TZL 1447 (web)

June 27, 2022, Issue 1447 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM



It’s up to leadership to recognize entropic degradation in their firms and respond energetically to restore order. Organizational entropy

FIRM INDEX 1 Alliance Geomatics, LLC..............................4 Atlas Technical Consultants, Inc................4 Atwell, LLC.................................................................2 BRiC Partnership, LLC.....................................10 CRANSTON............................................................. 12 GAI Consultants.....................................................6 HFW Companies.................................................12 RTM Engineering Consultants..................10 Shear Structural...................................................10 MORE ARTICLES n KEYAN ZANDY: The wellness crisis Page 3 n Collaborative leadership: Anthony Morrocco Page 6 n MALORY ATKINSON: Your logo isn’t as cool as you think it is Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Vacation time Page 11 In Zweig Group’s 2022 Financial Performance Report of AEC Firms , chargeability is calculated among firm participants by dividing direct labor by total labor. Over the last couple of years, there has been a decrease in chargeability within the industry, down to 59 percent in the 2021 fiscal year. Looking further back, the industry norm for chargeability between 2012 and 2015 was about 58 percent, give or take 1 percent. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

I n January a tweet about Claude Shannon’s equation for information entropy caught my attention. Remembering little about entropy, I dove in. Britannica defines entropy as “the measure of a system’s thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. Because work is obtained from ordered molecular motion, the amount of entropy is also a measure of the molecular disorder, or randomness, of a system.” The higher the entropy in a system, the greater its disorder. In closed thermodynamic systems, entropy increases with time. The system becomes more disordered unless and until some external source of energy restores order. The entropy of an AEC firm increases with time too. Its disorder increases and the amount of energy that is available for useful work decreases. In his book Leadership is an Art (which I recommend), author Max De Pree lists 20 signs of organizational entropy. Among them: ■ ■ A tendency toward superficiality ■ ■ A dark tension among key people ■ ■ No longer having time for celebration and ritual ■ ■ When people begin to have different understandings of words like “responsibility,” “service,” or “trust” ■ ■ When problem-makers outnumber problem-solvers ■ ■ When people speak of customers as impositions on their time rather than as opportunities to serve It’s up to a firm’s leaders to recognize entropic degradation in their firms and respond energetically to restore order and increase the organization’s capacity to be useful. Claude Shannon’s entropy equation dealt with information theory – a field he pioneered. Information theory – broadly – deals with transmitting information across a noisy channel. According to Wikipedia, “The core idea of information theory is that the ‘informational value’ of a communicated message depends on the

Tom Godin

See TOM GODIN, page 2



ON THE MOVE ATWELL’S MESA OFFICE HIRES BAIRD FULLERTON, P.E. AS TEAM LEADER Atwell, LLC welcomes Baird Fullerton to its team as team leader in its real estate and land development division. Based in Atwell’s Mesa, Arizona office, Baird will be responsible for assisting clients with a wide range of project types, training, guiding and supervising his team members to achieve successful project outcomes, assisting with the completion of high-quality design documents with his comprehensive understanding of development requirements, and leading business development efforts and client relationships for Atwell’s real estate and land development market. Baird’s career spans more than 30 years managing a wide variety of project types in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. He has provided design services for residential, commercial, educational, and municipal clients. This includes master- planned communities, apartments, and commercial developments such as the mixed-use portion of Fashion Place Mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, campus development for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, and public utility and roadway improvements for Glendale, Scottsdale,

Mesa, Phoenix, Peoria, and Buckeye. He is familiar with agency requirements and excels at identifying critical path items to accelerate project delivery. Baird earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering degree at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Arizona and a LEED Accredited Professional. He has been a self-certified professional with the city of Phoenix since the program’s inception and is able to bypass the plan review process for commercial projects. “Baird’s background and experience in residential, commercial, and municipal projects in the southwest partnered with his ability to train and mentor staff will make him a great addition to our team,” said Atwell Vice President Mark Borushko. Atwell, LLC is a national consulting, engineering, and construction services firm with technical professionals located across the country. Atwell provides comprehensive turnkey services including land and right-of-way support, planning, landscape architecture, engineering, land surveying, environmental compliance and permitting, and project and program management.

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TOM GODIN , from page 1

degree to which the content of the message is surprising. If a highly likely event occurs, the message carries very little information. On the other hand, if a highly unlikely event occurs, the message is much more informative.” Rare information – or information that describes a low probability or unexpected event – has more Shannon entropy. Messages of these types require more bits of encoding – more energy – to make it through a noisy channel. So, what? Put practically, if you need to communicate something with high Shannon entropy, you need t0 put time and effort toward making sure the message doesn’t get corrupted by noise. One of the best ways you can do this is to send the message yourself and directly to the people who need it. And don’t be surprised (or disappointed) that you need to send that message a few times. Be aware of entropy in your firm and in your communications! Leadership is a high contact activity. Correspondingly high energy levels are required. Tom Godin is a strategic planning advisor at Zweig Group. Contact him at tgodin@

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

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The wellness crisis

It is up to us to do what we can to improve our employees’ mental and physical health, as well as our own.

F or most of us in the construction industry, when we think of health and wellness, we think about safety on the job site and how important it is to protect our workers from the fatal four: falls, electrocution, struck by objects, and caught between. But what actually harms people on a much larger scale is less frequently contemplated or discussed: wellness of the mind and body.

Keyan Zandy

A National Survey on Drug Use and Health puts construction at the top of all industries for drug and alcohol abuse. Their data ranks construction: ■ ■ No. 2 for heavy drinking by industry ■ ■ No. 2 for substance use disorder by industry ■ ■ No. 1 for pain reliever abuse by industry And when looking at the health of workers, according to the American Heart Association: ■ ■ One in 25 construction workers has cardiovascular disease ■ ■ One in four construction workers is obese

■ ■ One in four construction workers uses tobacco ■ ■ One in 25 construction workers has diabetes Even more troubling, the construction industry has the highest suicide rate among all industries. In fact, suicide is four times more common in construction than the national average, and five times more common than all construction fatalities combined. This numbing information, provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, is hard to accept. It is up to us to do what we can to improve our employees’ mental and physical health, as well as

See KEYAN ZANDY, page 4



TRANSACTIONS ATLAS TECHNICAL CONSULTANTS ACQUIRES 1 ALLIANCE GEOMATICS Atlas Technical Consultants, Inc., a leading infrastructure and environmental solutions provider, announced it has acquired 1 Alliance Geomatics, LLC, a provider of geospatial services to transportation and water resources markets in the Pacific Northwest. With more than 70 employees, 1 Alliance utilizes the latest in geomatics technology to provide high quality and accurate data-driven solutions to

its customers throughout the project lifecycle. “The acquisition of 1 Alliance adds another highly technical service to the Atlas portfolio that aligns with our goal to expand our service offerings with critical services for all infrastructure and environmental projects,” said L. Joe Boyer, Atlas’ CEO. “1 Alliance has built a strong brand, known for providing high- tech services and delivering quality data to its customers in the Pacific Northwest

by utilizing the latest geomatics technologies. We have worked with 1 Alliance on several large infrastructure projects and are excited about the opportunity to enhance our geomatics technology offerings to customers across the Nation.” The owners of 1 Alliance, Jason Nakamura, Brian Blevins, and Jay Byrd, will remain with the company following the transaction to continue to grow the business.

For office/field workers: ■ ■ Get involved. If your workplace does not currently provide mental health education and programs, encourage them to do so. If they do, find ways to become engaged and support their efforts by participating. Consider assisting in the creation of a program. An example of this is at my firm, where we have a volunteer group named “Wellness Warriors,” who are accountable for getting various health and wellness options to our staff. ■ ■ Share. Disclosing a meaningful personal experience with others can have a significant impact. We’ve had employees and members of our executive team openly reveal issues that they or their family members have faced. When someone in a group feels courageous and opens up, it allows others to feel like they can do the same. It is reassuring for all of us to know that others may have also gone through what we are going through. We are not alone and are most likely working next to others who have been in our shoes and understand what we are going through. ■ ■ Have compassion. You never know what is causing someone to have a bad day, be impatient, or be rude. For many reasons (social, financial, health, family), we all encounter stress at work and at home. Staying mindful of what others may be going through is necessary for empathy, so practice focusing on your relationships with people and trying to imagine what another person might be experiencing. What could be causing them stress or anxiety? What might be weighing heavily on them? Even if there isn’t much you can do to help their situation; you can always provide some grace and allow room for them to be human. Keyan Zandy is CEO of Skiles Group. Find him on LinkedIn. “The construction industry has the highest suicide rate among all industries. In fact, suicide is four times more common in construction than the national average.”

KEYAN ZANDY , from page 3

our own. If you are looking for a way to start, here are a few suggestions. For construction employers: ■ ■ Learn more about your team. Asking the question, “How are things going?” isn’t enough. It’s about taking a genuine interest in your employees’ lives and showing empathy for what they may be experiencing. This can be accomplished by planning time for conversations unrelated to work and finding ways to help. For example, taking some administrative burdens off their shoulders or showing them the resources, the company has to offer. Let your people know that you care, want to help, and that you hear them. ■ ■ Offer resources. Make certain all your employees are aware of your company’s Employee Assistance Program, what it can do for them, and how to access it – and do this frequently, both as a reminder and to include new staff members in this process. Offering materials such as wallet cards, self-assessment tools, flyers and brochures, books, and videos is a great way to encourage staff to think about their mental health and consider treatment options. Furthermore, offering health insurance with no or low out- of-pocket costs for mental health counseling shows that mental health is a priority. Placing posters with helplines around the office or worksite helps keep these topics easily accessible and visible. ■ ■ Raise awareness. Consider starting your quarterly/ annual meetings with a “safety moment” and discussing mental health topics. Conversations about stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide can be addressed at daily huddles, all-hands meetings, lunch and learns, and workshops. Providing employees with tips on stress management techniques, a healthy diet, adequate sleep benefits, and exercise may help them reduce anxiety and stress and increase motivation and focus. Offering facilitated workshops or presentations for your staff, such as those provided by NAMI, shows your commitment to protecting their mental health and provides critical information that may make a real difference for some on your team. The more frequently you promote awareness around these issues, the better chance you can make a real impact.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Collaborative leadership: Anthony Morrocco President of GAI Consultants, an employee-owned planning, engineering, and environmental consulting firm that provides local expertise to worldwide clients.


S ince 1958, GAI Consultants (Pittsburgh, PA) has transformed ideas into reality. As president, Morrocco leads this employee-owned company that delivers customized engineering, planning, and environmental expertise to energy, transportation, development, government, and industrial clients. “While we highly value in-person collaboration as it applies to real-time problem solving, our experience during the pandemic has shown that certain aspects of our business can run effectively with remote or hybrid work arrangements,” Morrocco says. A CONVERSATION WITH ANTHONY MORROCCO. The Zweig Letter: You joined GAI in 1989 as a project manager. What did you learn in that role that helps you most in your day-to-day responsibilities today? Anthony Morrocco: I’ve worked in many different facets of the business including land surveying, land development,

and project management. Since land development projects generally require more diverse services, I found myself managing projects that included other types of services including geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, structural engineering, environmental science, etc. I learned a great deal about all GAI’s technical services and worked with staff from all over the company on a variety of project types. The multidisciplinary projects that I managed were complex and required expert technical and financial skills as well as client management. I served GAI’s diverse client base in the many markets that we serve and became a sales leader in the firm. This set the foundation for my career to proceed in a management direction. To this very day, I find the foundational knowledge and skill that I gained at GAI in project and business management to be an invaluable tool in my day-to-day responsibilities. I constantly draw on that knowledge to oversee all parts of GAI’s business.



TZL: Since you’ve been president, what’s one internal change you’ve made that you’re most proud of and why? AM: Management places a top priority on staff safety and employing safe work practices on projects we participate in. In the years leading up to 2021, it became apparent that GAI’s safety record was going in the wrong direction. We tried several initiatives to rectify the situation, but the problem persisted. In 2021, I came up with the concept of forming the GAI Executive Health & Safety Review Board. The Review Board provides top-level oversight and guidance of our company’s health and safety initiatives. We can measure the success of GAI’s safety focus through our achievement of a 0.45 TRIR in 2021, which is our most favorable rating since 2013. TZL: How has COVID-19 permanently impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting? AM: COVID-19 conditions spurred formalization of a telework policy that had already been in development. In a way, the need to isolate early on showed that we were well equipped to deliver quality work from remote locations – and this led us to adopt three designations under a revised telework policy: ■ ■ Office. Full-time employees work a minimum four days per week at a GAI office location. ■ ■ Hybrid. Full-time employees work a minimum three days on-site at a GAI office location. ■ ■ Remote. Full-time employees work fewer than three days at a GAI office location. While we highly value in-person collaboration as it applies to real-time problem solving, our experience during the pandemic has shown that certain aspects of our business can run effectively with remote or hybrid work arrangements. This arrangement has and will continue to have a positive effect on our real estate portfolio. When GAI establishes a new office location or renews the lease of one of our existing offices, we reduce our footprint. Real estate leases are costly and having a workable telecommuting policy saves significant dollars. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? AM: More than a decade ago, GAI developed our Client First Program that I currently lead. Our goal is to make customer service our philosophy. GAI’s Client First Program

is grounded in the following Six Principles of Trust: attention, quality, accessibility, responsiveness, follow-through, and recovery. As a part of GAI University, I facilitate a quarterly lunch and learn session for junior GAI staff that teaches them about the importance of customer service. I stress the need to develop an internal culture of respect for each other and to provide extraordinary service to our clients every day. TZL: Your firm has offices in 12 states. What’s your greatest challenge in ensuring that you stay on top of what everyone’s doing? What’s your most valuable asset when it comes to collecting information? AM: During our annual strategic planning meeting in 2013, we produced the concept of conducting in-person town hall meetings with the local staff of each of our major offices. This initiative was started to improve employee engagement. Among GAI’s many internal communication initiatives, we’ve found that these annual town hall meetings offer prime opportunities to gauge the health of our company and encourage staff engagement. These meetings help us to avoid silos by letting us share important company-wide news, priorities, and developments with employees at each individual GAI location and to directly home in on the concerns that may be unique to a particular group of staff. Conducted by GAI’s COO and myself, the town halls include live Q&A sessions that allow us to hear what’s important to our employees and let us identify patterns of concern that we can then bring to various GAI leadership committees for attention and/or address in companywide communications and meetings. TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? AM: A collaborative one. TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? AM: We offer multiple training and learning opportunities. One learning opportunity that people are very enthusiastic about is our on-site MBA program. Since 2009, GAI has partnered with Point Park University in Pittsburgh to offer the MBA program to our high-potential employees, with GAI paying half of the tuition cost for each participating staff member. We’ve graduated six classes since the program’s inception. Another particularly important benefit is the latest revision to our paid leave. Last year, See COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP , page 8

HEADQUARTERS: Pittsburgh, PA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 700 YEAR FOUNDED: 1958 OFFICE LOCATIONS: 24 SERVICES: ■ ■ Construction ■ ■ Cultural resources ■ ■ Distribution engineering ■ ■ Economics and strategy ■ ■ Environmental engineering ■ ■ Environmental studies ■ ■ Geotechnical and geology ■ ■ Land development ■ ■ Landscape architecture and design ■ ■ Mechanical/electrical/ structural ■ ■ Power delivery – environmental ■ ■ Right of way support ■ ■ Substation and protection and controls engineering ■ ■ Survey ■ ■ Transportation ■ ■ Transmission line engineering ■ ■ Urban design and planning ■ ■ Water

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

UNE 27, 2022, ISSUE 1447



GAI Consultants’ Summerset at Frick Park Residential Development project, a 2003 Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence winner.

we introduced a new maternity, paternity, and adoption paid leave policy that provides two weeks of paid leave for full-time GAI staff to care for a child new to their family. More than 30 employees have already used it. 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? AM: Through GAI’s Stay Interview program, we actively check in with employees at designated points in their careers at the company to help make sure that their positions meet their expectations and personal goals. Through individualized, customized interactions like this, we improve retention and build a better workforce from the inside out by gaining the information to implement effective, staff-focused business practices that will benefit all GAI employees at every level of tenure and experience. TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation – which is at an all-time high – with rewards for tenured staff? This has always been a challenge but seems heightened as investments in development have increased. AM: This year we launched a mentorship program, which pairs volunteer employee participants with veteran GAI staff, supervisors, and leaders. The program’s goal is to support career development and leadership potential while helping cultivate connections, relationships, and cross-organization engagement within the company. “I facilitate a quarterly lunch and learn session for junior GAI staff that teaches them about the importance of customer service. I stress the need to develop an internal culture of respect for each other and to provide extraordinary service to our clients every day.” TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? AM: Optimized business operations. TZL: Do different states tend to have different needs? What are you doing to provide solutions? AM: There are unique needs based on location, but we’ve overcome them. Although we have 24 office locations, from a geographic perspective, we prefer to look at our business as having three major regions – Midwest, Northeast, and Florida/ Southeast. Also, it should be noted that GAI is not organized geographically; it’s organized nationwide by business units/ sectors. This means that each business sector is comprised of staff from all or various GAI locations. The challenge we face year-to-year is balancing hot and cold markets versus hot and cold geographic regions. From a geographic perspective, research shows that currently the Northeast and Midwest are

very cold, and Florida/Southeast is very hot. From a market perspective, our research shows the strength of the markets that we are in as:

■ ■ Transportation: Very hot ■ ■ Environmental: Very hot ■ ■ Renewables/clean energy: Very hot ■ ■ Industrial: Hot ■ ■ Land development: Flat ■ ■ Education: Flat ■ ■ Retail: Cold

■ ■ Commercial: Very cold ■ ■ Oil and gas: Very cold Let’s look at the two extremes.

We offer transportation in all three geographic regions, but our Florida transportation business is overachieving since it’s a hot market in a hot geographic region. Because our transportation business unit/sectors are made up of staff in all our locations, we can balance the workload over the whole company. On the other hand, most of our oil and gas business is in the Northeast. This is a cold market in a cold geographic region, so it’s easy to understand that we have had to downsize or reassign some of the oil and gas staff. We do mostly environmental service for the oil and gas business, and since environmental is a hot market, we were able to reassign many staff. Lastly, a flat market – land development. This market is flat in the Midwest and Northeast, but is doing well in the Florida/ Southeast region. Once again, we can balance the workload by sharing staff across the company. By conducting research and analyzing it, we can plan where we want to expand our business. This not only includes strategic hires, but mergers and acquisitions as well. Lastly, it’s common for GAI to hire staff in cold geographic regions to build staff that can assist other geographic areas in hot markets.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




If your logo no longer corresponds with your brand image and values, it’s time for a change. Your logo isn’t as cool as you think it is

I remember as a marketer earlier on in my career, I didn’t care for my civil engineering firm’s “eyeball” logo – it didn’t make any sense to me selling engineering services, and it had muted colors and weird gradations that were tough to work with digitally. I had begged and pleaded my CEO for years to consider a rebranding effort to no avail. Then one day a new, loquacious client mentioned that our logo looked a little phallic. A week later we had an external graphics company on board to go through a whole rebranding process in honor of our 10 year anniversary. I cringe to think about how many employees, clients, and vendors had thought the same thing over the years, but out of politeness or indifference never said anything.

Malory Atkinson

A strong logo can have a big impact on your business. More often than not, a logo has to be tweaked or adjusted to keep up with shifts and changes in your company (or even the design/technology world). This is especially true for businesses with longevity – the logo your firm created decades ago is probably not going to speak well to your clients in 2022 or even within the digital channels of the 21st century. A logo redesign may seem daunting and expensive, but making a commitment to breathe new life into

something that’s worked for a while – maybe even a long while – can pay off significantly. Your logo is an important branding tool for your company. It needs to be the right fit for the specific brand message you aim to communicate. Ask yourself this one question: Is my logo a current representation of my brand, my values, my firm as a whole? If your answer is “yes,” then you may also




TRANSACTIONS BRIC PARTNERSHIP, LLC JOINS RTM ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS RTM Engineering Consultants, a national engineering consulting firm offering services in mechanical, electrical, plumbing, civil engineering, fire protection, technology, and commissioning is pleased to announce its recent acquisition of BRiC Partnership, LLC, an engineering consulting firm based in Belleville, Illinois with offices in Springfield, Illinois, St. Louis, Missouri, and Evansville, Indiana. “We are excited about expanding our capabilities throughout the Midwest and growing our exceptional team of experts, whose core values and work ethic resonate so closely with what RTM has built over the last 40 years,” says RTM

CEO Tony Mirchandani. “The reputation that the BRiC team has developed in their local markets is unmatched and I’m looking forward to the opportunities we will be able to embark on together.” BRiC Partnership is a 20-year-old firm providing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and technology services to clients across the Midwest. Their attention to detail, responsiveness to project needs, and dedication to quality engineering design has rewarded them with a substantial portfolio in the educational, healthcare, commercial, industrial, and government market sectors. The team at BRiC strives to bring creativity and innovation to each project, as well as their technical expertise and strong project leadership.

“A great culture fit was one of the leading factors in our decision to merge with RTM, and we’re excited to see our team continue to grow and develop their expertise in the marketplace,” says BRiC principal, Eric Rogers. “The portfolio and client relationships RTM has worked to build over the years aligns greatly with our own and we’re looking forward to taking on new and challenging projects with our team.” RTM’s expanded team of more than 250 engineering professionals, now located in 17 offices across the country and licensed in all 50 states, provides “National Resources and Local Relationships” to our growing client base.

When your company first started and your logo was designed, it was probably perfectly emblematic of your firm. But we all know that no company remains static – they grow and evolve over time. New services, people, and company missions are introduced. Mergers and acquisitions may have taken place. Company changes are usually things to be celebrated – they are often brought about by growth and opportunity. A logo redesign can be just the thing to help stay relevant in the competitive marketplace or signal a new direction. “A redesign doesn’t have to mean rebranding, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Your in-house team of marketing professionals may be able to tweak some colors, flatten areas, or update your logo’s layout to bring you into the 21st century.” A redesign doesn’t have to mean rebranding, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Your in-house team of marketing professionals may be able to tweak some colors, flatten areas, or update your logo’s layout to bring you into the 21st century. There are some great, cost-reasonable resources too like 99Designs where graphic designers across the world can compete for a fixed fee for a logo (or other graphics) design based on your needs. Plus, there’s no better excuse to get in front of your existing clients, prospective clients, and, in this crazy labor market, prospective hires than a logo redesign announcement. Malory Atkinson is co-founder and managing partner at Shear Structural. She can be reached at matkinson@shearstructural. com or via social media @maloryatkinson.

MALORY ATKINSON , from page 9

want to ask your marketing team, your clients, and your staff (perhaps even anonymously if you want an accurate answer). If your logo no longer corresponds with your brand image and values, this is a sign that it is time for a new change. You may want to think about looking at a redesign of your logo if you have: ■ ■ Expanded your services or offerings. Perhaps the logo that worked when you were a transportation engineering firm doesn’t work as well after you’ve added surveying and site civil engineering. ■ ■ Expanded your client base. Are you speaking to a new or different and/or younger audience? Perhaps you’ve expanded your client base from developers to government agencies. What types of media are you using to communicate with these new clients? ■ ■ Updated your mission, vision, and/or values. You may discover that the personality of your company has changed over the years and decades; your logo should reflect these changes. ■ ■ Identifying new competition. Are there new players in your market? Who are the fresh new firms you are competing against and how does your logo compare with theirs? A redesign can show both your existing clients that you’re modern and up-to-date and prospective clients that you are worthy of being considered. ■ ■ Utilizing and maximizing digital marketing channels. Your logo ultimately may just not work well for the new technology that we use every day. Logos with a lot of detail or too much gradient often don’t translate well to digital. Firms that were established long before the digital age may find that their logos look great on letterhead but not so great in square profile images or in digital creative.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Vacation time

This is the time of year many of us, and many of our clients, will take a family vacation, so do what you can to step away and enjoy it.

S ummer is here and it’s the time many of our clients and friends will take a family vacation. We are heading out this morning for a little beach time at Panama City Beach, Florida, with our 11-year-old daughter, Hazel, and her best friend, Lilly, as Hazel’s 16-year- old big sister, Olive, is in Thailand for a high school conservation trip. We used to go to Ft. Lauderdale a lot when my older kids were young, but PCB is closer and cheaper, and is supposed to have a great beach, so we are going to check it out for change.

Mark Zweig

When I was active in the business, I used to fly 100,000 miles a year routinely. I’m sick of it and it holds no excitement for me anymore. Plus, air travel went from dirt cheap to really expensive in a matter of months, so we are driving. Driving is better anyway, because my wife does it all (aren’t I lucky?), and she allows me to work from the heated and cooled passenger seat (good for my recent back injury) the whole way if I need to. Plus, we can carry as much baggage as we like, come and go at our convenience, and have a vehicle to use when we get to our destination. Some people in our industry go on these family or couples vacations and completely check out. I have found the only time I can really do that myself is either riding my motorcycle or cutting our grass. You

will never get an “out of office” reply from me. Out of office replies connote a lack of service as far as I am concerned, so I just refuse to use them. It takes very little time to check for calls and emails at least two or three times a day, and I have always managed to do just that. I make all of our travel arrangements on Travelocity. com and have for years. It’s the Amazon of travel and super convenient. You can comparison shop flights or hotels in minutes. All of your frequent flyer and credit card info is stored, and hotels are all rated, so if you read the comments – particularly the most recent ones – you will probably get what you expect. You can see where everything is on a map, which is helpful. And if you have any problems or get any refunds

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS THE HFW COMPANIES FORMS STRATEGIC GROWTH PARTNERSHIP WITH GEORGIA-BASED CRANSTON TO ACCELERATE EXPANSION The HFW Companies, a fast-growing professional services firm with a national focus on the architecture and engineering industry, announced a strategic growth partnership with CRANSTON, a legacy engineering, landscape architecture, planning, and surveying firm that has been serving Southeast communities for more than half a century. The new partnership allows CRANSTON to accelerate its strategic vision for growth and expand even more aggressively throughout “the heart of the Southeast” with additional services, locations, and people, according to Scott Williams, PE, president of CRANSTON. “CRANSTON, with record growth over the past few years, recently had set its long- term sights on expanding its reach and empowering every community across the heart of the Southeast to thrive,” said Williams. “This new partnership with HFW gives us a platform on which to achieve

that vision much faster and with much greater opportunity for both our hard- working team and the communities we serve while allowing us to forge ahead in growing the CRANSTON brand. We’re excited to align ourselves with HFW and its network of AE brands.” CRANSTON grew out of a merger in 1967 between Baldwin Engineering Company and Cranston Associates. The combined firm, headed by CRANSTON founder Craig Cranston, became Baldwin & Cranston Associates and, eventually, CRANSTON. Today, the firm employs 75 people and serves its project partners and communities from offices in Augusta, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. CRANSTON, in partnering with HFW, joins a growing network of growth- oriented AE firms whose teams will be able to share best practices, economies of scale, and unique areas of expertise, according to Michael Hein, AIA, chief executive officer of St. Louis-based HFW. HFW’s business model, he said, is designed to retain and leverage each

partnering firm’s own brand identity, loyal employee base, and the allegiance of its project partners to build what he describes as a nationwide “house of brands” network of member firms. “CRANSTON’s brand legacy has such great long-term growth potential,” said Hein. “It aligns nicely with our growth strategy of investing in architecture and engineering firms that serve metropolitan and infrastructure markets and are open to aligning with a partner for growth. “This investment represents another significant step in our effort,” he added, “to build a nationally preeminent network of AE firms concentrating on the country’s infrastructure. We’re looking forward to growing together.” Based in St. Louis, HFW is an AEC industry professional services company investing in architecture and engineering firms that serve metropolitan and infrastructure markets and are open to aligning with a partner for growth.

But I better stop here or I will find myself once again writing a treatise on cliches and buzzwords – something I feel obligated to do every couple of years! I prefer fiction as it gets me out of my work mode better. That said, I will have a new book coming out later this summer. Confessions of an Entrepreneur is one I am very excited about. I promise an easy and entertaining read, and something you or anyone who owns or is considering starting a business could benefit from. But more on that in the future! Whatever you do this summer for your vacation, my advice is to keep it simple! Don’t try to go too many places or do too many things, or it will not be relaxing and you will need a vacation after your vacation when you get back! This trip is one of several we plan to make this summer. We started going out to New Mexico on our adults-only, no kids trip every year. My sister-in-law lives way out in the middle of the national forest near Santa Fe, and we have a quiet little inn we like in Taos (The Inn on La Loma Plaza), which is really off the beaten path and sort of downmarket. A great place to shift gears into a slower lifestyle. Happy summer to you all! Stay positive in spite of the many current and future struggles you could worry about. Everything will be OK if you can keep your head on straight and your emotions in check. We live in an amazing time and have so much to be thankful for! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG , from page 11

or credits, they all stay in your account. For example, we cancelled a trip to Austin during COVID and thought we lost our money, only to find out we had a large credit sitting there that we used a year later. I really like Travelocity. Packing has always been easy for me. We have bags for all sizes and types of trips. I keep my toiletry bag stocked so all I have to do is grab it and go. I can pack for anywhere in 10 minutes or less. When I travel for business, I have found I can keep everything on hangers and roll it up and it still fits in a single carry-on. Then when I get to my destination I hang it and turn the shower on hot and it all looks perfect. One good thing about traveling is it gives you a chance to read. I have a stack of 10 books next to the bed and I will take three along with me. Those of you who know me know I dislike most business books. They make everything sound too easy and the cliches annoy me. Everyone is “leaning in” to everything these days. We have all “pivoted” and “deep dived” enough. “Happy summer to you all! Stay positive in spite of the many current and future struggles you could worry about. Everything will be OK if you can keep your head on straight and your emotions in check.”

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