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T R E N D L I N E S J u n e 1 , 2 0 2 0 , I s s u e 1 3 4 7 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

NSR per full-time employee

Discarding an entire year’s worth of results may be an even greater barrier to future success than our current circumstances. 2019 is not cancelled

Zweig Group’s 2020 Financial Performance Survey of AEC Firms analyzes annual trends for a variety of key financial metrics. In the last five years, net service revenue per full-time equivalent (NSR/FTE) among AEC firms has steadily increased year-over-year by 2 percent to 4 percent.

T oday marks both the scheduled release date for our 2020 Financial Performance Survey of AEC Firms as well as the deadline to apply for our 2020 awards program, and in some ways for us, the confluence of these two events also means the true conclusion of 2019. Reviewing early drafts of the survey results and the inspiring achievements submitted for awards from the confines of my home office has been surreal if not somewhat melancholy. The numbers are incredible. Industry- wide median profit last year was so strong that our brackets defining “average profit” and “high profit” would be called into question, should the second quarter of this year not have reminded us why we keep benchmarks supported by decades of research steady. AEC firms were busy, delivering another year of solid backlog and high efficiency metrics, while collections held steady and working capital strong. Last week, a client commented that the annual bundle of surveys they purchased earlier in the year was essentially worthless to them post-COVID. Another client said they decided not to enter our Best Firms To Work For program this year because it’s not the time to compare themselves to other firms. It’s a shame. There’s so much to learn from what your firm does well and playing to your strengths during a time when many firms feel that they have less margin for error than they’re comfortable with. Discarding an entire year’s worth of results and constant improvement may be an even greater barrier to future success than our current circumstances. Further, there’s a great deal of risk in deciding to operate blindly until things get back to normal, though the optimism is admirable. There is also a lot to be said for benchmarking as a discipline or a commitment; an ongoing process that is continuously relied upon to guide strategic decisions and avoid reactionary outcomes in uncertain times while also setting forth the goals that should be cause for recognition of a job well done in times of success. Finally, yes, 2019 is behind us, but what a remarkable year it was. If we stop celebrating the results of our hard work as an industry, we lose a powerful force of determination. Choose instead to learn everything you can about a fascinating situation that can teach us so much about what it takes to run a successful business. JAMIE CLAIRE KISER is managing principal and director of advisory services at Zweig Group. Contact her at

Jamie Claire Kiser

Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on any Zweig Group research publication.

F I R M I N D E X McMahon Associates, Inc.....................10

Mott MacDonald.....................................6

Skiles Group. ........................................12

Ware Malcomb..................................4, 12

MO R E A R T I C L E S xz WILL SWEARINGEN: New challenges Page 3 xz Personal connections: Nick DeNichilo Page 6 xz MARK ZWEIG: Calling to find work Page 9 xz CLAY HARRISON: Tell a story, build a better project Page 11



CALL FOR PROJECT CASE STUDIES Across multiple industries companies are realizing that diversity is more than just a buzzword. Project teams with individuals with diverse ages, values/ beliefs, traditions, ethnic backgrounds, and personalities are continually outperforming those without. Diverse project teams offer the ability to solve complex problems and identify innovative solutions. Zweig Group’s ElevateHER Class of 2020 is studying this effect on the AEC industry and is in search of project case studies which exemplify the impact diversity has on project performance and financial success. Zweig Group is looking for projects where diversity led to a positive project outcome that otherwise may not have been achieved, such as: ❚ ❚ Improved public perception ❚ ❚ Increased financial performance ❚ ❚ Project completed on time or on budget ❚ ❚ Project success that led to repeat work with clients/owners ❚ ❚ Positive community impact ❚ ❚ Other project metrics ❚ ❚ Mentoring opportunities ❚ ❚ Challenging existing project constraints ❚ ❚ Sustainability aspect “Diversity” for the purposes of this study can refer to differences of culture, gender, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic background, age, or

sexual orientation. We are looking for projects with diversity at all levels of the project execution, including: ❚ ❚ Diversity of project funding

Driving Financial Results Webinar


❚ ❚ Diversity of project stakeholders ❚ ❚ Diversity of project end-users

❚ ❚ Diversity of design and construction team If you have current or completed projects that fit the criteria, please submit the following information to ❚ ❚ Project name, owner, and location ❚ ❚ List of subconsultants (indicate if any are DMWESB certified) ❚ ❚ General project description ❚ ❚ Total project budget or construction cost, including funding source ❚ ❚ Description of how diversity was implemented for the project ❚ ❚ A brief statement explaining how diversity benefitted the project and led to a positive project outcome, especially as related to repeat business or project financial success ❚ ❚ Contact information (name, firm, phone number, and email) for follow-up interviews Your input will help the Zweig Group ElevateHER team develop metrics and may be featured in a future Zweig Group study. The deadline for submittals is June 15.

Solid financial management is crucial to the success of any company, and firms in the AEC industry are no exception. This short course provides an overview of business financial management – specifically tailored to our industry – to help firm leaders make informed decisions that drive results.


1200 North College Ave. Fayetteville, AR 72703 Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Christina Zweig | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent


Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560

Zweig Group’s Hot Firm List recognizes the 100 fastest- growing AEC firms in the U.S. and Canada. These firms have outperformed the economy and competitors to become leaders in their chosen fields. To be considered for this award, firms must fill out a short application and are ranked by a score comprised of both dollar and percentage revenue growth rate over a three-year period.

The Best Firms To Work For award recognizes the top AEC firms in the US and Canada based on their workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, and much more. Firms will be ranked according to their category based on a combination score comprised of 25 percent corporate survey and 75 percent employee surveys.

Zweig Group’s Marketing Excellence Awards recognize outstanding and effective marketing in our industry. Choose one category or multiples. Award entries will be judged by an external team of senior AEC marketing professionals and evaluated based upon overall creativity, messaging, results achieved by the campaign, and level of design.

Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year) $250 for one-year print subscription; free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2020, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

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New challenges

In recent months, long-time issues like communication have been trumped by new challenges: loneliness, problems with technology, work-life balance, and distractions.

I n a preliminary data pull from Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For Employee Engagement study, we found that one of the long-time gripes from staff has taken a back seat to other challenges.

leadership have to overcome. Communication from the top down, across teams, from PM to team or one office to another is always a primary concern. This isn’t surprising because humans naturally have a difficult time conveying their intentions in a manner that recipients receive well. Just Google “issues caused by miscommunication” or something to that effect. It’s obviously an issue! The problem can be focused on a specific area of the business, a single person, a system, or an entire level of management; but the data always comes through in our assessments. How we “In these weird times, we have to take stock of our situation, our businesses, and our people and make the right adjustments.”

The perception that there is a lack of communication in an AEC firm has consistently plagued owners, management teams, and staff. Let’s be real; communication or lack thereof is the root cause of many of our issues. The causal relationship between our communication styles and the intended outcomes is direct. Communicate effectively and end goals are realized, communicate ineffectively and – well you know the rest. But, in a recent study by Zweig Group, communication has been trumped by loneliness, problems with technology, work-life balance, and general distractions. In these weird times, we have to take stock of our situation, our businesses, and our people and make the right adjustments. When we work with a firm on strategic planning, we conduct interviews and surveys to better understand a firm’s culture and challenges that

Will Swearingen




ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES STACI TAVE HAS JOINED FIRM AS STUDIO MANAGER IN DALLAS OFFICE Ware Malcomb , an international design firm, announced Staci Tave joined the firm as studio manager, interior architecture and design in the Dallas office. In this role, Tave oversees Ware Malcomb’s Interior Architecture & Design Studio for the Dallas office, and manages select projects. Tave brings more than 20 years of experience as an accomplished interior designer and project manager to the Ware Malcomb team. Her expertise includes designing large-scale interior spaces, space utilization and end-user focused design. She has worked in a range of market sectors, including commercial/ workplace, hospitality, healthcare, education and retail. “Staci’s extensive experience in corporate interiors and commercial real estate will help strengthen Ware Malcomb’s growing presence in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and further expand our reach in the market,” said Christopher Mavros, Regional Director of Ware

people and our teams? How do we adapt our expectations of staff and our business practices? There is no doubt that today we have new trials. Our time spent at home has to abide by a new work-life balance standard. We have co-workers who are struggling with new challenges. Some may be experiencing emotions they have long forgotten. Some may be truly challenged by the dark clouds cast by the pandemic; others may be stressed beyond connection and still others may be performing better than ever. We have to understand our teams and equip them with the systems and personal network that enables productivity. This is incredibly important to the stability of our businesses. The data suggest our partners in the industry are making every effort to reach their people and mobilize their teams. Now, we have to figure out how to maintain the delicate balance of standard operating procedures, productivity, and empathy. WILL SWEARINGEN is director of ownership transition advisory services at Zweig Group. He can be reached at “We have co-workers who are struggling with new challenges ... Some may be truly challenged by the dark clouds cast by the pandemic; others may be stressed beyond connection, and still others may be performing better than ever.” Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb provides planning, architecture, interior design, branding, civil engineering and building measurement services to commercial real estate and corporate clients. With office locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science and technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/educational facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as a Hot Firm and Best Firm to Work For by Zweig Group. Ware Malcomb has been active in the Texas market since 2013, with offices in Dallas and Houston. Recent Ware Malcomb projects in Texas include: Southport Logistics Park in Dallas, Dril-Quip in Houston, and Sunridge Business Park in Wilmer. Malcomb. “We are excited to welcome Staci to our ever-expanding Ware Malcomb team in Texas.” Tave holds a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and is FIDER, NCIDQ and LEED AP accredited.

ZWEIG GROUP KNOWS NOT EVERYONE HAS EXTRA TIME RIGHT NOW It’s more important than ever to have good data to guide your business practices. In order to produce the data your firm needs to benchmark and make important management decisions, we need your help and participation. No surprise here, a recent survey of the AEC industry found that nearly 100 percent of firms have changed policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of firms, 70 percent, are either considering or have already made budget changes for 2020. We want to know how this will affect policies, procedures, and benefits for the rest of the year. In order to facilitate participation, a number of options are available: 1) Participate in the full-length 2020 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey 2) Participate in one, two, or all three of the shorter versions of the full-length 2020 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey : ❚ ❚ Part 1: Focuses on policies, HR, and career development. Click here to participate. ❚ ❚ Part 2: Focuses on staffing, salaries, and financial benefits. Click here to participate. ❚ ❚ Part 3: Focuses on insurance benefits. Click here to participate. All participants will receive 50 percent off any research publication of their choice, and 15 percent off virtual learning! LEARN MORE

WILL SWEARINGEN, from page 3

address that communication gap is key and is a major value add from an independent third-party advisory service. If you are married (or have ever been married), just look at the amount of dysfunction in simple discussions with someone you love. Jerry Seinfeld has a new Netflix special called 23 Hours to Kill . It’s hilarious. His description of the parallels between the plates of food people construct at an all-you-can-eat buffet in Vegas and their emotional struggles is gold. He rolls that segment into cracking on the fickle communication dynamics between he and his wife. And what he says is so true. The tone, delivery, consistency, and actual act of sharing information are all key pieces of effective messaging. In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted an “American Time Use Survey.” They found that people with jobs “spent more time working at the office than at home – 7.9 hours, compared with 2.9 hours.” Before COVID, that meant we were spending 2.7x more time at work than with our families. That’s a lot of opportunity to miscommunicate! It’s no wonder communication is a consistent issue in design firms. But today, many of us are spending extended periods of time working from home and trying to find the balance between family, work, school, and sanity. Managing distractions and establishing a work-life balance were the two most pressing issues for people working from home. So, it begs the question, how do we take this kind of information and help our

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Work From Home & Online Learning Opportunities


NEW LIVE WEBINARS HERDING THE DOLLARS: CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT FOR AEC FIRMS - WEBINAR FREE OVERVIEW: The conversion of projects into cash – and every step from the timesheet to the invoice to the bank account – is important for the survival of any business. With a median average collection period of 70 days, AEC firms may not be able to control every aspect of the collection process, but there are steps that each firm can take to more effectively manage working capital. In this hour-long webinar, we will review Zweig Group’s data and discuss what the data tells us works for AEC firms and we will discuss specific cash flow tips to improve the collection process and control disburse- ments. THIS WEBINAR WILL AIR ON JUNE 9, 2020 AT 12 PM CST. LEARN MORE



OVERVIEW: With the uncertainty of traveling to In-Person events, Zweig Group has created a virtual seminar program for The Principals Academy. This is a 6 week pro- gram of 2 hours each week of a live zoom meeting with our seminar instructors. These meetings will be a mix of presentations as well as open ended Q&A sessions. This will be the same great content that is taught during our in-person The Principals Academy seminar that has trained over 800 attendees in the last 5 years. This program will have a limit of 30 participants so each participant will have time to ask questions and get the same cohort feel as an in-person seminar does. THIS VIRTUAL SEMINAR WILL BEGIN ON JUNE 17, 2020 AT 10 AM CST PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS - VIRTUAL SEMINAR PRICE: $499 LEARN MORE OVERVIEW: With the uncertainty of traveling to In-Person events, Zweig Group has created a NEW virtual seminar program perfect for upcoming and current project managers. This is a 6 week program of 1 hours each week live zoom meetings with our seminar instructors. These meetings will be a mix of presentations, discussions, and open ended Q&A sessions, with the ability to continue the discussion via discussion forum from week to week. This will be the same great content that is taught during our in-person Project Management for AEC Professionals seminar. This program will have a limit of 30 participants so each participant will have time to ask questions and get the same cohort feel as an in-person seminar does. THIS VIRTUAL SEMINAR WILL BEGIN ON JUNE 30, 2020 AT 11 AM CST


Zweig Group is an approved provider by the AIA & SHRM




Personal connections: Nick DeNichilo President and CEO of the North American operations of Mott MacDonald (Iselin, NJ), a $2 billion global management, engineering, and development firm.


M ott MacDonald is one of the world’s largest employee- owned companies. It offers several formal programs to support an environment of continuous learning that helps to nurture staff at each stage of their professional career, and to ensure the emergence of strong leaders into the future. “I enjoy conducting town hall webinars with all our staff in attendance,” DeNichilo says. “That’s even more important during these unprecedented times. Despite all our technology and ability to communicate digitally, there is no substitute for connecting with each other on a personal basis, even if it’s across remote working platforms.” A CONVERSATION WITH NICK DENICHILO. The Zweig Letter: Sustainability is important to Mott MacDonald. How do you ensure that the company remains a leader in the field when it comes to sustainability?

Development Goals. Our purpose is to improve people’s lives by providing professional services in the built and natural environments, and in social and economic development. Many of our projects, by their nature, support goals such as better healthcare, quality education, clean water, and renewable energy. We bring innovation to infrastructure and industry, and make cities and communities more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. Our goal is to make Mott MacDonald a carbon-neutral company by the end of 2020, and we are actively working to design infrastructure that can withstand the impact of climate change, including flooding and severe weather. We identify opportunities to simultaneously reduce costs and carbon in our clients’ projects. We help our clients add value to their business, and for their stakeholders, by using our ingenuity, professional excellence, and connected thinking to address their challenges in ways that safeguard the welfare of the public, enhance the environment, and promote sustainable development.

Nick DeNichilo: As a company, Mott MacDonald is committed to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable



TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? ND: As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, we have complied with the guidance of the CDC and other authorities to ensure the safety of our staff, clients, and the general public. Given the speed at which the COVID-19 virus spread, we encouraged staff to work from home in early March. We recently updated our policy on working remotely to ensure that safety, cybersecurity, and corporate values were prioritized. Moving past the immediate crisis, there will certainly be longer term effects to our markets. Remote working-from-home may become a norm in our industry and our tools, processes, and workforce will continue to adapt. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? ND: I grew up in a close-knit, immigrant family in Hoboken, New Jersey. All we had back then was each other, and my fondest memories are of family celebrations. My brothers, sister, and cousins were my best friends and they still are. Family remains a priority as my wife, Linda, and I brought up our four boys and were blessed enough to see them have children of their own. At Mott MacDonald, well-being and family time is a big part of our culture. There are certain times just for family, but there is also overlap, and it is a good kind of overlap. I’ve seen young people grow up in the business and I’ve seen children of my colleagues work in the business at Mott MacDonald. We have a few multi-generation families working at Mott MacDonald. TZL: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are potential disruptors across all industries. Is your firm exploring how to incorporate these technologies into providing improved services for clients? ND: Over the last five years we’ve been developing Moata, our digital twin platform. The first deployments of this were in Auckland, New Zealand, where our Safeswim solution uses more than 1 billion data points a day to predict open sea water quality at 85 beaches. In our Coastal Practice, we used AI and neural networks to build an accurate high-speed surrogate hydrodynamic numerical model. We are currently building a set of AI tools to more efficiently predict and eliminate lead service lines in major cities throughout the United States. The first step towards AI is machine learning, and this is already taking place with Moata, by analyzing live data feeds from sensors

and comparing it to values predicted by our algorithms. This process builds confidence in the application, which enables the next step to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation driven by the machine. We’re already applying machine learning and AI to water, energy, and transportation problems. Our experience is that AI alone isn’t enough, it needs to be applied to the client’s specific problem and for that you need engineering domain expertise. Mott MacDonald has been at the cutting edge of digital technology for decades with tools such as Fieldbook, our GIS-based work management tool, and SmartLifecycle, a suite of advanced software tools that help you run every aspect of a large infrastructure project. By incorporating AI into these tools, we are making them more accurate, better predictors of future requirements, and much more efficient. TZL: Does your firm work closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology, experience, and innovation and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? ND: Mott MacDonald works closely with many institutions throughout the country including the New Jersey Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Colorado School of Mines, Rutgers University, Columbia University, California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, California State University Los Angeles, and Villanova University, to name a few. I am personally involved with several of these institutions local to our corporate headquarters in New Jersey. I’m proud to say that I am currently a member of NJIT’s Board of Trustees, my alma mater, and I previously served as a member of its Board of Overseers and past Chairman of the Newark College of Engineering Board of Visitors. We are involved in NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute, internship programs, and various industry programs. My colleague Joe Stanley, a senior Business Management Systems Manager, is a member of the Board of Visitors for the College of Engineering and past president of the Alumni Association, and Bob Fritz, our Practice Leader for the Built Environment, is a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Architecture. At Rutgers, Mott MacDonald is a member of the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Advisory Committee under the leadership of Pat Natale, our Vice President of Business Strategy. Another colleague, Eric Betz, a Development Manager for Mott MacDonald, is a member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Civil See PERSONAL CONNECTIONS, page 8


16,000 worldwide and 2,300 in North America

YEAR FOUNDED: The company’s roots go back to 1902 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 120 worldwide, 65 in North America MARKET SECTORS: Transportation, buildings, power, oil and gas, water and wastewater, environment, education, health, international development and digital infrastructure VISION: To be the world’s leading employee-owned consulting firm, opening opportunities with connected thinking to deliver optimum solutions and sustainable outcomes

for our clients. VALUES: PRIDE

(progress, respect, integrity, drive and excellence)

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

UNE 1, 2020, ISSUE 1347

8 Engineering. As a company, we are involved with Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, which is creating new technology for transportation, such as robots that monitor bridge decks for weak spots. At Columbia University, we are involved in the Industry Board of Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space. This has been an important forum for discussing cybersecurity and other challenges and threats. Our relationship with Columbia University has gone international with Mott MacDonald’s operations in the U.K. TZL: Mott MacDonald’s business in North America is thriving in the transport, water, oil, and gas sectors, plus projects in education, power, buildings, and infrastructure finance. Tell us about one of the most provocative projects on deck now. ND: I’d have to say that the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel is one of the most remarkable projects we’re involved with. Together with HDR, we formed a design joint venture as part of a major design-build program. It draws on our skills in tunneling, fire and life safety, highways, bridges, and coastal infrastructure. Hampton Roads creates a new crossing for Chesapeake Bay while coping with the challenges associated with working in proximity of naval bases, ship traffic, and sensitive environments. TZL: Research shows that PMs are overworked, understaffed, and that many firms do not have formal training programs for PMs. What is your firm doing to support its PMs? ND: Our Learning and Development staff offer in-depth PERSONAL CONNECTIONS, from page 7

Programs like our Graduates Weekend and Early Career Professionals help build networks for those starting off at Mott MacDonald. A day doesn’t go by when we can’t learn something from each other. At Mott MacDonald, learning and development is part of the culture. TZL: Being such a large firm, how do you ensure staff feels connected? What are some of the top communication tools used and how do you ensure company culture remains the same throughout? ND: Communication is more important than ever. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 95 percent of our staff work remotely from home or on a project site. Our IT systems and technology capabilities (that include remote working) enable us to continue to communicate with clients, and efficiently manage and support project needs. The effort of our talented staff rolling out systems like Skype, Teams, SharePoint, Azure, GoToWebinar/Webex, and ProjectWise has made it possible for us to work together seamlessly even under adverse conditions. Compass, our company intranet, is one of our key tools for staying connected. News items go up on a daily basis, letting people know about promotions, hires, reorganizations, publications, internal awards, project wins, awards for our people, and projects and more. Connections, an internal newsletter for staff in North America, covers community service projects, charitable events, and social activities. We have a very active enterprise social networking service through Yammer. There’s no substitute for a personal message. It’s important for staff to hear frequently from our leadership. As president and CEO for Mott MacDonald in North America, I enjoy conducting town hall webinars with all our staff in attendance. That’s even more important during these unprecedented times. Despite all our technology and ability to communicate digitally, there is no substitute for connecting with each other on a personal basis, even if it’s across remote working platforms. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? ND: Mott MacDonald has a global policy on equality, diversity, and inclusion that guides our offices around the world. We embed EDI into the business, with a focus on recruitment, corporate social responsibility, procurement and supplier diversity, and our work with clients. More than 700 staff, including all senior staff and board members, have been trained to address unconscious bias. In North America, our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion committee has active groups in the areas of Advancing Disability, Advancing Gender, Advancing Race and Culture, Advancing Veterans, Advancing LGBT, and Advancing Parents and Caregivers. We work in partnership with the National Society of Black Engineers and Women’s Transportation Seminar, and we participate in the US government’s Hiring Our Heroes program, which allows veterans to take part in 12- week fellowships with Mott MacDonald that can lead to a rewarding career.

training for project managers and other staff. Our Horizons program was developed for young

professional staff. It is a career development program that helps participants to identify their own development needs and provide them with the tools to manage their career in a more meaningful way. The program lasts about 18 months and starts with a three-day launch event. Subsequent phases consist of activities that result from the learning at the launch event and are self-directed by the participants. Our Elements program consists of modules on team engagement, client relationships, and commercial awareness. Each module lasts approximately four to six weeks. Participants receive online training through webinars, reading, and online classes, plus a day-long, in- person session. We also have exceptional leadership training programs including Emerging Leaders. Emerging Leaders is a program designed to develop our next generation of leaders, the stewards of the future who will drive our growth, live our brand and culture, and ensure the best outcomes for our people, our clients, and our communities. Connected Leaders is our executive training program that integrates staff from throughout the world. This program is part networking and part team building and has helped us bring global resources to projects all around the world. We have formal mentor programs open to all levels of staff and strong on-the-job training through our practices.

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Calling to find work

B ecause of COVID-19, there has probably never been a better time to get on the phone to call clients and potential clients. They are more likely than ever before to answer a call and will likely spend more time talking to you than they would have pre- COVID-19. Getting on the phone right now may be the single most important thing you can do to bring in new work.

Mark Zweig

If you would like to bring in some new work to your A/E firm, here are some thoughts on these business development calls and how to make them: 1) Start by calling all of your current clients. This is usually the most fruitful. Are they happy with what you are doing for them? What problems are they having you can help them with? Do they even know everything your firm does for clients? 2) Next, call your past clients. What’s happening? How are they faring? What can you help them with? Do they know everything you do? What are you doing with other clients like them right now that would be interesting to tell them about? 3) Call everyone you think you would like to do business with. How is their business? What problems are they having and how are they dealing with them? Do they know anything about your

firm? What would it take for you to get a chance to demonstrate what you can do for them? 4) For new clients, your singular goal is to get to the next step in the selling process. Is there anything we can help you with? What is the next step for us to learn more? Who else do we need to be in touch with over there? 5) Open up with lots of questions. Get the client talking about themselves, their business, and their problems. It’s a fact that people love to talk about themselves more than anything else. So ask questions to get them talking about themselves. Odds are if you do that they will think you are a “great person” and be willing to keep talking with you. 6) Try out the “assumed need” approach. This is very simple. You open up the discussion by

See MARK ZWEIG, page 10



ON THE MOVE MCMAHON ASSOCIATES, INC. PROUDLY PROMOTES MARK A. ROTH, P.E. AND JOHN R. WICHNER, P.E., PTOE AS ASSOCIATES OF THE FIRM McMahon Associates, Inc. , a transportation engineering and planning firm, announced the elevation of Mark Roth, P.E. and John Wichner, P.E., PTOE to the title of associate of the firm. This designation is bestowed by the McMahon Board of Directors of the firm in recognition of the overall leadership they have demonstrated, and in expanding and capturing service and firm growth in new geographic markets, while earning respect and continuing to build relationships with clients and peers. Associates are viewed by the Board as key contributors and partners in the firm’s present and future success, individuals who effectively advocate and lead company programs and policies, and who have the presence and leadership capabilities that inspire and instill confidence in our staff and clients. Roth is the general manager of McMahon’s Philadelphia office. Since establishing the office in 2016, Roth has led its growth through client and teaming partner development, as well as talent recruitment which has already required a doubling of the downtown location office space. Roth has more than 25 years of transportation engineering and planning experience, 22 of which are with McMahon, for municipalities, states and private entities leading small to very large projects providing

expertise in evaluating present and future traffic patterns, congestion management strategies, corridor development improvements and regional highway network modeling, to name a few. Prior to opening the Philadelphia location, Roth was the Office Lead for the firm’s New Jersey office, based in Yardville, New Jersey. Wichner, P.E., PTOE is the office lead for McMahon’s Lehigh Valley Region, based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Wichner was instrumental in establishing the firm’s Lehigh Valley office in 2013 and has managed several key projects in northeast and eastern Pennsylvania, including the PPL Center Event Management Plan for the City of Allentown which included the addition of traffic responsive equipment at 35 signalized intersections and the creation of a 24- hour Traffic Management Center for the city. Regionally, Wichner focuses on private sector and municipal transportation projects, multimodal transportation projects, and preparation and/or review of the transportation elements of land development applications for uses such as industrial, hospitals, educational facilities, commercial/retail users, residential/ office complexes, and infill redevelopment projects. He also champions the Mid-Atlantic Region’s business development efforts in the private sector. Wichner’s contributions to the region earned him the Lehigh Valley Business 40 Under 40 recognition in 2015.

“It is always a great pleasure to witness the evolution of our talented staff as they advance into senior leadership roles within our firm,” said Joseph DeSantis, P.E., PTOE, president and CEO of McMahon Associates, Inc. “Within their office geographic areas, Mark and John have been instrumental in the development of business, establishment of strong client and partner relationships, and solidifying our presence in the local community. Mark and John also play a key role in the success of the Mid-Atlantic region by leading important firm programs such as our regional planning sessions, business development activities, and staff mentoring initiatives. The Board and I are pleased to designate Mark and John as new Associates, as they continue to contribute to our broader growth and success.” Since 1976, McMahon Associates, Inc. has specialized in delivering innovative engineering, planning, design, and technological transportation solutions to our clients. We have built trusting and lasting relationships by satisfying, and often surpassing, the needs of both governmental and private sector clients. We provide services for transportation projects from planning, to design and permitting, through construction. With more than 200 dedicated professionals in 15 offices along the East Coast, McMahon has the talent, ability and expertise to address any transportation assignment.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 9

anything from you if they first don’t know you. Once they know you, they will hopefully like you. And once they like you, they have a chance to trust you. Only if they trust you will they actually buy whatever it is you are selling. 10) Volunteer to be of service. Being helpful so you can establish yourself as a “go-to” resource for the client has always been a great way to sell our industry’s expensive intangible services. This means solving a problem, sharing an idea, or doing something else for them that is helpful. It’s a great selling tactic. 11)Know when to pass the baton. I have noticed over the years that some business developers do not know when to make the introduction to someone else in the firm who is more knowledgeable. Whether it is fear of not getting credit or selfishness or just being stubborn, this is a problem to look out for as it is completely avoidable. 12) Follow up. Once anyone else is involved, or you get that first small opportunity to be of service, follow up to make sure it went well and the client is happy with you. Sometimes when that baton is passed, things do go wrong. The baton is dropped. Someone doesn’t do what they say they will. You want to make sure that doesn’t happen with you and blow this opportunity for your company. Getting on the phone right now may be the single most important thing you can do to bring in new work. So stop reading and start calling! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

thanking the client for taking your call but quickly move to telling them the reason for your call is that you heard they had a need for your services. Then be quiet and wait for their response. 7) Speak more slowly than you normally would. This will help the client have the time they need to switch gears mentally from whatever they were doing before you called. It’s essential. Speaking slowly will also show that you are not the typical “telemarketer fast-talking sales type,” and are instead just a serious professional trying to be of service. 8) Stay away from politics or any other controversial subjects. Right now it seems like even social distancing and mask-wearing are being construed by some as political statements. Make no assumptions about anyone and what their politics are. Best to avoid anything that could make them think less of you. 9) Remember “KLT – know, like, trust!” No one will buy “There has probably never been a better time to get on the phone to call clients and potential clients. They are more likely than ever before to answer a call and will likely spend more time talking to you than they would have pre-COVID-19.”

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




The next time you have a critical project or important concept to communicate, forget the jargon and consider telling a story. Tell a story, build a better project

S ince biblical times, when parables communicated religious philosophy, stories have been used to engage audiences and help them comprehend even the most difficult or esoteric of concepts. More recently, fables have been used to communicate management principles. For example, The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt, uses the story of a manufacturing plant manager to teach about strategic capacity planning and constraint management. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team , by Patrick Lencioni, tells of another fictional company as a way to learn about work team dynamics and improving team performance.

Clay Harrison

For decades, Lean principles have been used in manufacturing to minimize waste, improve operations, and enhance productivity. Lean has also been applied in construction, but often less successfully and to a much lesser extent than in manufacturing and other industries. One reason Lean has seen more limited adoption in construction is because the effort typically initiates at the top of the organization chart, via the executive leadership team, and then filters down into the field where front-line practitioners (superintendents, foremen, tradespeople) do the tangible work of construction. In the face of pressing project deadlines and competing

priorities, this information can feel intimidating, overwhelming, and easy to ignore in favor of what’s already known and comfortable. Also, the value of Lean practices is often inarticulately or ineffectively conveyed, and superintendents can find it difficult to connect the dots from academic, theoretical Lean philosophies to the immediate relevancy in their daily work. Recently, one of my colleagues at Skiles Group, COO Keyan Zandy, partnered with another construction professional, Joe Donarumo of Linbeck, on a project that uses the age-old

See CLAY HARRISON, page 12



ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB PROMOTES ERICA GODUN TO DIRECTOR, REGIONAL OPERATIONS FOR NORTHEAST REGION Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, today announced Erica Godun has been promoted to Director, Regional Operations for the Northeast region. In this role, Godun oversees regional operations for the firm’s offices in Newark, New Jersey, Princeton, New Jersey, and New York, New York. Godun joined Ware Malcomb in 2015 as Studio Manager, Interior Architecture and Design as part of the firm’s interiors practice in New Jersey. She brings over 20 years of experience in all phases of interior architecture and design and construction to the Ware Malcomb team, and has worked on a wide range of projects including corporate office, government, and education. “Erica’s talent for design is matched by her extraordinary leadership and mentoring capabilities,” said Michael Bennett, principal of Ware Malcomb’s Northeast region. “With such a strong combination of design, leadership

and business acumen, Erica is well-positioned to take on a new operational leadership role for Ware Malcomb’s Northeast offices. I’m confident her guidance will result in continued strong growth and the ongoing development of our teams within the region.” Godun is a licensed architect in the states of New York and New Jersey. As a WELL and LEED accredited professional, she is dedicated to advancing the knowledge and practice of sustainable design by advising design teams on appropriate green strategies based on each project’s unique requirements. She has worked on numerous sustainable design projects and participated at both the national and local levels of the U.S. Green Building Council as well as development of the mindful MATERIALS Library. She holds Bachelor of Architecture and Fine Arts degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design. Godun is based in Ware Malcomb’s Newark office, which recently expanded and relocated

to a new, larger space located at 110 Edison Place, Suite 303 in the iconic Ironside Newark building. The firm’s move to Newark was driven by the growth of its local employee and client base, as well as the opportunity to be closer to clients in a vibrant growth market. Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is an international design firm providing planning, architecture, interior design, branding, civil engineering and building measurement services to commercial real estate and corporate clients. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science & technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/educational facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm and Best Firm to Work For by Zweig Group.

CLAY HARRISON, from page 11

team responsible for making the final assignment of work to specific performers) to learn how to make immediate changes and transform their projects. “Since biblical times, when parables communicated religious philosophy, stories have been used to engage audiences and help them comprehend even the most difficult or esoteric of concepts. More recently, fables have been used to communicate management principles.” Why use creative storytelling to communicate a concept like Lean? Because the real-world impact on your projects can be substantial. For example, Skiles Group implemented the practices outlined in The Lean Builder on a very complicated vertical expansion of an existing hospital, Methodist Richardson in Richardson, Texas. The application of Lean construction techniques enabled the team to complete the hospital expansion project 75 days early, 10 percent under budget, and with no man hours lost due to injury. Those kinds of numbers translated directly to the bottom line and would not have been possible without front line workers having a real-world, intuitive understanding of how to use Lean each and every day. So, the next time you have a critical project or important concept to communicate, forget the jargon and consider telling a story. You might just be surprised at how much more effective and impactful you are in getting your point across. CLAY HARRISON is CEO of Skiles Group. Contact him at charrison@

technique of storytelling to make Lean principles and practices relevant to those in the field. The Lean Builder: A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field tells the story of Sam Brooks, a young construction superintendent who has been given responsibility for the largest and most complicated project of his career. Through different events and stories, Sam’s friend, mentor, and co-worker Alan Phillips shares his experience and knowledge of Lean construction tools and processes to help Sam learn how to improve the performance of his project. In the novel, Zandy and Donarumo use real-world scenarios to teach core Lean principles, including: 1) Daily huddles 2) Visual communication 3)The eight wastes (through the lens of a construction project) 4) Constraint management 5) Pull planning 6) Last planner system and look-ahead 7) Root cause analysis through percent plan complete The secret to The Lean Builder ’s effectiveness in communicating these somewhat esoteric concepts is that it uses language and situations with which the “boots on the ground” – onsite construction superintendents, foremen, and tradesmen – would be familiar. As opposed to a dry instruction manual of Lean concepts, Zandy and Donarumo distill down Lean construction theory into an engaging, easy-to-read story that delivers practical, usable tools. In addition, they recognize the importance of field personnel developing a holistic understanding of Lean – starting with “why” and ending with “how” – thus they provide a true bottom-up version of Lean construction, enabling Last Planners (the people on a construction

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