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Primary work location

This new award is the strongest way to differentiate your firm from the competition. Client ExperienceAward

F I R M I N D E X Ardurra Group, Inc. ...............................................4 Croy Engineering ................................................10 Dewberry .................................................................. 12 Gunda Corporation ...............................................4 LaBella Associates .............................................. 6 Ware Malcomb ........................................................ 2 MO R E A R T I C L E S n KEVIN JOHNS: How to gain a competitive edge in 2022 Page 3 n Cultural steward: Steven Metzger Page 6 n RUSSELL MOOREHEAD: Dos and don’ts of business development Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Accountability Page 11 Zweig Group asked more than 10,000 employees in its Best Firms To Work For survey where their primary work location was in the first half of 2021. Overall, 48 percent of employees said they worked primarily at the office , 43 percent said they worked primarily at home , and the remaining 9 percent worked primarily in the field . When analyzed by department, the focus on field work for those with construction- related roles is evident relative to other roles. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

C ar and Driver’s 10Best. An Oscar. A five-star rating on Amazon. As consumers, we often look to third parties to help us decide what to buy – especially when the options are many, and differences are hard to spot. Today’s buyers of AEC services face an increasing number of options. National competitors are everywhere. Firms one state over have put your state in their strategic growth plan. You may have growth goals of your own – often with new clients, or in new markets and geographies. You know if you could just win the first project with a new client you could show them how much better you are and secure a long-term backlog of work into the future. AEC firm leaders employ a variety of strategies to win and grow new clients, but they’ve never had the benefit of being able to point to their “10 Best” award. There’s no nationally televised awards ceremony where everyone can see how great they are. We don’t even have a marketplace like Amazon to see how others have rated our performance. We are living in a “seal of approval” society and, until now, haven’t had a way to give our buyers this critical decision-making information. The same people who are choosing between your proposal and three others are going on Amazon that evening and filtering to “four stars and up” when they shop. What if you could show them your four (or five) stars? Research from PwC shows 86 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. When we look just like our competitors, often the smallest difference in fee becomes the deciding factor. Price your proposal 2 percent too high and you lose. Firms resort to testimonials and references to justify their value, but every firm can secure references and testimonials from their best clients. The firm 2 percent cheaper than yours has testimonials too. Firms need better data and visibility to justify their value proposition. Buyers have been trained to trust third-party ratings and reviews – we do it on Amazon, Yelp, Angie’s List, and more. That’s why Zweig Group and Client Savvy have partnered to bring you the Excellence in Client Experience Award (CXA). Published at, we are recognizing firms that solicit real client feedback from a majority of their client base. The results are audited to be statistically significant and provide a credible third-party source to validate a firm’s excellence.

Ryan Suydam

Blake Godwin




BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF REINALDO GOMEZ TO REGIONAL DIRECTOR IN MIAMI OFFICE International design firm Ware Malcomb announced Reinaldo Gomez has been promoted to regional director in the firm’s Miami office. Gomez is responsible for the growth and operations of the Miami office. A registered architect, Gomez has diverse experience including industrial, office, retail, multifamily, airports and education projects for commercial and public clients. Gomez joined Ware Malcomb in 2016, as a regional manager, and has been instrumental in the growth of the Miami office. His 31 years of architectural design and leadership experience have helped Ware Malcomb expand its capacity and capabilities on the East Coast. In addition, he has helped diversify the firm’s Miami portfolio with projects in the healthcare and e-commerce markets and recently completed the design of a museum exhibition space in Miami.

“Rei is a true steward of theWare Malcomb culture and has helped us build a strong team in theSouth Floridamarket. He’s been instrumental in opening new opportunities for us, especially in the cold storage market,” said Jason Dooley, principal of Ware Malcomb’s Southeast region. “We appreciate his dedication and look forward to his continued contributions.” Gomez holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Miami and is a member of the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards. He is an active member of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association. Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is a 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.

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


While anyone can be a reviewer on Yelp, CXA reviewers are people whose experience and opinions are especially valuable because they understand what it means to have received exceptional service/experience in your very specific field. No one knows how excellent your firm is more than your clients. Your clients are the informed buyers choosing you over the many competitive options. By entering the CXA, firms receive both detailed insights to their clients’ perceptions and marketing tools to authentically tell potential new clients how great your firm is. Firms collecting and responding to client feedback are twice as likely to be recommended by their clients. They are three times more likely to be in the top quartile of revenue growth. Universal Engineering Services, No. 1 growth firm on Zweig Group’s Hot Firms list last year, has maintained client feedback scores in the top 1 percent of the industry for more than five consecutive years. Other top-performing firms use their client feedback as a tool to attract new clients, like SME-USA – a firm that showcases its excellence as a tool to sustain a more than 80 percent proposal win rate. If your firm has growth as part of its strategic plan, leadership needs to knowwhat your clients think. Client sentiment provides an accurate predictor of growth potential while providing tools to attract clients (and talent). Learn more about how your firm can use the Client Experience Award to stand out from your competition at . Ryan Suydam is chief experience officer at Client Savvy. Connect with him on LinkedIn . Blake Godwin is president and partner at Client Savvy. Connect with him on LinkedIn .

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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.

CLIENT EXPERIENCE AWARD This new award is the strongest way to differentiate your firm from the competition. Entrants will receive detailed, third-party validated client feedback. Winning firms will have a dedicated profile page on the Client Experience Awards site recognizing their achievement for use in marketing, proposals, and promotions. Winners will be recognized at the CXps conference in May and will receive their awards at Zweig Group’s ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala in September.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A EC firms have faced a flurry of changes in the past few years. From tax laws to workforce trends to COVID-19 impacts, leaders must manage increasing amounts of uncertainty. To gain some clarity, we spoke to Jamie Claire Kiser – a managing principal at Zweig Group – about trends affecting the AEC industry. Despite the uncertainty and impact caused by potential tax law changes, inflation, and the pandemic, forecasts are strong overall for the AEC industry for 2022. How to gain a competitive edge in 2022

Kevin Johns

WHERE THE AEC INDUSTRY STANDS IN 2022. In recent years, an economic growth cycle drove record backlogs while increasing profitability. Before COVID-19 there was a 10-year high, and by the end of last year metrics were back where they were, if not better, according to Kiser. Demand for AEC services is high with a stable outlook into the future. To successfully capture and deliver that work, industry leaders need to look more closely at their operations. Here are some of the key factors to watch in 2022: ■ ■ Private equity participation is on the rise, shifting focus from revenue to cash flow ■ ■ Higher valuations are attracting more merger and acquisition suitors

■ ■ Inflation is triggering adjustments in contracts, sales, and supplier relationships ■ ■ Pending tax changes are driving a higher pace of transaction activity and deal urgency ■ ■ Federal contracts through the infrastructure bill will influence backlog AEC STAFFING CONSIDERATIONS FOR 2022. Referring back to the economic drivers, there’s only so much cost containment you can do. At some point you have to focus on how to keep your people and compete for top talent. In the year ahead, many firms will need to address the human side of the business. Concentration of ownership and a pipeline of younger talent are big concerns.

See KEVIN JOHNS, page 4



TRANSACTIONS ARDURRA GROUP, INC. ACQUIRES GUNDA CORPORATION, LLC Ardurra Group, Inc. has acquired and merged with Gunda Corporation, a transportation and public works civil engineering firm based in Houston. Ardurra Group is an Engineering News- Record Top 500 firm providing consulting and engineering services to public and private entities throughout the U.S. GUNDA will operate as Gunda Corporation, an Ardurra Group Company, from its offices inTexas andwill operate as a platform for transportation engineering services in the central U.S. Ardurra’s President and CEO, Ernesto Aguilar, explained, “We are excited to partner with GUNDA in entering the Texas transportation market. We feel we have found a great partner who shares

a similar culture, market strategy and strong focus on client service. We look forward to continuing to build a special company with Gunda.” Founder and president of GUNDA, Ramesh Gunda, commented, “We are extremely happy to join the Ardurra family as the next step of our company’s evolution and growth. Our team members, clients, and community have always been our priorities and we believe theywill all benefit tremendously from this partnership with Ardurra, its national presence, and the care we share for the people and communities we serve.” Rajesh Tanwani, senior vice president of GUNDA said, “We are excited about the opportunity to step up to the national stage to help clients meet their

needs, especially with respect to our successful transportation, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and Smart Cities practices.” Christopher Lee, co-founder and managing partner at RTC Partners added “This transaction takes us one step closer to achieving our strategic ambitions of building a national transportation practice. GUNDA has a great client base in a fast-growing market that will complement our expansion goals for the coming years.” Ardurra Group, Inc. operates as a portfolio company of RTC Partners, LP. RTC Partners is a NewYork-based private equity firm that partners with managers of middle market companies to unlock growth opportunities.

understand their businesses much more intimately. While 2022 generally looks good for growth, firms should be aware of these potential growth barriers and how to manage them: ■ ■ Failure to pursue proportional lines of credit to support growth ■ ■ Chasing newwork at the expense of invoicing and a healthy go/no-go process ■ ■ Missing out on first-mover advantages in new construction technology and materials ■ ■ Lack of resource and inflation planning on long-term, multi-year contracts ■ ■ Inattention to potential tax basis changes in the jurisdictions where they operate Despite the uncertainty and impact caused by potential tax law changes, inflation, and the pandemic, forecasts are strong overall for the AEC industry for 2022. With increasing demand for AEC services, it’s crucial owners look more closely at their operations and prioritize the development and growth of their teams in order to succeed in the ever-changing marketplace. Kevin Johns is shareholder, Architecture & Engineering with Clayton & McKervey. Contact him here.

KEVIN JOHNS , from page 3

■ ■ Eighty percent of AEC firm equity is held by the 55 and up age group, according to Zweig Group research ■ ■ Moving ownership into lower levels of the organization helps maintain control for pursuing an internal ownership transition strategy ■ ■ Bigger backlogs lose meaning without the talent needed to deliver the work ■ ■ New graduates need to be sold on the lifetime value of an AEC career path ■ ■ Private equity is also influencing DE&I awareness 2022 RISK FACTORS FOR AEC FIRMS TO CONSIDER. Industry drivers in 2022 and beyond will force owners and leaders to “With increasing demand for AEC services, it’s crucial owners look more closely at their operations and prioritize the development and growth of their teams in order to succeed in the ever- changing marketplace.”

M&A NEXT SYMPOSIUM Reserve your seat at the M&A NEXT Symposium, where Zweig Group’s Mergers & Acquisitions thought leaders and industry experts share insights, and impart keen knowledge on M&A topics through an interactive experience focused on current and “next” practices in the world of M&A. This highly anticipated event is about taking a step back from all of the hype about M&A in the AEC industry and focusing on best practices that are enduring, so leaders of firms of all sizes are better informed when they find themselves contemplating M&A as a growth strategy. This highly interactive event will be in Charleston, South Carolina April 28-29. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


2022 Learning Opportunities

Learning is your competitive advantage. Zweig Group is your life-long learning provider of choice.

IN-PERSON SEMINARS & EVENTS MAR 10-11 Project Management & Advanced PM for AEC Professionals Tampa, FL

VIRTUAL SEMINARS FEB 22, 24 + MAR 1, 3, 8, 10

The Principals Academy 11am - 1pm CT

JUN 1, 8, 15, 22

MAR 30-31 Elevating Doer-Sellers Houston, TX

Elevating Doer-Sellers 11am - 1pm CT

APR 7-8

ElevateHER Kickoff Dallas, TX

JUN 7, 14, 21, 28

Project Management 11am - 12:30pm CT

APR 28-29 M&A Next

Charleston, SC

JUL 12, 19, 26 + AUG 2

MAY 19-20 AEC Executive Roundtable Dallas, TX

Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals 11am - 12:30pm CT

JUN 16-17 The Principals Academy Miami, FL

APPROX. ONCE A MONTH Driven by Data -

SEP 14-16 ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium Las Vegas, NV

A ZGWebinar Series Dates & Time TBD

*All dates & locations are subject to change. Check our Learning page for the latest schedule.

Learn More or Register Today!

Group rates availble for some of the offerings. Contact for more details. Zweig Group also offers customized seminars to address your firm’s specific needs. Get in touch today, and bring these seminars to your firm.

Zweig Group is an approved education provider by the AIA and SHRM



Cultural steward: Steven Metzger CEO of LaBella Associates (Rochester, NY), a firmwith diverse service offerings that can address any aspect of the built or natural environment.


M etzger’s work ethic started as a teenager while working in the family business. He learned to show up early, never sit down on the job, and, if he ran out of things to do, sweep. Today, Metzger continues to subscribe to that same philosophy. “Above all else, we want to be a great firm for our employees,” Metzger says. “If we can maintain a culture and a workplace where our employees feel professionally fulfilled, valued, and provided with growth opportunities, they will perform at their highest potential, and there is little incentive to leave. We work hard every day at doing just that.” A CONVERSATIONWITH STEVEN METZGER. The Zweig Letter: Your website states: “We want to deliver more – more value, more trust, more problem solving.” Can you illustrate this by sharing a recent example of how you did this for a client?

Steven Metzger: Recently, LaBella completed an athletic facility project for a K-12 client in a traditionally underserved community. On the surface, the project seemed straightforward, but it eventually proved very challenging from an engineering and financial perspective. Many unforeseen aspects came to light as the project progressed, including extreme environmental conditions, extensive permitting, and complex space constraints. To address and resolve issues, our team remained nimble and worked side-by-side with the client to develop solutions. In doing so, we gained their trust and built a partnership. The ultimate result was a completed facility that met the initial expectations of the school district and exceeded those of the community it served. TZL: How do you anticipate COVID-19 permanently impacting your firm’s policy on telecommuting? SM: COVID-19 has proven that we have the ability to work remotely under extreme disruptive circumstances. We’ve also learned that certain components of our business could work



remotely under “new normal” conditions, i.e., post-pandemic. However, there remain critical aspects of our business that we feel work best in an environment of in-person interactions. These include building and maintaining client relationships, mentoring and training young designers, collaboration among professionals developing and producing designs, and keeping our highly-valued company culture intact, naming a few. I cannot speak with exactness on permanent impacts to work policies at this time, but I feel confident that we will continue to value in-person interactions as we emerge from the pandemic. “Transparency, the ability to participate in high- level meetings or strategic planning sessions, increased flexibility, or support for an employee’s philanthropic passions are some of the ways we reward and invest in our staff.” TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? SM: We build trust by exercising our core value of honesty in every client transaction. At times, this means delivering a message they may not wish to hear. A negative situation may arise from our actions or theirs. In all cases, it’s best to have an honest conversation as early as possible. If we are at fault, we admit it, own it, and work diligently and reasonably to resolve it. Trust is an essential precursor to our ultimate goal of building a lasting partnership. If we can’t share trust, we cannot share a meaningful partnership. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? SM: We have a popular refrain at LaBella, “Our strength is in our diversity.” This originated years ago to support the idea that although our work spanned many practice areas, we were “one company.” As we grew into new locations, we expanded this thinking to include the diversity of our geographies. Today, we’re widening it further to include the diversity among our employees. In 2020, we established a Diversity and Inclusion Council comprised of volunteers representing a cross- section of our employees to facilitate a culture where diversity and inclusion are respected, valued, and celebrated. We believe that the Council’s mission is built soundly on our core

values of honesty, stewardship, leadership, and growth. Through its actions, we’re better suited to meet the growing expectations of our clients and attract and retain the talent of the future. 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? SM: This is a current priority for us, and we’re still developing an action plan. During periods of remote work, the ability to manage performance, rather than effort or time-in- seat, is critically important. Younger staff also miss indirect observation, context clues, and peer-to-peer dialogue when they’re working remotely. If some level of hybrid work is here to stay, our managers will need to be actively engaged in addressing these changes. 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. SM: Our company has been growing – on average, 20 percent year over year – so our tenured staff who are participating in our broad-based ownership are receiving significant reward for continuing with LaBella and fueling its growth. That said, investing in employees can take many forms. Training and development are continuous and not limited to a particular cohort. Transparency, the ability to participate in high-level meetings or strategic planning sessions, increased flexibility, or support for an employee’s philanthropic passions are some of the ways we reward and invest in our staff. TZL: With more than 1,200 employees across more than 35 locations, how do you ensure that your culture of collaboration and transparency stays consistent throughout the firm? What types of things are you doing? SM: While some firms emphasize their mission or vision statement, we place a tremendous importance on our four core values. We hold people accountable to them and have See CULTURAL STEWARD , page 8 “We believe what’s celebrated gets repeated, so our recognition programs are designed to reinforce what’s culturally important.”

HEADQUARTERS: Rochester, NY NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,300 YEAR FOUNDED: 1978 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 36 MARKETS: ■ ■ Bridges ■ ■ County and criminal justice ■ ■ Construction engineering ■ ■ Corporate and commercial ■ ■ Cultural ■ ■ Environmental ■ ■ Healthcare ■ ■ Higher education ■ ■ Highway ■ ■ K-12 education ■ ■ Municipal ■ ■ Renewables ■ ■ Utilities ■ ■ Waste and recycling SERVICES: ■ ■ Architecture ■ ■ Buildings engineering ■ ■ Civil engineering ■ ■ Environmental ■ ■ Planning ■ ■ Power systems engineering ■ ■ Programmanagement ■ ■ Survey ■ ■ Transportation engineering ■ ■ Waste and recycling

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

RUARY 7, 2022, ISSUE 1427


LaBella Associates staff participating in a fundraising ride in support of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

accomplished, so it requires a strategic plan with phases and milestones that is proactively managed. TZL: Research shows that PMs are overworked, understaffed, and that many firms do not have formal training programs for PMs. What is your firm doing to support its PMs? SM: There are a few things. The first is a formal training program, which is really designed to give the foundational knowledge emerging PMs need to be successful. Following that, one of the best ways we can support our PMs is by investing in tools and processes that genuinely increase efficiency. As LaBella grows, we’re consciously striving to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy. Lastly, continuously overworked PMs simply cannot deliver the client experience that we want to provide. Because it can be hard to spot in the thick of it, we have a client experience manager who captures client feedback and helps us make adjustments to each client’s expectations. Knowing what matters to each specific client allows our PMs to spend less time on what doesn’t. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? SM: Cultural steward. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? SM: Above all else, we want to be a great firm for our employees. If we can maintain a culture and a workplace where our employees feel professionally fulfilled, valued, and provided with growth opportunities, they will perform at their highest potential, and there is little incentive to leave. We work hard every day at doing just that.


several ways employees can earn recognition for exemplifying them. We believe what’s celebrated gets repeated, so our recognition programs are designed to reinforce what’s culturally important. “If we can maintain a culture and a workplace where our employees feel professionally fulfilled, valued, and provided with growth opportunities, they will perform at their highest potential, and there is little incentive to leave.” TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? SM: There are two connected pieces to this: Ownership transition and leadership transition. Leadership transition should occur every day; we challenge our leaders to approach “training your successor” as a primary job responsibility. This is necessary to allow for the growth that LaBella has experienced and it’s essential to providing a career path and opportunity to the talented employees we want to retain. Ownership transition, or the buying and selling of shares, is easy when you have employees committed to the firm because you’ve done a good job at leadership transition. There may be timing or legal considerations that play into how this is

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




F rom client meetings to industry events, business development is a key component to the growth of your firm and your career. Yet some of us start to get sweaty palms when it comes time to network or meet with a client. If you get nervous before a meeting, you’re not alone. Tips to help you get more comfortable with meeting people, building relationships, and winning work. Dos and don’ts of business development

Russell Moorehead

Many technical professionals tend to like math more than talking to people; the numbers don’t talk back and won’t ask us about our feelings. It doesn’t have to be this way! That’s why we came up with the top dos and don’ts of business development – to help you get more comfortable with meeting people, building relationships, and winning work: ■ ■ Do be prepared. There are two parts to this step. The first is to know about the company you work for and its core competencies. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we are often siloed into only knowing (or caring) about our own office or department’s expertise. Instead, make sure you have a good elevator pitch (a very brief description) ready to describe the different disciplines of your company because you never knowwhat problem a client has that your firm may be able to solve.

The second part of being prepared is knowing who you’re meeting with and why. If you don’t know, do some research beforehand to gain a basic understanding of the person and/or business. A part of this preparation should also be understanding the context of the meeting – such as initial introduction, new client, new market, or cold call – so you can adapt and prepare accordingly. ■ ■ Do be there. There is an opportunity for everyone – regardless of level or experience – to network with clients and explore project opportunities. But it begins with showing up for the event or meeting a few minutes early. A former boss once told me if you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re new to the business development world, or feel




Often issues arise after the clock hits 5 p.m., so being able to respond to an after-hours call or text message demonstrates your willingness to serve. ■ ■ Don’t be distracted. Don’t look at your phone during the meeting. In fact, I typically leave my phone in the car to resist the urge to look at it. This also keeps it from vibrating on the table during the meeting. Along with this, I also recommend waiting to take detailed notes from the meeting until you leave. The goal is to make the client know they have your full attention. Instead, jot down a few key points on a notepad and then more detailed notes and follow-up items as soon as you get in your car to avoid forgetting vital information on your way back to the office. “It’s easy to spend a client meeting doing all the talking by sharing the many services and unique capabilities your firm brings to the table. But resist the urge! Instead, listen to the client and let them talk.” ■ ■ Don’t be pushy. It’s easy to spend a client meeting doing all the talking by sharing the many services and unique capabilities your firm brings to the table. But resist the urge! Instead, listen to the client and let them talk. This is when those data-mining questions I mentioned earlier – “What keeps you up at night? What’s important to you?” – come in handy. In the end, marketing yourself and your firm should be a smooth, natural conversation and help to solve your clients’ needs. ■ ■ Don’t be afraid of rejection. Not every potential client is going to say yes. Not every person at the networking event is going to want to talk to you. Not every meeting will result in a project. Meaningful professional relationships don’t happen overnight. It takes time, and rejection is a part of the process. Accept it, maintain a positive perspective, and keep moving forward. ■ ■ Don’t follow the crowd. Identify the organizations, conferences, and events that make sense for your business and its growth opportunities, then show up and get involved. Sometimes, these are different places than where your co-workers, colleagues, and/or competitors are, but if it’s where your clients are, you’re in the right place. Russell Moorehead, P.E. is a vice president at Croy Engineering and leads the firm’s Chattanooga, Tennessee office. He can be reached at


uncomfortable attending meetings and events alone, take another teammate with you. ■ ■ Do be yourself. At Croy, we believe in building relationships with clients as the foundation of our business development efforts. To do this best, be yourself. During a client conversation, ask questions, listen to the responses, and express genuine interest. Questions about their background, family, and interests are great conversation starters and will help with finding something in common – thus helping you to show genuine interest. Here are a few of my favorite questions to ask to get you started: † † Where did you grow up? (Versus asking “Where are you from?”) † † Where’s your next vacation? † † Do you live close by? † † Did you watch any sports games this weekend? ■ ■ Do be strategic. After initial conversations, the goal is to turn your contact into winning work for your firm. Business development meetings are more than social outings; they’re data-mining operations. One of the best ways to learn about possible opportunities and be strategic in the process is to ask questions. People knowwhy you are there, so don’t be afraid. A few questions that I like to use include: † † What keeps you up at night? † † What projects do you have coming up? † † What’s important to you? Being strategic also includes having situational awareness and pivoting the conversation if needed. Consider the flow of the conversation, the responses you receive, and the body language of the person during the discussion. ■ ■ Do follow-up. Once the meeting or event has ended, connect with the person – quickly! Everyone does this a little differently, from connecting on LinkedIn to sending a follow-up email or mailing a brief note. Mention something discussed during the conversation to demonstrate you were listening. Whichever method you prefer, don’t wait long after the meeting ends to take action. ■ ■ Don’t be inaccessible. As consultants in a service industry, it’s our job to be accessible, responsive, and available to our clients as much as life allows. A part of relationship- building is letting your client know you’re there for them and being a problem-solver, especially in an emergency.

ELEVATING DOER-SELLERS This in-person seminar is a two-day event developed to help design and technical professionals in architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental firms become more comfortable managing clients and promoting the firm and its services. Beyond the buzzword heavy, ra-ra approach of other business development and sales training seminars, Elevating Doer-Sellers focuses on what really works in today’s AEC firm utilizing practical and proven techniques that resonate across the organizational chart. This event will be in Houston, TX this spring. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.





“A ccountability” is one of those terms that is continuously used in business today. We hear it every day. One of management’s jobs is supposed to be holding people “accountable.” I don’t think anyone ever seems to question that. What really makes people take responsibility for something and give it their all – to truly be accountable?

It’s the “holding” part I have a problem with. I don’t want to treat the employees of any business I run like children. Nor do I think that works well, for several reasons. First and foremost, no one likes being chastised by their manager if things they are supposed to do either didn’t get done or didn’t work out as they were supposed to. Secondly, managers don’t like doing that to people, either. It’s usually pretty uncomfortable. So, what does work? What really makes people take responsibility for something and give it their all – to be accountable? Three things come to mind: 1. The person. I don’t want to minimize the importance of having the right person in the job in the first place. You have to hire people who are responsible. It’s not hard to figure that out when you talk to someone. Did they work while

in school and still make good grades? Did they have responsibility for taking care of their siblings or a sick parent? Do they pay their bills on time? Do they have a verifiable track record of success? What do they tell you as stories of when they had a real responsibility for something and lived up to it. And while we are talking about people – don’t forget it is management’s job (i.e., your job) to be sure they have the tools, equipment, and – in our business – the people assigned to them have the training required to be able to live up to your expectations. 2. The culture. Does your firm have a culture that makes people want to take responsibility for something? Some firms do and some firms don’t. When management is too top-down control oriented, people may resist. They don’t want

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



BUSINESS NEWS VIRGINIA COASTAL RESILIENCE MASTER PLAN RELEASED In December, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced the completion of its first phase of the inaugural Coastal Resilience Master Plan, which provides a framework to identify and evaluate viable strategies for resilience that are practical and equitable. Dewberry, a privately held professional services firm, led the development of the master plan under a $2.6 million contract. As part of the master plan, the firm developed a technical study, which assessed and mapped changing hazards and impacts to increasing coastal flooding for present-day and future conditions. The plan also compiled capacity building needs, ongoing efforts, and funding mechanisms to address resilience needs across Virginia’s coast. Additionally, Dewberry supported the study’s technical advisory committee, which facilitated coordination across key stakeholders and incorporated key subject matter knowledge, data, and methods into the master plan; and facilitated stakeholder engagement, which captured diverse resilience perspectives from residents, local and regional officials, and other stakeholders to prioritize regionally specific resilience opportunities. The body of work is presented in the Virginia Coastal Master Plan, Phase 1 document, produced by Dewberry.

As a result of the first phase of the master plan, Virginia has determined current and future land exposure to coastal flooding hazards and identified and anticipated changes in future coastal flood frequency across the Commonwealth, estimated impacts to community resources and natural infrastructure, identified areas with high social vulnerability and coastal flood hazard exposure, conducted stakeholder workshops, established an inventory of locally driven coastal resilience projects that address regional needs, developed a data-driven approach to evaluate and prioritize projects, established an inventory of grant and loan programs, created the Coastal Resilience Web Explorer and Database, developed capacity-building and planning initiatives, and initiated a public planning process. “Throughout the process of conducting this study and creating the master plan, we have learned much about the challenges ahead for Virginia – the magnitude of the exposure in our state reiterates the critical nature of this plan and actions,” says Dewberry Project Manager and Senior Coastal Scientist Brian Batten, Ph.D., CFM. “For example, the area vulnerable to chronic coastal flooding is projected to grow by over 100 square miles in the next 20 years. This will expose an additional 25,000 residential properties to potential repetitive flooding, an estimated increase of 130 percent

from present day conditions. More than 2,000 commercial and industrial facilities, critical to the local and regional economy, will also see this same increase in flood risk. Overall increases to flood risk from a wider range of conditions, such as major, but less frequent flood events are much higher. This is why developing the plan and determining practical solutions for mitigating the impacts of climate change and making coastal Virginia a more resilient area is critical.” Managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in consultation with the Technical Advisory Committee, the plan is expected to receive successive updates on a five- year cycle. Phase two of the master plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2024. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.

So, how does your firm stack up as it relates to accountability? Are you one of those people who thinks it is all about managers holding people’s feet to the fire? Or are you more enlightened than that – and realize that really it’s all about getting the right people in the company in the first place, creating and maintaining a positive culture where people want to perform, and giving real opportunities and associated rewards to people so they can better their lots in life? Those are my thoughts on accountability. Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “‘Accountability’ is one of those terms that is continuously used in business today. We hear it every day. One of management’s jobs is supposed to be holding people ‘accountable.’ It’s the ‘holding’ part I have a problem with.”

MARK ZWEIG , from page 11

to feel manipulated or forced into doing something. But when that is a “way of life” in the organization (how I like to define “corporate culture”), it’s another matter altogether. This is why I like open-book management and sharing all of the numbers with everyone. No one (no one who is a good person that is) wants to let down their friends and teammates, if those are people they respect and care about. You cannot minimize the importance of the culture when it comes to getting people to take responsibility for something and give it their all. 3. Ownership and rewards. This could be real ownership, or it could be psychological ownership. I’m not sure it always makes a lot of difference. In both cases, the person feels that if they are responsible for getting something done that needs doing, that they will be rewarded, either now or later. If what you do makes no difference in your mind, it is hard to accept responsibility for doing it. In truth, rewards are part of the culture. What type of behavior is rewarded, and what behaviors are punished? This is so critical to having self-accountability.

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