TZL 1480 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

March 13, 2023, Issue 1480 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Ownership transition plan

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When looking to sell your firm, failing to prepare could result in you missing great opportunities when they’re right in front of you. Don’t miss out

Firms with succession planning training

Firms with a formal succession plan

FIRM INDEX AECOM....................................................................... 12 AG&E Associates, PLLC ................................. 10 Balata ........................................................................... 10 Blackstone Environmental............................. 2 Holistic Engineering........................................... 8 Knightly Environmental..................................... 2 Ross Barney Architects .................................... 6 Skiles Group.............................................................. 4 Structural Detailing LLC ................................ 10 TETER .......................................................................... 10 Wilson & Company, Inc.................................... 8 MORE ARTICLES n KEYAN ZANDY: Building trust with your team Page 3 n Improving lives: Carol Ross Barney Page 6 n MEGAN CHANG: A delegation process that works Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Growth is the goal Page 11 According to Zweig Group research, roughly 80 percent of firms state they have some kind of training or program that focuses on succession planning, but only 17 percent have a formal ownership transition plan in place. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

I n 2022 – a year of record consolidation in the AEC industry – we were all party to the strong demand for buying architecture, engineering, and consulting firms. There are a number of reasons we’ve seen this unfold over the last couple of years, but one is that this space continues to endear suitors with its relative stability and potential for strong returns. As director of ownership transition, I field several inquiries each month from smaller firm owners looking at the predicament of ownership transition. Many are coming to the table because they have a key person or two they want to include in securing the firm’s future. Others are looking for counsel because they have an idea of an internal transition plan but have been approached by a buyer and are reacting to the prompt. In today’s environment, buyers of AEC firms take a range of forms; from key qualified staff, to another consulting firm you’ve worked with for a long time, to a cold call inquiry, to those who have reached out specifically because they know something about your firm. In any instance, as a potential seller you have a number of decisions to make. Do you have the right folks in the business to complete an internal transition or support an external transition? Does selling to an outside buyer provide your team more opportunity for growth? What are your overall goals and how do you navigate the market to achieve them? This can be a delicate time! According to Zweig Group research , roughly 80 percent of firms state they have some kind of training or program that focuses on succession planning, but only 17 percent have a formal ownership transition program. It’s important to note that most AEC firms are (or should be!) in some state of transition. It’s also important to note that sending mixed signals to some of your key people can be really disruptive and degrade value. Setting up conversations with internal staff and key leaders who could be candidates to take over the firm has to be done carefully and takes time. Education and awareness is one of the biggest blind spots for smaller firms that haven’t gone through a transition before. Another is that some firm owners don’t realize how delicate these conversations can be if they aren’t approached carefully. Many incoming owners see ownership as an all or nothing proposition, and a false start can prompt them to start dusting off their resume. By focusing on succession planning well in advance of answering and responding to a call to sell your business, you are ensuring you have a

Will Swearingen




TRANSACTIONS KNIGHTLY ENVIRONMENTAL MERGES WITH BLACKSTONE ENVIRONMENTAL Blackstone Environmental announced it has merged with Knightly Environmental. For the past 30 years Knightly Environmental, an environmental consulting firm, has specialized in the assessment and remediation of petroleum contaminated soil and groundwater sites across the Midwest. Knightly Environmental will expand Blackstone’s environmental consulting team, contributing expertise in Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, groundwater monitoring, site remediation

supervision, asbestos inspections, storage tank closures, waste stream sampling, and site investigations. Blackstone Environmental is excited to welcome Knightly Environmental to the team and to continue growing its talents to provide clients the best services and staff for their environmental needs. Blackstone Environmental is an employee- owned full-service environmental engineering and consulting firm founded in 2010. Blackstone is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, with offices in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Interested in learning more

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

WILL SWEARINGEN , from page 1

solid base of options. But if you do get the itch to answer an email or a call regarding the sale of your business, just know that setting up meetings and exchanging information with external buyers requires patience, diligence, and – perhaps most importantly – a cool head. As a seller, you are now in a seat that requires you to respond to offers (with some sense of urgency) from external buyers. If you have other partners and next tier leaders, you are also likely contemplating internal ownership offers to them. This can be overwhelming! Unfortunately we see firms that are unprepared for the range of conversations that need to take place and miss great opportunities when they are right in front of them. If you find yourself pursuing an external sale of your business, keep a few things in mind: 1. Make sure your financials are clean and can be analyzed in industry context. Ensure your finance department (staff and systems) is tuned to be able to develop accurate reports on a timely basis. Understand that quality and consistency with your financials drive value and rapport down the line. 2. Don’t be offended by an initial offer that “seems low.” It’s a draft of something that takes time to shape. Negotiations are based on differences of opinion on value and other key terms. If it feels like a good fit, don’t let a lowish offer shut the conversation down. Find a few points that align with your goals and communicate those areas of alignment. Valuation is one thing, but risk sharing and deal structure really drive the amount you take home. 3. Know when to walk away. Many firms get caught in the dizzying activity of trying to sell externally and neglect the internal options. If the external market is responding in a way that doesn’t fit your expectations, be able to shift focus and build the necessary programs to grow your key folks so that option can become a reality. Sellers have the ability to respond to multiple offers. Some buyers start low. Don’t be offended. Remember it’s a negotiation. Know what you want. And if you intend to retire or cash in on your value, know what you need and work the problem so you can accomplish your goals. This requires planning and patience. Will Swearingen is a principal and director of ownership transition advisory services at Zweig Group. He can be reached at

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Building trust with your team

O ver the years, I’ve observed many managers and superintendents as they lead, manage, and run their projects and jobsites. I’ve noticed that the individuals who can build trust with their teams and trade partners seem to have projects that make more money, finish on time, and have less rework. It’s critical to take the time to develop your trust-building skills. You, your teams, and the projects you are all working on together will only benefit.

Keyan Zandy

This type of trust is more than just hard work and meeting commitments; it requires a certain level of emotional intelligence. So, how can you build these kinds of trust and benefit from this leadership style? 1. Be honest – every time. Being honest could be considered the foundation of trust. There are many reasons why people are not honest with themselves or others. From trying to make yourself look better or avoiding embarrassment, transparent about scheduled milestones, are honest when they don’t know the answer to a question, and do not keep others in the dark on crucial issues set the tone for building trust. Honest leaders: † Keep their word and commitment. these traits, unfortunately, do exist in the workplace. Leaders who are truthful and

By studying the formula that makes these individuals successful, I’ve realized that there are two basic types of trust that they excel at building: ■ Applied trust. This is built and earned through hard work. Individuals who show up on time, put in real effort, and do what they say earn credibility with the people in the office and the field, and this trust allows the team members to rely on their competence and dependability. They know and trust that the leader can get the job done. Applied trust is a must, and leaders who don’t have it experience duplication of work, missed deadlines, and poor productivity. ■ Emotional trust. This is a notch above applied trust. Emotional trust is when you know someone has your back, feel your work is respected, and that you are respected as a person. Emotional trust allows for honest thoughts to be shared with vulnerability around feelings and ideas, and there’s healthy conflict when things get tough.

See KEYAN ZANDY , page 4



what this person is (or might be) experiencing: What is causing them stress or anxiety? What could be weighing on them? Be cognizant of what they may be going through. † Practicing patience and kindness. Give everyone some grace and room to be human. We can all try to be more transparent and vulnerable in our interactions. † Being proactive. See if you can solve a problem for someone before it gets worse. Look for ways to smooth the path someone is walking on. 4. Ask for feedback and then use it. Fostering a culture of continuous improvement with your team sets a tone of positivity and encouragement, and there is no better way to do this than to ask for feedback. One way to do this is to make a “Plus/Delta” part of your meetings. Ask the team for feedback at the end of a huddle or coordination meeting. A plus would be what brought value and how it can be repeated; a delta would be what the team can change to add more value. Asking for feedback can also be a one-on-one conversation. Leaders who do this well ask: † How can I help you? † What isn’t working right in your area? † In what ways can communication be improved? † How can I support you and make you more effective? † What can I do differently next time that will be more helpful? The clincher is to make sure you’re using the feedback you’ve received. If you ask for feedback and then dismiss it, people will lose trust that you care about what they have said – and feedback will stop being offered. 5. Share credit – and blame. If you’ve ever worked with a leader who takes all the credit when things are going well – but will quickly place blame on others when things go wrong – then you know how quickly that creates distrust. Leaders who possess both applied and emotional trust don’t do this. When a project succeeds, or a milestone is hit, they give credit to the team and call out champions for their contributions. On the other hand, when a milestone or project goal falls short, they accept responsibility for the team instead of blaming individual people or other firms. When people see success or failure as something created by the entire team, they are more likely to have trust. Remember, practice makes perfect. This way of thinking and deliberate approach to interacting with people can take time to acclimate to – this is doubly difficult when under stress. But it’s critical to take the time to develop your trust-building skills. You, your teams, and the projects you are all working on together will only benefit. Keyan Zandy is CEO of Skiles Group. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

KEYAN ZANDY, from page 3

† Tell it like it is rather than sugarcoating an issue. † Are upfront if they have a personal bias. † Take responsibility when they make mistakes. † Don’t lie or overcompensate for their shortcomings. 2. Information is power – share it. Many leaders want to hold all the cards and protect critical information. This provides a sense of control over the entire office or jobsite. They worry that, if others have the same information, they might be excluded from decisions – or that they won’t like the decisions others will make without them. This behavior kills teamwork and trust and makes the company or project completely reliant upon that lone leader. The more individuals are involved in sharing information, the better the opportunity for deeper trust and unity between people – which will allow more opportunities for these professionals to interact. When these interactions occur, the people involved become more familiar with each other. This facilitates an openness to share even more information, decreasing potential conflicts and bringing better ideas to the surface. 3. Communicate – openly and often. Transparent, candid, and frequent communication is a key ingredient to trust- building. The best way to do this in your business or on your project is with a daily huddle where teams get in the habit of collaborating and keeping one another aligned by answering the following questions: † What are you working on? † Where are you working? † What are your constraints/needs? † How many people/workers are involved (or on-site)? † What material deliveries are coming up (if at a jobsite)? † What are the upcoming project milestones? By asking these six questions, you’re engaging teams and allowing them to work in partnership and coordinate with others. This achieves buy-in and accountability and allows for a more reliable workflow. Ensuring that a project meets the schedule is a primary goal – and when the heat is on, it can be easy to ride people to perform. However, leaders who are best at building trust see their team as people and have compassion for them. The best way to understand this is to remember that everyone is dealing with some stress or pain. Sometimes we won’t know what those things are – you might be surprised how significant some of these stressors are and how well people hide them. Next, think about what you might be able to do to help that person. Ways you can show your people you care about them include: † Having empathy. Try to imagine or connect with

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Improving lives: Carol Ross Barney Design principal and founder of Ross Barney Architects (Chicago, IL), an architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture studio.


S ince founding Ross Barney Architects in 1981, Carol Ross Barney has been a driving force in civic space design. And, with a career that spans nearly 50 years, she has no plans to retire – ever. Over the years, she’s made significant contributions to the built environment, the profession, and architectural education and continues to advocate that excellent design is a right, not a privilege. She’s passionate about that and communicates her philosophies through teaching, mentoring, and empowering young architects. The American Institute of Architects recently awarded her the 2023 AIA Gold Medal, making her the first living woman to win the award as an individual (Julia Morgan received the recognition decades after her death; Denise Scott Brown in 2016 and Angela Brooks in 2022 each won with their partners). Ross Barney says she takes particular pride in being only one of four women to receive the prize – recalling that she was one of 12 women out of 312 students in her first architecture course at the University of Illinois. The AIA cites her “architecture that betters the daily life of

all who interact with it. With her focus on design excellence, social responsibility, and generosity, Barney is an unrivaled architect for the people.” MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. “Some of our projects may not even be considered architecture, but they’re spaces and that defines them as problems we should undertake,” she says. “We’ve done parks and transit, and each of these is as important as a building.” One of the firm’s crowning achievements is the Chicago Riverwalk along a mile and a quarter of the Chicago River. Designed as a series of outdoor rooms, Ross Barney (who partnered with the landscape architecture firm Sasaki) delivered a terraced amphitheater, a kayak launch, a floating fish habitat, and more. In addition to design, there was also a good deal of lobbying that occurred to make this happen. As a result of her efforts, 30 feet of public space is required for any new development along the Chicago River, ensuring that future building continues to maintain this strip of open space. Her firm has also worked closely with the Chicago Transit



years. Her first boss out of college was John Holabird, a Chicago architectural legend. “His company had more than 200 employees at the time and I was one of two women,” she says. “He trusted me and he also told me when he thought I was wrong. We remained friends until he passed away.” Two other mentors that Ross Barney cites for having a great effect on her were Natalie de Blois and Ken Groggs. De Blois founded the group “Chicago Women in Architecture” and Ross Barney and she became friends. Groggs was the first African American person to serve as Illinois State Architect and Ross Barney says he was always so open with sharing his knowledge as well as his contacts. “I recall going into his office one day and he opened up his Rolodex – just like that,” she says. “He was always so helpful.” When it comes to communicating with the younger generation of architects, she says there are a few things she wants them to know:

Authority to design 20 stations, including the tubular Green Line station on Cermak Road near McCormick Place. “Some of our projects may not even be considered architecture, but they’re spaces and that defines them as problems we should undertake. We’ve done parks and transit, and each of these is as important as a building.” Completed in 2021, another project – the Railyard Park in Rogers, Arkansas – re- centered the downtown area with a new park that enhances economic development, spurs placemaking, and improves connectivity. The new park now has the potential to capitalize on recent public space investments and help to make downtown Rogers a regional destination. It’s been met with celebration and embraced from neighbors and residents across Northwest Arkansas. “These are the types of projects that improve people’s lives,” she says. And, she wants the younger generation of leaders to know that “design always matters,” and that they have superpowers – the ability to solve problems for people. “We’re currently in the process of revising the organization to allow younger architects to join ownership and management,” she says. “We’ve never really had a formal program –we have an intimate culture and a lot of collaboration happens.” She says it’s not good to work alone. “I can’t do it,” she says. “I’m a collaborator. I want people to participate and to hear their ideas. I guess I buy talent. No one has all the tools in their toolbox.” That’s likely why she outsources certain things like firm valuations. “I’m not a big manager,” she says. “I like to think of myself as a spiritual leader or visionary and see my main management role as keeping the firm on track.” MENTORSHIP MATTERS. Ross Barney shares that teaching and mentorship are so important to the future of the industry. And she’s had many of her own mentors over the


Community buildings

Academic institutions

■ Transit SERVICES:

You have to be in it for the long haul. It takes determination and staying power – never give up. When failures happen, ignore them and move on. You can’t let them kill you. Get on with it.

Urban design

Landscape architecture

STUDIO RECOGNITION: Ross Barney Architects’ ideas and projects have been recognized by organizations from around the world:

So, what is she doing to attract the younger set to her company? She believes that it’s the company culture that draws them in. “The challenge of sustainability is real. When people say, ‘We can’t afford sustainability when it comes to design,’ I tell them we have to afford everything – or there will be no future to worry about.” “I hire people to think,” she says. “I have to trust them. People like that.” She shares that they’re also having fun. Some current projects include working on an airport expansion at O’Hare along with a city park project at the mouth of the Chicago River.

National Design Award for Architecture and Interior Design, Coop­ er Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2021 World’s Most Innovative Companies, Fast Com­ pany, 2022, 2019 Best Large Midwest Architecture Firm, The Architect’s Newspaper . 2022 Firm Award, American Institute of Architects Illinois, 2000 Firm Award, Ame rican Institute of Architects Chicago, 1995


© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

ARCH 13, 2023, ISSUE 1480


TRANSACTIONS WILSON & COMPANY ACQUIRES PHOENIX-BASED HELM, INC. EMPLOYEES Wilson & Company, Inc., Engineers & Architects has announced their acquisition of the employees of Holistic Engineering and Land Management, Inc. based in Phoenix. HELM is a civil engineering consulting company whose work includes industry-leading drainage, flood hazard mitigation, stormwater management and water conservation services. The HELM employees are highly qualified technical professionals whose expertise includes one- and two-dimensional hydrologic and hydraulic modeling; sediment transport, erosion and scour analyses; Federal Emergency Management Agency flood hazard mapping, Risk MAP projects and CLOMR/LOMR submittals; NRCS Watershed Plan/EAs; fluvial geomorphology; dam and levee analysis and failure risk mapping; area drainage and watercourse master planning; flood control facility design; low impact development and green stormwater infrastructure; emergency management and flood warning; channel stabilization and protection; transportation and land development drainage; Clean Water Act permit compliance and GIS merging with industry-standard software. “Wilson & Company conducts our work focused on our client’s specific needs to deliver high-quality projects with lasting

Higher Relationships in mind,” said Jim Brady, PE, Wilson & Company president and CEO. “The employees of HELM have a history of exceeding their client expectations and providing practical solutions that yield multidisciplinary value-added benefits. Incorporating these new employees into Wilson & Company strengthens the essential water services we provide.” The former HELM employees officially joined Wilson & Company in late December 2022, and their expertise will add to and complement Wilson & Company’s water resource team. Understanding that water is a valuable resource, the company offers a full spectrum of engineering services and innovative solutions to protect, enhance, reuse and store rainwater runoff while addressing drainage issues. The expanded stormwater management services will provide drainage solutions that translate to reduced flood risk, improved water quality and enhanced water conservation. “The HELM employees are excited for the opportunity to support and expand the water resource and stormwater management services being provided to valued clients by Wilson & Company’s dedicated water resource team. The merging of HELM employees with Wilson & Company significantly deepens the talented bench of stormwater management professionals,” said Brian

Schalk, PE, former HELM managing partner. Wilson & Company provides engineering, architectural, planning, environmental, survey and mapping and construction management services to municipalities, federal agencies and private industries. The addition of the experts at HELM further affirms the company’s commitment to providing leading water services to our clients around the country. Wilson & Company Inc., Engineers & Architects, has brought more than 600 people together in 15 offices over nine states to build Higher Relationships through discipline, intensity, collaboration, shared ownership and solutions with our clients, partners and communities. After nine decades of business, professionals continue to hone their craft with us, including civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering; architecture; planning; biology; surveying; mapping; GIS specializations; drone piloting; financial analyses; program management; construction administration and inspection and a growing number of multi-disciplinary specialties. We seek to create value for a diverse client base, including federal and municipal governments, public transportation agencies, railroad companies, industrial and commercial corporations and private developers.

IMPROVING LIVES , from page 7

“There’s been a great deal of community engagement with the park project,” she says. “We’re addressing questions like, ‘What makes Chicago different? What are the city’s special qualities?’ We’re working to create a landscape that tells a story and inspires.” When asked what her greatest concern for the future of the industry is she says, “the future of cities.” “The digital age is bringing about some real challenges post-COVID,” she says. “And the challenge of sustainability is real. When people say, ‘We can’t afford sustainability when it comes to design,’ I tell them we have to afford everything – or there will be no future to worry about.”

Ross Barney Architects’ Railyard Park project in Rogers, Arkansas.

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A delegation process that works

Delegating is one of the best ways for senior staff to train and transition responsibility to junior staff, but many leaders find it challenging. There’s a better way.

D elegating work is difficult for many, and leads to a unique frustration for people at all levels of an organization. Junior staff often want more responsibility and may need training before they are able to take over new tasks. Senior staff feel the pressure of having too much to do in too little time and often feel training someone else will take more time than they have to offer (and, more importantly, will take longer than if they just did it themselves). An article by Colonel Archer J. Lerch that was published in the January 29, 1942 issue of the Army and Navy Journal does much to lay out a path toward solving this conundrum, and was introduced to me as a young EIT. I have since come to use its precepts when training new EITs myself.

Megan Chang, P.E.

This algorithm forces a number of things to happen, the first of which is that senior staff must delegate a task/problem. When receiving the task/problem, the junior staff should ask questions to ensure they know what the senior staff wants, but after that, they are to work on the solution independently of the senior staff who delegated the work. Note I didn’t say they need to work in a silo, but that they should use their connections with other staff members (peers),

“The Doctrine of Completed Staff Work” can be used as an algorithm for how to study a problem and present a solution. The algorithm is simple: upon being given a problem, the receiver’s job is to study it and present a solution (or solutions) in such a form that all that remains to be done on the part of the assigner is to indicate their approval or disapproval of the completed action. In some instances, it may be appropriate to submit a rough draft, but the rough draft may not be a half-baked idea; it needs to be sound.

See MEGAN CHANG , page 10



TRANSACTIONS AG&E EXPANDS RANGE OF SERVICES THROUGH ACQUISITION OF STRUCTURAL DETAILING LLC AND BALATA BASED IN THE NASHVILLE METROPOLITAN AREA AG&E Associates, PLLC, a nationally recognized structural engineering company headquartered in Texas, has acquired Structural Detailing LLC and Balata, both structural design and detailing companies located in suburban Nashville, Tennessee, with an additional office in Hyderabad, India. This acquisition brings the addition of over 100 professionals and puts AG&E in the company of some of the largest structural design firms in the United States, continuing the march towards an increasingly national and international footprint. The founding member of SDLLC, W. Scotty Goodrich, PE, joins the leadership team of AG&E as an Executive Principal and Director of Structural Steel Detailing. Warren Goodrich, PE, SE, is the Director of Engineering for Balata. “I am thrilled to welcome Scotty Goodrich, Warren Goodrich and the entire SDLLC and Balata staff to AG&E. They are highly regarded by their clients and peers in the industry, and they are simply good people,” said Sanjay Agrawal, PE, SE, president and CEO of AG&E. “The acquisition of SDLLC and

prestressed concrete design, parking planning, structural glass engineering, and vibration consulting to provide fully integrated structural design services to its clients. “The acquisition of SDLLC bolsters our construction services strategic plan, which provides accelerated project delivery to our clients bringing speed, value, and efficiency to the design and construction process,” said Al Baysek, PE, SE, CSO and executive principal of AG&E. “Structural steel detailing and steel connection design, coupled with our specialty precast, prestressed design services acquired in 2021, gives AG&E the robust construction services team envisioned in our 2019 Strategic Plan. The addition of Balata strengthens our market sector capabilities and adds a strategic locale, Tennessee, to our bases of operations.” AG&E is a full service structural engineering consulting firm that provides sustainable structural engineering design for all types of projects using proven design techniques, computer applications, and engineering concepts. AG&E is one of the largest certified Historically Underutilized Business entities in the State of Texas. AG&E is also certified as a minority owned business and a small business enterprise.

Balata represents the culmination of one of our long-term goals of providing structural design of steel buildings that is seamlessly integrated with structural steel detailing and fabrication packages. The value this will bring to our clients nationwide will be tremendous.” “Joining AG&E is a wonderful opportunity for SDLLC. Our work culture and values coincide,” said W. Scotty Goodrich, PE. “I have always wanted the best for our employees and clients and now I feel we are the best of the best.” “The Balata team is very excited to join such a reputable firm. The support we’ve received from AG&E through the transition has been second-to-none and representative of how they treat their clients,” said Warren Goodrich, PE, SE. “We look forward to the journey ahead.” Founded in 2004, AG&E has eight offices across Texas, Colorado, and Virginia. AG&E works with architects, general contractors, and owners across the nation on a myriad of projects. Its market sectors include mission critical, aviation, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, corporate, distribution & logistics, education, federal, municipal, and parking garages. AG&E also offers structural sub-specialties such as advanced design technology, blast engineering, integrated precast,

understand how to learn from other sources. Often, asking a peer for an example project, code section you should reference, or just reading up on a subject yourself will give you the boost you need to start the task. Starting is usually the hardest part. If you truly get stuck somewhere in the middle, senior staff will gladly look over your rough draft and ask specific questions to help you gather the necessary information to then complete the task. As these steps get followed on more and more tasks, the reputation of the junior staff grows and they will begin getting more tasks, new tasks, and likely tasks from other senior staff as well! Megan Chang, P.E., is an associate and professional engineer at TETER. Contact her at “As these steps get followed on more and more tasks, the reputation of the junior staff grows and they will begin getting more tasks, new tasks, and likely tasks from other senior staff as well!”

MEGAN CHANG, from page 9

reference materials, etc. to determine a solution. Once they’ve determined a solution, they should write up the solution in a complete manner. For the AEC industry, this will often take the form of a detailed, complete calculation packet, bulleted email, or a report. I have often found that in the process of putting together a complete solution, I ask myself more questions which may eventually lead me to a different solution. This is why coming up with a complete solution is important – it takes that mental energy and re-work off the plate of the senior staff when they review the solution. And that, my friends, is where the magic happens. Any manager will tell you they covet those staff members they can entrust tasks to and know the work will get done with minimal (or no) further interruptions to their time on that particular matter. They will also have fewer qualms about handing over new or different tasks to the same individual, because they know that staff member is capable of coming up with a solution. As these steps get followed on more and more tasks, the senior staff will begin willingly delegating! The magic also happens for the junior staff. Stopping yourself from asking hasty questions of your seniors helps you

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Growth is the goal

You need to make a profit to stay in business, but focusing on growth makes that more likely to happen, not less likely.

F or decades, I have been accused of being overly-preoccupied with business revenue growth versus the bottom line. Zweig Group even hands out awards each year for the fastest-growing firms in the AEC business. Sure – you need to make a profit to stay in business. Survival is a mandate and no one has unlimited capital. But I have found focusing on growth makes that more likely to happen, not less likely!

Mark Zweig

and historical growth rate is the best indicator of that. All you have to do is look at tech company valuations to know this is a true statement. Some are worth billions before they are ever in the black. 3. Growth is how the employees do better. It forces them into expanded roles. It creates promotion opportunities. It keeps them learning and growing. Growing firms push their people into roles they aren’t qualified for. And that is how your people can grow! 4. Growth keeps everyone interested (and motivated). Growth is exciting and spurs on more

Here’s more on why I AM all about growth: 1. Growth makes it easier to be profitable. I never set profit goals for any business I owned. I did set revenue goals, however, and pursued them relentlessly. Costs creep up over time. My experience is that if you try to stay the same size, you will find yourself in a situation of declining profitability. I would rather increase the top line than cut costs any day. 2. Growth makes the business more valuable. Everyone who is inexperienced at mergers and acquisitions wants to talk multiples of EBIT when it comes to value. That’s great for stable companies in mature industries. But for everyone else, value is based on projected future growth,

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



BUSINESS NEWS AECOM SELECTED AS PROGRAM MANAGER FOR FAIR PARK CAPITAL PROJECTS PROGRAM IN DALLAS, TEXAS AECOM, the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, announced it has been selected by Fair Park First to provide program management services for major capital improvements to Fair Park, a 277- acre, cultural and entertainment complex in the heart of Dallas, Texas. AECOM will support Fair Park First’s capital projects to deliver outcome-driven solutions and a lasting legacy through enhancements that create and integrate park facilities, preserve historically significant venues, and revitalize the park as a destination within the region and beyond. “Fair Park First brings a bold, inclusive vision to revitalizing this storied urban asset at a time when investment in equitable spaces has never been more important,” said Lara Poloni, AECOM’s president. “In line with our Sustainable Legacies strategy of partnering with clients to make a lasting, positive impact, we’re committed to improving social outcomes at each step of the program by working with minority- and women- owned enterprises and surrounding businesses to create real, measurable value and help make Fair Park a reflection of Dallas’s diversity and dynamism.”

urban developments and industry- leading global expertise, our teams are poised to help Fair Park First realize this community-centric project and extend Fair Park’s legacy as a vibrant gathering space.” Established in 1886, Fair Park has become a major destination for Dallas, drawing more than six million visitors annually. In addition to supporting regular programming and events, it is home to several prominent attractions, including the State Fair of Texas, the African American Museum of Dallas, Cotton Bowl Stadium, and the Hall of State – as well as containing one of the largest collections of exhibition style Art Deco structures in the United States. The capital improvements for Fair Park are part of Fair Park First’s revitalization campaign to put the “Park” back in Fair Park. “We are thrilled to announce the addition of another world-class firm to our capital projects team,” said Fair Park First Board President Darren L. James, FAIA. “With this new partnership, we can continue the work of putting the park back in Fair Park and restoring it to its rightful place as an international attraction.”

AECOM will oversee the delivery of the upcoming Community Park Complex, an expansive 18-acre greenspace that also includes a 1650-space parking structure. AECOM will partner on future projects by managing design, construction, permitting, and closeout, among other services. As part of a series of improvements informed by the Fair Park Masterplan Update, these efforts will support the construction and modernization of multiple facilities and an overhaul of general infrastructure with an emphasis on resilience and sustainability. As the program’s signature addition, the Community Park will embody a climate-conscious approach, introducing a vital new recreational space to Fair Park while expanding blue- green infrastructure to mitigate flooding and other environmental risks. “We’re proud to partner with Fair Park First to modernize this National Historic Landmark and help deliver a world- class space that deepens community connections and contributes to the ongoing transformation and rich cultural heritage of the city of Dallas,” said Drew Jeter, chief executive of AECOM’s Program Management global business line. “Leveraging our decades of experience managing complex

learned it is easier to do that when revenues are constantly growing and overhead costs aren’t growing as fast as the revenue is. That means management needs to be decisive and quick to react. AEC firms aren’t always known for that. So yes – growth is THE goal for any entrepreneurial business owner! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “Top management needs to be managing costs so the firm can make a profit with whatever revenue it has. I have learned it is easier to do that when revenues are constantly growing and overhead costs aren’t growing as fast as the revenue is.”

MARK ZWEIG , from page 11

growth. Shrinking is depressing. Growth is exciting. That extra bit of motivation across your entire firm may be all it takes for your firm to beat all of your competitors! 5. Growth is an indication the market likes what the business is providing. That attracts more clients and customers. And that makes for even more growth. It’s a virtuous cycle of growth! Two more important points: Before someone tells me once again that profitability is more important than growth, let me add that I have seen a lot of companies in this business that are overly concerned with making a profit on every single project. I prefer looking at profitability by client. It’s a better perspective. Sometimes you have to do things in the name of a client relationship that are more important. Don’t let the nickel get so big it hides the dime sitting behind it. Secondly, top management needs to be managing costs so the firm can make a profit with whatever revenue it has. I have

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