TZL 1424 (web)

Janua r y 17, 2022 , I s sue 1 424 W W W . Z W E I G G R O U P . C O M T R E N D L I N E S Primary work location

Training opportunities that use the best of both worlds – science and experience – will bring your firm to the next level. Listen to the science

F I R M I N D E X Barr Engineering Co......................................... 12 Bolton & Menk...................................................... 12 Derck & Edson, LLC.............................................4 Dewberry.................................................................... 6 Kovert Hawkins Architects...........................10 RLG Consulting Engineers..........................10 TowerPinkster........................................................10 Ware Malcomb........................................................4 Westwood Professional Services........... 12 MO R E A R T I C L E S n JANE LAWLER SMITH: Survey says… Page 3 n Encouraging and engaging: Darren Conner Page 6 n STEPHEN SCHWIND: Employee retention Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Know your triggers 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.

I magine an engineer standing in front of you as you are faced with a high-risk problem. Would you feel reassured if he or she said, “I’m not sure what the current research says about this, and I have not consulted the code, but I think this should work? It feels like the right thing to do.” No, of course not. Those inside and outside the AEC industry expect a professional’s decision-making to include up-to-date research, command of industry standards, and a heavy dose of experience. Science is the foundation for how high-stakes decisions should be made, and many engineers, architects, and construction professionals do a great job relying on the available body of scientific information when making high-stakes, technical or project-related decisions. So why do so many companies rely on anecdotes, rules of thumb, or “the way things have always been done” when making major decisions that impact their people and their profits? It’s a good question. I don’t know either. There have been numerous articles and books on championing evidence-based and empirical approaches in favor of intuition, “gut” instincts, or what “feels right.” Much of this work started in the early 1950s when doctors believed that solely using their clinical judgement or “gut” was the best way to diagnose issues. Research tested this by looking at the decision-making process from two viewpoints. The first one relied on a clinical, subjective human judgment. The second one applied a data and research-driven approach, removing personal judgement factors. What was found is probably not that surprising: The data-driven methods were more accurate, supporting the use and foundation of empirically-driven decision making, and research today continues to support these conclusions. Countless studies have indicated the superiority of data driven approaches, such as evidence-based approaches or algorithms, compared to human forecasters or decision-makers. These studies asked the question: Would someone trust a human’s judgment over a data-driven machine? The answer, in layman’s terms, was clear: human judgment over data. Objectively, the results defy logic. In another example, participants in one study were more likely to

Justin Smith

See JUSTIN SMITH, page 2




PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS This is modern training for project managers led by a panel of three experts, backed by proven research on how to best train project managers to be more effective and efficient. This course provides people- focused, scienceanddatadrivenpractical skills tohelp project leaders harness the power of their team and to create a better client experience. By addressing the most important aspects of any project – the people – this course will provide practical techniques that can be immediately implemented for a positive impact on any AEC team or business. Click here to learn more!

Interested in learning more

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

JUSTIN SMITH , from page 2

tie their incentives to the predictions of the human forecasters even when they saw the algorithmic/data option outperform the human one. Think about that for a minute. People were more likely to believe that the person’s judgment was better than science than the reverse. Imagine if we designed buildings this way? It is as if we believe that empiricism is good enough for our project-related decisions, but not good enough for our people or business decisions. We trust science for decisions that impact the lives of the public that enter our buildings, but the decisions that we make that affect the lives of the people we lead do not rise to the level of warranting science. Now let’s consider this for project management – how do you go about actually applying research-backed approaches to project management? Our project management training team here at Zweig Group has done the heavy lifting of looking through the science and research and we have worked to distill it into easy and tangible skills that can be applied in everyday interactions and projects. We have developed a one-of-a- kind training that gives the background data, provides the skills, and allows hands-on practice with experts to give you feedback. When we began developing the project management training, we built the course around this science and applied it to the AEC field. There was no guessing on important skills; the topics covered were shown to increase effectiveness, decrease miscommunication and wasted time, and overall enhance the functioning of project managers. Because project management is at the heart of the AEC industry, it is critical to really reach for the science and understand howwe can maximize our potential to lead teams and projects efficiently. Currently, many firms rely on experience and on-the- job training that is only based in “in my experience” and not in the science. Although, this experience is still important, basing project management in the data that is out there can take project managers and firms to the next level. As an engineer who loves objectivity, black and white problems, and data, applying the principles of behavioral and management science to our teams, and using science- backed implementation models to implement these changes just seems like the obvious path forward; the research indicates our project managers will be better for it. When you are planning your next training opportunity, review the description and see how much of the training relies on only experience and ignores the science that is available. One without the other will not provide you with everything you need or want. Best practices change and data-driven tools can help you move to the next level. Our next Project Management I course starts in February. Contact me below for additional information or with any questions. Justin Smith is an advisor at Zweig Group, specializing in project management and leadership development. He 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.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Survey says…

H ave you ever downloaded a “free” report from a website? Attended an online webinar? Registered a product? Requested a rebate? When it comes to our clients, employees, and brand, are we competing like AEC professionals or acting like Family Feud contestants, simply guessing at answers?

Have you ever researched something online and then had that same element or a related product show up in your Instagram feed? I think it is safe to assume that most people are answering yes to that question. In Erik Larson’s book, Naked Consumer – How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities , his research reveals “the technologies and techniques of mass surveillance allow companies to learn details we never would have told them if asked directly.” This may not come as a shock to you, but would you be surprised to learn that he wrote this in 1994? The United States conducts a census every 10 years. The American Community Survey happens every year. Google Analytics allows you to track activity on demand. Today, the technologies and techniques of public and private data collection are legion. The business world is full of people with refined systems who want to know everything about you and all the

other perfect strangers – aka potential consumers – just like you. Using this kind of secondary survey data can be helpful, depending on your goals. If you are looking to identify trends or tendencies among a large pool of people, secondary data is often a fast and efficient approach. However, if you have a predetermined group you are interested in or a smaller area of focus, primary survey data may be worth the extra effort. Should primary data collection play a part in our role as AEC marketers? Generally, our jobs are concerned with things like proposals, advertising, and our brand. So, I was very interested to attend Zweig Group’s Branding Session as part of the ElevateAEC Virtual Conference. I thought this would be a session on,

Jane Lawler Smith




ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES CAROLINE MCNULTY AND EMERALD MASANGCAY STUDIO MANAGER PROMOTIONS IN OAK BROOK OFFICE Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, today announced that Caroline McNulty has been promoted to studio manager, interior architecture and design, and Emerald Masangcay has been promoted to studio manager, site planning, both in the firm’s Oak Brook office. In her role as studio manager, interior architecture and design, McNulty helps lead the Interior Architecture & Design Studio and manages select projects. McNulty joined Ware Malcomb as Designer in 2013. Her extensive interior architecture and design expertise includesmanaging tenant direct projects, landlord services, corporate accounts, tenant improvements and build-to- suit projects. Her experience spans the corporate workplace, industrial, retail, hospitality and science and technology industries. McNulty holds a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Miami University of Ohio and is an NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer.

“Caroline’s enthusiasm, client dedication and talented design eye have impressed clients both in the region and across the country,” said Dawn Riegel, regional director, interior architecture and design for Ware Malcomb. “A natural leader, she exemplifies the Ware Malcomb culture and has been a wonderful mentor to the Interiors team. We congratulate her on this promotion.” Masangcay joined Ware Malcomb’s Site Planning team in the Oak Brook office in 2019. In her role as studio manager, site planning, she leads the team and is focused on design advancement and implementing enhanced delivery methods. Her more than 15 years of experience includes site planning, space planning, and architectural building design. Masangcay holds a Bachelor of Architecture, cum laude, from the Illinois Institute of Technology and is LEED AP BD+C certified. Ware Malcomb provides site planning services for industrial parks, office campuses, mixed-use projects, retail and medical complexes, among many others. “Under Emerald’s guidance, the Site

Planning team has impressively tripled in size,” said Jinger Tapia, principal, design for Ware Malcomb. “Emerald exemplifies the Ware Malcomb culture both in her team mentality and excellent client service. We look forward to her continued growth.” Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is a contemporary and expanding full service design firm providing professional architecture, planning, interior design, civil engineering, branding and building measurement services to corporate, commercial/residential developer and public/institutional clients throughout the world. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, Ware Malcomb specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science and technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/institutional facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm by Zweig Group.

JANE LAWLER SMITH , from page 3

Simply put, as Chad states: We’ve got to know these things. The long-running show Family Feud with its memorable “survey says” sound bite was voted one of the best TV game shows of all time. Families would try to guess the answers given by 100 random people to questions on a variety of topics. “The survey and data collection technology and techniques are readily available. Are your clients and employees worth the time and effort to survey, to study the responses, and then work to close the gap?” When it comes to our clients, our employees, and our brand, are we competing like AEC professionals or are we acting like the families playing the feud and simply guessing at answers? How valuable are your clients? What about your employees? The survey and data collection technology and techniques are readily available. Are your clients and employees worth the time and effort to survey, to study the responses, and then work to close the gap? Jane Lawler Smith, MBA, is the marketing manager at Derck & Edson, LLC. She can be reached at

well, branding. But instead, we went down an unexpected path paved with EX (employee experience), CX (client experience), and surveys. During Chad Clinehens’ presentation, “Building a Strong AEC Brand,” he made a strong argument for primary surveys and their impact on your brand, your marketing, and your overall firm success. Speaking from years of experience, he explained that your brand is shaped by every single touchpoint with your firm and the optimal brand expression is achieved through consistency in message and experience. As Chad described it, your brand is made up of two sides: ■ ■ The message side: The description, the things we say we do. ■ ■ The experience side: The delivery, what we do. As we work to close the gap between the message and the experience, we continually refine our brand. The interconnected relationship between the client experience and the employee experience creates a reciprocal cycle, even a virtuous circle. However, if only one-third of AEC firms survey their clients on a regular basis, how do we knowwhat the client experience actually is, and how it compares to the messages we assert? And that is only half of the equation. How many of us are surveying our greatest asset – our employees?

© 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 FEB 17-18 Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals New Orleans, LA MAR 10-11 Project Management & Advanced PM for AEC Professionals Tampa, FL


Project Management 11am - 12:30pm CT

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Encouraging and engaging: Darren Conner President of Dewberry (Fairfax, VA), a nationwide planning, design, and construction firmwith more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.


A fter 33 years of moving up through the ranks of nationwide engineering firm Dewberry, Conner was promoted to firm president in 2018. Today, he oversees operations within more than 50 offices from coast to coast, with services that include environmental, site/civil, structural, mechanical/electrical, energy, and transportation engineering. “Encouraging and engaging staff requires direct interaction. I visit a lot of offices, and I’m constantly picking up the phone to check in with staff,” Conner says. “This is emphasized throughout our leadership training, and I practice this every day. It’s the best part of my job.” A CONVERSATIONWITH DARREN CONNER. The Zweig Letter: What sets your marketing apart? To what do you attribute your Marketing Excellence Award and can you provide an example of some unique marketing your firm has done? Darren Conner: The Marketing Excellence Award recognized our recent video series entitled “My Project Story.” Each of these short videos is narrated by a project manager or senior

staff member providing an overview of a challenging project. In addition to the voiceover description, the videos include custom graphics, hand-drawn illustrations, photos, and captions that help provide a lively, easy-to-follow introduction to the project. The series has been produced entirely in-house, and employees are encouraged to share the videos via their LinkedIn and other social media accounts. This was an interesting and successful marketing initiative for several reasons. First, it enabled our communications team to continue to showcase important projects despite the challenges of the pandemic. The project managers were able to create the voiceovers remotely. While the firm’s ability to secure on-site photography was curtailed during this time, our graphic designers and writers were able to step in to help tell the stories with illustrations and animations that supplemented available photography and set a friendlier, more accessible tone than some of the more technical CAD images or other project graphics. This proved especially effective in enabling us to highlight projects that would have been difficult to photograph in any case, including studies and complex construction efforts or underground utility systems.



Most importantly, this series underscores what sets our marketing apart in general: a focus on people and relationships. The scripted narration presents a warm and personal perspective, emphasizing the project manager’s sense of pride in the project using their own voice and words. The series also conveys our emphasis on the importance of storytelling and underscoring the compelling aspects of each project – the challenges, teamwork, innovations, and collaboration with clients that lead to successful solutions. Our marketing and communication efforts are highly focused on relationship-building, and during the challenging stretch of the pandemic, the series enabled us to continue to reach out to clients and stay in touch. Over the past year and a half, we’ve also planned virtual happy hours, games, scavenger hunts, and other technology-friendly means of keeping in close contact with our clients – even through remote connections. TZL: How do you earn the trust of your clients? DC: I believe that building trust begins long before we’re awarded a contract with a new client. Our marketing and communications teams know more than anyone that it begins with an effective, ongoing communications program that promotes our reputation and our brand promise. We invest in our website, publications, blogs, press releases, video stories, and other tools that convey our firm’s expertise and create a comfort level with prospective clients who are considering working with us. Building trust also includes going to conferences and contributing articles and presentations that highlight our knowledge and skills. It includes sharing testimonials from satisfied clients and securing awards and recognition for our projects. All of this helps pave the way with new clients. Of course, the most important factor will always be our performance on the job once we’re selected. The effort to maintain that initial trust must continue throughout the life of the project, guided by our core principles, including integrity, ethics, teamwork, and strong communications. TZL: What steps are you taking to address diversity and inclusion? DC: We’ve focused heavily on our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative in recent years, with a commitment that starts at the top with oversight and involvement from our board of directors. Our CEO, Don Stone, and our diversity goal leaders have made clear that seeking and listening to diverse perspectives,

experiences and ideas makes us stronger as a firm and helps us create closer connections with clients. Don has challenged firm leaders to help foster a culture of equity and fairness, and to enhance our understanding of the limitations and barriers to minority engagement in the lifecycle of an employee, in terms of recruiting, developing, advancing, and rewarding. We also want to increase minority participation in flagship programs such as our Client Management Advisory Group. We’ve seen an increase in the participation of women in the CMAG, but we’d like to see more minority involvement. We’ve examined every facet of our operations, from recruitment and hiring practices to retention and leadership styles. One productive result has been the establishment of our Employee Resource Groups. These are internal employee groups that are based on common lifestyles, demographics, and experiences, and offer a fully inclusive, safe, and open environment for employees to participate. Examples so far include our Family/Work Life Balance group and Women’s Forum; with a Multicultural, Minority, and Allies group and an LGBTQIA and Allies group in the works. TZL: What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? DC: Leadership development has long been a focus within the firm, but nowwe are placing more of an emphasis on competencies in leadership. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a valued employee leave the firm, and we want to be sure that our leaders have the skills, tools, training, and awareness to be excellent people managers. We developed a leadership competency model to help define the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that leaders must demonstrate consistently. This includes such attributes as creating a vision, critical thinking, delegating, resilience, and team building and motivation. For each competency, we’ve identified demonstrated behaviors. This has become a critical element in our ongoing leadership training. TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation with rewards for tenured staff? DC: As a tenured employee, I find mentoring others most rewarding. We’ve recently revamped our leadership training program. In addition to adding the focus on core competencies as well as diversity and inclusion, we are emphasizing engagement with our emerging professionals. Again, this is an initiative that starts at the top. For See ENCOURAGING AND ENGAGING , page 8

HEADQUARTERS: Fairfax, VA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 2,300 YEAR FOUNDED: 1956 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 54 SERVICES: ■ ■ Architecture ■ ■ Environmental ■ ■ Technology ■ ■ Construction ■ ■ Geospatial, mapping, and survey ■ ■ Engineering ■ ■ Planning, consulting, and advisory MARKETS: ■ ■ Community facilities ■ ■ Federal ■ ■ Justice ■ ■ Telecommunications ■ ■ Education ■ ■ Health and wellness ■ ■ Real estate and commercial development ■ ■ Transportation ■ ■ Energy ■ ■ Industrial ■ ■ Risk, response, and recovery ■ ■ Water

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

NUARY 17, 2022, ISSUE 1424



example, our CEO has established a regular “coffee time” and open discussion with newly-registered professionals on their leadership development. We’ve also enhanced onboarding and engagement with a focus on recruiting classes. During the 2020/2021 season, we recruited more than 100 new professionals. They are taking part in a series of information sessions, workshops, and teaming events to create a stronger orientation experience. I’m serving as the executive sponsor and we involve seasoned, senior-level executives in the process. In general, we employ a wide range of tools and resources to encourage mentorship and camaraderie across all of our geographies. TZL: Does your firmwork closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology, experience, innovation, and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? DC: We have active, long-term relationships with several major universities, with our subject matter experts and technical staff contributing through lectures, project tours, and participation on awards programs for student projects. We also partner with several institutions to recruit interns and new graduates. We have close ties, for example, to Virginia Tech’s Land Development Design Initiative, which partners with the university’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with industry practitioners. Many of our marketing and communications professionals have also partnered with George Mason University’s marketing professional services and technical writing program, serving as advisors and mentors. We have a strong internship program throughout many of our offices – one in which we provide students with meaningful, hands-on involvement in major projects while also encouraging candid feedback on their experiences at Dewberry. We design custom projects with teams of interns and Dewberry facilitators. As an example, our 2021 summer intern project examined what the higher education market might look like in the post-COVID environment – then reported the results back to clients. “To realize our marketing goals, it all needs to begin at the personal level in reaching out to clients and prospective clients. Everyone here represents Dewberry. In that respect, we’re all a part of the marketing team.” TZL: What are you currently doing to meet the vision of “Inventing Our Next Future One Opportunity at a Time”? DC: Our strategic plan is closely aligned with this vision. We maintain a strategic focus on acquisitions, the hiring of key subject matter experts, leadership development, engaging emerging professionals, employee retention, increasing diversity, and, most importantly, building and sustaining productive relationships with clients and partners. There is a common thread to all of this: our focus on people and their personal experiences and perspectives.

2019 Fall Strategic Planning Meeting, “Inventing Our Next Future One Opportunity at a Time.” Photographer: Dave Huh

When we talk about leadership, diversity, and retention, we’re drawing heavily on the personal involvement of our employees. We want to understand how people relate to one another and howwe can support and motivate each other. This includes our marketing. To realize our marketing goals, it all needs to begin at the personal level in reaching out to clients and prospective clients. Everyone here represents Dewberry. In that respect, we’re all a part of the marketing team. TZL: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? DC: We’re very much a culture-driven firm, and one that has always focused on people and relationship-building in our service delivery. There are markets that are not a fit with this emphasis. For example, we committed resources and the opening of an office to exploring business opportunities related to a market opportunity that was pretty hot and being pursued by many in our industry. We quickly found that this was very much a commodity-driven market. That isn’t a fit for our firm, and we soon stepped back from that initiative. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? DC: People. As a civil engineer, I’ve enjoyed the many challenges that complex projects bring, but today I focus on what our firm is doing to keep our employees happy, engaged, and challenged. TZL: What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? DC: We’ve examined this up and down and a few strategies do stand out: having the right leadership in place, creating and defining clear career paths, providing opportunities to work on interesting and challenging projects and having fun. We work hard, but we focus on the work-life balance too. In terms of career opportunities, we have a strong focus on internal transfers. As our geographic footprint has grown, this has become easier to do, with multiple opportunities across service lines and offices around the country. Encouraging and engaging staff requires direct interaction. I visit a lot of offices, and I’m constantly picking up the phone to check in with staff. This is emphasized throughout our leadership training, and I practice this every day. It’s the best part of my job.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Employee retention

Employee retention is a two way street, requiring trust between both the company and the employee.

S tephen Schwind joined the ranks of the RLG Consulting Engineers’ civil department after being recruited through a job fair during his senior year at Texas Tech University in 2006. RLG appealed to him because he saw a lot of potential in the firm. At the time, RLG didn’t have many young engineers on staff. Schwind saw it as an opportunity to find a mentor and establish himself in his new career.

Stephen Schwind

Engineering runs in the family. Schwind’s dad was an engineer. His three uncles were engineers, too. A career as an engineer seemed chosen for him, but Schwind was interested in more than just engineering. He chose civil engineering for the people. Whether it be the people who were impacted by his work or the people he worked with and worked for. Throughout the years, Schwind moved up the ranks at RLG, first as an EIT, then a project manager, an associate, senior associate, and now a principal. At 41, Schwind is the youngest principal at RLG. “I worked hard, stuck it out, continued growing, and continued to learn,” Schwind says. He didn’t do it alone. Schwind found a mentor at RLG, a fellow civil engineer and principal (now CEO), Stuart Markussen. Markussen taught him everything he needed to know – about design and client

management. Markussen would sit down with him regularly to talk through issues directly and also allowed him to be independent to figure problems out on his own. Those learning opportunities made Schwind the engineer he is today. As a leader in the company, Schwind knows the importance of different types of skill sets required from every position/role in the company, as well as retaining talent. All roles, from technician to senior project manager are pivotal to the success of the company. He looks for motivated new hires with good verbal communication skills and strong personalities to increase employee morale. RLG encourages all employees to participate in business development. It is important for RLG’s engineers to develop relationships with clients who like the firm and trust




TRANSACTIONS TOWERPINKSTER AND KOVERT HAWKINS ARCHITECTS ANNOUNCE MERGER Zweig Group, a full-service AEC management advisory firm, announced its client TowerPinkster merged with Kovert Hawkins Architects in October 2021 to create a stronger and more geographically diverse design firm. Together, the firms boast nearly 200 professionals and more than 100 years of combined experience. With additional services, increased expertise, and expanded geographic reach, the team is better able to serve clients throughout the Midwest and beyond. Jamie Claire Kiser, Zweig Group’s managing principal, served as TowerPinkster’s lead advisor on the engagement. “We’re excited about the possibilities this merger brings and the opportunity to integrate our two firms into one large, unified team working toward a visionary future,” said Björn Green, CEO of TowerPinkster. “We’re looking forward to pulling together best practices to

advance our business strategies and better serve our clients. In the end, our goal is to envision and create high- quality design solutions for our collective clients.” TowerPinkster is an employee-owned design firm specializing in architecture, engineering, interior design, landscape architecture, and technology design. Since 1953, TowerPinkster has been creating unique and forward- thinking environments for clients and communities throughout Michigan and beyond. The firm has offices in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven, Michigan. Kovert Hawkins Architects was established in 1985 by Hal Kovert and John Hawkins. The firm has offices in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky. Over the years, the firm has designed many impressive projects in a wide array of market sectors including K-12, commercial, government, historic renovations, industrial, and healthcare. “We’re thrilled to have merged with such

a forward-thinking firm that is aligned with us culturally and technically,” said Hal Kovert, principal and founder of Kovert Hawkins. “Both firms are highly invested in our communities, devoted to hiring the best and brightest talent, and committed to a client-centric design philosophy. We look forward to offering our clients expanded services and growing our expertise and knowledge.” The merger will create a deeper bench of design professionals and services, allowing each to better serve clients throughout the region. Areas of expertise include structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering; technology and security design; interior design; master planning; and landscape architecture. Both firms enjoy an impressive list of national and regional clients and projects. Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the leading research, publishing, and consulting resource for the built environment. For more information, visit or call 800.466.6275.

He says, “I’ve been lucky with the team that we have collectively built in the civil department. I enjoy the team both personally and professionally and I am always willing to listen to anyone on the team. We don’t shy away from new ideas or different approaches to our work. We want every employee to have a voice and be heard.” Employee retention is a vital part in maintaining the stability of the company. Schwind has seen talented engineers start their career and grow as engineers and into young professionals. He wants to show the young engineers that RLG Consulting Engineers has more to offer them than other firms. Work-life balance is vital. Schwind has seen that a healthy work/life balance increases employee productivity and morale. He’s focused on the overall health and wellbeing of the team. “You can see a difference in an employee who knows when to take a break and comes in refreshed and ready to go the next day.” He has built a team of hardworking, talented people that he sees as peers, not as employees. Trust is key to keeping talented employees engaged and happy at the firm. At every level, they are encouraged to develop a client base within the firm and continue to growwith RLG. Employee retention is a two way street, requiring trust between both the company and the employee. Schwind understands this and so does his team, making RLG the place they look forward to working every day as they grow in their career. Stephen Schwind is a principal at RLG Consulting Engineers in Dallas, Texas. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

STEPHEN SCHWIND, from page 9

its work. Once employees are hired and join the team, Schwind takes time to really get to know them. He hates being called a “boss,” and would rather be viewed as a friend and mentor. Schwind and the civil team rely on team lunches and happy hours to maintain their personal relationship. He also tries to keep the atmosphere as stress free as possible in the office, while maintaining professional client relationships and producing top quality work. “This personal relationship is key to growing and maintaining trust in the team and to the success of the individual and company,” Schwind says. He makes sure that the atmosphere is conducive to creative growth and prefers not to micromanage. He has learned over the years that it is very important in employee retention because it shows trust in his employees. Because he spends so much time getting to know his team, he knows when to motivate them or test their limits. He also knows when one of his employees might need a break or someone to talk to. “I am always willing to listen to anyone on the team. We don’t shy away from new ideas or different approaches to our work. We want every employee to have a voice and be heard.”

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Know your triggers

M ost people – not all, certainly, but most – have “triggers.” Those are the things that can really upset them quickly if they occur. Use these tactics to respond to the things that trigger you emotionally and contribute to you losing your temper.

Many of these triggers are related to things certain other people may say or do – particularly in the workplace. And if you are a manager, you have to be very aware (and wary!) of these things. One of the worst sins you can commit is losing your cool. You never want to do that. It is an instant way to generate fear, uncertainty, and lose the respect of your people. I can reflect back on my career and identify many of those triggers. And I didn’t always respond the way I should have. Maybe if I had been more cognizant of how my reaction to those things affected other people I would have been a better manager. Being an effective manager is an art. And it is also a learned skill. I’m not going to belabor all of the differences in management and leadership – it’s not

the point of this treatise. I will say, however, that being an effective leader certainly helps you do a better job as a manager. And losing your temper isn’t going to help you be effective as either one. So what can you do if there are certain people – or things that people you work with do – that trigger you emotionally and contribute to you losing your cool? Here are some tactics that can help: 1. Know and acknowledge whatever it is that leads you to have an emotional response. Make out a complete list. Keep it private. Add to it over time. The notes app on your phone is the perfect place to keep this list. 2. Rehearse in your mind how you will ideally want

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG , page 12



BUSINESS NEWS ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS MINNESOTA CELEBRATES PROJECT COMPLETION & FORGES FORWARD The Minnesota Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA announced they have completed the Aldea Patzac school project in rural Guatemala. The all-volunteer project team designed, fundraised, and supported construction of a new school, replacing the community’s former structure which they had outgrown and hadbeenadverselyimpactedbydecades of seismic activity and erosion. The new school features three classrooms, a kitchen, new bathrooms, a new retaining wall to stabilize a critical eroding slope, and better accommodations for all 60 elementary-aged students in the growing community. “I am tremendously proud of the team and the work that went into completing the Aldea Patzac school project,” says Jake Hexum, chapter president. “We have such a phenomenal group of volunteers; I can’t wait to tackle more projects and help those who need it most.” EWB-MN iseager tokeep themomentum on both local and international projects. Internationally, the chapter has two concurrent projects: one in Chuchurras, Peru and the other in RioAzul, Guatemala. In Peru, the group is engineering and fundraising for a solar powered water project that will provide a year-round source of clean and reliable water for a 500-person rural community. The

community currently collects unclean water manually from local streams and rivers, with an often-scarce supply during the three-month dry season. And in Rio Azul, a 2,000-person rural community lacks a building dedicated to secondary education. To help, the group is engineering and fundraising for a school complex that will feature seven classrooms, two admin rooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and an athletic court. The group expects to begin construction on both projects this fall with Chuchurras already underway. The chapter is also proud of their local work in the Twin Cities community. Most recently, the team completed energy audits for Beacon Interfaith, assessing and collecting data through utility bills and site walks. After one year, recommendations were provided to the Beacon Interfaith property management teams for review. The team is also supporting the Division of Indian Work. The group has three building upgrades that our team will support by completing a solar panel array assessment, water catchment system design, and compositing integration. These efforts will support building efficiency and their community garden. These two impactful projects have given both Beacon Interfaith Housing and Division of Indian Work actionable ways to reduce their carbon footprint, be more sustainable, and utilize more cost-effective systems The work conducted by EWB-MN is

completed by volunteers and fully funded by donors. The team is thankful for the generous contributions and partnership provided by Minnesota- based engineering firms Westwood Professional Services, Barr Engineering Co., and Bolton & Menk. These partner organizations don’t just donate to a great cause; their people work shoulder-to- shoulder to engineer and construct impactful solutions for communities in need. As 2022 nears, the chapter has their sights set and fundraising efforts focused on preexisting local projects and two new international projects. The new international projects will focus on a structural project in Uganda and a water project in Guatemala. “With passionate volunteers, partnership support, and dedicated leadership, the Minnesota Professional Chapter of Engineer Without Boarders is excited for what’s next,” says Matt Wessale, vice president of International Projects. Engineers Without Borders MN is a nonprofitgroupofprofessionalengineers, architects, scientists, and others who aim to implement solutions for communities in need across the globe. The team also provides professional mentors for the student chapters at the University of Minnesota and MNSU Mankato. The group has approximately 100 volunteers residing primarily in and around the greater Twin Cities metro area.

avoidance is smart. So could be avoiding people and situations that could trigger you. 4. If you find yourself in a triggering situation, consciously slow down. Don’t respond instantly even if you want to. Step away physically and gather your thoughts if at all possible. And if you can’t do that, count to 10 or 20, and shift your mind out of gear for a moment so you can reflect back on your prior thinking of how you ideally wanted to respond should you be in that situation. None of this may seem at all profound. But it IS important, nevertheless. And although I didn’t know these things 30, 20, or even 10 years ago myself, I sure wish I had. If I can keep just one of our readers from blowing up (and blowing it!) in response to one of their triggers, I will feel like I did my job. Happy new year to all of our readers! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

to respond in these situations before you are actually in them. How can you keep from blowing up? What would be the best response you (or anyone) could give if you were in that situation? Practice responding in that way. You may want to do this several times a day until your response is automatic. “One of the worst sins you can commit is losing your cool. You never want to do that. It is an instant way to generate fear, uncertainty, and lose the respect of your people.” 3. Avoid these situations if at all possible. That may sound silly, or make you feel like you are copping out for wanting to avoid a blowup, but it is neither. It’s just smart. Tax

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