providing engineering services are based on applicable standards of care – but the final solutions provided by the industry are all different on a case-by-case basis as required by the client! The value that the industry brings to society should not be a taboo subject to discuss. Rather, firms and the industry as a whole should be communicating that value at every level of interaction and throughout the design process. Value is something that we need to really talk a lot more about. For decades, the AEC industry has, from time to time, communicated the value that our industry brings to legislators, regulatory agencies, and the public during advocacy efforts. However, the value that is brought by the industry warrants a campaign of its own so that it translates into the way contracts are structured and how business is pursued. According to a study conducted by the American Council of Engineering Companies Research Institute, only five-and-a-half cents of every construction dollar goes to engineering and design services, even though these services are felt throughout the lifecycle of a project. As an industry, fees for professional engineering services should be increased consistent with the increase of cost of doing business appreciated by other marketplace participants as well as the cost of innovation. Unlike commodities, engineering fees do not follow normal and customary inflationary trajectories. But beyond an increase of fees as a means of communicating value, we need to understand the implications for the present and future of the industry. “Instead of being humble regarding the discussion of the value that the AEC industry brings to the marketplace, be bold, take action, and be an advocate for the industry by communicating the value that the industry brings.” HOW TO COMMUNICATE THE VALUE OF ENGINEERING. How can you share about the value of engineering? Talk about it. From videos, social media, and podcasts to proposals and reports, answer the question “Why does this matter?” for the audience. If you can identify the piece of the puzzle that your team played to create social good, bring jobs to the community, and the overall impact of the project, share about it. The value provided by your sustainable and innovative design should be articulated. What are the tangible impacts at the local level that you can point to because of a design that your firm undertook and produced? What effect did the project have on the local community? What’s the value/social good? Use the passion you have for your work to your advantage and communicate what role you, your firm, and the engineering industry played in

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A true role model: Nathelyne A. Kennedy Zweig Group’s 2021 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award winner on being nominated and what it meant to win the prestigious award.


T he first award was given out in 2013. It’s Zweig Group’s Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award and each year since then it’s been awarded to someone working in an architecture, engineering, planning, or environmental firm who has made tremendous impacts on the company through courageous leadership. The award winner is someone who has overcome obstacles to advance their firm to a new level of success. Nominees can be in any role and come from firms of all sizes and types. Nathelyne A. Kennedy, founder, president, and CEO of Nathelyne A. Kennedy & Associates, Inc., a Houston-based civil engineering firm, was the award recipient in 2021 and says she was very much surprised – and pleasantly so. “I knew nothing about receiving the award,” she says. “I felt elated that WSB thought this much of me; I was so proud.” After engineering and consulting firm WSB (Minneapolis,

MN) acquired NAK in 2019, it chose to nominate Kennedy because of her impressive career and the impact she’s made on the industry. “She leads by example, cultivates relationships, and has built a reputation for herself,” says Bret Weiss, CEO of WSB. “She’s faced many challenges along her tenured career, but they never got in the way of her building one of the most successful, black, female-owned engineering firms in Texas. She’s one-of-a-kind and deserved to be recognized for her impressive career and advocacy efforts over the years. She’s a true role model and an example of great strength and tenacity.” Weiss adds that they’re fortunate to still have her as part of their team, ensuring that their clients receive the same exceptional service to which they’ve become accustomed. “She supports our business development efforts around



the Houston area in a limited role and is supporting the transition of NAK to WSB,” Weiss says. When WSB acquired NAK, it allowed WSB to expand its footprint and build brand awareness in the Houston area because clients trust her. Following the acquisition, Kennedy shared her expertise and the extensive network she had established in the Houston region over the past decades. “She’s faced many challenges along her tenured career, but they never got in the way of her building one of the most successful, black, female- owned engineering firms in Texas.” In 1959, Kennedy was the first black woman to receive an engineering degree from a college or university in Texas. After beginning her engineering career designing highway bridges throughout the Midwest, she brought her technical precision to Houston in the 1980s, designing bridges for the widening of Interstate 10. She founded NAK in 1981 and, as her firm completed bridge design on the majority of Houston’s freeways, she nurtured young talent into the next generation of engineering stars – one of her protégés even participated on a team that in the 1990s set standards for bridge girder design in Texas. Committed to advancing the engineering profession, Kennedy has served on the Texas Turnpike Authority Board of Directors and on advisory committees for Texas Southern University, the University of Houston Downtown, and her own alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. NAK was founded as a consulting engineering firm to work with government, institutional, and commercial clients to deliver practical solutions for highway, mass transit, street, bridge, aviation, port, water and wastewater, educational campus, and sports complex projects and has been an integral part of teams charged with delivering major building programs. For example, it was part of the $324 million first- ever light rail system for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and Houston’s three professional sports arenas.

It has also helped master plan teams to conceive solutions for multi-building complexes such as the $3.2 billion Port of Houston Bayport Terminal and university campuses. In 2006, Prairie View A&M named a building in her honor, the Nathelyne Archie Kennedy Building, which houses the School of Architecture and Art. Kennedy has also been honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration with their prestigious Minority Business Woman of the Year Award and by U.S. Black Engineer as Entrepreneur of the Year. Today, she continues to audit drawings for the firm’s most complex projects. “It’s really been an honor to be recognized for the accomplishments I’ve achieved over my 55-year engineering career,” she says. “It’s always humbling to know you’ve made a difference and I’m so proud that my experience and journey has inspired other women to pursue engineering degrees and explore entrepreneurship.” She says that overall, her journey has been a rewarding one, mostly having to do with the people in it – staff and other engineering colleagues – but also accomplishing what she was not so sure was possible in the beginning. “It has given meaning to my life and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” she says. “She’s one-of-a-kind and deserved to be recognized for her impressive career and advocacy efforts over the years. She’s a true role model and an example of great strength and tenacity.” Kennedy believes that awards such as the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award will influence others to help young entrepreneurs reach their full potential in their chosen careers. She also hopes to see more women heading up their own firms. “I’m honored to be a recipient of this award and to be in the company of so many successful and admirable award winners,” she says. Weiss was equally thrilled that Kennedy


YEAR FOUNDED: NAK was founded in 1981. ACQUISITION: NAK was acquired by WSB in 2019. SERVICES ■ ■ Civil engineering: NAK provides a comprehensive range of civil engineering design services covering all aspects of infrastructure. ■ ■ Structure and Bridge

Design: NAK offers full-service design capabilities for new construction, rehabilitation and repair of existing structures. Management and Master Planning: Large building programs often entail a multi-disciplined team overseeing the complete design and construction effort. We have been an integral part of teams charged with delivering major building programs such as the $324 million first-ever light rail system for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and Houston’s three professional sports arenas. We have also aided master plan teams to conceive solutions for multi-building complexes such as the $3.2 billion Port of Houston Bayport Terminal and university campuses.

■ ■ Program


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

UNE 13, 2022, ISSUE 1444


TRANSACTIONS LJA ACQUIRES PARAGON AND EXPANDS ENGINEERING SERVICES IN GEORGIA LJA Engineering, Inc. has acquired Paragon Consulting Group, a corporation based in Griffin, Georgia and a respected engineering consulting firm specializing in the private, government, and corporate sectors. Paragon’s team of professional engineers, planners, and landscape architects focuses on water resources and transportation projects. “Paragon has a deep commitment to their region which directly aligns with LJA’s philosophy of being active and involved in the communities we serve,” says Scott McDonald, P.E., vice president, LJA Engineering. Paragon has been instrumental in the economic development of several municipalities, helping to analyze sites for industrial prospects for development authorities throughout central Georgia. For example, assisting Caterpillar to locate their generator production facility in Griffin, Georgia demonstrates Paragon’s attention to sustainable local development.

Brian Upson, P.E., who will stay on with LJA as president of Paragon, founded the firm in 2003 to bring a uniquely qualified, full-service engineering and consulting firm to the market. He has carefully and thoughtfully built Paragon into a team of consultative experts in high demand by government and private sector clients of all types and sizes. “Paragon’s reputation in their local industry made this relationship a great fit with LJA and our commitment to expanding throughout the Southeastern U.S. We are excited to call them employee-owners. LJA’s growth benefits our clients and all of their project needs with full-service, in- house capabilities in the areas where we live and work,” says James Ross, president and CEO of LJA Engineering. LJA and Paragon’s combined strength brings more than 300 services and 1,350 personnel to Paragon’s core offerings of wastewater services, master land planning, drinking water services, airport and roadway, grant writing

services, construction management, permitting, and recycled water services. Paragon’s south-Atlanta location will become LJA’s 39th office and expands LJA’s total Southern U.S. presence in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina to more than 50 employee- owners in the region. LJA is an employee-owned company, offering full-service planning, engineering, surveying, and construction management to public and private sector clients within nine comprehensive sectors: public infrastructure, transportation, land development, energy services, rail services, surveying, flood control and drainage, CEI, and environmental and coastal. As a well-established, multidisciplinary firm, Paragon Consulting Group has a reputation for providing comprehensive engineering, project management, planning and land development consulting services that exceed client expectations.

A TRUE ROLE MODEL, from page 7

received the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award. “Nathelyne treats her staff with a lot of respect,” he says. “She invests in people of color to advance them in our industry, an area that is severely lacking, and is continuing to work hard and show how important leadership is in our industry, regardless of who you are. I am so proud that she has been recognized by our industry for her extraordinary accomplishments.” Kennedy accepted the prestigious award in Denver, Colorado, during Zweig Group’s 2021 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala.

Nathelyne Kennedy accepting Zweig Group’s Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award at the 2021 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala.

JERRY ALLEN COURAGE IN LEADERSHIP AWARD The Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award is given each year to someone working in an AEC firm who has made tremendous impacts on their company through courageous leadership. Winners have overcome obstacles to advance their firm to a new level of success. Nominees can be in any role and come from firms of all sizes and types. Awards will be conferred at Zweig Group’s 2022 Elevate AEC Conference & Awards Gala. The deadline for nominations is June 30. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Companies can still create strong team bonds by using technology to implement team building activities that foster company values, trust, and friendship among co-workers. Team building in an evolving work model

A pps and technology are readily available for gaming and entertainment, education, music, finance, health and fitness, productivity, and several other categories, covering all aspects of our lives. Companies can successfully build staff camaraderie by using these tools to strengthen and reinforce bonds with new and tenured employees. Virtual activities may be the key to shaping company culture and restoring a sense of community while we work through the new reality of co-location work and hybrid work models.

Angelique Silvestre

In the third year of the pandemic, companies and employees have adjusted their work life to accommodate health and safety protocols and changing family needs. Some employees work at the company office or a project site, while others work from home, and some from both locations in a hybrid work model. Teamwork and team bonds are definitely stronger amongst those who have worked together prior to the pandemic, allowing them to interact even while not in the office. But we cannot leave the newer employees, those onboarded during the pandemic, behind or alone during this time. The office community, environment, and rituals are not the same as they once were. We used to brew

coffee and share donuts together in the breakroom. We used to go out to lunch and grab people from their desks to join us. After-work happy hours were regular events. Team meetings involved small talk before the meeting began. Now it’s harder to socialize and find your work bestie. Many new graduates have joined the AEC workforce and have not been able to foster a team bond with their co-workers because of the pandemic. This creates new challenges. Despite the pandemic hardships, we are all willing to try to learn new ways to communicate and develop lasting relationships with our peers and managers. Waving to fellow co-workers and stopping by to chat has




miles biked/swam, and measure a wide range of physical activity. Employees download their data and upload it to a shared/cloud dataset. This fosters fitness goals and spirited competition, and allows staff to encourage each other to break through milestones. It becomes a joint topic of conversation in virtual meetups amongst staff. Apps and technology aside, food and drink is always a common denominator for most people’s interests. Over a team video call, companies can host chocolate or wine tastings, or other food and drink interactive events. Companies can contact professional host firms to facilitate these events to provide background or thematic information about the tasting. We are all longing for the days of happy-hours, office-escape lunches, and dinners. Bringing food and drink into after-hours virtual events will satiate our palate and give another bonding opportunity to staff. “There are plenty of options to increase the bonds and camaraderie between co-workers. Through consistent efforts and thinking outside of the box, we can find ways to engage that are as powerful or more powerful than their in-office counterparts.” Fantasy sports is an option companies can engage in to promote a sense of community. Companies can create fantasy baseball, basketball, or football leagues to compete against each other. ESPN Fantasy games is an example of a free fantasy sports program that we use. Each employee drafts their own team, makes occasional changes, negotiates trades, and adds players. Points are distributed based on real time data of a player’s real game performance. Companies can determine their own rules for their fantasy games such as the schedule, scoring method, and team roster size. There were times during the pandemic where staff had to come to the office to pick up something, to produce something, to get away from home for a bit. Those staff were often welcomed by deserted cubicles, half-lit rooms, and an eerie silence, even if more than a handful of people were lurking in other areas. Now, it’s important to encourage conversation. Perhaps an outdoor patio table lunch or hang out during breaks. Say “hi” to that new employee, catch up with ones you have not seen or heard from in another department. Live interaction is a valuable premium we should not ignore if presented the opportunity. As you can see, there are plenty of options to increase the bonds and camaraderie between co-workers. These techniques may prove useful during the transitionary time while some staff are still apprehensive to gather and while some offices open sooner or later compared to others. Through consistent efforts and thinking outside of the box, we can find ways to engage that are as powerful or more powerful than their in-office counterparts. Angelique Silvestre is an engineer at CWE. Contact her at


been replaced with video chats, instant messages, and emojis. Creating relationships in this environment has become akin to the pen-pals of generations past. It works, but it’s slow. So, let’s speed things up. Companies can still create strong team bonds by implementing team building activities that foster company values, trust, and friendship among co-workers. Apps, technology, and creative use of in-person time together will fill the synapse gaps in the workforce. Virtual interactive games, such as trivia, casino nights, charades, escape room/puzzles, and more, encourage collaboration and fun conversation. Staff will learn about each other’s interests and perspectives. These personal anecdotes build trust and familiarity and will encourage transparent conversations and communication within the work environment. Companies can plan monthly events, where employees can compete individually or in teams for bragging rights. Kahoot! is an example of a trivia app and website that cultivates engagement and competition, and energizes employees. This platform has a library of premade questions, or you can create your own (perhaps using company project names, details, or industry key words). Based on people’s answers, a community is cultivated by opportunities to learn from each other and display strength and knowledge in different subject areas. Several companies have already integrated trivia in their virtual office parties. It’s a fun way to see what employees are passionate about, such as topics on ‘80s music and fantasy movie genres, and can bring back a sense of normalcy. Another option is using virtual reality workspaces to provide a space for work-from-home and onsite employees to be together in a simulated community. Employees miss the feeling of being part of the work community and this option takes a step toward solving that. Virtual reality workspaces like Gather, WorkAdventure, and Rambly offer companies a virtual space for the office and individual workspaces. Companies can make and edit floor workspaces to look like their existing work office or be more creative with it. Like video games, employees can edit their character’s skin color, clothes, and accessories. Desk spaces can also be customized by employees. Employees can move their characters to the meeting room and talk with their co-workers. While more on the expensive side, VR headsets are an option for team building. Employees can meet and discuss in a VR setting, such as Zoom or VR Chat. Meetings can finally feel like meetings again. The VR headset detects hand movements and spatial sounds. You can move your character where you’d like. Depending on the program used, presentations can be shown. Just like VR workspaces, employees can edit their characters in VR to better represent them. Your co-workers can choose VR models that look like them or their favorite cartoon character. While it may take more time to learn how to integrate VR in the workspace, even trying it as a company may strengthen the team bond. If it fails, at least there is a story to tell. Apps and technology can also be used in physical activities, even if participants are not together. Traditionally, companies have done physical activity competitions. Smartphones and smart-watches with apps can record steps taken,

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Personal reflections

These are “the good old days,” so don’t take anything for granted and find something to enjoy in even the most mundane aspects of life.

I am writing this piece as I sit in seat 10C on American Airlines flight 4587 from Northwest Arkansas National Airport to LaGuardia. I’m going to a board meeting with one of our clients – a well-known architecture firm that is among the best in its field of speciality. I really enjoy the founder and primary principal. He is a very cultured and classy fellow with a wry sense of humor. He is also very gracious. I have always said the people are the best aspect of this “industry,” and this particular character is one of them – one of many I have known over the years.

Mark Zweig

Occasionally people ask what I am doing these days. I am basically retired from Zweig Group and this business at this time. I’m 64, and sold my ownership back to the company on a long-term deal about four years ago. I still write this column for The Zweig Letter , and I occasionally talk with my old friends both inside and outside of the firm. While it would be nice to take some credit for the firm’s lengthy existence, its success in the past few years has been to their credit alone. The owners and managers have really impressed me with their ability to not only keep this thing going, but to modify/adapt/evolve it in such a way that it is today more viable than it probably ever was. I am very thankful for that. I have a lot of friends, family, and former clients who are very successful. They never slow down, and they

seem to have a limitless appetite for doing more, making more money, and playing (and winning) at the “success” game. While that used to be me not too long ago – I had two businesses going at the same time, both about the same size, both on the Inc. 5,000 List, along with being a faculty member teaching entrepreneurship at The Walton College, owning a growing collection of cars and motorbikes and what felt like a whole lot of real estate (houses, apartments, condos, and commercial properties) – that’s not me today. I’m a full-time “entrepreneur in-residence” at The Walton College and I chair two local Vistage groups (Vistage runs support groups for privately- held company CEOs and others), and I have plenty of time to talk with and mentor both my current and

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS BOWMAN EXPANDS ARIZONA OPERATIONS THROUGH ACQUISITION OF PERRY ENGINEERING Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. announced it had entered into a definitive purchase agreement for the acquisition of Perry Engineering LLC. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, Perry delivers civil engineering consulting and land surveying for residential, commercial, industrial, education, and healthcare related projects. Under the leadership of Ken Perry, the company’s founder, Perry serves both public and private sector clients throughout the Tucson area. In addition, Perry serves in the role of on-call engineers for plan and report reviews for several local jurisdictions. “Ken and the Perry team have a long history in the Tucson market,” said Gary Bowman, CEO of Bowman. “Our Tucson operation has grown rapidly and once combined with Perry, Bowman will be one of the larger engineering operations in this thriving market. Perry’s experience in civil engineering, commercial site planning, educational facility design, survey and aerial imaging is highly aligned with our operations and services throughout Arizona and nationally.

I am pleased to welcome such an experienced team of professionals to Bowman and look forward to capitalizing on the numerous opportunities this combination presents for work sharing and collaboration.” “We’re looking forward to becoming part of Bowman,” said Ken Perry, founder, and CEO of Perry. “I am excited about the Bowman culture, leadership style and approach to growth. I was looking for the right fit and I am confident that we have found it here. Becoming part of Bowman and its culture of growth unlocks tremendous opportunity for our staff. We are looking forward to contributing to Bowman’s growth here in Tucson, throughout Arizona and nationally.” The company expects the Perry acquisition to initially contribute approximately $1.5 million of annualized net service billing. “We continue to be committed to both organic and acquisitive growth,” said Bruce Labovitz, Bowman’s CFO. “This acquisition kicks off 2022 with a solid addition in a growing market. The Perry acquisition is within our target multiple range, and it meets all of our objectives

for operating performance metrics. As is our practice, we will provide more detailed information on M&A activities and pipeline in connection with scheduled quarterly communications.” Perry has provided civil engineering consulting and land surveying for residential, commercial, industrial, education, and healthcare related projects since 2012. With local experience, and knowledge of the various development and zoning codes, standards, and plan review processes associated with the multiple jurisdictions in the greater Tucson area, Perry keeps client projects moving forward according to schedule and budget. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Bowman is an engineering services firm delivering innovative infrastructure solutions to customers who own, develop, and maintain the built environment. With 1,000 employees and more than 40 offices throughout the U.S., Bowman provides a variety of planning, engineering, construction management, commissioning, environ- mental consulting, geomatics, survey, land procurement and other technical services.

I’d be a fool if I didn’t realize that I’m the luckiest guy alive and life is nearly perfect. I just want to appreciate every day for what it is and not want much more than what we have. Everything could end in an instant. One of my friends, a developer and contractor, died last week of a sudden heart attack at age 51. He was in seemingly perfect health, and checked out while fishing with absolutely no warning. Bad things can happen at any time. Not a day goes by I don’t think about the people in Ukraine who were living their lives just like we are – worried about getting the oil changed in their cars, leaky spots on their roofs, the “C” their kid got in math, and what to have for dinner – and their entire world was turned upside down in a matter of days. These are “the good old days,” and I don’t want to take anything for granted, nor miss a single minute of even the most mundane aspects of life. Like most people, I would guess, I have plenty of regrets. But I want to stay focused on the present and future, because I don’t think it’s very helpful to dwell on those things. My singular goal at this point is to pass on everything I have learned so others can avoid my mistakes – and my articles here will be a part of that effort as long as Zweig Group keeps publishing them! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

former students. I even occasionally give talks like the one I gave at the “Fast 15” awards ceremony for The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal earlier last month. But now that it’s summer, I get to spend plenty of time rocking on my front porch and talking to my wife and the many visitors who stop by, working on our lawn, and loving on our two nearly perfect gigantic Great Pyrenees dogs. We also have a new garage/ exercise room/“She Shed” going up, and a whole bunch of other home improvement projects, along with a couple of vintage VW project cars and our latest acquisition, a mid-‘70s “Kountry Aire” travel trailer my wife wants to renovate. I still have one cool old car, a British Racing Green turbocharged Rolls-Royce Silver Spur, that spends about half of its time in the shop (much to my wife’s chagrin). And I recently finished my new book, Confessions of an Entrepreneur , thanks to a lot of help particularly from Matt Waller, dean of The Walton College, and a fellow named Stephen Caldwell who has worked with me to get this thing finished – and it’s set to come out hopefully by the end of summer. My four daughters and one stepdaughter – ranging in age from 11 to 34 – are each unique and successful in their own ways. My mom is nearly 102 and still living in the house I grew up in. I get to have lunches with my friends, young and old. And this summer, we plan to return to Taos and Santa Fe, where my sister-in-law and her husband live.

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