TZL 1442 (web)

May 23, 2022, Issue 1442 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Equity value per book value

The rapidly changing economic conditions we’re experiencing are putting salary pressure on AEC firms. Things are changing – quickly!

FIRM INDEX DCA Construction..................................................4 Larson Design Group......................................... 6 Nelson-Rudie & Associates........................12 RS&H............................................................................ 10 Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, Inc..................8 W.E. O’Neil Construction ...................................4 MORE ARTICLES n AMANDA HARTMAN, HANNAH RICO & JULES ACKERSON: A firm- wide realignment Page 3 n Rethinking retail: Larson Design Group Page 6 n JUSTIN SMITH: The communication quarterback Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Things that made me happy as an owner Page 11 In Zweig Group’s 2022 Valuation Report of AEC Firms , firms were asked how fast they had grown by revenue and/ or employee size over the last three years. Growing firms reported a higher equity value per book value ratio relative to stable and declining firms. The median values for moderate-to- fast growth firms ranged from 1.91 and 2.06, which outpaced the overall median of 1.78. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

T he U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021, the fastest rate since 1984, and a rate which only accelerated into 2022. A report from the the U.S. Labor Department in April 2022 stated that its consumer price index jumped 8.5 percent in March from 12 months earlier – the biggest year-over-year increase since December 1981. There’s no doubt that nearly everyone has felt the effects of increases in the cost of housing and price of gasoline. The AEC industry is not immune to these changes! Zweig Group released the 2022 Salary Reports at the beginning of this year. These reports were compiled with data gathered over the 12 months previous to its release (January 2021-December 2021), and are an accurate and data-based representation of what salary levels were during that time; however, these rapidly changing economic conditions are putting salary pressure on AEC firms, both for new hires and existing employees. A recent spot survey of webinar attendees for Zweig Group’s Driven by Data series on Competitive Compensation found that almost 50 percent of firms had budgeted more than usual for salary increases at the beginning of this year, but even for the firms that planned ahead, it may not be enough. This same survey found that nearly all respondents reported challenges of increased salary expectations, with statements such as, “Expectations of base salary substantially increased due to inflation. Cannot keep salaries aligned with expectations.” The waterfall effect includes many firms in the industry reporting retention issues, and fee pressures such as, “It’s very difficult for our clients to accept higher billing rates that are necessary for current compensation requirements and scarcity of qualified and experienced professionals.” While 60 percent of firms report they have or are increasing their fees, some respondents report these fee increases are tough to juggle, and may not be enough to meet salary expectations. Is it all about the money? Annual base salaries are just one piece of the puzzle when recruiting or retaining valuable talent in an AEC firm. Almost one-quarter, 22 percent of Competitive Compensation Webinar attendees responded affirmatively when asked if non-monetary benefits were providing a suitable alternative to competitive salaries/bonuses/raises; and while 50 percent answered in the negative, almost all respondents agreed that benefits, especially as it relates to flexible schedules and remote

Christina Zweig Niehues




Interested in learning more

about the projects and ideas driving the AEC industry forward? Learn more with Civil+Structural Engineer Media.


work options, are very important to today’s workforce. Seventy-one percent of firms in Zweig Group’s “ AEC Workplace of the Future Survey” ( the survey Report can be read here ) reported their firm has changed its remote or flexible work options since March 2020, and many people are now working differently than pre-March 2020. In Zweig Group’s second Driven by Data Webinar: Recruitment and Retention, 65 percent of attendees reported that remote or flexible work options have helped their firm’s ability to hire. Adding to this, more than 23 percent of respondents who currently have remote and flexible work options, stated they would consider looking for a new job at a different firm if these options were made unavailable to them. Even best in class firms are experiencing these same challenges. While the vast majority of employees working at Zweig Group’s 2021 Best Firms To Work For Award - winning firms say they are well satisfied with flexible work hours, these employees are often less satisfied with compensation for extraordinary effort, parental leave, tuition reimbursement, and mentoring programs. Firms looking to go the extra mile to recruit and retain with added benefits would be wise to carefully consider these areas in addition to their total compensation and work-from-home policies. The next generation entering the AEC workforce has had both an upbringing and educational experience that is vastly different from any generation before. While many Zweig Group clients are already reporting increased starting salary expectations for recent graduates, these individuals also have vastly different expectations for policies, work environments, and team structure. In response to this, Zweig Group has launched two brand-new surveys – unlike anything we’ve ever investigated before. The first survey is aimed at new hires (those with fewer than three years of experience in the industry) and investigates both salary expectations and attitudes toward workplace policies, firm culture, leadership, and factors that impact productivity, creativity, and motivation. The second survey asks similar questions, but is aimed at those who are either about to graduate or have just graduated and are considering entering the AEC industry. Both surveys provide survey-takers with a free report of aggregate responses as well as special offers on other Zweig Group resources. The results of these important studies will be imperative in shaping the AEC workplace of the future and will help guide current industry leaders in making some of the most pressing business management decisions of this era. Christina Zweig Niehues is Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce. She can be reached at

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Shirley Che | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Group-1030428053722402 Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year). Free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2022, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

AEC WORKFORCE OF THE FUTURE SURVEYS Zweig Group’s newest surveys investigate salary expectations and attitudes toward workplace policies, firm culture, leadership, and more. If you have fewer than three years’ experience in AEC, please fill out the first survey . If you know someone who is about to graduate or has just graduated and is considering entering AEC, please share the second survey.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A firm-wide realignment

Huge organizational milestones can be reached when you step away from your day- to-day operations to evaluate your firm’s past and plan for the future.

F ounded in 1996 by Karen Purcell, P.E., PK Electrical has grown from a small local Reno business to a nationally recognized, thriving electrical engineering firm with two offices and a staff of 33 talented engineers, designers, and support personnel. As we celebrate 26 years in business, we attribute our growth and success to our commitment to high-quality designs and providing an exceptional experience for our clients. Our focus is to cultivate trusted partnerships and we are beyond proud of the fact that we continue to serve the same clients that started the firm more than two decades ago.

Amanda Hartman

PK Electrical’s managing principals understand that company culture and building a cohesive team is the foundation for employee satisfaction and retention as well as the overall growth of the firm. Although we live out our core values of trust, integrity, accountability, enthusiasm, and adaptability on a daily basis, we find it is essential to revisit our values once per year as a group to reenergize and remind ourselves why these attributes are so important to us as individuals and as a collective group. PK Electrical participates in an annual company alignment retreat, bringing together our Reno, Nevada, and Denver, Colorado, office staff to bond as a team and ensure a united vision. Zweig Group’s strategic planning team led our most recent alignment treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada, to focus on planning for our future. In preparation for the team alignment event, a

survey was issued to a list of our clients as well as all PK Electrical staff members. Zweig Group collected and compiled all feedback and presented to management and staff the data yielded from responses. We knew that in order to be the most trusted partner and be truly authentic to our core values, we needed to be open to hearing it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Clients and staff alike provided useful information regarding their experiences with PK Electrical. We were beyond pleased to find overwhelmingly positive feedback, yet there were still a few areas of improvement suggested. And with our newfound awareness, we now have the opportunity to make PK Electrical an even better firm for our clients and our employees.

Hannah Rico

Jules Ackerson




TRANSACTIONS W.E. O’NEIL CONSTRUCTION CO. HAS ACQUIRED DCA CONSTRUCTION Zweig Group announced its client W.E. O’Neil Construction Co. has acquired DCA Construction, a prominent general contracting firm based in Austin, Texas. The acquisition marks an exciting opportunity for W.E. O’Neil to formally expand its operations into the Texas market, where it has completed several projects for long-time clients over the last two decades. Zweig Group advised W.E. O’Neil through the acquisition. The deal team included Zweig Group managing principal Jamie Claire Kiser; advisor Justin Ramirez; and senior analyst Andy Chavez, CM&AA. “We are grateful to have been a part of bringing these two outstanding and reputable companies together,” Ramirez said. “With W.E. O’Neil being an ESOP, the primary beneficiaries of this combination

of entities will be the employees of DCA who will now become owners of the company for which they have dedicated their careers. We look forward to seeing the impact on the Austin market that results from the combination of more than 110 years of construction experience.” W.E. O’Neil Construction has seen steady growth since its founding in 1925. Today, the firm is a 500-person, 100 percent employee-owned company. W.E. O’Neil’s award-winning family of construction companies is recognized as an industry leader. Its longevity can be attributed to its excellent staff of professionals, its integrity, its commitment to customer satisfaction, and its ability to embrace technology. W.E. O’Neil’s combination of the financial strength of a large national contractor and the responsiveness of a small company brings the best of both worlds to its clients.

DCA has grown significantly since its founding in 2006. Led by Randy Don Carlos and Kevin Foltermann, the firm performs a mix of negotiated and lump sum work, much of which is relationship- based with repeat customers. DCA’s primary focus is on commercial construction in and around Austin. “We’re thrilled to welcome DCA to the company and look forward to combining the reputation and relationships they’ve established in the Austin market with our expertise and financial resources to create many new opportunities,” stated Brian Ramsay, CEO of O’Neil Industries, W.E. O’Neil’s parent company. As the construction market grows in Texas, the acquisition presents exciting possibilities for the firm’s employee- owners, in terms of project and career opportunities, as well as expanded depth and capabilities to serve W.E. O’Neil’s clients in Texas and nationwide.

Together, we brainstormed our company’s current trajectory and how we all envisioned the company in the future. From this we were able to establish our new vision statement: “Visions achieved. Communities empowered.” Through additional deliberation and conceptualization, we decided that we are defining the standard in many ways – in electrical engineering and low voltage design expertise, in client experience, in loyalty and professionalism, in employee satisfaction, and in company culture. From this, our mission statement was clear: “Defining the standard.” Having the opportunity to gather in-person as a group to bond, socialize, and brainstorm shows the commitment to ongoing success and improvement by our firm’s leadership. Huge organizational milestones can be reached when we step away from our day-to-day operations to evaluate our past and plan for the future, especially when we allow every team member the chance to have a voice and sense of ownership in the firm’s strategic growth. Amanda Hartman is business development and marketing lead at PK Electrical. Contact her at Hannah Rico is a marketing coordinator at PK Electrical. Contact her at Jules Ackerson is a business development and marketing professional at PK Electrical. Contact her at


The results of the survey were reviewed and discussed as a group to facilitate transparency and teamwork, and action plans for client follow-up were created. Four strategic initiatives were established and presented to the group: growth, operations, clients, and people. We broke out into smaller cohorts to discuss and brainstorm ideas for improvement in all four areas, including input from staff in all levels and positions in the company. We included goals and specific action plans to achieve the items we listed and established set timelines for completion. We found that the varied perspectives of employees in different departments enriched the conversation and overall outcome of the exercise. Next, the team reviewed our current mission and vision statements created with the inception of the firm in 1996, and reviewed most recently in the mid 2000s. Although we still stand by the original messages, we agreed that it was time to update and simplify our statements. With our core values reestablished, we wanted to ensure that our mission and vision statements captured the same sentiment. We challenged each person to state their “why,” or their purpose for doing what they do. With the help of Zweig Group’s strategic planning team, we were able to hear from all voices in the firm and solidify a more marketable and succinct vision and mission statement.

ZWEIG GROUP’S STRATEGIC PLANNING SERVICES Firms with strategic plans are 12 percent more profitable. Zweig Group’s strategic planning advisors get your team thinking strategically. Zweig Group’s purpose is to elevate the industry through driving purpose and performance for your organization. A partnership with Zweig Group means you benefit from our cumulative efforts over the last 35 years. Zweig Group’s advisors work directly with you to define and then achieve your vision, mission, values, and critical goals and objectives. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Rethinking retail: Larson Design Group E-commerce has undergone big changes in recent years, and with the effects of COVID-19 still being felt, some of those changes are accelerating or taking on new forms completely.


I t’s no secret that e-commerce has experienced enormous popularity and accessibility in the last decade. Behind the scenes of that great, nebulous concept of “online shopping,” however, massive shifts in how all those products get to consumers have been ongoing – and with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt, some of those changes are accelerating or taking on a new form completely. Founded in 1986, Larson Design Group is a 100 percent employee-owned national architecture, engineering, and consulting firm with 15 offices in seven states. LDG’s years of experience in every facet of multi-disciplined retail engineering services as well as the light industrial, warehouse, and distribution center fields uniquely positions the firm to deliver innovative, efficient solutions to its clients. For a closer look at some of the changes we’re all experiencing and how LDG is meeting the challenges they present, Rob Gehr, LDG’s vice president of retail design and buildings; Dan Manns, LDG’s director of building engineering; and Alex Ramon, LDG’s director of retail design, and office leader for LDG’s Phoenix office sat down for a discussion on retail and e-commerce.

A CONVERSATION WITH LDG ABOUT E-COMMERCE. LDG: How has the landscape of this industry changed, especially with the recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? Rob: In general, a lot of commerce has moved online in recent years, which isn’t really news to anyone – we can shop on our phones or tablets now for almost anything. To attract and retain customers, however, companies are trying to master the aspect of offering fast or one-day shipping, and that’s where the infrastructure has to continue to grow in order to meet the demand. The companies that have been able to master that have seen enormous success in the marketplace. Of course, we all saw online commerce really explode during the pandemic, but not just for consumer goods – people who had never had a need to get groceries or prescriptions delivered were suddenly looking for those options. Those companies or chains that could afford to do it had to convert very quickly some of their square footage to fulfill online orders. That specific aspect is something we’ve been seeing in retail for a few years but was really accelerated by

Rob Gehr

Dan Manns

Alex Ramon



the pandemic: footprints of stores getting smaller and companies converting existing space into these mini distribution centers. I think it’s something that will stick around in the long-term because it enables the company to offer the convenience of picking up or shopping in-store. ”Footprints of stores are getting smaller and companies converting existing space into these mini distribution centers. I think it’s something that will stick around in the long- term.” Dan: I think we saw the industry jump five years in 18 months due to demand from the pandemic and we saw a lot of companies push into the e-commerce space. It affected brick-and-mortar stores to a large extent, but I will say it’s not the end of them completely. There’s still a need and a desire for things like restaurants, for example, and consumers need a place to pick up purchases, and sometimes there’s still no substitute for trying on jeans or a pair of shoes before you buy them. But going forward, the footprints and layouts of those physical locations might look and function differently than before. LDG: What are some of LDG’s areas of focus as it relates to these changes? Dan: It’s mostly what consumers don’t see – all the moving parts of warehousing and distribution that make it possible for a purchase to make it to you in a day or two. Those delivery times keep getting shorter as more and more companies want to be the “fastest” option, and it’s putting a lot of pressure on the companies that provide those warehouse and delivery services. That’s where the AEC industry factors in: We look at the physical infrastructure, the buildings that those companies are working out of, and figure out how to make them more efficient and better accommodate the increasing demand. For example, let’s say that a shipping company now has more packages that need to go out same-day or next-day – square footage for that area of the facility must be taken away from areas that fulfill longer shipping times. Loading and unloading areas will need to be larger and longer. There will be more employees in that section. How can

that be done in a way that most efficiently utilizes the existing facility? What needs to be changed, installed, or removed? How can the company make sure it’s safe for the employees? It’s everything about the building itself, down to things like HVAC considerations – there might be a need for different A/C systems for facilities in hot and dry locations, like the southwest, to cool these newer, larger areas. Alex: Dan mentioned shoes, which brings up an interesting phenomenon in the e-commerce world. When ordering online, the customer does not have the ability to try on shoes or clothes for size. So, what a lot of consumers do is order the item in the size and color they think they need, plus they order the same item in one size below and one size above, in the hopes that one of those three will fit. With free return shipping, there is no cost to the consumer. Imagine what this does to the seller when it is not uncommon for two-thirds of their orders to be returned. The reverse logistics is incredible. Materials must be received, repackaged properly, restocked, and put back into active inventory in the system. It’s a lot of handling and effort, requiring personnel, equipment, and space. When it affects their space, that’s an opportunity for LDG. Dan: On another note, all these changes to e-commerce also tie into the alternative fuels services that LDG provides. A lot of companies are looking at significant increases in vehicle wear-and-tear and especially fuel consumption, and are interested in converting their fleets to options like compressed natural gas. We have extensive experience not only in building new compressed natural gas fueling facilities – including the largest such facility in the country – but also converting existing ones, which is an attractive option for these companies. “I think we saw the industry jump five years in 18 months due to demand from the pandemic and we saw a lot of companies push into the e-commerce space.” LDG: How does this help us or set us apart as an architecture & engineering firm? Rob: LDG has a lot of clients that we’ve been working with for a long time – in some

HEADQUARTERS: Williamsport, PA


■ ■ Commercial ■ ■ Community ■ ■ Education

■ ■ Energy ■ ■ Federal ■ ■ Healthcare ■ ■ Light industrial ■ ■ Retail ■ ■ State and local government ■ ■ Transportation ■ ■ Water/wastewater SERVICES: ■ ■ Alternative delivery ■ ■ Architecture and interior design ■ ■ Civil engineering ■ ■ Construction services

■ ■ Environmental ■ ■ Geotechnical engineering

■ ■ GIS/asset management ■ ■ Landscape architecture ■ ■ M/E/P engineering ■ ■ Permitting planning ■ ■ Structural engineering ■ ■ Survey and mapping ■ ■ Transportation engineering


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

MAY 23, 2022, ISSUE 1442


BUSINESS NEWS SEVAN NAMED TO ASSOCIATED BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS’ 2022 TOP PERFORMERS LIST, NO. 1 RETAIL CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTOR Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, Inc. has been named No. 1 on the Associated Builders and Contractors Retail Construction Contractor list and No. 57 on the Top Performers List. Sevan, a global leader in innovative design, program management, construction services and data analytics, strategically and safely drives unique programs through every step of a client’s project lifecycle. “Thanks to our dedicated team members who went the extra mile for Sevan to earn these accolades,” said Jim Evans, Sevan’s president and CEO. “And thanks to ABC for all the valuable ways you contribute to the construction industry.” The 2022 Top Performers list ranks ABC commercial and industrial contractor members that build long-lasting, high quality construction projects. The rankings highlight contractors that have earned ABC’s Accredited Quality Contractor credential for commitment to corporate responsibility in quality, safety, talent management – including diversity and inclusion initiatives – education and community relations. “Sevan invests in and attributes its success to its people, and its value proposition gives their team members purpose, delivers quality to their clients and strengthens their bottom line,” said Michael Bellaman, president and CEO of ABC. As an ABC Top Performer, Sevan demonstrates sustainable business growth, competitive compensation, robust benefit and retirement packages and a continued commitment to world- class safety in addition to workforce

development, education and creating career opportunities. “Sevan is excited to be named as a 2022 ABC Top Performer and the No. 1 Top Performer in Retail Construction,” said Steve Kuhn, Sevan’s executive vice president. “We are grateful for ABC’s focus on quality and safety in the delivery of projects and programs in the vast and fast-paced multi-site market.” In 2021, Sevan earned the Safety Training Evaluation Process Safety Management System Diamond level from ABC – an important achievement within ABC’s STEP. It marked the third consecutive year that Sevan earned the Diamond level assessment. As a result of this honor, Sevan become eligible to apply for ABC’s Accredited Quality Contractor program. “We are thrilled to achieve STEP Diamond level through ABC,” said John Garcia, vice president of safety at Sevan. “The STEP process allows us to gain invaluable insight into what we are doing well within our safety program, and also see where we can improve. This achievement is key to ensure Sevan continues to elevate safety, stay compliant and, above all – keep our people safe.” Since the organization’s inception in 2011, Sevan has achieved an exemplary safety record. Sevan has also received individual safety awards from numerous clients and offers an internal Excellence in Safety recognition program for team members who go above and beyond to set a high bar for safety. In 2021, Sevan was recognized as an Employee-Rated Great Place to Work® for the eighth consecutive year and ranked on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for the fourth consecutive year. Also in 2021, Sevan ranked No. 21 on Engineering

News-Record’s Program Management Firms, No. 44 on ENR’s Top 100 Construction Management-for- Fee Firms and earned the Gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award. In 2020, Sevan ranked No. 124 on the Financial Times FT 1000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Top 50 Sevan helps iconic, global brands optimize their multi-site construction and facility programs in the U.S. and internationally. Sevan is headquartered near Chicago in Downers Grove, Illinois, with more than 400 employees and has an international office in London. The vision of Sevan Multi-Site Solutions is to be the best in the world at delivering innovative design, program management, construction services and data analytics to organizations with multiple sites. Sevan has a passion for sustaining people, the environment and its clients’ businesses. Sevan helps iconic global brands, including 7-Eleven, Albertsons, Amtrak, BP, Chipotle, DaVita, HEB, Jiffy Lube, Kroger, McDonald’s, Office Depot, Popeyes, Starbucks, Walgreens Walmart, and Zaxby’s. Sevan rolls out multi-site initiatives efficiently, predictably and transparently. Applying breakthrough technology solutions, Sevan optimizes construction of new builds, rebuilds, remodels, and renovations. Sevan has licensed architects in 49 states as well as D.C., Canadian provinces, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Sevan has professional engineers on staff and general contractor licenses in more than 25 states. Since Sevan’s inception in 2011, the team has refreshed more than 21,000 retail stores, 14,000 restaurants and 28,000 healthcare sites. The team has also completed more than 30,000 surveys, totaling more than 700 million square feet.

delivery companies in the country has really enhanced that understanding. These are all benefits of being a one-stop shop AEC firm: We can cover all aspects of what seem like daunting challenges to an industry. “A lot of commerce has moved online in recent years, which isn’t really news to anyone – we can shop on our phones or tablets now for almost anything.”


cases 25 years – so in addition to what’s happening with the retail industry overall, we have ground-floor knowledge of any specific changes they’re facing. We’re working with them from the beginning to the end of their supply chain. It gives us a unique understanding of the evolution of the industry as well as the client, and we can keep up with the changes that are being thrown at us. Also being involved in that “last-mile” distribution aspect, as Dan mentioned, is a unique advantage for us – working with some of the largest shipping and

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




The communication quarterback

Calling the ideal plays will only work for you if your team understands the role that they each play in executing.

W hat is it about Aaron Rodgers that makes him such an effective quarterback? He has a cannon for an arm, throws well from the pocket and on the move, and is elusive. All of these are essential qualities, but his decision-making ability is what makes him so effective. More specifically, he can identify the situation he is in, quickly query his available options, and make a good decision. The decision is only effective because he can communicate concisely and clearly to get everyone on the team on the same page before initiating the action. It all happens so quickly that those of us watching at home barely notice, but it is his superpower.

Justin Smith, P.E.

When working with project managers, I often hear that communication is among the most sought-after areas of development, and for a good reason. Professionals across the industry report communication as a challenge within their organization. Multiple studies have found that workplace managers are generally dissatisfied with more junior staff’s communication and teamwork skills. The impact of poor communication is considerable. Consider that, on average, 7.5 percent of revenue is lost on each project due to poor communication. When you look at a $10 million firm, recapturing just 25 percent of that lost revenue as additional profit would add nearly $200,000 to your

bottom line. Sounds great, but how can you do it? It starts by shifting your approach to communication. When working with project managers, I often ask, “What is the most effective form of communication?” The answer is overwhelmingly text, either via email, chat, or text message. Why is that? When pressed, project managers indicate that text is preferred because it allows refining language, “wordsmithing,” and laser-focusing on choosing the right words to communicate their intent. The challenge with this line of thinking is that it is purely one-directional. This

See JUSTIN SMITH, page 10



ON THE MOVE RS&H NAMES AMY DAVIS AS NEW CFO RS&H announced that Amy Davis has joined the national AEC firm as its executive vice president and CFO following the retirement of former CFO Holt Graves. Davis brings more than 25 years of experience in global business and finance leadership across diverse industries, including engineering and consulting, retail, manufacturing and Big 4 public accounting. Davis has extensive experience spanning controllership, strategic planning, operations finance, treasury and capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and enterprise risk management. Most recently, she served as CFO for Michael Baker International. “It’s an honor to be selected as the next CFO of RS&H,” Davis said. “I’m very excited

about the opportunity to join a company with such a strong mission, reputation, culture and depth of technical talent. RS&H is well respected in the industry, and I look forward to helping the company continue its growth trajectory.” As CFO, Davis will work with senior management and the Board to develop finance and business strategies that further strengthen RS&H’s growth and position as an industry leader. “At RS&H, we work hard every day to deliver exceptional service to our clients and drive positive impact in our communities, all with the overarching goal of elevating quality of life for all,” said RS&H CEO Dave Sweeney. “We chose Amy to join our executive leadership team because she is a proven, performance- driven and inspiring leader who will drive

positive impact within RS&H and for the clients and communities we serve.” Davis’ first objective is to listen and engage with all of RS&H’s internal and external stakeholders. “I look forward to working alongside my RS&H team members to develop and implement strategies that deliver long- term value for our key stakeholders and the communities they live in with the continued exceptional service that RS&H is known for,” she said. Founded in 1941, RS&H is one of the nation’s leading AEC firms. RS&H’s market-based, specialized experience empowers associates to deliver time-tested insights coupled with a comprehensive mastery of industry- specific financing and delivery methods.

any questions with that style of communication. When working with project managers, we encourage asking questions that will invite reflection to evaluate understanding. Instead of those questions above, try, “How will you approach tackling this task?” or, “What is the first thing you will do to execute?” This will allow your counterpart to demonstrate understanding of your message by laying out how they will approach it. Suppose you are talking about designing floor framing. The person says the first thing they will do is open a foundation design program. In that case, you might have an understanding gap. Similar to how Aaron Rodgers makes a call at the line and looks across to his receiver for a nod of affirmation, be the project quarterback that makes sure your calls are understood by your team. This will limit miscommunication on your projects and, hopefully, recapture some of that 7.5 percent of your project revenue that is leaking out. A good decision is only as good as it is communicated. Calling the ideal plays will only work for you if your team understands the role that they each play in executing. As a project leader, ensuring your team understands expectations within the project environment is your responsibility. It all hinges on your ability to make good decisions and make sure everyone on the field has the same understanding of the play you are calling. Be more like Aaron, and let the onlookers scratch their heads and ask, “How do they do it? It looks so easy.” Justin Smith is a principal at Start 2 Rise, LLC, Zweig Group’s strategic training and advisory partner in project management and leadership development. He can be reached at justin@

JUSTIN SMITH , from page 9

approach makes the underlying false assumption that good communication is about delivering information only and that communication efficacy is limited only by the language skills of the communicator. “As a project leader, ensuring your team understands expectations within the project environment is your responsibility. It all hinges on your ability to make good decisions and make sure everyone on the field has the same understanding of the play you are calling.” Excellent communication is about understanding and being understood, not only declaring your viewpoint on a topic. The first step to being a better communicator is to consider that your communication is only good if it is understood. Good communicators constantly evaluate the uptake of information by inviting the other party into the discussion to confirm understanding. This starts with asking questions and demonstrating an authentic desire to make sure that you understand their viewpoint and that your perspective is understood by them. That is pretty difficult to do with email. This commonly comes into play for project managers when assigning tasks to team members. The project manager gives a long, deliberate explanation of a task, and then asks, “Got it?” or, “Any questions?” Chances are good that you will not get

PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS This is a modern training for project managers led by a panel of experts, backed by proven research on how to best train project managers to be more effective. This course provides people-focused, science and data driven practical skills to help project leaders harness the power of their team and to create a better client experience. This course provides practical techniques that can be immediately implemented for a positive impact on any AEC team or business. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




I have worked with business owners for more than 42 years, and I have started a half-dozen businesses on my own or with partners, bought several, and became an owner in four or five others. Business ownership can be one of the most rewarding things for any person to participate in. Things that made me happy as an owner

Many people who don’t have their own businesses think business owners are only interested in making money. While some business owners are, in fact, like that, most are not. There are many other motivators for them, and a variety of other aspects of business ownership that make them happy. Here are some of the things that made me the happiest as a business owner: 1. Being able to create good jobs. There is little that’s more gratifying than being able to offer a good job to someone who may not have that opportunity if not for you. More than once, we hired people who didn’t have the degree they were supposed to have to do a certain job, or people who had just gotten divorced and badly needed a job, or people who were mistreated at their prior job and were beaten down. When you own the business, you are ultimately in control of who works there. Knowing that you are helping people out by giving them a job that allows them to afford to support themselves and their families is very rewarding. Seeing all those people with

unique skill sets come together to do something collaboratively just gets me excited! 2. Seeing people who worked in my business become highly successful. I think back to one case years ago when we hired a young fellow who was just graduating from the MBA program at Boston College. He was Irish and grew up in a very modest household, got his engineering degree in his home country and then came over here and had to work as a painter and sleep in a construction trailer until he could get up enough cash for an apartment. He was driving a $200 car when we interviewed him. A short time after we hired him, he had a new BMW company car, and a few years after that, he was married to someone from a well-known family and owned a four-bedroom house in a prestigious area. Today, he owns his own business and is highly successful by any standard. He is obviously an exceptional individual, but witnessing his and many other’s rise to success are some of my proudest accomplishments.

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE NELSON-RUDIE TRANSITIONS TO 100 PERCENT EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP, APPOINTS FOUR NEW PRINCIPALS AND ANNOUNCES THE RETIREMENT OF JOHN BRISON, PE Nelson-Rudie & Associates, a consulting engineering firm, completed a transition from a five- person ownership model to an ESOP organization. As part of the transition, Nelson-Rudie appointed four new principals and announced the retirement of John Brison, PE, principal and mechanical engineer. Newly appointed principals include Eric Nelson (structural practice lead), Eric Nebelung (mechanical practice lead), Joseph Tupy (electrical practice lead),

and Gregory Lindberg (refrigeration practice lead). Nelson-Rudie’s new principals join Michael Woehrle, Joseph Pearce, Frederic Decourt, and Jeffrey Piehl in the management expansion of the company. For Nelson-Rudie president Michael Woehrle, this transition ensures the legacy and longevity of the 46-year- old company. “Our employees are our greatest assets. We are proud to name them employee-owners and excited to continue the management expansion by appointing four new principals to the company.” John Brison’s decision to retire after a

rewarding career of more than 40 years in the consulting engineering industry will undoubtedly be felt for years to come. His boundless energy, engineering expertise, and most of all his friendship and camaraderie will be missed. This transition to an ESOP organization, plus the addition of new principals, strengthens the company’s position for continued growth and success. Nelson-Rudie & Associates, Inc. is a consulting engineering firm offering structural, mechanical, electrical and refrigeration services to public and private clients throughout the U.S. and Canada.

or customer. But that isn’t true. Sometimes, when you have a potential client or customer who clearly has the wrong idea about how they can deal with you or one of your people, it is very rewarding to know you don’t need them and can say “no thanks” to their business. And when the mistreatment involves one of your people, and they (your employee) see you care more about them than the revenue you will lose, they are always more than grateful to you. That is a good feeling! 7. Being recognized by people in the community as someone who is contributing to making the community a better place. Being in the AEC business, in particular, makes this easy. But any business owner who has a business that creates good jobs and does something to make the community more prosperous, more desirable, safer, or more beautiful can enjoy this important aspect of business ownership! 8. Having enough control over my life that I could put my family first over my job when that was necessary. This has happened to me more than once. It was particularly important in the late ‘90s, when my first wife had a complete breakdown and was addicted to drugs and alcohol, that I could – even though we were crazy busy – put my kids first ahead of my business. Of course, I was lucky I was the primary shareholder of the company, and that I had really competent (and nice) people who could step up and run the place while I was either distracted or not there. I am very grateful for that. I am also grateful that my business ownership afforded me the opportunity to put my family first during that time. Each of these things contributed to my happiness as a business owner. I think business ownership is one of the most rewarding things any person can participate in if they really want to. Of course it involves some sacrifices. But the rewards far outweighed the costs for me and for most other business owners I have known and worked with over the years! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

3. Being able to make it possible for other people to become business owners. There is little more gratifying than being able to offer the opportunity and rewards of business ownership to someone else who may not have that if not for you. Being able to make it affordable and finance all of that, and then see this highly motivated and conscientious individual reap the rewards of their sacrifices and live the “American dream” is really exciting. 4. Being able to do something differently or better than what other businesses were doing. This was a huge motivator and reward for me in all of my businesses. In fact, that was a primary reason for starting them in the first place! In every case, we did what we did in new ways or to a higher standard than existing providers. I don’t think I’m unique in this regard – most business owners aspire to do this even if they don’t always succeed. And when you do (succeed), and get positive feedback from your clients and customers, little is more gratifying. 5. Being able to fix something that went wrong for a client or customer because I controlled the resources necessary to do so. This is another aspect of being a business owner that I loved. Sometimes things go wrong. But we always did our best to rectify the situation immediately. I remember one case of a completely redone house we sold to some really nice people. A couple years later, I was driving by and saw paint peeling on some trim boards. I got my painter over there to fix it before the buyer ever said anything to us about it. They are still appreciative of that. I’m sure I could probably cite dozens of cases where we went overboard in one of my businesses to fix something that made a client or customer unhappy, and I always thought that if I had worked for a large company that was only concerned about short-term profits, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that. 6. Being able to say “no” to a client who mistreated me or one of my people. Conventional wisdom says that no one who owns a business likes turning away a client

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12

Made with FlippingBook Annual report