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Primary work location

This is a cost-effective alternative for AEC leaders seeking to manage enterprise risk. Captive insurance

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.

M anaging enterprise risk is a constantly evolving challenge for any AEC firm’s leadership team. The harsh reality that economic damages can arise from a failure to perform professional duties, or the mere allegation of it, is just one of the many reasons enterprise risk is the single largest long-term threat for many AEC firms. Successful enterprise risk management relies upon qualified and experienced professionals who create well scoped and efficient projects which they deliver through professional services. But things happen: Communications sometimes break down and projects can go in the wrong direction. People are humans after all and will make mistakes. In the era of COVID-19, AEC leaders must prepare for a wide range of complicating factors when developing and executing on their ERM strategies. These include shortage of qualified and experienced staff, increases in severity of claims, compressed schedules, inflationary pressure, supply chain disruptions, and a “hard” insurance marketplace. That last factor is especially relevant in this environment. The economics of the U.S. commercial insurance market have been leading larger insurance carriers away from providing highly customized coverages while at the same time seeking higher revenues in the form of increased premiums. Several recent drivers – notably cybersecurity risk, climate patterns, and COVID-19 – appear to have accelerated this trend. During the first half of 2012, U.S. net premiums written in the property and casualty insurance segment totaled $231.6 billion, according to the NAIC . In the first half of 2021, that figure was more than $351.2 billion, a net increase of more than 51 percent. As a result, innovative AEC firms are looking to deploy all tools available to help mitigate the cost of enterprise risk. In addition to quality control procedures and managing contract-related risk, we believe evaluation of current commercial insurance arrangements should be part of the plan. Captive insurance companies, in particular, may be especially useful for AEC firms. Here are some common questions we get when talking to our clients about captives: ■ ■ What is captive insurance? A captive is a risk financing mechanism that takes the form of an insurance company owned and controlled by its insureds, which may be its parent company or a group of related companies. The history of captives in their modern form date back to the early 1900s in Europe. Once thought to be only applicable to large multinational corporations, the captive marketplace has developed as a viable ERM solution for many AEC firms.

Ted Grace

F I R M I N D E X Fluor Corporation..................................................4


MG2................................................................................. 6

Twining, Inc.............................................................10

WK Dickson............................................................10

MO R E A R T I C L E S n JERRY HOLDER: Seize your moment Page 3 n Providing opportunities: Mitch Smith Page 6 n KRAIG KERN: Who is responsible for onboarding Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Chatter from the back of the room Page 11

See TED GRACE, page 2



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Bermuda. However, as of 2020 more than 3,100 captives were domiciled in the U.S., with Vermont, Utah, Delaware, and North Carolina accounting for nearly half of that figure, according to A.M. Best. Since 2000, U.S. captives have topped traditional commercial insurers in operating performance, A.M. Best found, in part due to the perception by companies in need of insurance that underwriters overprice the company’s risks and fail to understand their business model. The highest growth of captives in the past 10 years has been domestic captives, and 39 of 50 states now have some type of captive law allowing captives to domicile in those states. ■ ■ Are captives expensive to form? The cost of setting up a captive has never been lower, and – if amortized over a five- year period – are well within reach for most AEC firms. Captives can actually provide a greater level of financial protection for firms than by taking a large deductible or retention through traditional commercial insurance. ■ ■ Can an AEC firm establish a captive program on its own? Yes, in theory. But just as any proper AEC project is best handled by AEC experts, the same concept applies to captives. Creating a successful program usually calls for working with experienced professionals that understand the intricacies of ERM, captive insurance, and the AEC industry. Zweig Group and Stephens Insurance have partnered to provide guidance on whether a captive program is right for your firm. ■ ■ What is the process? The process starts with a comprehensive evaluation of a firm’s current risk profile and risk management program. This includes gathering all pertinent data to develop a five-year captive financial model or pre-feasibility study, to show how the captive can integrate into your firm’s ERM plan. This data resembles information you provide for insurance quotes. After the model is developed, your firm’s key decision makers review it and determine whether to proceed. The next step is implementing the captive program, and securing authority from the chosen domicile. Your firm also should modify or restructure your pre-existing commercial insurance program to maximize your captive’s impact. ■ ■ How do we get started? To learn more about captive insurance and whether it may be right for your AEC firm, reach out to Zweig Group’s Dathan Gaskill at dgaskill@zweiggroup. com, or email Ted Grace at Ted Grace is executive vice president, Risk Management at Stephens Insurance. Contact him at

TED GRACE , from page 1

■ ■ What are the benefits of a captive? A captive affords the parent company more control than purchasing standard

insurance. The captive allows the tailoring of insurance coverage to meet the unique risks of the parent, particularly in cases where coverage might otherwise be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Captives provide an alternative to the traditional means of financing enterprise risk. In general, captives can provide: † † Broader and bespoke coverages that often are unavailable in the traditional commercial marketplace † † Stability of insurance pricing and availability † † Cash flow through insurance company tax treatment and investment opportunities

† † Reduction in insurance costs † † Direct access to reinsurers

■ ■ How relevant are captives to architects and engineers? The AEC sector is changing rapidly because of pressure to build projects quicker and at lower cost, while adapting to an ever changing operating environment. Municipalities nationwide rely on facilities to provide sewer and water treatment, but struggle to find experts who can operate them properly. Municipal architects and engineers are increasingly being asked to design, build, operate, own, finance, and manage wastewater facilities. This brings new risks that current insurance policies may not address. Some municipal architects and engineers are self-funding captive programs to fit their needs before taking on this type of project. ■ ■ How relevant are captives to the construction industry? Captive insurance has been available to the construction industry for quite some time. With most construction companies, the need to address and manage third-party risks, such as those related to subcontractors, is essential. For safety-conscious, best-in-class risk management focused construction companies, captives can provide a cost-effective approach including owner-controlled programs, contractor- controlled insurance programs, and construction defect and warranty rework exposures. ■ ■ Where are captives domiciled? Captives were once almost exclusively domiciled in locations like the Caymans and

2022 AEC EXECUTIVE ROUNDTABLE The 2022 AEC Executive Roundtable is a unique opportunity for AEC firm leaders to engage and interact with industry peers to discuss current issues facing firms today, explore industry trends and next practices, and confront the biggest challenges they face leading their firms. Through a combination of short informative presentations and panel discussions, along with multiple topic focused roundtables, this event will allow leaders to truly find the knowledge and insight they are looking for. See you this June 22-24 in Dallas. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Seize your moment

Three lessons learned from stories of leaders’ successes and failures – and their ramifications.

L eadership is easily understood and described in abstract terms. A leader is someone who steps to the front of a crowd, who inspires, who influences, who can shape and steer the opinion of others. But for the concept of leadership to truly resonate, for it to go beyond the realm of hypotheticals and academic constructs, you need to understand the significance of its real-world context and ramifications – and why taking that step forward to lead is so often life-changing.

Jerry Holder

That is, in brief, why I’m writing today about The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All by Michael Useem. In this book, in these stories of success and failure, there are examples of how the course of history has been determined by how individuals responded to the challenges placed before them. These are a few of the lessons that have stuck with me: 1. Collaborate with the best. Fifty-five hours after Apollo 13 lifted off on April 11, 1970, a 36-year-old engineer named Eugene Kranz found that the eyes of the world were fixed on him. An oxygen tank aboard the shuttle had exploded, resulting in the loss of the command module’s normal

supply of electricity, light, and water – 200,000 miles from earth. In short, the question quickly became: How do we get them home? As Useem notes, as flight director, Kranz had the final call on any decision made. The burden of those lives was on him. But he wasn’t alone. The reason for Kranz’s success is that he had some of the nation’s greatest minds beside him, all of them working in tandem to bring Apollo 13 home safely. While it’s true most of us won’t experience pressure of this magnitude, there is a parallel. The reason we hire the smartest people we can find at Garver is that, as engineers, we are providing a service that has enormous stakes. That collaboration is at the

See JERRY HOLDER, page 4



BUSINESS NEWS FLUOR-BACKED NUSCALE POWER SIGNS AGREEMENT TO ACCELERATE SMALL MODULAR REACTOR COMMERCIALIZATION Fluor Corporation announced that NuScale Power, LLC, in which Fluor is the majority investor, has signed a merger agreement with SpringValleyAcquisition Corp.. Fluor has invested more than $600 million in NuScale Power since 2011 to help bring its technology to market. The proposed transaction is anticipated to close in the first half of 2022 subject to customary closing conditions. Upon completion of the transaction, Fluor projects to own approximately 60 percent of the combined company, based on the PIPE investment commitments received and the current equity and in-the-money equity equivalents of NuScale Power and Spring Valley. “Fluor expects that the proposed transaction will bolster and accelerate the path to commercialization and deployment of NuScale Power’s unique small modular nuclear reactor technology,” said Alan Boeckmann,

executive chairman, Fluor. “This is the next step in Fluor’s plan, first outlined 10 years ago, to work closely with NuScale Power, Congress and the Department of Energy to commercialize this unique carbon-free energy technology. “Today’s announcement is further evidence that cost-shared government funding to build first-of-a kind commercial scale technology can attract private investment and yield results. Fluor will continue to serve as an important partner by providing NuScale Power and its clients with world-class expertise in engineering services, project management and supply chain support,” Boeckmann said. NuScale Power is the developer of the only SMR technology that has received Standard Design Approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. After merging with Spring Valley, the combined company will become the first and only publicly-traded company focused on development of advanced SMR technology.

NuScale Power’s innovative, carbon-free nuclear power solution offers clients safe, scalable and deployable 77-megawatt modules in configurations of four, six or 12 modules. The SMR technology can be integrated into electric grids to complement existing renewable energy sources and provide ongoing, consistent and reliable baseload power. Fluor, together with NuScale Power, continues to advance the first SMR cost- reimbursable services contract with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. UAMPS awarded Fluor a contract in January 2021 to provide estimating, development, design and engineering services for its Carbon-Free Power Project. Fluor’s 44,000 employees provide professional and technical solutions that deliver safe, well-executed, capital- efficient projects to clients around the world. With headquarters in Irving, Texas, Fluor has been providing engineering, procurement and construction services for more than 100 years.

of the stories share some of the same lessons and takeaways, something that I’d argue is common to them all is this: No matter whether these stories deal with a pivotal Civil War battle or the development of a drug to combat malaria, they all deal with the rise and fall of trust and credibility – what I like to call a “leadership bank account.” What I mean is this: Every action you take throughout the day – the timbre of your voice in a meeting, the confidence you exude during a conversation, whether you’re on time for a meeting – either makes a deposit or takes a withdrawal from your account, causing it to increase or decrease for a given individual or group of people. The accumulated interest of that account determines whether someone might be willing to follow you. You might propose a solution to a problem that sounds somewhat odd to those people you work with – but if you’ve made the necessary deposits and built a long track record of coming up with good solutions, they’ll more than likely follow you to the end. Leadership is a product of both today’s actions and yesterday’s groundwork.

JERRY HOLDER , from page 3

heart of our work – and it’s why we consider ourselves our clients’ most trusted advisor. 2. Communicate your “why.” Another lesson I have learned from this book is that poor communication will lead to failure. In the story about Wagner Dodge, we hear about a man who “was facing the moment, the decision of a lifetime. A fast-moving forest-and-grass fire was about to overrun the 15 firefighters under his command … They were running for their lives, and Dodge knew their time was running out.” I won’t spoil the story, but I will say this: In Wagner Dodge, we find a remarkably capable leader of steel nerves – but his poor communication skills are his tragic flaw. You must communicate the “why” of your direction. You need to connect the people with the purpose of the task. You cannot be a leader if you just act like that parent who says, “Do it because I said so.” That is not leadership. Leadership is built on credibility – and the trust that your people have in you. 3. Build your leadership bank account. Although many

Jerry Holder, P.E., is senior vice president and director of transportation at Garver. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS 2022 This program provides AEC professionals with the skills to become more competent leaders and helps attendees develop and affirm the leadership skills, strategies, and techniques necessary to grow personally and professionally. Zweig Group’s team of management experts deliver practical solutions that technical professionals can put to work immediately to drive success in their firms. This four-week virtual program begins July 12. Click here to learn more!

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Providing opportunities: Mitch Smith CEO and chairman of the board at MG2 (Seattle, WA), a global architecture, design, construction, and branding studio.


A s one of the first 20 employees to join MG2, Smith quickly rose from project manager to CEO and chairman of the board by honing the craft of architecture. He perfectly balances delivery excellence with a design mindset, driving kinetic transformation long into the future. “You can’t wait for a specific opportunity to arise to develop your staff,” Smith says. “You have to continually invest in and provide opportunities.” A CONVERSATIONWITH MITCH SMITH. The Zweig Letter: Your online bio says that “you push boundaries.” Can you tell me more about that? Mitch Smith: I push organizational and individual boundaries; it’s truly a yin/yang approach. A great example of this is the evolution of our Shanghai office. Since its inception almost 20 years ago, I’ve worked closely with the team to fundamentally understand howwe can support our clients across Asia and help them drive growth. This has translated, advanced, and

molded our offering to support the jurisdictional and cultural intricacies of our work overseas, and emboldened the team to really begin pushing boundaries for our clients. TZL: You have a vigorous intern program. Howmany interns do you hire? Fromwhere? Howmany have turned into new hires? MS: Each summer, MG2 offices around the country host a group of design interns. The program includes educational presentations, social events, and design competitions to elevate their understanding of the profession and to test their problem-solving skills. It’s also structured to allow interns to collaborate directly with MG2 architects and designers on real- world challenges. For the last two years, we evolved our programming to virtual, creating our Student Connection series that allowed anyone over the age of 18 – student or otherwise – to participate remotely. We were thrilled to see engagement from across the globe.



Typically, we aim to hire around two dozen interns a year. We often hire high-performing interns into full-time roles after graduation. Today, we’re proud to have several employees who originally came on board as interns who are now more than 10 years into their careers, as well as many more in various stages of their professional journey. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? MS: Fundamentally, the recipe is a simple one. Trust doesn’t just come from good intentions; it comes from an ability to say what you’ll do and then do it. Having the knowledge and experience to deliver above-and-beyond results, time and again. Optimization of speed, repetition, and efficiency. Candor and transparency in communication are a foundational part of that. “I greatly enjoy watching people step into new roles and embrace the accompanying challenges and responsibilities.” TZL: Can you tell me exactly what “human- centered design” means and illustrate it with a project example or two? MS: The idea behind human-centered design is to invite the perspective and insight of the people we design for to inform the design, outcomes, and experiences we strive to achieve. We’re creating spaces where people live, work, and play so this is a fundamental piece of why diversity in perspective, background, race, gender, orientation, etc. are critical at MG2. The more diverse the voices at the table, the more equitable and inclusive the solutions will be. Our Crossroads and Rose Hill projects are great examples of human-centered design expressed in our work. In both instances, we’re evolving outdated, urban-based shopping centers into walkable, sustainability-minded, multi-family communities. They’ll feature green spaces, varying amenities and will be accessible via multi-modal transportation. Destination-worthy spaces whose composition can positively change the lives of their residents, visitors, and surrounding neighborhoods is human-centered design in action. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now?

MS: You need knowledge, expertise, and the passion to invest in research, learning, and expanding your ability to solve problems. That constant desire to learn and grow drives the practice forward, whether from a design or technical standpoint. It’s a constant. And it must also be coupled with great people. Confident leaders know that they don’t have all the answers. Early in your career, you’re seeking answers and certainty. But ultimately, it’s about being nimble and adaptable. The world is changing quickly and yesterday’s solutions may not be the answer to tomorrow’s challenges. TZL: MG2 invests in its leaders while focusing on their career, health, and wellness. Please tell me about some initiatives that work to meet this end. MS: Early on, we identify people with leadership potential and provide support during their evolution. I greatly enjoy watching people step into new roles and embrace the accompanying challenges and responsibilities. You can’t wait for a specific opportunity to arise to develop your staff; you have to continually invest in and provide opportunities. We have initiatives of all sorts, including extensive leadership training, EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), coaching programs, free LinkedIn Learning access, and countless professional development benefits, including yearly training budgets and certification fee coverage. We offer opportunities to volunteer on community projects with partners like Seattle Design Festival and The BLOCK Project, yearly student internships and events, and the ability to participate in our Emerging Professional Series – a program that provides everyone at MG2 the ability to explore tools, knowledge, and processes from across our firm. To round everything off, we offer work-from- home flexibility and health resources for mental, physical, and emotional well-being through our firm’s comprehensive benefits package. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking in the design industry. What steps are you taking to address the issue? MS: We’ve been focused on this for years and have given much attention to the way we recruit and howwe elevate our people. In 2020, MG2 partnered with the Global Diversity Collaborative: an organization that uses the results of effective collaboration to help companies transform into the workplace See PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES, page 8

HEADQUARTERS: Seattle, WA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 425 YEAR FOUNDED: 1971 OFFICE LOCATIONS: 7 MARKETS: ■ ■ Consumer Experiences: Food, Beverage, &

Entertainment; Large- format Retail, Pop- up Retail, Specialty Retail, Worklife

■ ■ Community

Environments: High- rise, Hospitality,

Interiors, Mid-rise Residential, Retail Development ■ ■ Client Programs: Program Design,

Entitlement Services, Program Delivery, Cost Management, Built Asset Management

■ ■ Services:

Architecture, Brand design and

development, Casework and fixture design, Cost management, Interior design, Master planning, Program management, Space planning, Store planning and Visual merchandising

LEGACY: MG2 just celebrated its 50th anniversary!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

ARCH 21, 2022, ISSUE 1433



of the future, and helps leaders envision the possibilities of diverse, equitable, and inclusive businesses. We’re just about to publish our revised EDI Strategy which maps out the outcomes we’re striving to achieve in the next three years. Together, we’ve developed a roadmap that defines our strategy to advance diverse talent in the firm; provide continuous EDI learning and understanding, evolve the MG2 culture to reflect EDI, and engage the profession and the community in support of EDI and social justice issues. Today, we’re focused on what will have the greatest impact on our profession, and in our practice; a targeted effort to change the representation of Black architects in our profession. The imbalance is so historically pervasive, and we knowwe need to dedicate efforts wholeheartedly to howwe engage in education relative to architecture programs, HBCUs, and even primary education. In that light, MG2 has recalibrated all our giving efforts toward those centered on EDI, including revising strategies for the MG2 Foundation. This has extended to our commitments with scholarships as well as design and arts organizations. “Destination-worthy spaces whose composition can positively change the lives of their residents, visitors, and surrounding neighborhoods is human- centered design in action.” TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leaders are great people managers? MS: Our managers are the lynchpin. Through the years, we’ve provided leadership coaching and structured resources to our managers, giving them the tools to effectively connect with and support their staff and pass their knowledge on to the next generation. Empathy is a huge part of this equation, as are candor, transparency, and consistent communication. This is why even when managers are really busy with project work, it’s even more critical for them to prioritize connecting with their teams. Our managers embody our “people make the place” mantra; they reiterate to their staff the importance of taking paid time away, putting mental health and family first, and asking for help when it’s needed. Working remotely has presented an interesting challenge to our managers, as it negated the “water cooler effect” and opportunities for impromptu check-ins. To help emphasize the importance this year, a manager’s ability to positively affect their team’s effectiveness and retention will be a line item on every leader’s performance review. This ensures we continue to be attentive and nimble. TZL: Sustainability is built into your firm’s culture. When you set out to design the plan for MG2’s formal framework for sustainability, tell me a little about how you got there. MS: The integration of sustainability in our practice has been an evolving strategy for MG2. When it came time to formalize a

MG2’s Rose Hill project in Kirkland, WA. It’s one of the largest multi-family residence projects in the Seattle area. © Plomp

framework and start documenting our intentions in design with data-driven precision, there was buy-in from all sides. We knew from the get-go that the effort needed to be all or nothing: We couldn’t just settle on a handful of sustainability- centric designers, teams, or projects; the entire firm, our contractors, and our clients needed to be involved. Initiatives like an annual internal waste and energy audit at our Seattle office keep our own habits as a firm top-of-mind, allowing us to better ourselves as a firm and live what we preach. Driving our efforts are principal Mark Taylor AIA, LEED AP, and our Sustainability Leadership committee, who have set up and actively track our sustainability pilot projects. Additionally, they work with our Sustainability Forum team to help educate the firm on new tools, technologies, and more. As we continue to evaluate and evolve our firm’s sustainability action plan, MG2 has committed to going above and beyond the goals outlined by AIA’s 2030 challenge by adding two more of our own: we’re also focused on water consumption and materials selection. In addition to becoming proud signatories of the AIA Materials Pledge, MG2 has created our own rigorous Materials Evaluation System. Using a stoplight structure, specialists like our materials librarian, Candon Murphy, analyze and rank every vendor, product, and material we use. We adhere to the highest attainable sustainability standards for a better future. TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? MS: The first priority is to ensure that those surrounding you are trusted and have strengths that complement your own. Replacing a leader who “does it all” with someone who may be inexperienced in critical areas can make for a rocky transition. Then, of course, you have to find the right leader. I feel it’s an intentional career path, and future leaders with ambitions to run a company must be obsessive about the process. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Becoming a company leader is a journey, evaluating your progress toward every year. The biggest pitfall to avoid – at any point along the way – is to think that you’ve got it figured out.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Your firm’s collective strengths can and should be applied to make your new employees’ onboarding a standout experience. Who is responsible for onboarding?

Y ou see it in the headlines every day. “The great resignation,” “the talent wars,” “the big quit,” and other catchphrases. Is it media-fueled nonsense, or is there a real problem facing companies looking to hire? After more than two years of COVID challenges, the answer is abundantly clear: There is a hiring crisis taking place – not just in the retail and hospitality sectors but across the board, including the AEC industry.

Kraig Kern

According to the government’s job report released in January 2022, more than 20 million people (about the population of New York) quit their jobs in the second half of 2021 alone. Looking at LinkedIn’s data on who is leaving jobs is most compelling: Millions of baby boomers are retiring early, but millions of Gen Z (people in their teens and early 20s) workers are also exiting the workforce. Many more women are leaving than men. All the groups AEC firms need to secure a cohesive and diverse workforce are leaving at the highest “quit rate” since the government started keeping track more than two decades ago. The data does not answer why specifically, but there are plenty of common threads. Take, for instance, the COVID-19 pandemic. Karin Kimbrough, LinkedIn’s

chief economist, calls it the “take this job and shove it” approach. In a recent interviewwith 60 Minutes , she said, “People have been ‘living to work’ for a very long time. And I think the pandemic brought that moment of reflection for everyone. ‘What do I wanna do? What makes my heart sing?’ And people are thinking, ‘If not now, then when?’” What does this have to do with onboarding? As a marketing professional for more than 25 years, I have welcomed my fair share of staff to the team. I have hired and fired, recruited, and poached. I usually would not associate myself with worrying about the onboarding process. After all, isn’t that an HR thing?

See KRAIG KERN, page 10



ON THE MOVE TWINING ANNOUNCES SEMI- RETIREMENT OF EDWARD M. TWINING, JR. After a distinguished 42-year tenure with Twining, Inc., the company founded by his great-grandfather, Edward “Butch” Twining, Jr. is stepping into a semi- retirement role at the close of 2021. Butch’s career witnessed exponential growth of the Long Beach, California- based firm, including the creation of six full-service branches, spanning the state, the acquisition of multiple complementary firms, and the expansion of the firm to over 300 employees. In addition, Butch’s success as an exemplary salesman of Twining’s

services cannot go unnoticed. His past notable wins include The Getty, Wilshire Grand, and Intuit Dome. He will retain the title of chairman emeritus. While Butch will be spending more time with his wife Dana, his children, and grandchildren, Twining looks forward to his continued contributions to the company as Chairman Emeritus. “While he will spend plenty of time in his RV with his wife and constant companion, Dana, by his side, he will always be a leader within the Twining organization,” noted Robert Ryan, Twining CEO and president. ”We wish him a most

enjoyable semi-retirement and send him our endless gratitude for the success of the firm. His success has been our success. He has made an indelible mark on the Twining Group of Companies, and we will continue to raise the bar that he set so high.” Combiningworld-classQA/QC,materials testing, and inspection to highly technical capabilities in geotechnical engineering, applied engineering, and integrated disciplines, Twining has developed a strong reputation by providing sound engineering, testing, and inspection services on every project it undertakes.

The bottom line is that successful onboarding is everyone’s job. I could have just led with that, but it is important to hammer home the consequences of a negative or uninspiring process. Yes, human resources should take a lead role in developing a good onboarding program, but marketers, administrators, project managers, designers, and the C-suite should all have a part. The company’s collective strengths can and should be applied to make the new employees’ first day, first week, first month, and first year the best they have ever experienced regardless of how high they are on the org chart. It is time for the AEC industry to get more creative. It is time to pull together a diverse group from everywhere within your company and engage them to help develop a consistent, sustainable, effective, and unique program. There are potential onboarding champions around every corner and from all levels of your company. Our firm has been fortunate to find them, and it has resulted in our lowest turnover in the firm’s history these past two years – despite the external pressures that suggest otherwise. In our case, we made improving the onboarding experience a major strategic planning initiative. We even sent a couple of people to see how Disney does it. It must be more than the tone of your offer letter and the ease of doing paperwork. It means modernizing your systems and automating workflows. It means having fun during orientation. It means developing a buddy system that encourages current staff to want to participate, and it doesn’t stop after the first week. It means assigning mentors for the entirety of the person’s career – until they become mentors themselves. In the current hiring environment, your business simply cannot afford to wait to improve. You do not have to be Disney, Google, Microsoft, or Apple with their endless budgets to have a robust onboarding program. Just look at your culture and values and start from there. If you believe they are important to your firm and not just a strategic planning exercise, the rest will come naturally. Kraig Kern, CPSM is vice president and director of marketing at WK Dickson. Contact him at

KRAIG KERN , from page 9

If you answered yes, like I used to, you are already in for a world of trouble. Maybe you just haven’t experienced it yet. Most of us are aware of the statistics put out annually by Gallup asserting that less than 35 percent of the global workforce are currently engaged. That suggests the other 65 percent are either disengaged and could leave at any time, or are toxic and are dragging other people down with them. What is hidden in a lot of that data is that a negative onboarding experience doubles the employee’s chances of seeking another opportunity within 18 months. Conversely, a great onboarding experience ensures 69 percent of employees stick with a company for at least three years. “It is time to pull together a diverse group from everywhere within your company and engage them to help develop a consistent, sustainable, effective, and unique program. There are potential onboarding champions around every corner and from all levels of your company.” Consider these other eye-popping statistics: ■ ■ Fifty-eight percent of organizations say their onboarding program focuses on processes and paperwork. ■ ■ The average new hire is expected to complete 54 activities during their onboarding process. ■ ■ A poor onboarding program was reported by 40 percent of global executives. ■ ■ Only 37 percent of companies ensure their onboarding programs run for more than a month from the employee’s first day. If any of that looks familiar, it is time to make a change in your organization.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Just because you hear other firm leaders are pushing for something, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your firm. Chatter from the back of the room

I ’m seeing a lot of articles online and in print about how much time is ideal for office workers to work in the office, now that it appears safer to work in any office. It’s an interesting topic.

Here is my conclusion: Everyone is different and has different life circumstances, as well as different kinds of tasks they do every day. So there is no one “best” answer to this question. Maybe we should figure out what our individual workers want and try to accommodate them if possible. It is an employee- driven job market after all, and the AEC industry is facing unprecedented demand for what we do. Let’s be smart and not just use a broad brush to mandate what the work requirements/setup will be for everyone without considering their individual needs. I know this will be difficult for a lot of our readers to do because you like “standardization” when you can have it, but believe me, it’s going to be necessary. And yes – if you asked me about this 10 years ago, I would’ve said “everyone must be back in the office.” But I have learned. I have also noticed everyone wants to use personality profiles these days. These things are supposed to explain why we each behave the way we do and how we are supposed to be handled by our managers. I don’t like them for several reasons. First and foremost,

they seem to excuse all sorts of inappropriate behavior. It’s like, “Joe acts like a jerk but he is a D-F- A-R, and he can’t help it.” I’m going to call B.S. on this stuff and anything else that justifies or explains someone’s dysfunctionality. I also cannot believe how often firms in our business are using these instruments for pre-screening candidates they are considering hiring. I have said it before, but apparently need to again. If you do not hire someone because of how they score on ANY personality test, you had better be in a position to prove that how someone scores on this test is a valid and reliable predictor of their on-the-job performance in that specific role. You won’t be able to do that, so don’t use them for screening. If you do and you don’t hire someone based on how they scored on the test, they could sue you. If the people selling these tests are telling you they are legal, they are probably correct. They aren’t illegal to use, per se. But one could argue they are discriminatory, and civil litigation is a real risk.

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE SKILES GROUP NAMES KEYAN ZANDY CHIEFEXECUTIVEOFFICER Skiles Group, an award-winning, national general contracting and lean construction management firm based in Richardson, Texas, announced that Keyan Zandy has been named CEO, effectiveMay 1. Current CEO, Clay Harrison, will remain with Skiles Group as chairman, and Dwayne Hodges will remain as president. “Keyan is a dynamic leader who has reshaped Skiles Group, and our industry, by tirelessly and creatively advancing the firm’s tools, practices, and principles,” says Harrison. “His impact since joining Skiles Group in 2014, and as our COO since 2018, includes elevating the size and complexity of projects we build, as well as increasing our presence both locally and nationally. I’m excited that, as Skiles Group celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the companywill be in such capable hands going forward.” “SkilesGrouphas a longanddistinguished history, and Keyan has helped lead us to even greater heights over the past eight years,” adds Hodges. “We’ve grown our employee base by nearly 70 percent and, perhaps more importantly, we’ve transformed our culture and how we do business. Keyan’s leadership has enabled Skiles Group to become the progressive and dynamic firm it is today, and we are poised for continued growth as he assumes the role of CEO.” Zandy shares, “Clay and Dwayne have built a truly differentiated organization that works hard every day to deliver on our promise of Construction Simplified. I look forward to carrying on their legacy and, especially with the support of

the incredible team we have in place, continuing Skiles Group’s evolution and its growth with our clients, team, trade partners, and industry.” Arecognized construction industryexpert with almost 20 years of experience, Zandy joined Skiles Group in 2014. He has been a champion of disruptive, continuous process improvement in collaboration with employees, clients, and trade partners. With Skiles Group, he developed and nurtured a Lean culture and placed significant focus on pursuing operational excellence through focused, continuous improvement – paving the way for the company’s “There’s a better way to build” philosophy that drives everything it does. During his tenure, he guided the firm through the mapping and documentation of all company processes and crafted a comprehensive training program to ensure their consistent practice. His contributions further include extensive technology exploration and integration across the enterprise; revamping Skiles Group’s hiring and retention approaches; and developing new strategies around client acquisition and business development to both increase and diversify market share. As a result of the various improvements Zandy led, Skiles Group has received numerous industry recognitions and awards over the past few years, including multiple AGC National Build America awards, the ABC National Excellence in Construction Award, and the AGC National Innovation Award. In 2019, along with industry colleague Joe Donarumo, Zandy encapsulated lean construction principles in an easy-

to-read story about a construction superintendent who has been given responsibility for the biggest project of his life. Entitled The Lean Builder: A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field , the book delivers Lean concepts in a clear and understandable approach through practical scenarios faced by any construction project team. The book was honored with a Shingo PublicationAward byThe Shingo Institute, denoting its significant contribution and practical application to the body of knowledge regarding enterprise excellence. The Lean Builder is regularly used in construction management programs in many universities and has become a vibrant online community for superintendents and last planners on the job sites. Zandy holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. He is past Chairman and current core team member of the Lean Construction Institute’s Dallas/Fort Worth Community of Practice and is regularly asked to speak at events for AGC, LCI, TEXO, CMAA, AIC, and SMPS, among others. He serves as a regular contributor for D CEO Magazine, the Zweig Letter, and other top industry publications. Skiles Group offers general contracting, construction management, integrated project delivery, and design/build services throughout the United States from its home base in the Dallas- Fort Worth area. Specializing in the construction of complex, award-winning facilities, Skiles Group’s expansive project portfolio includes healthcare, higher education, commercial, recreational, and private schools.

YouTube videos? You can probably do more than you are doing nowwithout a whole lot of work. Do it. Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at “It is an employee-driven job market, and the AEC industry is facing unprecedented demand for what we do. Let’s be smart and not just use a broad brush to mandate what the work requirements/setup will be for everyone without considering their individual needs.”

MARK ZWEIG , from page 11

Lastly, fix your websites, folks. Your website is the first place anyone who wants to know more about your company is going to look – be that a potential client or employee – and has to have correct information. That means your CURRENT office address and phone number. It’s amazing how difficult it is to find those two very specific pieces of information on some AEC firms’ websites. And that is just the start. There could be a bunch of other problems from featuring people who are no longer there, to highlighting projects that were in the news for all of the issues they had. Both are unacceptable. Spend some time and get it right! Let’s communicate some personality. Let’s have some candid photos. And how about peppering some client testimonials throughout? A blog that changes? Links to podcasts and

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