Through this project, we’ve been able to bring local consultants, tradesmen, and contractors together to create an environment that, we believe, will ultimately bring every part of the community together to celebrate innovation and encourage people from all walks of life to interact through unique, shared experiences. “One of the greatest traits of a leader is the ability to identify their replacement. During the early stages of an ownership transition, it’s important to identify and mentor the new leadership to put them in the best position to succeed.” TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? MS: Two years prior, we started to become more flexible with schedules and working remotely. We recognized the importance of establishing a work-life balance, and this allowed our employees to do that while still producing the same, high-quality results. When COVID-19 began to impact the workforce back in March, we were in the final stages of a technology upgrade that involved moving everyone over to virtual desktops to support a flexible work environment. With the help of a consultant, our internal IT team was able to fast-track the final stages of the project and get us all up and running from home in less than 48 hours. Prior to COVID-19, we had never operated as a fully remote organization. For now, we are using this time as an opportunity to embrace virtual meetings and establish new ways to stay connected while continuing to serve our clients at the same high level they’ve come to expect. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? MS: Historically, we approached project team diversity as a matter of meeting our clients’ requirements. But that’s not good enough. Our project teams need to be a reflection of our communities if we’re going to provide the best solutions. Two years ago, we invested in an existing M/WBE design firm in our community.
We had worked with this firm on multiple projects in the past and had cultivated a collaborative working relationship that proved to be beneficial to our clients and the community. The goal of this initiative is to allow that firm to continue to operate as an independent M/WBE organization while providing additional resources such as IT, marketing, business development, and mentorship. Our hope is that these additional resources will help them grow into a multi-generational firm, build upon their knowledge from generation to generation, and continue to serve the community for many years to come. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as president? MS: Providing leadership through serving others. TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? MS: We predict workload at two levels: macro and micro. At a macro level, we track backlog on an 18-month sliding scale. At the micro level, we’re able to predict our workload and cashflow around three to six months out – three months when work is soft, six months when work is strong. “Communicating frequently, repeatedly, and as transparently as possible will make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals.” TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” MS: It fluctuates. Sometimes it makes sense to focus on what’s happening in the business, such as bringing on a new account, starting a large project or maintaining a client relationship. Other times, it makes more sense to focus on the business and where we’re headed. Having a really good team gives you the flexibility to move back and forth, and I’m fortunate to have that on both sides. TZL: The firm was started in 1983. What’s one of the most important outside events See SERVING OTHERS, page 8
HEADQUARTERS: St. Louis, MO NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 130 YEAR FOUNDED: 1983 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ❚ ❚ Austin, TX
❚ ❚ New York, NY ❚ ❚ St. Louis, MO SERVICES:
❚ ❚ Architecture ❚ ❚ Construction ❚ ❚ Furniture procurement
❚ ❚ Graphic design ❚ ❚ Interior design ❚ ❚ Landscape architecture ❚ ❚ Master planning ❚ ❚ Real estate development MARKETS: ❚ ❚ Adaptive re-use ❚ ❚ Healthcare ❚ ❚ Higher education ❚ ❚ Hospitality ❚ ❚ K-12 ❚ ❚ Media and communications ❚ ❚ Multi-family housing ❚ ❚ Municipal ❚ ❚ Recreation and wellness
❚ ❚ Residential ❚ ❚ Restaurants ❚ ❚ Retail ❚ ❚ Senior living ❚ ❚ Workplace
© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.
UARY 22, 2021, ISSUE 1380
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