TZL 1474 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

January 30, 2023, Issue 1474 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Women in the industry

26% 28% 30% 32% 34%

The ElevateHER® movement is putting in the work to move the needle on the recruitment and retention crisis our industry faces. Boots on the ground

2019 2020 2021 2022

According to data collected from Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For employee survey, the industry appears to be retaining young women in the workforce more effectively than in years past. Women under the age of 45, as a percentage of the total, have rebounded since 2020, gaining roughly 4 percentage points since then and 2 percentage points from pre-pandemic studies. Participate in the 2023 Best Firms To Work For Award and gain access to Zweig Group’s new Insights Platform with dynamic data visualization and employee perception benchmarks.

W hen Luisa Madrigal with the gift of strength surprised Disney as the most popular character from Encanto instead of her sister Isabela, whose power is to conjure beauty and “perfection,” mainstream media woke to the realization that strength, instead of outward beauty, is now the quality that resonates the best with the masses. I am no Luisa; my shoulders measure 18 inches apart, my arm span is about 5 feet long, and I can overhead press about 50 pounds for a few reps on a good day. All of these measurements are a little below average for an American woman; but with this little frame and limited strength, I join Luisa and most other women I’ve ever met in real life in trying to carry the world’s problems on my shoulders. During a lunch with Emily Gossett, a principal and one of the first handful of female leaders of the design and architecture giant, Gensler, we both got a little carried away with all the problems we should help solve, locally, nationally, and even globally – we stopped short at the galaxy level. We were both silent for a moment, acknowledging the weight of it all. But then right away, we remembered that we were not alone. There is literally an army of people like us who already have (work) boots on the ground in every single firm and organization, and they’re chipping away at all the world’s problems one step at a time. We have been moving the needle together whether we know the other soldiers or not. And that brings me to ElevateHER®, formed by Zweig Group as part of its commitment to help recruit, retain, and engage the best minds in the industry. In the last two years that I have been a part of this movement, I have witnessed the power of bringing together individual contributors from all around the country. A platform like ElevateHER® has allowed the impact created by each of the change agents involved to be amplified. The circles of influence each of the cohort members bring are now exponential, and it’s blindingly obvious that the whole is bigger than the sums of its parts. Let’s zoom in on STEAM (previously STEM) in K-12 and see how ElevateHER® cohort members have come together and divvied up the effort. The inaugural 2020 ElevateHER® cohort took on this piece of the pie with project She Belongs Here, offering videos, and activities like the fortune teller and career cards, for anyone to share with and show the children in their lives, especially little girls, that they, too, can be AEC. The 2022 cohort further expanded the effort with project TeacHER by gathering and offering K-12 resources specifically to benefit educators, as well as resources that will equip AEC professionals to be

Shirley Che

FIRM INDEX Bowman Consulting Group Ltd..................2

Derck & Edson, LLC..........................................10

McFarland Johnson............................................6

Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC................4

Suffolk ......................................................................... 12

TYLin............................................................................ 10

MORE ARTICLES n JOSEPH LAUK: A culture of servant leadership Page 3 n Making a difference: Chad Nixon Page 6 n JANE LAWLER SMITH: Adaptive reuse in marketing Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Stop complaining about your fees Page 11

See SHIRLEY CHE, page 2





standards which dictate the use of extremely enhanced lighting systems to supplement security operations. Bowman has extensive experience designing security lighting upgrades at military sites across Colorado. “Developing advanced and cost- appropriate engineered lighting solutions for high profile locations, like the Joint Forces Headquarters, is one of Bowman’s strengths,” said Peter D’Antonio, Bowman principal. “By using photometric analysis, we develop nearly three-dimensional mapping of the location which allows us to provide enhanced lighting design solutions that meet critical visual requirements and deliver effective lighting for current and future security systems.”

Interested in learning more

DEPARTMENT AND VETERANS AFFAIRS CONTRACT FOR SITE SECURITY UPGRADES AT JOINT FORCES HEADQUARTERS IN CENTENNIAL, OF MILITARY CO Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. announced that Colorado’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has awarded the firm a new contract in connection with the upgrade of security lighting at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Centennial, Colorado. Bowman will provide lighting design, electrical, civil, and structural engineering under this award. This is part of a $1 million upgrade to the facility. The lighting upgrades will be designed to meet current Army and Department of Defense lighting regulations and

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

SHIRLEY CHE, from page 1

more effective advocates at their local career days. There is even now a map on the website for educators from around the country to locate and connect with nearby AEC professionals for career days at their school. Workplace culture is a big pie. Multiple projects from each cohort have tackled the topic, focusing on a different piece each time. In 2020, the WeRise team developed a card deck of employee experience conversation starter prompts, and team Redefining Success focused on modernizing the definition of success, and putting the power of career progression, in the control of the employee. In 2021, team The Right Fit developed a toolkit to help AEC professionals advocate for a better work-life fit within their own firms. The toolkit included a self-assessment, a policy hub, and sample pitches to help others draft their own asks. Team She Is Welcome Here broke down what a returnship was, and strived to connect “returners” with firms that either already have returnship policies in place or were ready to start. There are many more projects that are intertwined, and many examples of how individual contributors have come together via ElevateHER® to share the weight of the mission with others with aligning passion. Through ElevateHER®, Zweig Group will continue to facilitate these connections and efforts by serving as the platform where these resources are readily available to others who might be just starting on this path. We recognize the power of our reach into the industry, and we promise to use that to help lighten the weight in creating a more sustainable AEC workforce. I am very proud to bring the ElevateHER® Symposium to you this February. The team has been very thoughtful and intentional with the curation of speakers and topics, so our attendees can not only be inspired, but also equipped to turn inspiration to action. It is going to be a packed day with a strategically-planned agenda, where attendees will have the opportunity to connect with each other, and the time to let the content sink in. We hope to see you on February 15 in Dallas! Shirley Che is director of marketing at Zweig Group. Contact her 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 2023, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

ELEVATEHER® SYMPOSIUM ElevateHER® is about the future of the AEC industry, and Zweig Group’s commitment to recruit, retain, and engage the best minds in the industry. Join us at the 2023 ElevateHER® Symposium, where we present select ElevateHER® projects, DEI-focused keynotes from industry leading change agents, powerful panel discussions, and practical mini workshops to all those who are ready to turn inspiration into action. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




A culture of servant leadership

No one is “above” the work of others, and developing staff this way ensures succession within the firm will carry the values of the firm for years to come.

W hat actually defines a company’s culture? Is it the values or goals of a firm, the work environment, or is it simply a combination of written policies and procedures? These are the actual definitions from internet searches and articles I found. But, if you simply ask your staff about the culture of your firm, the common response will come down to the people.

Joseph Lauk, PE

It is about the relationships. It is about interactions with leaders and the teamwork within the company. Sure, the values of the firm may drive these a bit, but it really comes down to how leaders in the firm live out those values and develop staff according to those values. I recently asked some staff to define our culture and the resounding response I received was that it’s a collaborative atmosphere where everyone is willing to help, regardless of position or title. This type of culture starts with leadership and taking a servant-leader approach. This is what drew me to the firm. Principals who were plugged into the work, staff who were willing to work across discipline lines, and everyone always willing to go out of their way to help. PGA was a much smaller firm then and that culture was somewhat easier to achieve. I’m proud to say that,

even with the growth of the firm, our principals are still active in the day-to-day work, workload is shared between offices, and most importantly, everyone works together to meet deadlines. We’ve partly been successful in this area because we have expanded leadership with our growth and have remained relatively flat in organizational structure. I have not taken any formal classes on servant leadership, but I have learned a great deal from the servant-leaders I have served under – and with – in my career. These are folks who have consistently put the team in front of personal accolades, who are often the first in the door or last out the door, who consistently offer assistance to staff on any task –

See JOSEPH LAUK, page 4



BUSINESS NEWS CLAYTON & MCKERVEY ANNOUNCES NEW SERVICES FOR ARCHITECTURE AND ENGINEERING FIRMS Clayton & McKervey, a certified public accounting and consulting firm helping growth- driven companies compete in the global marketplace, is pleased to announce two new services for architecture and engineering firms: FAR audits and Deltek accounting services. “We’re pleased to expand our service offerings for architecture and engineering clients,” said Kevin Johns, Architecture & Engineering Leader for Clayton & McKervey. “Providing FAR audits and Deltek accounting support allows us

to continue growing this practice while responding to the needs of the A&E industry.” Architecture and engineering firms performing government work may be required to have an independently audited overhead rate in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation if they exceed their state’s threshold. Clayton & McKervey’s FAR audit team helps ensure firms are compliant with Federal Acquisition Regulations by performing detailed testing over high-risk areas and reviewing allocated project costs (direct or indirect) to ensure all costs are allowable under the FAR.

The firm has also expanded its client accounting services team with dedicated resources to support AEC firms with outsourced accounting for Deltek. Through this service, clients using Deltek with bill pay, month-end close, invoicing, expense management and a range of other accounting needs have a reliable resource so they can focus on growing their businesses. Clayton & McKervey is a full-service CPA firm helping middle-market entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace. The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world.

many ways in this area – from simple shout-outs through Teams, to appreciation lunches, and most importantly giving back through company events like weekend getaways. Breaking bread and singing karaoke (or at least listening to others try) build these relationships that endure for entire careers. “Work hard, play hard” is a standard cliché we live by, but it is absolutely spot on, from the top of the organization to the college interns. Firms and leaders have to dedicate time and resources to make this happen. What may appear as an added expense or time away from productivity is really an investment in the stability and growth of the firm. ■ Wearing multiple hats. In a growing firm, leaders have to play many roles. There is a constant effort of our managers and leaders to build out our groups, develop staff, and become more efficient in our work. And while it is important to look inward at the company, looking outward to our clients is paramount. Leaders must know and anticipate their clients’ needs and work to support them where necessary. An example and testament to servant leadership is our firm president dedicating part of his week to serve our primary client in a staff augmentation role. When other firms might ask, “How could he find the time to do that?” The question he posed was, “How could I not find the time to help them?” Most of our staff wear multiple hats. PMs are also lead engineers, marketing staff provide public engagement support, and we even have a project engineer flying drones for us (with a commercial license). Doing these things humbly, to serve our clients, to serve one another, makes us all succeed together. As our firm has grown, maintaining the small firm feel has been a priority. It was a topic of conversation at our latest strategic planning meeting to ensure we never lose focus. This focus means developing and promoting staff with the expectations of being servant leaders. No one is “above” the work of others. Developing staff this way ensures succession within the firm will carry the values of the firm for years to come, even if leaders move on or retire. Joseph Lauk, PE, is a vice president and principal at Patel, Greene & Associates, LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

JOSEPH LAUK, from page 3

regardless of perceived importance – who continuously fulfill nontraditional roles and wear multiple hats, who listen and engage with staff, and most importantly celebrate in the wins and learn from the losses. Actions speak louder than words – particularly for young professionals looking for examples to follow. Leaders have to be seen setting the tone for firm expectations. Leaders cannot simply say the things they expect, they have to live and demonstrate it themselves. If leaders preaching culture is just lip service, your staff will figure that out eventually. “Leaders cannot simply say the things they expect, they have to live and demonstrate it themselves. If leaders preaching culture is just lip service, your staff will figure that out eventually.” Let me share some specific examples that promote our culture of servant leadership: ■ Teamwork. No one enjoys an unexpected all-nighter at work, but inevitably they happen. A client deadline gets advanced and the only way to make it happen is to call for all-hands-on-deck. Instead of complaints about why or how it happened, teamwork always outshines the frustration. Some of my better memories are the late nights, working with staff on getting things out the door, with everyone pitching in. True leaders roll up their sleeves and participate when these deadlines hit. Even if their contributions largely entail encouragement and oversight, simply being a part of the last-minute chaos develops deep trust and long-lasting relationships in an organization. ■ Celebration. Taking time to appreciate the wins and recognizing the efforts and support of the team is invaluable to maintaining morale. Our firm excels in so

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Making a difference: Chad Nixon President and chairman of the board at McFarland Johnson, a national consultancy providing program management, planning, environmental, engineering, and construction phase services.


N ixon became president and chairman of McFarland Johnson in January 2020, and in his role he brings tremendous energy to the firm and is consistently sought out for his innovative problem-solving skills. He leads the strategic growth of MJ’s transportation, aviation, environmental, and civil/facilities divisions and provides oversight relative to new services, growth opportunities, and industry trends. He’s been with the firm for more than 20 years, and during this time, he’s worked as an airport planner, planning manager, aviation division director, and director of business development. So, why has he stayed there over the years? He says it’s because MJ is such a dynamic company. “You have the ability to make a difference here. It’s very rewarding. I was given a great deal of rope in my various positions and now I guess I’m the one handing out the rope,” he says.

A CONVERSATION WITH CHAD NIXON. The Zweig Letter: What do you find to be the most important part of your job? Why? Chad Nixon: Hiring and retaining top talent. A company is nothing without its people. We’ve done a fantastic job of recruiting and retaining a staff of some of the best in the industry. In fact, we’ve grown dramatically over the past year – 20 percent. Employee referrals are a large part of how we find new people. Last year we spent zero dollars on recruitment services. That says a lot. We also effectively engage with people’s alma maters. TZL: How did COVID-19 permanently impact your firm’s policy on telecommuting? CN: We’ve always had flexible policies. While we may have more people working a hybrid schedule now than compared to pre-pandemic, it has not really had much of an impact on the policies per se. Hybrid scheduling just makes sense. It’s



an effective tool for people to balance their careers and personal lives. TZL: What are your top concerns about the industry right now? What are you doing to address them? CN: There are two big ones: 1. Construction cost escalation. While costs are coming down somewhat we are still concerned about stubbornly high construction costs eating into the buying power of various infrastructure funding sources. We’re in constant contact with regulators and clients about managing the timing for funding various projects and extending the deadlines for construction to help manage costs. 2. Workforce. The AEC industry is extremely busy. There is more work than there are people to do the work. This is causing a variety of challenges including rapidly rising wages, higher turnover, and concerns for what happens when the industry normalizes. MJ has extremely low turnover, around one-third of the industry average, but I see very high turnover elsewhere, particularly at many of the largest companies in our industry. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? CN: My mentor early on in my career was a four feet five inches tall woman named Deserine Jordan. I knew her during my time in the Navy when I worked as an air traffic controller. I’ll never forget her energy and how good she was at her job. She helped me learn the importance of a strong work ethic, patience, and paying it back to others who are trying to advance in their careers. “Trust takes time. It typically results from being in the trenches with a client and helping them through challenging projects.” TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? CN: Trust takes time. It typically results from being in the trenches with a client and helping them through challenging projects. For example, awhile back, I was very sick with the flu and there was a meeting they needed to attend that we all knew would be

a contentious one. I dragged myself to the meeting, got up, and talked about the issue and stood up for the client. They always remembered that and knew I would do whatever it took and always act in their best interest. I’m very proud to say that each year we send out anonymous client surveys and this past year, 100 percent – let me say that again – 100 percent of them said they would hire us again. “People interact with various forms of infrastructure every day. We seek to constantly improve that interaction and improve our environment.” TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? CN: You have to be well rounded and a good listener. You don’t have to be an expert in every area, but you should have a strong understanding of what everyone is doing. You need to have a people knowledge as well as business knowledge. Pay attention to those things you learn in school such as revenue and utilization because you’ll be using them again. Finally, hire the right people and give them the tools they need to succeed. TZL: What makes you excited about the future of the industry and the firm? CN: The currently stable funding and continued melding of technology into everything we do in the AEC industry makes it an exciting industry to be in. The technology arm of MJ is our InfraSolutions Division. This division combines traditional planning, design, and construction services with a wide range of technologies such as UAS, software development, and visualizations to name a few. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? CN: Diversity is definitely lacking in our industry. Here are a few things we’re doing:


McFarland Johnson doesn’t

really have one.


About 200






Buildings and facilities



Construction services


and specialty

We offer a paid parental leave program

(electrification, bridge

MJ has a Women in STEM employee resource group We include diverse colleges and universities in our recruiting efforts

inspection, PFAs

management and


traffic services)

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

UARY 30, 2023, ISSUE 1474


McFarland Johnson staff attending an aviation-based conference.

project is the first of its kind in the United States. MJ led a multi-disciplined team providing full service (MEP, structural, civil, environmental, and transportation services). The bridge component of the project is the first in the world as it will be able to carry the projected 500-meter ton tower sections. This has never been done before. TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? CN: Being an employee-owned firm is probably number one. Staff also like the internal “Rising Leaders” program where people can move up quickly and make an impact faster. MJ actively supports employee owners in their personal and professional development in a variety of other ways too. For example, we cover the cost of necessary preparation and testing for professional licensures, industry registrations, and other certifications, and more. We also survey staff each year and mostly, staff love the exciting projects they’re involved in and love the people they’re working with at MJ. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? CN: President of recruiting. I am working to make MJ an amazing place to work and to grow our culture. We recently changed our core values to one main core value – people – that includes staff, clients, and the people in the communities we serve. We base all of our decisions on how it will benefit and affect each group. If there are more negatives than positives, we have our decision.


We offer HBCU Micro-Internships

■ MJ has a commitment to professional growth for all

■ MJ offers incentives for participating in STEM student presentations “While we may have more people working a hybrid schedule now than compared to pre-pandemic, it has not really had much of an impact on the policies per se. Hybrid scheduling just makes sense. It’s an effective tool for people to balance their careers and personal lives.” TZL: Your website states, “We positively impact people’s lives every day.” Can you provide me with a recent example that serves to illustrate this? CN: People interact with various forms of infrastructure every day. We seek to constantly improve that interaction and improve our environment. We recently completed the award- winning Marmen – Welcon Offshore wind tower manufacturing plant project for the Port of Albany in New York. This project brings together Marmen Energy from Quebec Canada, and Welcon from Denmark who will operate this facility. This

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Adaptive reuse in marketing

By applying various levels of rewriting, redesign, and repackaging, you can successfully bring adaptive reuse concepts into your AEC marketing realm.

A daptive reuse is defined as reusing existing buildings in lieu of constructing new buildings through various levels of renovation, urban design, historic preservation, and performance retrofits, according to the AIA Adaptive Reuse Practice Guide.

Adaptive reuse is an accepted and often lauded approach and has many benefits over the wrecking ball or paving paradise. These benefits are abundant in the areas of environmental and economic sustainability, comparative speed of completion, and overall character and quality. As AEC marketers, what lessons can we take away from this adaptive reuse approach? Old buildings with good bones are the core of adaptive reuse projects in the architectural realm. The best adaptive reuse candidates have solid foundations, structural integrity, and retained character or original features. For AEC marketers, brochures, project promotions, and marketing approaches from the past are examples of counterpart components for adaptive reuse. The evaluation points for their good bones

could include things like: distinctive copy that still strongly represents your mission, vision, or core services; hand detailed imagery that speaks to the legacy or beginnings of your firm; or even details like fonts or unique page layouts. Any firm that has some organizational longevity can and should be revisiting these resources from the past and determining what foundational, structural, and original elements exist. Have you ever spent time looking at a blank page or laptop monitor, waiting for inspiration to strike? Adaptive reuse in marketing can jump-start your creative mind and give you a head start. You don’t have to start from nothing. Instead, pick up where someone else left off and propel your marketing forward. All firms can benefit from looking back … or around.

Jane Lawler Smith




BUSINESS NEWS RIVEREDGE PARK PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE WINS 2022 ENR MIDWEST BEST PROJECT AWARD TYLin, a globally recognized full-service infrastructure consulting firm, announces that the RiverEdge Park Pedestrian Bridge over the Fox River in Aurora, Illinois, has won the Best Project Award, Landscape/ Urban Development, in Engineering News-Record Midwest’s 2022 Best Projects competition. The city of Aurora contracted TYLin to design the signature pedestrian-bicycle bridge, which is a critical part of the master plan to redevelop the city’s historic downtown. TYLin’s services included bridge architecture, aesthetic lighting design, structural engineering, and electrical engineering. The firm initially developed eight bridge concepts along four alignment profiles. The final bridge design, which was developed through a series of public meetings and refinements with city staff, is a seven- span concrete girder structure with a graceful S-curve alignment. The RiverEdge Park Pedestrian Bridge

unites the new RiverEdge Park with local neighborhoods, redeveloped parks, and trails. Considering the diverse group of bridge users, TYLin designed the superstructure to have a central beam “spine” with two pathways cantilevering on either side. The segregated twin pathways prioritize safety and convenience, separating slower pedestrians from faster commuter cyclists. From the riverbanks, the pathway decks gradually rise to the top of the girder at the midspan, where overlooks and benches offer strollers scenic views of the river and the city’s eye-catching downtown area. For commuters speeding to the updated, multimodal Aurora Transportation Center, the bridge offers an easy, non-motorized connection across the river. “On behalf of the City of Aurora, TYLin, and our project partners, we thank ENR Midwest for honoring the RiverEdge Park Pedestrian Bridge with the 2022 Best Project Award, Landscape/Urban Development,” said Dan Fitzwilliam,

PE, TYLin senior bridge engineer. “This project met every criterion for the client as well as this competition. It’s also proof that a landmark pedestrian bridge can meet a client’s needs while being cost- effective to design and build.” ENR Midwest’s annual Best Projects competition honors the best construction projects and the companies that designed and built them. The program utilizes an independent panel of safety judges who consider numerous factors in their decisions, including a project’s overall safety program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable incident rate, lost-time accident rate, and total work hours on the job. Founded in 1954, TYLin is a globally recognized, full-service infrastructure consulting firm committed to providing innovative, cost-effective, constructible designs for the global infrastructure market. With 3,200 employees working in 65 offices throughout the Americas, Asia, and Europe, the firm provides support on projects of varying size and complexity.

Donovan Rypkema, principal and CEO of Place Economics, has argued this point across the United States and around the world. Adaptive reuse in AEC marketing can also bring more sustainable approaches to past efforts. With advances in printing and digital technologies, what used to be in print can now be digital. What used to require 5,000 prints to be economical can now be printed in smaller quantities, perhaps even one at a time. Campaigns or ideas that at one time may have been cost prohibitive may now be economical or even free to implement. Printed pieces can be produced using paper with different percentages of recycled or post-consumer waste content. Going further, multi-page brochures can be delivered into your prospects’ hands with a QR code, replacing hard-copy formats. Greek philosopher Heraclitus tells us you can’t step in the same river twice, as the river is always changing and so are we. As AEC marketers, acknowledging and embracing change, picking up where someone else left off, and optimizing modern-day capabilities can result in something viable, fresh, and new … ish. Good bones – whether architectural or promotional – are worth saving. By applying various levels of rewriting, redesign, and repackaging, you can successfully bring adaptive reuse concepts into your AEC marketing realm. Jane Lawler Smith, MBA, is the marketing manager at Derck & Edson, LLC. She can be reached at jsmith@derckandedson. com.

JANE LAWLER SMITH, from page 9

In the book Copy, Copy, Copy , Mark Earls glorifies the use of existing ideas to create your own new approaches to marketing. Mark proposes that we learn to copy well (by which he means badly): “loosely rather than tightly, from far away rather than from our immediate competitors.” And I propose, even from our past selves. A common statement in support of adaptive reuse is the adage “they just don’t build things like they used to.” This is also true of much of our content from the past. Written at a time when there was no online thesaurus feeding us all the same word choices, the messaging of old was curated and crafted with care. “Any firm that has some organizational longevity can and should be revisiting its marketing resources from the past and determining what foundational, structural, and original elements exist.” What was the essence of that messaging? Do the values and core approaches still apply? If yes, and if you are looking for character and authenticity, this could be a great place to start building your next generation marketing approach. Adaptive reuse, especially historic preservation, is believed by some to be the most sustainable approach to building design.

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Stop complaining about your fees

O ne of the best aspects of Zweig Group’s annual ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala – when compared to some other industry events – is our attendees aren’t a bunch of complainers. They are all owners and managers of highly successful growing and profitable AEC businesses. You won’t get decent fees from your clients until you start making these changes within your firm.

Mark Zweig

3. Market yourself. If you don’t have enough work coming in to pay your overhead then you will inevitably resort to working for clients who won’t pay good fees. The only way you can avoid that is to have other clients who are willing to pay you decently. That takes more marketing than you are probably doing. “This stuff isn’t that hard. It takes some effort. But it also first takes some belief that it is possible! Without that, you will still be complaining.”

I really like that, because otherwise, I seem to hear constant griping from owners of other AEC firms about how they can’t get decent fees from their clients, and it’s getting old. If this sounds like you, YOU are to blame. You won’t get good fees unless you: 1. Ask for a good fee. It all starts here. No client will voluntarily pay you more unless you ask for it. You have to start out by asking for a good fee, and if you can’t get it, cut the scope so you get paid decently for what you do actually do. 2. Differentiate yourself. You won’t get better than average fees unless you don’t look, sound, talk like, and do work like everyone else you compete with. You have to be different and better in some way. Work on that!

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12





operating officer of Suffolk Los Angeles. “Design, especially in the hospitality sector, is an art form and science all at once, and we love seeing our talented team highlighted through honors like Los Angeles Business Council’s Architectural Award.” Owned by Relevant Group and designed by Steinberg Hart, the hotels rise above Sunset Boulevard and silhouette against the Hollywood Hills, core to the Los Angeles skyline. The two hotels bring a breath of fresh air to the iconic Sunset Boulevard in historic Hollywood, boasting over 400 guest rooms between the two venues. The Tommie hotel draws inspiration from 1950s and 1960s homes, evident through their textured stone, floor-to-ceiling windows, and oak floors. The Thompson’s sleek glass design hints at the elegance and sophistication found within its luxury rooms and suites. At their base, each hotel features retail shops, a bar and restaurants. Construction for the hotels began in 2018 and was completed in late 2021, with the Suffolk team working diligently to bring Relevant Group’s vision to life, leveraging their interactive technology solutions to provide a collaborative project planning experience to clients and partners alike. Suffolk continues to expand their award-winning hospitality portfolio

with multiple builds across Southern California. Suffolk is a national enterprise that invests, innovates, and builds. Suffolk is an end-to-end business that provides value throughout the entire project lifecycle by leveraging its core construction management services with vertical service lines that include real estate capital investment, design, self-perform construction services, technology start- up investment and innovation research/ development. Suffolk is a national company with $5.0 billion in annual revenue, 2,300 employees and main offices in West Palm Beach, Florida; Miami, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Estero, Florida; Dallas, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; New York, New York; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; and San Diego, California. Suffolk serves clients in every major industry sector, including healthcare, science and technology, education, gaming, transportation/aviation, and commercial. Suffolk is privately held and is led by founder, chairman and CEO John Fish. Suffolk is ranked No. 23 on the Engineering News Record list of “Top 400 Contractors.”

THOMPSON LOS ANGELES BUSINESS COUNCIL’S 52ND ANNUAL ARCHITECHTURAL AWARD OF EXCELLENCE Suffolk, one of the most innovative and successful builders and real estate enterprises in the country, announced that its two Hollywood hotels, Tommie and Thompson, have won the Los Angeles Business Council’s 52nd Annual Architectural Award of Excellence in the Hospitality category. The project was honored at an award ceremony hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council in Beverly Hills this winter. HOTELS WIN “This year the Los Angeles Business Council is honoring projects that exemplify a new model of architecture, one that not only excels in design and execution but also has a meaningful impact in their communities,” said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council. The Tommie and Thompson Hotels were selected from a group of 150 submissions for their inventive designs, amenities, and exemplification of architecture’s unique power to build community. Submissions competed in categories ranging from education and healthcare to housing and commercial office space. “We’re delighted to see these hotels are getting the acclaim we feel they deserve,” said Jim Stanley, chief

This stuff isn’t that hard. It takes some effort. But it also first takes some belief that it IS possible! Without that, you will still be complaining. Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at clients, and it’s getting old. If this sounds like you, you are to blame.” “I seem to hear constant griping from owners of other AEC firms about how they can’t get decent fees from their

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

4. Specialize. Jacks of all trades in a local area will never be able to command the same fees as out of town experts. Be the latter. No company is good at everything. If you think you are so talented at design that you can do anything, it’s no wonder you aren’t getting good fees. 5. Raise fees every year. I have always said that every firm should send out a notice to all clients, past and present, that fees will go up on the first of the new year. Do this every year and you will get paid better. Not only that, some clients will push a job ahead to get you locked in, and that is good, also.

ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA Registration is open for the annual in-person conference in Frisco, September 13-15. The 2023 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Excellence in Client Experience, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards will be celebrated at the iconic black-tie awards gala. Register now for the AEC industry’s top learning and networking event of the year.

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