TZL 1345 (web)


JM: We can now see all the way through to the end of all of our proposed or planned work. The level of detail and data we can easily access has been eye-opening. The software is fluid and flexible, and takes only five to 10 minutes a week for an associate to staff their teams. It’s been a really seismic shift, and has given us clarity on the work we can take on, who will be free to work on it given their predicted workloads, who can focus on R&D projects and when we will need to hire to fill the anticipated need. We’ve found that planning the workload keeps everyone productive, which not only increases our efficiency and utilization of team members, but drives up our profitability by magnitudes. TZL: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are potential disruptors across all industries. Is your firm exploring how to incorporate these technologies into providing improved services for clients? JM: We’ve been using AI on the architectural design side to help us iterate through a range of design options. We’ve even created a program that allows us to create buildings with customized facades that can have a different surface pattern design on every square foot if desired. It’s called Synthesis, and we were proud that we received the Architecture Masterprize last year for it. We use an algorithmic approach to structural design, utilizing Grasshopper scripts to create parametric analysis models with extensive load cases and structural layouts to optimize the design in ways never before possible. This process places material precisely where it is needed, and removes it where it is not, to create cost- effective systems that are stronger, lighter, and safer. TZL: You founded edg in 2004. What was your greatest challenge in getting the business up and running? How did you overcome it? JM: When I began the company, I was only four years out from graduating with my undergraduate degree, so I faced tremendous challenges. Just the work involved in hiring and creating systems to run the office was probably the most significant hurdle initially, and all these years later, they remain the two most important factors to doing our best work. I can speak from experience that having the right system in place allows great people to do great work, and I don’t think you can have one without the other. Since our founding, I’ve spent an incredible

amount of time, energy, and resources to create a system that handles everything we need it to do. I was surprised by how fragmented the existing solutions were, each covering specific aspects of the business or all-in-ones for general use, but none encompassing the entirety of what we needed. Recognizing the potentially profound impact such a solution could have on our day-to-day work, I began designing software to handle everything in one place. Over the years, it’s been continuously tweaked and refined, adding things, removing others, as well as getting a ton of feedback from outside architects and engineers, until we had something that worked seamlessly. TZL: How has COVID-19 affected your business on a daily basis? JM: It’s a new challenge with work routines being altered so dramatically. We’ve used this downtime to invest in our staff’s education, and to upgrade new systems we couldn’t find the time to, including our CRM and field forms. We’ve been using a project and business management program to handle operations called Mosaic, from a software company that I founded. It was designed for digital communication and collaboration, which of course becomes a necessity with everyone working remotely. With this tool, edg’s leadership team can easily get an overview of what everyone is working on, and the team can track projects and communicate what needs to be done. These features have always been powerful, but during this crisis, with everything changing from one day to the next and trying to keep everyone busy, they have proved invaluable. TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit? If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? JM: Yes, we have a very strong R&D department working on some cutting-edge construction products using the credit, and it works as intended. It allows one to take advantage of the collective knowledge of the firm, investing in the future of the company, while non-billable/non-project time is used effectively. I recommend it to all firms.






❚ ❚ Project management

❚ ❚ Planning

❚ ❚ Architectural design

❚ ❚ Structural engineering

❚ ❚ Material science

❚ ❚ Restoration


TZL: Are you seeking some kind of financial assistance during the COVID-19? If so, what type?


JM: We are currently seeking several sources of funding, most of which come through various arms of the Small Business See INVESTING IN THE FUTURE, page 8


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AY 18, 2020, ISSUE 1345

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