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Career advancement

With both a virtual and an in-person conference this year, ElevateAEC has something for everyone. Something for everyone

In Zweig Group’s 2021 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report of AEC Firms , data from the online survey was compared to the survey taken by applicants for Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For Awards. There were a few interesting distinctions between the two groups regarding the topic of career advancement and furthering education. The chart above shows the percentage of firms in each category that create career “tracks” for advancement, whether it be a track to becoming a technical leader or a manager/owner at the firm. Seventy- three percent of Best Firms To Work For provide these tracks, about two and a half times more likely than the typical firm. We also found that these firms are more likely to reimburse their employees for things like books/ supplies for college courses and professional exam fees. MO R E C O N T E N T xz 2021 Hot Firm List Page 4 xz CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES : The 100 fastest-growing firms Page 5 xz 2021 Marketing Excellence Award winners Page 6 xz 2021 Best Firms To Work For Award winners Page 8 xz KYLE AHERN: Best Firms To Work For data trends Page 9 xz In-person ElevateAEC sponsors Page 10 xz In-person keynote speakers Page 10 xz CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES : Zweig Group’s 2021 ElevateHER cohort Page 11 xz Virtual ElevateAEC sponsors Page 12 xz Zweig Group signature seminar series Page 12 xz ElevateHER featured speakers Page 13 xz ElevateHER sponsors Page 13

I n his 2003 book A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market , John Allen Paulos shares the quote, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” At the time, the American mathematician and Temple University professor certainly did not realize how that quote would be so commonly used to describe life 17 years later as the world experienced its worst pandemic in nearly 100 years. At Zweig Group, the first part of that quote was certainly our theme last year as we grappled with how to approach our 2020 ElevateAEC Conference. Once we decided we must go virtual, it was important that we messaged the event as an opportunity to include more people and content, as opposed to being messaged as the unfortunate alternative. It worked. The virtual event in 2020 was a huge success with more than 1,800 registrants. More importantly, it forced us to do something that we had discussed for years – find a way to provide access to awesome thought leadership and networking opportunities to a larger group of people. Now in 2021, and especially in recent weeks with the delta variant of COVID-19, we still find ourselves in uncertain times. However, one thing is certain: ElevateAEC 2021 has something for everyone. With both a virtual and an in-person conference this year, we’ve got options for every preference. The pillars of ElevateAEC – Networking, Learning, and Celebrating – are standing tall in our lineup for the next two months. Up first is our virtual conference kicking off next week and running for four weeks. It is free for our clients and includes the 2021 ElevateHER Symposium. The in-person event takes place November 3-5 and will be a highly- anticipated return to responsible in-person events with an awesome schedule of speakers and networking sessions. Read more about these two exciting events that many people inside Zweig Group and beyond have been working toward: ❚ ❚ The 2021 Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium. This event starts a week from today, and we are really excited to be able to provide more than 30 hours of thought leadership free to our clients. The virtual conference will run from September 13-October 7. This four-week event is focused on a variety of topics covering every aspect of driving purpose and performance individually and as a firm. Our 2021 ElevateHER Symposium includes an incredible lineup of speakers including Rose McClure, S.E., P.E., LEED AP BD+C, and Yislle Santos Rivera, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP. Those are two sessions you will definitely not want to miss! As many of you experience on a daily basis, work schedules have not slowed down. The AEC industry is busier than ever and having the convenience of expanding your knowledge and earning continuing education credit hours from anywhere you choose is awesome, and

Chad Clinehens




ABOUT THE CONFERENCES ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & ELEVATEHER SYMPOSIUM – VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE Zweig Group’s annual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposiumwill be a four-week virtual experience with more than 40 speakers and 30 credit hours of learning, networking and celebrating – all in an unlimited virtual environment. This year, Zweig Group is excited to present an evolved and more interactive virtual platform where many can gather to elevate themselves, their firms, and the industry, all from the comfort of their home or office. From project manager to CEO, there is something for everyone. Click here to learn more about the Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium.

ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA – IN- PERSON EXPERIENCE With careful consideration regarding the latest guidance from the CDC, the 2021 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala is restoring the full agenda for the annual in-person conference in Denver this November. This includes bringing back the iconic black-tie Awards Gala celebrating the 2021 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards. Click here to learn more about the In-person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala.

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

CHAD CLINEHENS, from page 1

we are excited to be able to make this available to everyone. How could we ignore the feedback from 2020 where quotes like, “Due to my work schedule, I would not have been able to attend had this not been online” were so common? So get signed up for the 2021 Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium and encourage other colleagues to register as well! ❚ ❚ The 2021 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala. Our traditional in-person event is back, and we cannot wait to see you in Denver. Despite the uncertainty in COVID, it is important to note that this event was planned at the peak of the pandemic earlier this year, so we have a number of features you should know about: 1)Plenty of space. We have lots of room indoors and outdoors for our event, so distancing is not an issue. 2)Event space is secluded. The event space is all together away from the common areas of the hotel. That means our event space is all ours; you will not need to leave our space for any of the learning sessions, and there won’t be other hotel guests moving though our space. Additionally, elevators with direct access to the guest rooms are in our space, meaning you will never need to move through other areas of the hotel if you choose not to. 3)We will adapt as necessary. The space and experience will adapt to current guidelines to keep attendees safe, and to allow us to have a great in-person experience. Hyatt precautions will be in place. You can read more about those here. Our speaker lineup is top notch. Bill McConnell, CEO of Vertex, is back to share the industry outlook. Sandra Paret, CEO of STG Design, will share insight into the workplace design of the future. To close out the conference, former architect and now co-founder and designer at Janus Motorcycles, Richard Worsham, will share an inspiring story of design and entrepreneurial adventure. We’ll even have a lineup of these beautiful machines on-site so you can experience them yourself. For you bikers, we’ll have an organized ride through the mountains after the conference concludes on Friday. Our highly acclaimed black-tie awards gala returns on the evening of the first full conference day, Thursday. This new schedule will allow you to map out your own Rocky Mountain adventure Friday afternoon, or head home and get a full weekend in. So pack your bags, dry clean that gala gown and tux, and party hop over to Denver, Colorado. In the inspiring words of the great Lumiere, it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you, invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair as the Zweig Group team proudly presents the 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala in Denver! Join the Zweig Group team from November 3-5. Register with confidence, but also know that space is limited. Click here for more information on both conferences. I hope to see you online next week or in Denver in November, or both! CHAD CLINEHENS is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at

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Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Christina Zweig | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent

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© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.





In today’s AEC world, the right kind of growth can be worth its weight in gold. So how are firms able to increase revenue while keeping their headcount to a minimum? Learn how one firm is streamlining workflows using automation, integrations, & collaboration, and how implementing these processes has taken their growth goals to the next level.

In today’s hyper-competitive A/E/C business climate, you need every edge that you can get to boost your firm’s after- tax profits. Beyond the usual ways to increase revenue & contain operating expenses, did you know that there is a little-used research and development (R&D) tax credit that you can use to decrease your A/E/C firm’s federal & state income tax obligations? Less than 18% of the industry is currently benefitting from this valuable tax liability off-set credit. You can’t afford to miss this session!




Presented by The Vertex Companies, Inc.


There is still time to register!




2021 HOT FIRM LIST Zweig Group’s 2021 Hot Firm List honors the fastest-growing firms in the architecture, engineering, planning, environmental and construction industry. Firms are ranked based on three-year growth in revenue, by both percentage and dollar growth. This year’s firms have outperformed the economy and competitors to become leaders in their chosen fields. “After a year of so much uncertainty, the 2021 Hot Firms are a confirmation of the vigor and resilience of the AEC industry,” said Zweig Group CEO Chad Clinehens.

1. Universal Engineering Sciences 2. Anser Advisory, LLC 3. Salas O’Brien 4. Westwood Professional Services 5. LJA Engineering 6. Landry/French Construction 7. Atwell, LLC 8. IPS-Integrated Project Services, LLC 9. BL Companies, Inc. 10. Ulteig 11. Garver 12. Mead & Hunt, Inc 13. Ware Malcomb 14. CMTA Inc.

35. A&E Design 36. Langan 37. Hillmann Consulting, LLC 38. Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Inc. 39. DRMP, Inc. 40. Humphreys & Partners Architects 41. ALL4 LLC 42. RTM Engineering Consultants, LLC 43. CROFT & Associates 44. J2 Engineers 45. Poole & Poole Architecture 46. OHM Advisors 47. Allana Buick & Bers 48. PK Electrical, Inc. 49. ECS 50. DMS design, llc 51. Barton & Loguidice, D.P.C. 52. NELSON Worldwide 53. Ramey Kemp Associates 54. Genesis AEC 55. WestLAND Group, Inc, 56. Woodard & Curran 57. Matthews Design Group 58. WSB 59. P2S INC. 60. Larson Design Group 61. Long Engineering 62. GEI Consultants, Inc. 63. Patel, Greene and Associates, LLC 64. DY Consultants 65. LeCraw Engineering, Inc.

69. Butler, Fairman and Seufert, Inc. 70. Peloton Land Solutions Inc. 71. Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design Inc

72. MWM DesignGroup, Inc 73. Galloway & Company, Inc 74. C.A.P. Government, Inc.

75. KSA Engineers, Inc. 76. ESI Consultants, Ltd. 77. Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. 78. D’Amato Conversano Inc. 79. Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc. 80. Wade Trim 81. BKF Engineers 82. Orndorf & Associates, Inc. 83. Chen Moore and Associates 84. CEC 85. PCD Engineering, Inc. 86. Fishbeck 87. Ross & Baruzzini, Inc. 88. GATE Energy 89. Environmental Partners 90. Tamarack Grove Engineering 91. EDG 92. ISG 93. SSOE Group

15. Ardurra Group 16. BSI Engineering

17. Arora Engineers, Inc. 18. Halff Associates, Inc. 19. Cobb, Fendley & Associates, Inc. 20. VLK Architects, Inc. 21. Woolpert 22. Colliers Engineering & Design 23. McFarlane Architects, Inc. 24. Bowman 25. Parametrix

26. Timmons Group 27. HILGARTWILSON 28. McAdams 29. Coffman Engineers, Inc 30. Fleis & VandenBrink 31. MKN 32. Dudek 33. Sullivan Engineering, LLC 34. Apex Companies, LLC

94. PPM Consultants 95. CORE Consultants

96. Hunt, Guillot & Associates, L.L.C. 97. EMC Engineering Services, Inc. 98. CWE 99. Fitzemeyer & Tocci Associates, Inc. 100. TowerPinkster

66. Binkley & Barfield, Inc. 67. Ampirical Solutions, LLC 68. The Vertex Companies, Inc

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




This year’s Hot Firms achieved incredible success at a time of great change and uncertainty. The 100 fastest-growing firms

R unning for more than two decades, the distinction of making it on Zweig Group’s Hot Firm List is a great accomplishment for firms that have achieved success and growth in the AEC industry. In an industry comprised of more than 100,000 firms, the 100 fastest- growing firms recognized on the list have achieved success at a time of great change and uncertainty. Placement on the list is based on a firm’s percentage revenue growth and dollar revenue growth over a three-year period compared to the other entrants.

Christina Zweig Niehues

Firms on the 2021 Hot Firm List had an average of just over $186 million in gross revenue for the fiscal year 2020. Average revenue growth over the preceding three-year period was just above $29.7 million and 85 percent. Last year, the average firm grew by $31.5 million and 81 percent – showing firms on this year’s list were slightly stronger in percentage growth, even if the dollar revenue growth was slightly lower. Although firms on the list are not ranked by number of employees, the average number of employees added over the three-year period was 119, representing 75 percent staff growth. The influence of construction management and/or design build was evident on the list – with the top seven firms listing these among their services.

All of the top five firms had previously made the Hot Firm List at some point in time – however, Landry/French Construction had never won a Hot Firm Award before and came in at No. 6 – the only newcomer to make the top 10! Two firms in the top 10 grew through organic growth alone (no mergers/acquisitions). Seventy-six percent of firms on the list grew through M&A activity. It’s clear that regardless of growth method, creating a great place to work is necessary to make it on the list. Sixty-six firms on the list had previously won a Zweig Group Best Firms To Work For Award. Here’s a little more about our top three firms:




2021 MARKETING EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS Zweig Group’s Marketing Excellence Awards recognize outstanding, results-driven marketing in the AEC industry. Marketing Excellence Award entries were judged by a team of marketing professionals and evaluated based upon overall creativity, messaging, results achieved by the campaign, and level of design. “The standard of entries for these awards continues to rise year after year. This year’s winners are an excellent display of highly effective creativity, and an inspiration for the industry!” said Christy Zweig Niehues, Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce.

ADVERTISING 1. WSB 2. LJA Engineering BROCHURE 1. Mulhern+Kulp

INTERNAL MARKETING 1. Halff Associates, Inc. 2. Miyamoto International 3. Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Inc. EXTERNAL NEWSLETTER 1. Pond 2. WGI, Inc INTERNAL NEWSLETTER 1. ECS 2. Environmental Design Group 3. WSB PROJECT PURSUIT 1. ISG 2. Patel, Greene and Associates, LLC 3. McAdams RECRUITMENT/RETENTION 1. SWCA Environmental Consultants 2. CORE Consultants 3. Patel, Greene and Associates, LLC

SOCIAL MEDIA 1. Miyamoto International 2. Westwood Professional Services 3. LJA Engineering SPECIAL EVENT 1. Parkhill 2. Halff Associates, Inc. 3. WSB VIDEO 1. Landry/French Construction 2. Miyamoto International 3. Dewberry WEBSITE 1. Snyder Environmental & Construction 2. Matthews Design Group 3. SWBR

2. EAPC Architects Engineers 3. French & Parrello Associates CORPORATE ID 1. Garmann Miller 2. Westwood Professional Services 3. Miyamoto International HOLIDAY 1. ECS 2. Parkhill 3. EAPC Architects Engineers INTEGRATED MARKETING/BRAND AWARENESS 1. Miyamoto International 2. LJA Engineering 3. Lamar Johnson Collaborative


is through attracting and retaining industry leading talent. Our growth and success is a direct result of the growth and success of our employees. This has manifested in upper quartile annual organic growth and an ability to further enhance that organic growth through strategic acquisitive growth of culturally aligned organizations,” said their firm representative. 3) Salas O’Brien (Santa Ana, CA). Salas O’Brien is an employee- owned engineering and facility planning firm addressing highly technical challenges through international strength and local action. This firm employed 987 people in 2020. There are four factors that distinguish Salas O’Brien and the success it has achieved: 1) The firm is made up of passionate and focused technical experts who produce exceptional results. 2) Salas O’Brien has a strong culture of leadership and accountability; the firm never compromises on culture when pursuing M&A. 3) Although Salas O’Brien is “local everywhere” throughout North America and client decisions are pushed to the lowest possible level, the firm has international resources and scale and can bring a complete, coordinated package of services to its clients. 4) The firm’s structure as majority employee-owned aligns its clients’ success and company performance with long-term employee rewards. CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES is Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce. She can be reached at

1) Universal Engineering Sciences (Orlando, FL). Universal Engineering Sciences is a national leading infrastructure company specializing in geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, building code compliance, threshold inspections, and environmental consulting. The firm employed more than 2,100 employees in 2020. This company has grown both organically and through acquisitions. How has UES achieved its growth? As one of the largest, most resource-rich organizations of its kind, the firm offers an unwavering commitment to excellence, approaching each project, big or small, as an opportunity to cultivate enduring relationships with clients. It is this commitment to excellence that has fueled the firm’s growth both organically and through key acquisitions. By continuing to grow its family of companies, UES is well-positioned to help deliver needed infrastructure and build safe and successful communities across the country. 2) Anser Advisory, LLC (Orlando, FL). Another top three firm with Orlando as their headquarters! Anser employed more than 400 employees in 2020. Anser Advisory is a national firm specializing in capital program advisory and consulting services, including strategy, funding, process, organization preparedness, as well as project, program and agency construction management, and controls. Anser services cover the capital development cycle from pre-planning through construction and closeout across a wide range of end markets, including transportation, energy, aviation, K-12 and higher education, state/local government, healthcare, water/ sewer, cultural, and housing. “The foundation to Anser’s growth

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Over 40 speakers. Up to 30 credit hours. All free and accessible from the comfort of your own home or office over the course of 4 weeks. The incredibly popular and value-packed Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium takes place between Sept 13 and Oct 7. General learning sessions will cover a wide range of topics that address all aspects of an AEC business, including recruitment & retention, tax credits, marketing strategies, and more. Through the carefully curated mini series, attendees will also get to sample our highly-regarded seminars including: The Principals Academy, Elevating Doer-Sellers, Project Management for AEC Professionals, and Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals. The ElevateHER Symposium brings together leaders in the AEC industry, Zweig Group’s ElevateHER 2021 cohort members, and keynote speakers on topics related to recruiting & retaining valuable employees, and fostering a diverse and equitable workplace. Project teams from Zweig Group’s 2021 ElevateHER cohort will also be presenting their project findings, offering tangible, actionable solutions to firm leaders to combat biases in the industry.

With much excitement and an abundance of precaution, Zweig Group is thrilled to restore the full annual in-person conference this winter; presenting the highest level of curated thought leadership, purposeful networking opportunities, and the iconic black- tie awards gala celebrating all our 2021 Zweig Group Award winners. The in-person conference is designed with safety in mind - the space and experience will adapt to the local health officials’ guidance at that time in order to keep attendees and staff safe while allowing for an unforgettable in-person experience.

REGISTER NOW FOR $1,995 PP NOV. 3 - 5, 2021 DENVER, CO


For group registrations and discounts, or any other inquiries about the two conferences, please contact Or visit for more details.


2021 BEST FIRMS TO WORK FOR AWARD WINNERS Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For Awards honors outstanding workplaces at AEC firms, evaluates them on culture, workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, professional development, and more – from both management and staff perspectives. Awards were given in multiple categories based on firm size and discipline. This program also produces the largest employee experience survey in the architecture, engineering, environmental, planning, and construction industry. Click here to see the full list of winners!

1-49 EMPLOYEES 1. Matthews Design Group 2. Comprehensive Environmental Inc. 3. MWM DesignGroup 4. Bennett Engineering Services Inc 5. D.H. Charles Engineering 6. Shear Structural 7. EMCS, Inc. 8. Sullivan Engineering, LLC 9. LeCraw Engineering, Inc.

200+ EMPLOYEES 1. Garver 2. Bowers + Kubota Consulting Inc 3. MBP 4. V3 Companies, Ltd. 5. RINCON CONSULTANTS, INC 6. BL Companies, Inc. 7. McAdams 8. P2S INC. 9. LJA Engineering 10. Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc. 11. Parkhill 12. AE2S 13. Wade Trim 14. Colliers Engineering & Design 15. GATE Energy 16. SME 17. BRPH Companies, Inc. 18. Barton & Loguidice, D.P.C. 19. TLC Engineering Solutions 20. Halff Associates, Inc. 21. Westwood Professional Services 22. ISG 23. Thomas & Hutton 24. OHM Advisors 25. SEPI Engineering & Construction, Inc. 26. CobbFendley 27. Atwell, LLC 28. Ardurra 29. POND 30. Ware Malcomb 31. Binkley & Barfield, Inc. 32. HED 33. Hunt, Guillot & Associates, L.L.C. 34. The Vertex Companies

10. Garmann Miller 11. Geotechnical &

3. Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. 4. Green International Affiliates, Inc. 5. Suburban Consulting Engineers, Inc. 6. Peloton Land Solutions 7. Aguirre & Fields 8. KSA 9. TETER, LLP 10. HELIX Environmental Planning, Inc. 11. raSmith 12. Baird, Hampton & Brown 13. MacKay Sposito 14. R&M Consultants, Inc. 15. JQ Engineering, LLP 16. PACE Engineers, Inc. 17. Foresite Group, LLC 18. DLB Associates Consulting Engineers, PC 19. WK Dickson & Co., Inc. 20. Consulting Engineering Services, Inc. 21. WestLAND Group, Inc. 22. EAPC Architects Engineers 23. SCJ Alliance 24. Galloway and Company 25. VLK Architects, Inc. 26. DBR 27. RJN Group, Inc 28. Miyamoto International 29. Forensic Analytical Consulting Services 30. GGLO 31. RTM Engineering Consultants, LLC 32. RRM Design Group 33. CMTS LLC 34. Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC 35. Long Engineering

Environmental Services, Inc. 12. Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc. 13. Schaefer 14. EHS Support LLC 15. Gunda Corporation 16. Environmental Design Group 17. Chen Moore and Associates 18. J2 Engineers 19. E.K. Fox & Associates 20. Bennett-Pless Inc. 21. KL&A, Inc. 22. Hastings Architecture 23. Lea & Braze Engineering 24. Sanderson Stewart 25. Faller, Davis and Associates, Inc. 26. CORE Consultants 27. Blueline 28. Mabbett & Associates 29. A&E Design 30. EMC Engineering Services, Inc. 31. Champlin Architecture 32. RLG Consulting Engineers 33. Mitrex: Integrated Solar Technology 34. Ramey Kemp Associates 35. HDL Engineering Consultants, LLC 36. Landry/French Construction 37. Arrow Engineering Inc. 38. Croy Engineering

10. BASE 11. MKN 12. CWE

13. Shield Engineering Group 14. Catalyst Environmental Solutions Corporation 15. Neumann Monson Architects 16. Tamarack Grove Engineering 17. e2 engineers 18. DY Consultants

19. Eclipse Engineering 20. CAGE Engineering

21. Joseph B. Callaghan, Inc. 22. Arrive Architecture Group 23. EDG 50-99 EMPLOYEES 1. Patel, Greene & Associates LLC 2. Fitzemeyer & Tocci Associates, Inc. 3. Wright Engineers 4. Choice One Engineering 5. Gale Associates, Inc. 6. Taylor Design 7. Passero Associates 8. Mulhern & Kulp Structural Engineering, Inc. 9. ELEMENT Engineering Group, LLC

100-199 EMPLOYEES 1. TowerPinkster 2. Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




This year’s Best Firms To Work For employee survey provided 1.8 million data points, providing insight into industry trends. Best Firms To Work For data trends

I t is once again one of my favorite times of year! Not only has Zweig Group been celebrating and awarding firms for having outstanding workplaces and for achieving tremendous growth over the last few years, but we are getting to see the industry trends that come along with the single biggest survey in the entire AEC industry: The Best Firms To Work For employee survey.

Kyle Ahern

I love getting to take a deep dive into what is happening all over the country. I can see areas that are trending up and trending down. We have the ability to look at how different demographic groups feel about certain topics or how firms of all sizes fare in various areas. Zweig Group’s ability to break down the data of this massive survey (1.8 million data points this year) really enhances our ability to see trends in the industry and better advise our clients. Let’s take a look at some that really stood out to me this year: ❚ ❚ Numbers overall are up in 2021 when compared to 2020. Not only are numbers up across the board, but they are significantly higher. 2021 saw the largest year-over-year increase in our data set dating back to 2018. This is a very good sign. Numbers

in 2020 decreased across the board on average, as you would expect during a pandemic. Not only did we see scores rebound from the 2020 dip, they are higher than they were in 2019. This to me indicates that firms are emerging from the pandemic stronger and in better position than they were before the pandemic. By no means do we want the uncertainty of working through a pandemic to be the new normal, but hopefully firms have been able to continue some of the positive adjustments they had to make in 2020 to keep improving, and I believe this is evidence of firms doing just that. ❚ ❚ There was one area where employees’ approval really dropped off compared to 2020: Effective communication at their firms. Communication

See KYLE AHERN, page 10





BILL MCCONNELL, CEO, THE VERTEX COMPANIES McConnell rose through the ranks from a union construction worker during high school and college summers, to a project engineer at a top 50 construction company, to a senior executive at VERTEX. Since the inception of VERTEX in 1995, McConnell has led the organization by example. Under his leadership, VERTEX has seen consistent year-over-year growth of more than 20 percent.

SANDRA PARÉT, AIA, IIDA, CEO, STG DESIGN Parét leads the largest integrated architecture, interiors, and planning firm headquartered in Austin, Texas, serving the world’s most innovative companies. As an innovator in effective project delivery, Parét has refined the way companies design excellence and establishing efficiencies and consistencies through team composition and ideal delivery approaches. work with design firms by elevating

JAMIE CLAIRE KISER, MANAGING PRINCIPAL & DIRECTOR OF ADVISORY SERVICES, ZWEIG GROUP Kiser is experienced in financial analysis, evaluating transactions, and providing clear solutions to the financial and operational needs of businesses. She is also the founder and author of the platform ElevateHER as part of Zweig Group’s mission to Elevate the Industry. Prior to joining Zweig Group, Kiser practiced law and worked in commercial banking.

RICHARD WORSHAM, CO-FOUNDER & DESIGNER, JANUS MOTORCYCLES From an early age Worsham has been fascinated with drawing and design as well as architecture, urbanism, and vehicles of all types. He continues to pursue architecture and urban design through professional projects, design competitions, and conferences, with an ongoing interest in the way tradition informs technology, design, and the way we live.

KYLE AHERN, from page 9

demographics, those in the 46 years of age or older group had overall higher scores than those 45 years or younger. Effective communication was the biggest difference between these two groups. The 46 years of age and older group scored communication way higher than those 45 and younger. The biggest difference the other way around, and one of the only questions where 45 and younger scored higher than 46 and older, was opportunities for career growth at their firm. Those aged 18-25 actually scored the highest on this question. It’s good to see that the youngest generation feels positively about being able to grow their careers with their current firm. Getting to look at this data really helps me get a feel for what is going on industry-wide. Being able to see different demographic breakdowns creates a unique tool to pinpoint specific areas that need attention and where things are going the best. That is something I really enjoy helping firms do as well! Firms adapted well during the pandemic; that is evident by the growth across the board. We need to get back to communicating effectively with all employees, but I know the foundation is now set to keep making each AEC firm a Best Firm To Work For. KYLE AHERN is awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at

is always one of the biggest challenges firms face, but when the pandemic started everyone had to adjust very quickly and communication was at an all-time high. In fact, in 2020, effective communication was at its highest point over the four-year data set. It actually trended positively from 2019 to 2020. Unfortunately, that did not last. Effective communication saw the biggest year over year difference from 2020 to 2021 and it was in the wrong direction. There was an almost 10 percent decrease in employee sentiment when it came to communication. Just because we are adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t mean firms should let up on communicating with their employees. Sure, there may have been over-communication in 2020, but firms seem to have lost too much steam and are no longer communicating effectively. ❚ ❚ Employees’ sense of job security had a huge bounce back after 2020. There were a lot of unknowns when this survey was conducted back in 2020, so job security took a big hit. Firms seem to have weathered that storm and emerged actually stronger than their position in 2019. This is great to see and I think shows fantastic leadership by those running AEC firms. Employees feel secure in their jobs and trust in firm leadership is at an all-time high. ❚ ❚ Taking a look at some age range

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




This year’s cohort has picked up where last year’s group left off – taking on creative ideas to solve both historic and emerging challenges. Zweig Group’s 2021 ElevateHER cohort

E levateHER is Zweig Group’s commitment to promote diversity and equity in the AEC industry. With recruitment and retention still the number one challenge faced by industry principals, it’s more important than ever to focus on recruiting and retaining the best and brightest in the industry. To do that, firms need to continue to attract new individuals to the industry, and also need to make sure they keep knowledgeable and valuable people employed in the industry.

Christina Zweig Niehues

For 2021, ElevateHER assembled a cohort based on applications from every firm type, job role, geography, and experience level. This group met virtually and broke into five different project teams, each concentrating on a particular challenge or focus area in order to provide an end product that would be useful and able to make a measurable impact on the AEC industry. The output of each of these groups will be presented over the course of Zweig Group’s Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium from September 13-October 7. The group topics are as follows: MENTHER MATCH: Caitlin Pennington, Christine Manhart, Johnathon Postell, Julia Jack, Lauren Lint, Maria Lucio, Stephanie Teetes (September 16, 2021 1 p.m. CST) ❚ ❚ MentHer Match proposes to develop the foundation for a web-based mentor-mentee matching service that will broaden the scope of available mentoring by enlarging the pool of mentors, removing the inherent conflicts typically encountered when mentors and mentees belong to the same company, and, at full roll-

out, provide an automated, algorithm-based matching protocol analogous to common dating services. There is an identified need for mentoring of women and other minorities in the AEC industry to prevent the “pipeline leak” that results in the steady decrease in representation of these classes throughout the track of a career. MentHer Match will increase the pool of available mentors across a wider range of mentees than is typically available in any given firm. By including the entire AEC industry and negating geographic impediments to the mentor-mentee relationship, MentHer Match allows for mentees to connect with people at every stage of their career. THE RIGHT FIT: Erin Conway, LaTonya Horhn, Susan Dawson, Katie Batill-Bigler (September 28, 2021, 1 p.m. CST) ❚ ❚ This group has identified a lack of value placed on enabling a sufficient work-life balance (or more appropriately, “fit”) for individuals within AEC firms. A lack of work-life fit policies has had a negative impact on recruitment and is a leading cause of burnout and dissatisfaction resulting in decreased productivity






ELEVATING DOER- SELLERS A program specifically developed to help AEC professionals firms become more comfortable managing clients and promoting the firm and its services. Led by three industry professionals with extensive experience from the design desk to the board room, this one-of-a-kind seminar presents business development techniques proven to drive real growth and value in your AEC firm.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS Zweig Group’s team of experts deliver practical solutions that technical professionals can put to work immediately to lead their firms to success. This program provides AEC professionals with the skills to become more competent leaders and helps attendees develop and affirm the leadership skills, strategies, and techniques necessary to grow personally and professionally.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS This special edition of Project Management for AEC Professionals delivers two high- impact sessions that highlight the key skills and differentiators that take good Project Managers and make them great! This typical four-week session is led by a panel of five experts backed by a ton of research on how to best train project managers to be more effective and efficient.

Group’s flagship training program encompasses all aspects of managing and leading a professional AEC service firm. Join us for this two part mini- series to help elevate your ability to lead and grow your firm. Zweig Group’s leadership team draws from our more than 30 year history working with AEC firms to teach the latest approaches to managing and operating successful firms.




and profitability, and is a driving factor in professionals leaving the industry. If leadership has not identified the importance or need for such policies on their own, it is often left to employees to sound the bell and voice their own dissatisfaction with the status quo. ❚ ❚ By providing employees with a toolkit they can easily access to advocate for changes in work-life fit programs within their firms, they will feel empowered and more likely to approach leadership and advocate for real change and investment. This group aims to provide a website (or series of web pages on Zweig Group’s ElevateHER website) for use by an individual as a “grassroots” approach to craft a pitch for leadership about adopting a la carte policies, including leave allowance, flexible work schedules, health/wellness programs, etc. Users will have access to a self-evaluation (to guide their priorities), quantitative and qualitative support data (industry case studies, employee/employer testimonials, industry statistics), solution/policy options, talking points, and a presentation template. Information will be sorted based upon firm size to provide scalable solutions for any firm. THE ELEVATORS: Alixandria Henley, Rathi Perumal, Lauren Waldron, Amy Jones (September 30, 2021, 1 p.m. CST) ❚ ❚ This group believes companies that want to thrive in the AEC industry will require a significant lift to improve the workplace (or firm culture) in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is recognized as critically important for hiring top talent, sustaining growth, and fostering innovation. But, where can an individual or firm in the industry go to find information, resources, and tools to become more informed or gain new ideas to create an optimal workplace and corporate culture in support of DEI? If a firm wants to develop a diversity plan, enhance family leave policies, bring in a lunch and learn speaker on DEI, where do they start? Companies and individuals need support for developing these programs and becoming more educated. ❚ ❚ The Elevators are establishing a centralized location for resources – specifically a database of knowledge experts, speakers, books, articles, and podcasts on the ElevateHER website for individuals and firms to easily find. This group has partnered with Zweig Group/ElevateHER staff to design website revisions and are developing a system for organizing the information for easy access. A Google form to collect contact data from experts has been developed and broadly distributed through social media and direct outreach from the Elevators’ work group. This group has also done a “call for recommendations” for books, articles, and podcasts supporting DEI issues. Information will be categorized and searchable within the main topic areas of: ❚ ❚ Data and statistics ❚ ❚ Diversity, equity, and inclusion ❚ ❚ DBE programs ❚ ❚ Human resources ❚ ❚ Events


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Zweig Group is thrilled to bring two powerhouse speakers to the 2021 ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium. Rose McClure and Yiselle Santos Rivera have steered the conversation about women in the industry in the most constructive way, and helped put DEI discussions front and center in the board rooms of AEC firms of all sizes all across the country. The ripple effect that each of them has created is immeasurable, and will continue to impact us all in meaningful ways.

YISELLE SANTOS RIVERA, MEDICAL PLANNER & GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF JUSTICE, EQUITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION, HKS Yiselle thrives on building equitable practices, empowering the next generation of leaders, and creating inclusive platforms for engagement. She serves on the AIA National Board and is the founder of WIELD (We Inspire Emerging Leaders in Design), a storytelling event that provides opportunities for emerging leaders to engage in the equity, diversity, and inclusion conversation by promoting visibility, awareness, and sponsorship. ROSE MCCLURE, SENIOR CONSULTING ENGINEER, SIMPSON GUMPERTZ & HEGER, INC. She is an energetic structural engineer, whose passion for the built environment drives her everyday interactions with other design professionals. Rose is the co-founder and past chair of the NCSEA Structural Engineering Engagement and Equity Committee, where she works to improve engagement, retention, diversity, and inclusion within the profession.

❚ ❚ Workplace culture ❚ ❚ Leadership

ROUTE DEI: Mickey Garcia, Lisa Huddleston, Rob Matthews, Will Schnier, Ana Collins (September 21, 2021, 1 p.m. CST) ❚ ❚ ROUTE DEI is a road map that paves the way for companies to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive in their workplaces. It identifies key criteria and best practices for assessing, adapting, delivering, and measuring through a points-based index on quantitative and qualitative levels. ROUTE DEI also becomes the vehicle by which a firm can submit to be recognized and awarded Zweig Group’s ROUTE DEI award. This award showcases a firm’s progress and success in becoming a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization, as measured by the ROUTE DEI road map. ❚ ❚ The established survey is one deliverable that will act as a roadmap and allow firms to assess, adapt, deliver, and measure key criteria for their DEI program. The survey serves as the vehicle to measure a firm’s performance for itself and against its competitors for a DEI award. ❚ ❚ The DEI award is another deliverable used to celebrate the efforts of firms that intentionally address DEI issues/challenges. The positive results for a participating firm (and hopefully the broader AEC industry) are to strengthen recruiting, retention, and overall performance. The coupled road map and award can catalyze long-overdue changes to the entire industry. SHE IS WELCOME HERE: Heather Calvert, Kaley Konecny, Katie Goodman, Jayna Duke, Julie Passalacqua (October 5, 2021, 1 p.m. CST) ❚ ❚ While the AEC industry struggles with an even representation of men and women at all levels, there is an even greater discrepancy between them at leadership levels. This occurs especially often to those who have been in the industry for 10-15 years, and they are not only leaving their firms, but the AEC industry as a whole. This leak in the career pipeline creates a deficiency of talent, a lack of innovation, and few mentors for younger women looking for role models in the industry. While there are many reasons women may choose to leave, at least one third of women leave the AEC industry because the culture in their firms is deemed unsupportive and unsustainable. Further, many firms are unaware of the toxicity of their cultures and the ways in which their structures and policies drive women away. ❚ ❚ This group seeks to do the following: ❚ ❚ Build a diagnostic tool that will help firm leaders evaluate their diversity and inclusion “IQ,” focusing on demographics of the firm, policies and procedures, career development and training, diversity and inclusion education, and micro-aggression awareness. ❚ ❚ Create a firm-wide survey to broaden leadership’s perspective, point out blind spots, and ultimately create an award for best performing firms. ❚ ❚ Build a diagnostic tool that can be included as part of a pre-M&A package at the beginning of discussions to determine cultural fit. ❚ ❚ Create a set of resources for firm leaders to research and investigate diversity and inclusion in their firms. The ElevateHER Symposium will take place within the Virtual ElevateAEC Conference. Register for this free event and gain access to the ElevateHER Symposium and other great learning sessions! Click here for more details. CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES is Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce. She can be reached at


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