TZL 1418 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S N o v e m b e r 2 9 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 4 1 8 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

Employee productivity

Each firm needs to find its own balance of open, consistent communication without being bothersome to employees. Keep communicating

In Zweig Group’s AEC Workplace of the Future Survey , firm participants are asked about current and future policies in their company as well as their current personal ideals. For example, participants were asked to rate their current productivity level versus their productivity level pre-pandemic. Participants that work from home expressed that their productivity level was generally higher now. Participants that primarily work at the office or on the road said that their productivity level remained the same. The other participants that worked a hybrid model fell in-between. The main purpose of this is not to compare the options one-to-one, but to understand your staff and implement policies with them in mind. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication. F I R M I N D E X Bowman Consulting Group Ltd.............12 McFarland-Dyer & Associates. ..............12 Universal Engineering Sciences...............6 Ware Malcomb........................................2 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz JARED MAXWELL: Mitigating cyber exposures Page 3 xz Rowing together: Jim Walsh Page 6 xz CALLUM ROXBOROUGH: Developing company culture Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG: Moving on past your successes Page 11

Y ear after year, Zweig Group sees changes in trends from the data we collect on the industry. We see data fluctuate up and down depending on the question or dataset. Normally, it is fairly predictable and consistent. Employee sentiment doesn’t change very radically when you survey more than 13,000 people. The average change is just 2 percent in either direction in the 2021 dataset, so when one score dropped by more than 10 percent, that was something that really stood out. That major drop was in employee agreement that things were effectively communicated at their firm. Historically, effective communication has never been at the top of Zweig Group’s employee perception data. It is typically one of those areas that hangs in the middle of the dataset. It is also one of the most commented on sections of the survey, with most of the comments tending to be negative or about firms needing to work on communication as a whole. Scores had been on the rise the last few years though, hitting their peak in 2020. You read that right: 2020, the year of drastic change due to COVID-19, was the highest effective communication had reached in our dataset. While most scores dropped in 2020, for good reason, effective communication did not follow suit. Firms were forced to scramble in 2020. Work environments changed almost overnight. In an industry that had been very slow to join the “work-from-home revolution,” the AEC industry was forced to by factors outside of our control. We couldn’t just leave our people in the dark about what was happening, though. So we were very intentional and turned up the communication. Zweig Group CEO Chad Clinehens mentioned this in his State of the Industry keynote at our ElevateAEC Conference in early November. Firms were doing such a great job keeping their employees informed about the state of things in the company. Leaders were checking in regularly to make sure their employees had what they needed as they transitioned to a work-from-home environment. It seems as though employees really appreciated being kept in the loop about the state of their company, which is true even outside a mad scramble in response to a changing work environment. Things seemed really rough, but firms were able to pull through the change by communicating with their employees effectively. But then, something happened. Everyone started to get comfortable working from home. Maybe a little too comfortable as effective communication scores plummeted in 2021. Like I said earlier, scores don’t typically rise or drop more than 2 percent, so a 10 percent drop is really significant. It could have been how busy everyone was. It could have been we thought we were over-

Kyle Ahern

See KYLE AHERN, page 2



BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF CUBIC HEADQUARTERS AND RESEARCH BUILDINGS Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced the completion of construction on Cubic Corporation’s campus. Cubic is located at 9233 Balboa Avenue in San Diego, Calif. Ware Malcomb provided master planning, architecture, interior architecture and branding services for this project. The campus was comprised of two new, tilt-up concrete LEED v4 BD+C Silver certified office and lab buildings totaling approximately 250,000 square feet. The architectural design for the new three-story buildings uses Cubic branding as a focal point for the project. Many unique design features were incorporated in the main entrance and lobby areas featuring a floating Cubic logo, a three-story feature stair that wraps the exterior glass wall, promoting interaction and movement through the space. Including the new facilities, the overall campus square footage totals approximately 415,000 square feet. The firm’s interior architecture and design studio worked closely with Cubic to establish corporate interiors standards. In addition, the new branded environment created by Ware Malcomb’s in- house Branding studio accentuates Cubic’s culture, highlighting cutting edge technology and the company’s global footprint. The overall office design features a modern and efficient workplace to promote cross-pollination between departments and encourage innovation. Ware Malcomb also designed various amenities spaces throughout the campus including a full- size kitchen/café, outdoor lounge, conferencing center and a fitness center. The cafe features a glass wall designed to reduce solar heat in the summer and allow the sunlight to warm the interior slab during colder months. “From the very beginning of this project, the team comradery was the guiding factor for the project’s success. With impressive collaboration throughout each phase, the outcome is testament to the entire team’s tightknit relationships,” said Matt Brady, executive vice president of Ware Malcomb. “We are proud to be part of this important project for Cubic and know it will support the company’s future business growth as they continue to achieve great things.”

One unique aspect of the Cubic campus renovation was the proximity to the Montgomery- Gibbs Executive Airport. The Ware Malcomb team worked closely with the local jurisdiction throughout the planning process. Located in four runway safety zones, this project used a unique, alternate way of calculating the allowed occupancy density per the Airport Compatibility Land Use Plan. This allowed the firm to safely guide the campus design while still maximizing the use of Cubic’s property. Founded in Point Loma in 1951, Cubic provides diversified systems and services to the transportation and defense markets worldwide. This project was part of the ongoing modernization of Cubic facilities. Ware Malcomb has worked with Cubic for over seven years on this significant campus modernization. The first phases of the project included overall campus master planning and a prototype office environment. Ware Malcomb provided interior architecture and design, branding, and strategic workplace planning services for the workplace prototype. This project focused on creating a prototype to be used in future phases of the campus modernization and included the transition from a traditional, closed office environment to a more open, progressive design. The office environment was enhanced by new graphics and technology solutions to improve global employee communication and collaboration. Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is a contemporary and expanding full service design firm providing professional architecture, planning, interior design, civil engineering, branding and building measurement services to corporate, commercial/residential developer and public/institutional clients throughout the world. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science and technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/institutional facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm by Zweig Group. The firm is also ranked among the top 15 architecture/engineering firms in Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms.

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KYLE AHERN , from page 1

communicating. It could have just been an oversight, or a combination of things, but we have to get back to what was working. I am not saying we need to go back to weekly all-hands meetings or daily check- ins. Each firm needs to find its own balance of open, consistent communication without being bothersome to employees. Keep your people in the loop, personally check in with them every so often, give them updates on your company as a whole, not just the projects they are working on. Communicate well with your employees, and that can solve a lot of issues that might be plaguing your firm. KYLE AHERN is awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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Mitigating cyber exposures

By adopting a zero-trust approach, AEC firms can strengthen their data security and their protection against occupational fraud and external cyber-related threats.

A mong its numerous implications for AEC firms, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated the evolution of the workplace environment. What became obvious almost immediately was that traditional cybersecurity protocols couldn’t keep pace with the complexities posed by hybrid work, growing numbers of remote employees, and the dramatic expansion of cloud-based technology.

Jared Maxwell

The speed with which these developments occurred quickly made traditional perimeter security ineffective and outdated. Today, many AEC firms need a new security model to safeguard their information and networks. Many are now turning to new “zero trust” models. Zero-trust approaches embrace mobility and protect people, networks, applications, and devices, regardless of their location. What is it? How does it work? And why might it be a valuable approach for AEC firms that have changed their operational models to adapt to the new realities of the work environment? Here are some answers. Traditional network security essentially “trusts”

the identity and intentions of users within a firm’s structure. Unfortunately, this approach leaves it vulnerable to malicious internal actors and rogue credentials by allowing unauthorized and uncompromised access to the organization. The term “trust, but verify” typically describes traditional network security approaches. On the other hand, the zero-trust approach removes the concept of trust from within an organization’s structure. With zero-trust, a data breach is assumed with every access request. Thus, every access request must be authenticated and authorized as though it originated from an open network. In contrast to traditional security




USING ZERO-TRUST TO REDUCE CYBER-VULNERABILITIES. By combining various preventative techniques, including identity verification, behavioral analysis, micro-segmentation, endpoint security, and least privilege controls, implementing a zero-trust approach can significantly reduce an AEC firm’s risk of becoming a data breach victim. Zero-trust relies on three principles: 1)Verify explicitly. Every user request must be authenticated and authorized using all available data points. This helps ensure the person or application requesting access in fact is who they say they are. 2)Use least privileged access. As mentioned, individual users should be granted the least amount of access necessary to perform their authorized functions. Just-in-time and just-enough access, risk-based adaptive policies, and data protection can all help secure data and user productivity. 3)Assume breach. End-to-end encryption can prevent data from flowing to undesired endpoints. At the same time, using analytics can drive threat detection, improve visibility, and enhance defenses. “This approach has become one of the most effective ways for organizations to control their network, applications, and data. This is especially important today, as AEC firms expand their technology and communication infrastructures to include cloud-based applications and servers.” IMPLEMENTING ZERO-TRUST. Zero-trust is relatively simple to deploy and doesn’t require the purchase of any costly products or services. AEC firms can use the following principles to implement zero-trust approaches with their enterprises: ❚ ❚ Define the attack surface. To adopt a zero-trust framework, start by identifying your firm’s critical data, assets, applications, and services. This critical information forms a “protect surface,” which is unique to every organization. ❚ ❚ Create a directory of assets. Determine where your firm’s sensitive information exists and who needs access to it. Know how many accounts there are and where they connect. Consider removing old accounts and enforcing mandatory password rotation. ❚ ❚ Adopt preventative measures. Grant individual users the least amount of access necessary to do their work. Use multifactor authentication to verify accounts. Establish micro-perimeters to act as border control within the system and prevent unauthorized lateral movement. By adopting a zero-trust approach, AEC firms will strengthen their data security and their protection against occupational fraud and external cyber-related threats. JARED MAXWELL is vice president and partner of Ames & Gough. He is based in the Boston office and can be reached at jmaxwell@

JARED MAXWELL , from page 3

measures, the concept “never trust, always verify” is emblematic of the zero-trust approach. “The zero-trust approach removes the concept of trust from within an organization’s structure. With zero-trust, a data breach is assumed with every access request. Thus, every access request must be authenticated and authorized as though it originated from an open network.” Thus, the zero-trust approach has become one of the most effective ways for organizations to control their network, applications, and data. This is especially important today, as AEC firms expand their technology and communication infrastructures to include cloud-based applications and servers. The growing use of locally hosted or virtual machines and software-as-a-service products, along with the increasing numbers of remote employees have made it difficult for organizations to secure their systems and data. Thus, implementing zero-trust approaches can provide a number of benefits, including: ❚ ❚ Minimizing your firm’s “attack surface.” By granting the lowest level of access possible for users and devices to perform their essential functions, AEC firms can minimize the area within their enterprise that might conceivably be affected by a potential breach. ❚ ❚ Improving audit and compliance visibility. The first step in implementing zero-trust is for a firm’s leadership or those responsible for information security to inventory all devices as well as the credentials associated with each device. In this way, all devices are maintained in an audit-ready state. ❚ ❚ Reducing risk, complexity, and costs. All access requests should be carefully vetted prior to allowing access to any company assets or accounts. This dramatically increases real- time visibility within the firm and helps prevent costly data breaches. ❚ ❚ Providing “Layer 7” threat prevention. Layer 7 refers to the application level of the Open Systems Interconnect model. This layer identifies communicating parties, supports end-user processes and applications, and consults privacy and user authentication. By establishing who can access different security levels within your firm at any given time, the zero- trust approach blocks unauthorized users or applications from accessing your crucial data and prevents unwanted exfiltration of sensitive information. ❚ ❚ Simplifying granular user-access control. Zero trust requires a firm to define individual users who may access specific information, resources, or functional areas of the firm. As a rule, each user is granted the least privilege to perform their necessary functions. ❚ ❚ Preventing lateral movement. Segmenting the network by identity, groups, and function allows the firm’s leadership to contain breaches and minimize damage from hackers who otherwise may have been able to move freely within the organization’s perimeter.

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2021 BEST PERFORMING FIRMS IN THE AEC INDUSTRY REPORT PRICE: $395 OVERVIEW: How do the most successful architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms do business? How do firms that excel in growth, financial performance, profitability, excellent workplaces, or marketing stand out from the rest? Statistics are shown for award-winning, fastest-growing, and highest-profit firms, separately from the overall sample so you can benchmark your firm relative to the most successful firms in the AEC industry. LEARN MORE OVERVIEW: Zweig Group’s 2021 Fee & Billing Survey Report of AEC Firms is the standard guideline for firms looking to benchmark fees, billing rates, and billing practices, and evaluate productivity and utilization. The 2021 edition includes data on fee structures for every major market type in the AEC industry, billing rates and chargeability statistics for 33 levels of employee, statistics on consultant fees and reimbursable expenses, and more.


OVERVIEW: Zweig Group’s 2021 Marketing Report of AEC Firms is a benchmarking and advisory guide to industry firm marketing activities, budgets, marketing department organization, staffing levels, compensation, and investments in marketing systems and infrastructure. This report also has statistics on proposal activity, hit rates, and other useful analytics.











Rowing together: Jim Walsh President of Universal Engineering Sciences (Orlando, FL), a firm that has provided essential engineering services throughout the United States for nearly six decades.


P rior to being named president of UES in February 2021, Walsh served as COO at Degree-One, a provider of HVAC, refrigeration, and food equipment services, where he significantly improved EBITDA and integrated several acquisitions. He’s also led WBG Consulting as president, focusing on management consulting and angel investments, and held many other executive-level positions. “UES is recognized as an industry pioneer, with a sound business strategy and nearly six decades of success,” Walsh says. “I’m focused on maintaining and accelerating our commitment to our growth, as well as continuing the legacy values and culture which have made UES so unique, while incorporating new talent and new ideas into our family of businesses.” A CONVERSATION WITH JIM WALSH. The Zweig Letter: I understand that UES is moving into an exciting time where BDT Capital Partners will

take a majority stake in UES. How will this change the dynamics of the firm? What are the major benefits? Jim Walsh: BDT Capital Partners’ approach is to invest in well-run businesses for the long-term. We see their partnership as an endorsement of our growth strategy at UES, which focuses on organic growth in key areas of the country and adding new partners through acquisition. Day-to-day, our operations are unchanged. Our board of directors will remain chaired by former AECOM CEO Michael Burke, and continued involvement from BDT and Palm Beach Capital. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? JW: Life is a journey. You need balance to be an effective executive. It’s a personal choice whether to integrate those parts of your life or keep them separate. You need to create the right balance for yourself. I enjoy fixing things. I do my own electrical and plumbing work. I brought a 1954 Ford



600 tractor back to life. These kinds of things bring me immediate gratification. “Over the last 30 years, I’ve learned that if you don’t get the buy-in and ownership of your people, you will not be successful. You’ve got to win their hearts and minds. The strength and power of rowing together in the same direction cannot be underestimated.” TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? JW: We recognize our industry has a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion. Our focus is about adding diversity of thought and perspective to our team at all levels. That starts with recruiting talented young people into the engineering field, showing them the career path and growth opportunities that are before them, and, ultimately, retaining them within UES so they can grow with us. I think we’ve made some key strides in hiring more women to leadership positions within the company and are continuing to push for diversity in our candidate selection as we’re currently recruiting for more than 200 open positions across the country. TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? JW: Our work fulfills a critical role in this country – we help ensure safe construction, drive forward progress on major projects of urban revitalization, help to increase connectivity across the nation, and more. As we look ahead to the next decade and the U.S. invests significantly in much-needed repairs and infrastructure development, engineering services such as those we offer at UES are going to be in high demand and valuable to communities and civic entities across the country. 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? JW: We take a great deal of pride in retaining our people. One of the ways to do this is by holding our own internal

training programs, partnering people with mentors so they can see a clear growth path in their field, and helping engineers and technicians advance in their careers by paying for their certifications. TZL: When you identify a part of your business that is not pulling its weight in terms of profitability or alignment with the firm’s mission, what steps do you take, and what’s the timeline, to address the issue while minimizing impacts to the rest of the company? JW: We’ve made some recent hires to our leadership team that are helping to look across all our operating businesses and verticals and decide where we can flex or better pull levers to be successful. As it relates to our capabilities, our service line leader, Ron Harris, has been instrumental in that. It’s also opened our eyes to areas we can really focus on from a growth and differentiation standpoint, like our environmental consulting business. At a corporate level, we’re trying to build more consistency across the organization, and our new senior vice president of innovation and integration Kathy Kilmer will take a leading role in executing on that for UES. 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? JW: This isn’t something I can comment on in great detail, but what I can tell you is we expect to be a $1 billion engineering and consulting firm within the next 10 years. We work closely with our partners and investors and board of directors on growth and valuation strategies. “I’m focused on maintaining and accelerating our commitment to our growth, as well as continuing the legacy values and culture which have TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? made UES so unique, while incorporating new talent and new ideas into our family of businesses.”


❚ ❚ Geotechnical engineering

❚ ❚ Construction materials testing and inspections

❚ ❚ Building code compliance

❚ ❚ Environmental

❚ ❚ Occupational health and safety

❚ ❚ Building envelope

❚ ❚ Structural inspections

❚ ❚ Forensic engineering services

GIVING BACK: Corporate philanthropy efforts are important at UES. Making a difference in the communities where UES employees live and work is an important part of the firm’s legacy and culture. For decades, UES has supported charitable causes on a regional basis and is now looking toward opportunities where it can make a greater impact by leveraging its national footprint.


© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

MBER 29, 2021, ISSUE 1418


UES’s work on the Miami Signature Bridge. This project, which is ongoing, represents the largest concrete pour in UES history. The Miami Signature Bridge will serve as a new gateway to Miami Beach, transforming Interstate 395 and connecting to the entry of the MacArthur Causeway.

ROWING TOGETHER, from page 7

partners who want to stay involved in their businesses, and then provide the tools, resources, and scale that help our partnering organizations better grow and operate their businesses within the UES family of companies. We have to do that by enabling strong leaders in our 60 (and growing) branch offices across the country, and working with each partner to retain the people-first aspects of their culture that have made UES such a differentiated brand in the engineering space for many years. TZL: How many years of experience – or large enough book of business – is enough to become a principal in your firm? Are you naming principals in their 20s or 30s? JW: There is equal opportunity for all, and this outcome is earned. We really look at performance, not tenure, as a measuring stick for leadership positions and promotions. I’ll give you one great example: Our regional lab manager in the West division is a 26-year-old who has been a fast- riser and proven to be able to take on larger and larger responsibilities. He went from working in one of our labs, to managing the largest materials testing lab in the state of Nevada, to now being focused on new lab expansion and training the next generations of lab technicians to ensure our quality is matched at every location.

JW: Over the last 30 years, I’ve learned that if you don’t get the buy-in and ownership of your people, you will not be successful. You’ve got to win their hearts and minds. The strength and power of rowing together in the same direction cannot be underestimated. “As we look ahead to the next decade and the U.S. invests significantly in much-needed repairs and infrastructure development, engineering services such as those we offer at UES are going to be in high demand and valuable to communities and civic entities across the country.” TZL: During the course of your career, you’ve managed the integration of multiple acquisitions. What are some key lessons learned that you’ve learned as a result of that work? JW: The work really starts with our people. My job and the charge I implore on our leadership team is to seek out great

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Developing company culture

Five ways to develop company culture and how taking these steps can improve your firm’s work environment and your business.

O AC Services Inc. has really focused on company culture over the past five years, winning multiple accolades including ranking among Seattle Business Magazine ’s 10 Best Companies to Work For, as well as Puget Sound Business Journal ’s list of Wash- ington’s Best Workplaces for five years. So, what makes a company culture work? How can this help a business to succeed?

Callum Roxborough

Here are five ways to develop company culture and how this can not only help improve the work envi- ronment, but also help improve your business: 1)Communication. Strong communication is essen- tial to success. Companies that have open dialogue among all members of their workforce can ensure that problems are solved faster, errors are avoided, and an open-door culture can exist. This, in turn, translates to AEC jobsites where time is money, and any conflict or issue can derail even the most well- planned of schedules. What has been evident is that communication must be targeted for it to be effec- tive both internally and with clients. OAC has taken the opportunity to proactively cre- ate interactions throughout the company using the technology we have available. This is doubly effec- tive, simply because OAC staff are utilizing much of the same technology to interact with clients.

They are directly translating what they practice in our company culture to improve and provide added value to our client services. One such example of OAC’s growth in communica- tion was in our recent datathon competition earlier this summer. This was inspired by tech companies’ hackathons, where teams of programmers compete to create innovative solutions or prototypes. The competition encouraged communication between different teams and groups of employees to work together to come up with a pitch using a subset of available data. The five teams then developed their ideas over several weeks, shaping the data into a usable plan that would benefit the company. These types of events and challenges create open dialogue between groups and allows for creative solutions to be developed, and even work through challenges that come with developing something new.





and personalities so we could better communicate with one another and empower our employees to come together and see their strengths and how they operate within OAC. We saw that it really did create value and understanding toward each other and helped to really boost our collaborative spirit. That means that no matter who we team with from our own roster or other AEC companies, we have a better understanding of each other, the client, and overall, the team dynamic that we then successfully brought to our projects.” 4)Learn from mistakes. There are many ways to grow a qual- ity company culture, but what is the secret to ensuring that growth continues to yield results with clients? One rule of thumb is that companies need to learn from mistakes. Taking criticism from your workforce can lead to improvements that drive performance. Clients want to see that companies are adaptive, can improve, and learn from their mistakes. Often in the AEC industry, clients are seeking transparency and honesty from companies that have dealt with challenges and developed “lessons learned” solutions that they carry forward in future projects. As Mahoney states, “Growing and developing people in the workplace means learning from your mistakes. What I loved about the ‘best workplace awards’ is that they were the result of anonymous companywide surveys. So, you can’t fake that stuff. People were providing real input and their unvarnished feedback. If they were saying to us that we were lacking or failing in certain areas, then that made me want to improve, to make OAC the best place it could be.” 5)Carry the culture forward. It’s important for companies to try to stay ahead of the curve. It’s even more important for companies to understand that the formulae for success are ever-changing. So, the best advice is to grow and adapt as you increase your workforce or your geographical presence. Bring- ing new employees into the culture ensures you continue to go down a positive path. According to Mahoney, “Every time we add a new employee, that’s another person we can bring into our culture and ben- efit a client.” Mahoney continued to discuss the future of the AEC industry and how culture will play a larger role in compa- ny-client success: “We need to develop that next generation of leadership.” One example that OAC has employed is the development of employee-led committees and councils that are a catalyst to creating a better client experience. These include such groups as the OAC Safety Committee or the OAC Data Governance Council. By simply having and developing these committees, companies can create safer jobsites for clients, identify new data sources, and proactively engage their workforce. “As a firm and as an industry at large, we need to build and develop the careers of our teams, so they’re competent, people-focused future leaders,” Mahoney said, “You hope to hire the right smart people and teach them to do what you do better than you ever did. To carry the legacy forward.” OAC maintains a proactive attitude toward its culture as reflected by its commitment to making better happen, everywhere. One thing that is clear, OAC remains excited and focused toward continually developing its culture and customer experience in always being better, in every inter- action. CALLUM ROXBOROUGH is a marketing specialist with OAC Services Inc. Connect with him on LinkedIn. This article also included contribu- tions by SHAWN MAHONEY, OAC’s CEO and principal in charge, and ANNA RICHARDSON, OAC’s senior human resources director.

According to OAC’s CEO and Principal in Charge Shawn Ma- honey, “We are now no longer constrained by geography or time zones; if we have models, pictures, or the raw data, we can proactively contribute to client solutions and really, it’s an opportunity to present our culture of collaboration and com- munication as well as the utilization of our team’s talent and experience that we couldn’t always show in the past.” The major takeaway from this statement is to use technology to create a connected culture. Today’s thriving businesses utilize Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other programs to drive interaction with their workforce and clients. In the current climate with COVID-19 and remote working, these are read- ily accessible tools that can be formatted to suit a variety of industries and cultures. Mahoney says that OAC’s utilization of communication technology, “provides opportunity to pro- actively create interactions throughout our company.” 2)Open leadership. People are the reason behind a company’s success. Without an engaged and invested workforce, it would be impossible for most firms to function, let alone thrive. According to OAC Senior Human Resources Director Anna Richardson, “OAC has always been, in my experience, very people-first in our decision making. I see us viewing our cli- ents’ needs and our people’s needs as the top priority. That is really the driver for everything else. Every time OAC commu- nicates, it has to be with intention and purpose and deliver a clear message.” Companies should be allowing access and encouraging ques- tions to leadership. You want to have a leadership team with an open-door policy where anyone can talk to anyone without having to go through a never-ending series of supervisors and managers. Richardson continued, “Early on in the pandemic our leader- ship teams said, ‘We need to over-communicate with our peo- ple about the state of our business.’ We started having weekly company calls where everyone was kept up to date on every facet of OAC’s business. We answered questions honestly and with the intent to inform and clarify issues that people were having. That meant our employees were better able to focus, and that naturally benefited the projects we were working on, simply because there were fewer distractions.” 3)Employee collaboration. Eighty-six percent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective com- munication for workplace failures (Source: Salesforce). So, fostering collaboration in the workplace is a key component to a successful work culture. According to Mahoney, “There’s nobody’s name over our door. We are an employee-owned company, and we are, in a man- ner of speaking, in it together. Individually, we want to give our employees the best working environment, where we want them to grow and develop, personally and professionally. As a collective, we want our employees to work collaboratively, bringing all their individual strengths together.” The aim of collaboration in company culture is to develop a cohesive, integrated, and better-connected team while still respecting individual preferences, workstyles, schedules, and personalities. Thereby ensuring an employee’s autonomy while also ensuring they align with company goals. How does one succeed in this balancing-act? Mahoney described one such successful example: “We worked on incorporating a behavior self-assessment tool into a team- building exercise to really examine our individual work styles

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A good chunk of The Zweig Letter ’s subscribers are AEC firm founders. And if they aren’t founders, many might as well have been, because they have transformed companies that were started as something completely different from what they have become today. This isn’t easy, but it will ultimately make you more successful – not just as a business leader, but in life itself! Moving on past your successes

Mark Zweig

These leaders bear a unique responsibility for the futures of their businesses and all those who dedicate their working lives to the company. They are faced daily with making critical decisions, nearly always with incomplete information. They are under constant scrutiny from “Monday morning quarterbacks.” And while they may be well-rewarded financially, they may also get little positive feedback from anyone for the things that they do get right. I have founded or been a co-founder of several businesses myself. Besides the company that started out as Mark Zweig & Associates, that became Zweig White, and is today Zweig Group, there was my design/build/development company, Mark Zweig, Inc.; a baby products company, Good Parents, LLC; a company that had its own proprietary method for teaching reading, The Easy Reading Clinic, Inc.; and a new moped and

used motorcycle shop, Southern Cycles. It has all provided me with a unique perspective. My point is this: I have been in your shoes. I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be successful, and I know what it’s like to fail. And in every case, I have also moved on PAST that success and failure. Yes – you read that correctly. I have moved on past my success – not just moved on past my failures. Not to say moving on past your failures is always easy. It isn’t. But it’s easier than moving on past your successes. Failures are things you don’t want to repeat. They have negative consequences. Sure – it seems like all of the business and life “coaches” want to talk about how great failing is – “fail early and fail often” – and a whole lot of

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACT IONS BOWMAN CONSULTING GROUP ACQUIRES ASSETS OF MCFARLAND-DYER & ASSOCIATES IN ATLANTA Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. announced the acquisition of the assets of McFarland- Dyer & Associates headquartered in the greater Atlanta area. Founded in 1995, McFarland-Dyer & Associates delivers civil engineering, land planning, land surveying, and landscape architecture services to public and private sector clients throughout the Southeast. “We are excited and happy to welcome all of the McFarland-Dyer employees and clients to Bowman,” said Gary Bowman, chairman and CEO of Bowman. “McFarland-Dyer brings a strong market reputation and I look forward both to expanding our presence in the Atlanta market and to extending McFarland- Dyer’s surveying, landscape architecture, site planning and civil engineering services to our customers throughout the Southeast.” “The economics of this acquisition are in line with our strategy, and I am confident in our ability to generate beneficial revenue synergies together,” added Bowman. “In keeping with our goal of delivering reasonably

priced growth and enhanced shareholder value, this is the first of what we expect to be many acquisitions we make as a public company. We are actively pursuing numerous opportunities to invest the proceeds from our recent $52 million initial public offering and expect to close on additional acquisitions this year.” “Bowman offers us an exciting opportunity to effect an orderly ownership transition and become part of a dynamic and growing organization,” said Phyllis Lamme, president of McFarland-Dyer. “The leadership of Bowman has demonstrated their commitment to empowering the staff of acquired firms by enabling them to thrive, grow and develop professionally within a culture that promotes those same values that we have held since our founding. We are excited about joining Bowman.” The acquisition, which was financed with a combination of cash, seller financing and stock, is initially expected to add a base of approximately $4 million of annualized net service billing to Bowman and be immediately accretive.

Founded in 1995, McFarland-Dyer & Associates delivers civil engineering, land planning, land surveying, and landscape architecture services to public and private sector clients throughout the Southeast, with a focus on the metropolitan Atlanta area. Public work has included schools, libraries, fire stations, city halls, streetscapes, parks, playfields and sports facilities. Private projects have included residential subdivisions, multi- family developments, hotels, commercial centers and amenity areas with swimming and tennis facilities. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Bowman is a professional services firmdelivering innovative engineering solutions to customers who own, develop, and maintain the built environment. With 800 employees and more than 30 offices throughout the United Sates, Bowman provides a variety of planning, engineering, construction management, commissioning, environmental consulting, geomatics, survey, land procurement and other technical services to customers operating in a diverse set of regulated end markets.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

1)Acknowledge there is more to life. You are more than what you do and what you earn. Or at least you can be. Accept that and embrace that. It will keep you more open to change. 2)Develop your successors. Pick those who are truly worthy of holding the keys to your business and spend time with them. Promote them. Encourage them. Put them in the spotlight. You have already had your time there in it. 3)Be a teacher. You have learned some very important lessons that got you this far. Don’t guard that knowledge as if giving it to someone else is a loss to you. Share it selflessly. 4)Give up your need to always be in control. You will never truly be able to hand off your piloting duties unless you let someone else try flying the airplane. People have to experience doing things themselves in order to actually learn how to do them correctly. Learn to enjoy watching the game versus playing in it. 5)Develop some other interests. Yes, it’s great that you are good at what you do. And it is a truly worthwhile endeavor to grow and run a successful AEC firm. But how about learning some new things you aren’t so good at doing? That can be very enjoyable and enriching. 6)Reconnect with the people you care about. That could be your clients and your employees – but it could also be the family members and friends you have neglected for so long while being overcommitted. Life is short. Our time on this earth is limited and you never know when the clock will run out. Getting past your success isn’t easy. But it’s worth it. It will ultimately make you MORE successful – not just as a business leader – but in life itself! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

other pop business and psychobabble stuff. Yes, failure can provide a great learning opportunity. Burn your hand on a hot stove and it hurts. You don’t want to repeat that. But the fact is, you DID burn your hand. It would be nice not to do that in the first place. I would prefer to learn from the failures of others if I can. That is how we get smarter and avoid making costly mistakes other people have already made. But forgive me for getting sidetracked here on one of my pet peeve subjects! “Success can be a trap. It can be all- consuming. It can lead to burnout. It can destroy our personal relationships. It can keep us from living the ‘rich’ life we all sought out when we first pursued it.” I want to talk about moving on past your SUCCESS . Success is great. It strokes our egos. It makes us money. It provides us with other opportunities. But it (success) can also be a trap. It can be all-consuming. It can lead to burnout. It can destroy our personal relationships. It can keep us from living the “rich” life we all sought out when we first pursued it. It can stunt our personal growth. It can lead to hubris. And it can also keep our companies from making necessary changes to adapt to an increasingly dynamic world. Here is my advice to successful firm founders and transformational CEOs of firms in our industry who want to get past their success:

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