TZL 1406 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S A u g u s t 3 0 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 4 0 6 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

Marketing spending

External members on boards of directors increase innovation and spur growth. Board diversity impacts growth

In Zweig Group’s 2021 Marketing Report of AEC Firms , firms were asked to input their marketing spending over the previous fiscal year. The chart above shows that annual marketing spending as a percentage of net service revenue. As seen in the chart, marketing spending across the industry dropped significantly as a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, more than half of firms in the 2021 portion of the survey sample expect their firm’s marketing spending to increase as the year progresses. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication. F I R M I N D E X Dewberry..............................................12 DH Charles Engineering..........................4 Genesis ...................................................6 Mitrex Inc..............................................10 T.Y. Lin International................................4 Ware Malcomb......................................10 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz JOSH RUBERO : Personal mission statement Page 3 xz Empathy: Towarnicki & Goldschmidt Page 6 xz JIM PAPPAS : Scalable systems for talent acquisition Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG : Building a business is an endurance race Page 11

E very firm has different priorities during their organizational evolution. At times the need may be to maintain size or even to scale back while making a shift in markets or clientele. Maintaining your growth on pace with inflation and concentrating on optimizing operations to maximize profit can also be an intelligent strategic decision. At other times, you may realize you have all your ducks in a row, are making great profits, but just aren’t growing, and need some new blood or new perspective. According to Zweig Group’s 2021 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey Report , the median length of time principals have been in their current firm is 20 years. That’s a long time to be with a company, and it’s a long time for a group of people to work together. It’s no surprise then that, over time, firms can encounter points of stagnation in growth and/or innovation. At Zweig Group, our experience has been that external members on boards of directors increase innovation and spur growth. We analyzed the 2021 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey Report , taking a deeper dive to examine the relationship between BOD member composition, specifically the presence of external board members, and firm growth and profitability. Not all firms have a BOD, but the group of firms in our dataset with a BOD was representative of our population of data in terms of geography, size, and type of firm. Of this group, 73 percent had a BOD composed entirely of members employed by the firm. The other 27 percent of firms had a BOD that had at least one external member. The average number of external BOD members was 2.5. Next, we looked at the growth rates and profitability of these firms. Average annual growth rates are defined as “fast” (20 percent or more), “slow” (1 percent to 19 percent), “stable” (unchanged for three years), and “declining” (average annual decline). Profitability is defined as annual net pre-tax, pre-bonus profit on net service revenue, and categorized as “very high” (greater than 15 percent), “high” (10 percent to 14.9 percent), “average” (5 percent to 9.9 percent), and “low/loss” (4 percent or less). Instinctually, it would make sense to assume that firms that incorporate external members in their boards would tend to be more diverse in thought, and that diversity brings new ideas and spurs growth. The data clearly carried that hypothesis, and a summary is shown in the table on the next page. The presence of external BOD members has a stronger correlation with growth than with profit. Approximately 72 percent of firms without external BOD members have slow or fast growth, versus 92 percent of firms with external BOD members.

Stephanie Warino





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Growth (% of firms within profitability groups)

Stable Growth

Slow Growth


Fast Growth

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Very high profit





Firms with external BOD members

High profit





Average profit -




Low profit/ loss Very high profit









Firms without external BOD members

High profit





Average profit 3%




Low profit/ loss





Approximately 64 percent of firms without external BOD members have high or very high profits, compared with approximately 66 percent of firms with external BOD members. Profit isn’t necessarily determined as a result of the actual opportunities that diversity of thought and new ideas that an external member might bring, so there’s a lack of significant difference in profit between firms with external BOD members versus firms without. Rather, profit is determined more by operational and organizational factors, conditions, or enablers, including the strategies you have in place for organizational structure, policies, contract, and project management. This presents a defensible case for two main actionable items: 1) Carefully and strategically assessing your organizational and operational conditions in advance of planning a period of increased growth. At a bare minimum, growth and tightening up any operational shortfalls need to happen concurrent with board changes to safeguard the long-term health and increased value of your firm. 2) External BOD members can bring more diversity of thought leading to growth. In the 2021 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey Report , 62 percent of principals also think there is a diversity issue in the industry – an increase from 59 percent in 2020. A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion is good for culture and for business, is the right thing to do, and starts at the top and has a waterfall effect throughout your firm and the industry. Data in this article was from Zweig Group’s recently released 2021 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey Report . Meet with peers to discuss this and other important industry issues at the 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala, which includes the iconic black-tie awards gala celebrating the 2021 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership awards. The limited- attendance CEO Roundtable Retreat is also 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. STEPHANIE WARINO is a licensed environmental professional and a strategic planning advisor with Zweig Group. Contact her at

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Personal mission statement

This should reflect your core values, be your higher calling at work, and sustain your motivation to not only keep going, but to keep improving.

T here are few things in my life that have fueled my desire to thrive in my profession more than my personal mission statement. My personal mission statement reflects my core values, is my higher calling at work, and sustains my motivation to not only keep going, but to keep improving.

Josh Rubero

Before I connected with my mission, my motivation for completing projects was that I was helping my clients, increasing my monthly billing, getting a larger bonus, and working as a part of a team to get the project done. These are all important and good things. They each have had their place in my life, but they were not inspiring. I love what I do. I get to work on projects all over the country designing systems to provide construction workers arm’s length access to bridges and buildings, and designing systems to structurally support the bridges and buildings. I get to be creative. And, I get to train others to do the same. But, even though I love my career, my motivation to complete projects fluctuates. I was grasping at external fixed-end motivators that were neither leading me to a higher calling nor were they sustainable.

My motivation fluctuations got me thinking – could there be something that provides sustainable motivation? My question led me to ask others these questions: 1) What is your personal mission statement you work by? 2) What is your number one priority at work? I got answers like “bill as much as I can,” “get more clients,” and “design safe systems.” Again, all good things, but I do not believe these provide long- term inspiration to keep going. To be effective and sustainable, I believe a personal mission statement should be your heart’s song. The thing you connect with to your core. When you’re supporting your clients, developing your

See JOSH RUBERO, page 4



ON THE MOVE T.Y. LIN INTERNATIONAL’S NYREE QUINTERO PROMOTED TO DIRECTOR FOR ALTERNATIVE DELIVERY, AMERICAS T.Y. Lin International , a globally recognized, full-service infrastructure consulting firm, has announced that Nyree Quintero, TYLI vice president and former deputy director, Alternative Delivery Method Group, has been promoted to director for Alternative Delivery, Americas. In her role, Quintero will be responsible for assuring overall performance for ADM projects at the enterprise level by providing oversight, guidance, and best practices to the firm’s Market Sectors. She reports to Tom Price, executive vice president and chief operating officer of TYLI Group. Quintero has more than 25 years of national and international experience in construction for the heavy civil infrastructure industry. Her extensive leadership skills include providing project and team management and technical expertise for large, complex ADM projects. Her vast experience also includes construction management, risk management, contract administration, and acting as designer, contractor, and owner’s representative. Quintero’s current ADM projects include serving as principal-in-charge for the owner’s representative contract for the 4th Bridge over the Panama Canal in Panama. TYLI is the Owner’s Engineer to the Republic of Panama Ministry of PublicWorks for the $1.5 billion ADM project. The project includes a 1,000-meter- long cable-stayed bridge, approach bridges, and three major interchanges to collect and distribute road and metro-rail traffic crossing the canal between the east and west areas of Panama City. Quintero is also acting as principal-in-charge and client manager for the $1.6 billion I-35 Northeast Expansion Central ADM project in Texas. As part of the Alamo NEX Construction Team led by Ferrovial Construction U.S. and Webber LLC, TYLI is serving as Lead Designer and Engineer of Record for the project.

The I-35 NEX project includes building 15 miles of elevated lanes and two four- level interchanges at the I-35/I-410 North interchange and the I-35/Loop 1604. The purpose of this Texas Department of Transportation project is to improve mobility, manage vehicle congestion, and promote the efficient use of existing transportation facilities while minimizing impacts to the natural and built environment for this main artery for travel and international commerce in Texas. As a leader in TYLI’s ADMG, Quintero has also developed a strategic approach for growth and diversification of the firm’s ADM Portfolio with a Risk Management process for new opportunities and current ADM projects. The comprehensive process considers such areas as teaming and partnerships, expertise needs, talent identification, value engineering, technical and administrative complexity, stakeholder involvement requirements, potential risks and opportunities, and more. It is updated throughout the lifecycle of each ADM project, with constant monitoring of progress and performance and the implementation of action plans to improve the practice. “I am pleased to announce Nyree’s promotion to Director for Alternative Delivery, Americas,” said Price. “Nyree has demonstrated that she has the leadership qualities, client-centered mindset, and experience necessary to foster strong relationships with contractors and project owners and leverage T.Y. Lin International’s technical expertise and resources on alternative delivery projects. We look forward to her success in expanding market share and assuring performance for the Alternative Delivery Method Group.” Quintero has been certified as Design-Build Professional™ by the Design-Build Institute of America and is a Certified General Contractor in the State of Florida. She is also licensed as a Professional Civil Engineer by the

National Engineering and Architects Council (Consejo Profesional Nacional de Ingenieria y Arquitectura) in Colombia. Quintero earned a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a master’s degree in business administration from the Universidad de La Sabana in Colombia. TYLI’s ADMG is a talented teamof professionals that provides senior-level experts, expertise, and experience in the oversight and support of ADM projects. The team collaborates with all TYLI Market Sectors to develop the most suitable and cost-effective solutions while satisfying Owner and/or Contractor goals. TYLI has established a global reputation for designing solutions with optimum construction ease in mind. Blending advanced design and practical construction talent, knowledge of ADM particularities and decision-drivers, and a deep understanding of the stakeholder’s perspective, TYLI’s ADMG provides significant value, streamlining the decision-making process for clients and transportation officials who demand absolute accountability for their ADM projects. Founded in 1954, T.Y. Lin International is a globally recognized, full-service infrastructure consulting firm committed to providing innovative, cost-effective, constructible designs for the global infrastructure market. With 3,200 employees working in 65 offices throughout the Americas, Asia, and Europe, T.Y. Lin provides support on projects of varying size and complexity. T.Y. Lin International is a member of Dar Group, a global, privately-owned professional services group, and its industry-leading family of Global Infrastructure companies.

your life that brought you joy, times you were fulfilled to your core, or you connected with something larger than yourself. Your statement will be the core from which you will develop your goals. JOSH RUBERO, PE is a branch manager for DH Charles Engineering’s Colorado office. He can be reached at “If you choose to develop a personal mission statement, it will be what you use to identify if you connect with your company culture, determine how many hours you work, and set your priorities at work and for your life.”

JOSH RUBERO, from page 3

team, or increasing your billing, you should do these things through the lens of your personal mission statement. If you choose to develop a personal mission statement, it will be what you use to identify if you connect with your company culture, determine how many hours you work, and set your priorities at work and for your life. When you decide to write your statement take a half day at work, or spend time on the weekend, but make sure to be intentional. Be somewhere that inspires your creativity, listen to music, or go for a hike – I have found that externally supporting what I am trying to do helps me write, dream, and be curious about what can be. Get a huge piece of paper and make a spider map of times in

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Over 40 speakers. Up to 30 credit hours. All free and accessible from the comfort of your own home or office over the course of 4 weeks. The incredibly popular and value-packed Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium takes place between Sept 13 and Oct 7. General learning sessions will cover a wide range of topics that address all aspects of an AEC business, including recruitment & retention, tax credits, marketing strategies, and more. Through the carefully curated mini series, attendees will also get to sample our highly-regarded seminars including: The Principals Academy, Elevating Doer-Sellers, Project Management for AEC Professionals, and Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals. The ElevateHER Symposium brings together leaders in the AEC industry, Zweig Group’s ElevateHER 2021 cohort members, and keynote speakers on topics related to recruiting & retaining valuable employees, and fostering a diverse and equitable workplace. Project teams from Zweig Group’s 2021 ElevateHER cohort will also be presenting their project findings, offering tangible, actionable solutions to firm leaders to combat biases in the industry.

With much excitement and an abundance of precaution, Zweig Group is thrilled to restore the full annual in-person conference this winter; presenting the highest level of curated thought leadership, purposeful networking opportunities, and the iconic black- tie awards gala celebrating all our 2021 Zweig Group Award winners. The in-person conference is designed with safety in mind - the space and experience will adapt to the local health officials’ guidance at that time in order to keep attendees and staff safe while allowing for an unforgettable in-person experience.

REGISTER NOW FOR $1,995 PP NOV. 3 - 5, 2021 DENVER, CO


For group registrations and discounts, or any other inquiries about the two conferences, please contact Or visit for more details.



Empathy: Towarnicki & Goldschmidt They are the senior principal and president of Genesis (Blue Bell, PA), a full service firm that delivers facilities for life-saving therapies.

By SARA PARKMAN Senior Editor

G enesis specializes primarily in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and healthcare industries, while maintaining a strong presence in the industrial and commercial marketplace. Goldschmidt has more than 30 years of experience combining business understanding with technical expertise to deliver projects and services with exceptional value, speed, and compliance. Towarnicki has more than 25 years of experience in the architectural profession, with the last 15 years focused specifically in the life science industry. “We try to empathize with our clients’ challenges to help them be successful,” Goldschmidt says. “It’s not just a client/service provider relationship, rather we’re colleagues and peers. By looking at the relationship that way, it makes us more invested in the outcome. We’re not just providing a service; we’re an extension of our clients and we help them achieve their goals.” A CONVERSATION WITH NORM GOLDSCHMIDT AND MERYL TOWARNICKI. The Zweig Letter: Meryl, you founded Genesis Architects back in 2013, rounding out Genesis A&E. How did that come about?

Meryl Towarnicki: I was looking for something new and wanting to make a greater impact in our industry. Genesis wanted to become a full-service company, offering both architecture and engineering services to our clients. I had a lot of friends and colleagues at Genesis who shared the same customer centric style, which made Genesis a great cultural fit for me. Since becoming a full-service firm, with the addition of architecture, then soon after, process engineering and process architecture, the size, quantity, and complexity of our projects have changed. There is nowhere else I’d rather be. TZL: Norman, how has your experience as an internationally recognized life sciences expert benefited Genesis’ clients? What’s an example? Norm Goldschmidt: It’s not just about my direct involvement with each client, but the culture we built and the training we do with our staff. We not only expose our staff to difficult cGMP projects and the constraints that they need to work within, but help them to understand the principles that are at play, and allow them the space to develop their own sense of design. We have a behind



the curtain look at the industry’s latest trends, designs, and best practices by being involved in the international cGMP manufacturing community. “You earn trust by being an expert, being knowledgeable about what you do, and being honest even if that means the client doesn’t need us for a particular piece of a project.” TZL: Your website says that Genesis’ core values “lay the groundwork for a strong family-oriented work environment.” How do you achieve this and what are some examples? Towarnicki: One of the hardest things for a professional to do is balance their work and their home lives. We’ve always understood this and we’re working to make it easier for our employees. We’ve offered an even more flexible work schedule, outside the traditional 9-5 environment, while still meeting the needs of our clients. We don’t always get it right, but we want to help our employees find a balance that works for them. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? Towarnicki: Our business is built on trust and relationships, particularly through the repeat business from core clients. You earn that trust by being an expert, being knowledgeable about what you do, and being honest even if that means the client doesn’t need us for a particular piece of a project. When a client trusts you, they know they can count on you to tell them the truth, whether it’s good or bad news. As a result, trust becomes a responsibility. You must work even harder to stay on that level. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? Goldschmidt: Empathy, that’s probably the most important skill. We try to empathize with our clients’ challenges to help them be successful. It’s not just a client/service provider relationship, rather we’re colleagues and peers. By looking at the relationship that way, it makes us more invested in the outcome. We’re not just providing a service; we’re an extension of our clients and we help them achieve their goals. As a mechanical engineer, there’s not much more I can hope to do than to

contribute to people’s lives, and I get to do that here by helping our clients serve patients. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? Goldschmidt: The world is changing. When I started in business, I was taught that companies should not become involved in politics, social issues, or the like. In the world we live in today, to be silent is to abdicate our responsibility not only as an organization, but as a group of people. With the events of last summer, and on into this year, we at Genesis are reimagining what the role of a company is and how we can best reflect the concerns, needs, and passions of our community. TZL: Is change management a topic regularly addressed by the leadership at your firm? If so, elaborate. Towarnicki: For Genesis, change management is a daily conversation because of how quickly we have grown. We are not who we were in 2012 at 72 people, we’re not who we were in 2016 at 150 people. When you add new people quickly to the mix and change the volume of work you do, there’s a lot happening at once. Given our growth combined with remote working and how busy our industry (pharma) is, our leadership is handling this well. Despite the fact that we haven’t been in this exact position before, we’re used to hitting curveballs and looking at how we can do things differently to ensure the quality of the services we deliver, while preserving the joy in the work we do. “Architects, engineers, and constructors have plenty of opportunities in a variety of industries, but to use our skills in the service of mankind, helping other people and improving their lives – it just doesn’t get any better than that.” TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? Goldschmidt: I think the thing people get most excited about is having interesting and meaningful work. Architects, engineers, and See EMPATHY, page 8





❚ ❚ Blue Bell, PA

❚ ❚ Philadelphia, PA

❚ ❚ San Francisco, CA

❚ ❚ San Diego, CA

❚ ❚ Medford, MA


❚ ❚ Architecture

❚ ❚ Engineering

❚ ❚ Process engineering

❚ ❚ Construction/EPCM

❚ ❚ Commissioning,

qualification, and validation


❚ ❚ No. 54 on Zweig Group’s

Hot Firm List

❚ ❚ No. 5 in Pharmaceutical

Design by ENR in 2020

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

UST 30, 2021, ISSUE 1406


EMPATHY, from page 7

constructors have plenty of opportunities in a variety of industries, but to use our skills in the service of mankind, helping other people and improving their lives – it just doesn’t get any better than that. They get excited about the challenges – the difficult and technical work – but it’s also so incredibly rewarding to do. The satisfaction of knowing that we are in some way contributing to everyone’s lives – that’s priceless. TZL: When you identify a part of your business that is not pulling its weight in terms of profitability or alignment with the firm’s mission, what steps do you take, and what’s the timeline, to address the issue while minimizing impacts to the rest of the company? Goldschmidt: This concept is almost entirely foreign to me – the idea that a portion of the business might not be pulling their weight. I think it’s because we have senior principals on our executive committee running each of the services we provide, who are all so closely engaged with the operations of their business units, that it’s not really been an issue for us. While I’m the titular president of this company, we run under a very collaborative model, and do all our planning and evaluation as a team. If we found a unit in trouble, we would all dig in together to help solve the problem. “People often need a message they can believe in, and when you have staff who continue to reinforce and pass down the same practices to a new generation of architects and engineers, the firm’s legacy will live on. It becomes part of your culture.” TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? Goldschmidt: For me, several people come to mind, each of them taught me a key principle that I use every day. ❚ ❚ Andy Hahn was an architect I worked with at Bristol Myers Squibb. His door was always open, and he always made it seem as if my problems and questions were the most important thing he was dealing with. ❚ ❚ Tom Lyon was the VP of Global Engineering at BMS, and he taught me the value of humility, and listening to others. When I was young, I thought that Tom didn’t have an opinion, maybe didn’t have the technical knowledge to contribute to the conversation, it was only later that I realized he was smart enough to listen to others before solidifying his opinion. ❚ ❚ The last is Sterling Kline, an industry icon, whose unique ability to find and bring out the best in everyone he worked with is something I strive to emulate to this day. Sterling is an expert who never makes the conversation about him, he’s always seeking to elevate others. Towarnicki: I think mentors come in many forms – some teach us what or how to do things, and from others we

Some of the Genesis team enjoying a happy hour together.

learn what not to do – it all contributes to who we’ve become as leaders. ❚ ❚ Walter E. Greene was a professor of mine in college. Walt worked for a construction management firm and he hired me one summer as “Clerk of the Works” on a project he was running. He taught me to pay attention to details and to have a keen awareness of my surroundings on a construction site. It was also that summer that it clicked for me how a drawing became realized in the field. ❚ ❚ Charlie Johnsrud was founder of Johnsrud Architects (now Bergmann). Charlie gave me entry into the pharma bio industry, and it was there that I learned and honed my skills as a lab planner and architect. Charlie had a knack for analyzing complex data and presenting results and solutions in a way that made it easy for a client to understand, a practice that I learned and still emulate today. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? Goldschmidt: It’s not one thing, but if I had to boil it down, I think I would say that it’s building a culture that people stay engaged with. It includes how we treat people; it includes the kind of challenging/exciting work that we have; it includes how we compensate them; it includes how we help them to grow. Towarnicki: The hardest part of our job is the replication of best practices. We are fortunate enough to have many staff who have “stuck around” since the company was founded. I think they are still here because they believe in the message – provide quality service – and live by example. People often need a message they can believe in, and when you have staff who continue to reinforce and pass down the same practices to a new generation of architects and engineers, the firm’s legacy will live on. It becomes part of your culture. Sometimes the message is simply, “let me show you” or “we do it like this.”

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




How scalable systems can be used to find the right people, bring a new product idea to life, and help it grow quickly and profitably. Scalable systems for talent acquisition

S tarting a new company that disrupts the status quo in a conservative industry is challenging at best, but developing it in such a way that it can grow quickly while maintaining its entrepreneurial, “can do” culture requires systems and procedures that are smart, effective, efficient, and, most importantly, scalable. This is how Mitrex tripled employee headcount to more than 100 people in fewer than 18 months while maintaining a methodical, systematic approach to growth to capitalize on the sales momentum generated by the company’s innovative and affordable solar cladding and glass products.

Jim Pappas

Building a new $120 million manufacturing plant, launching new building-integrated photovoltaic products, and keeping up with rapid sales growth is not for the faint of heart. At Mitrex, we knew that the only way to maintain control under such dynamic growth conditions was to systematically and simultaneously grow headcounts in almost all departments – marketing, sales, design, R&D, estimating, production, and project management. The key to supporting this multi- faceted expansion was to develop customized systems and processes that would help the company maintain order and effectiveness while achieving immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals. These are the steps we followed to create

a customized system for talent acquisition and management that met all of our needs: ❚ ❚ Start with the end in mind. Mitrex Inc. was a start-up that was incubated within GCAT Group. With that incubation came some of GCAT’s inherited systems and procedures – not ideal for Mitrex, but workable. The goal for talent acquisition and management was to infuse the company with an entrepreneurial and can-do mindset, one that would carry it through its growth to 1,500 employees by 2026. The end goal was to create a workable system that was effective, efficient, and could easily expand as the company grew around the world.

See JIM PAPPAS, page 10



ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES ANITA GROSS PROMOTED TO ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL, CORPORATE ACCOUNTS Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced Anita Gross has been promoted to associate principal, Corporate Accounts in the firm’s Irvine, California-based headquarters office. In her new role, she leads the Corporate Accounts Team, which supports the project delivery of corporate accounts nationally. Gross joined Ware Malcomb in 2005 as a Project Manager and has held multiple roles within the company throughout her tenure including promotions to studio manager and director. In 2017, she was promoted to director, Corporate Accounts to assist in the strategy and growth of Ware Malcomb’s Corporate Accounts team, capitalizing on her leadership, client management and technical skills. “With more than 25 years of industry experience, Anita brings extensive knowledge to our Corporate Accounts program and truly embraces the Ware Malcomb culture,” said Ted Heisler, vice president, Interior Architecture

and Design at Ware Malcomb. “Her mastery of account management has allowed us to successfully grow the Corporate Accounts program to comprise more than 50 percent of Ware Malcomb’s business.” Gross holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix. She is an active member of several industry organizations including the Orange County Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women Network, and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties Southern California Chapter, where she is an Alumnus of the NAIOP Young Professionals Group. Ware Malcomb’s Corporate Accounts program spans a variety of industries including office, industrial, retail, science and technology, restaurant and education across markets. The unique program facilitates the delivery of consistent, integrated design services for clients, with both local, specialized staff and the vast companywide resources of a North American platform. The firm has completed

projects for one in three companies listed on the Fortune 50. Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is a contemporary and expanding full service design firm providing professional architecture, planning, interior design, civil engineering, branding and building measurement services to corporate, commercial/residential developer and public/institutional clients throughout the world. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, Ware Malcomb specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science and technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/institutional facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm by Zweig Group. The firm is also ranked among the top 15 architecture/engineering firms in Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms and the top 25 interior design firms in Interior Design magazine’s Top 100 Giants.

JIM PAPPAS, from page 9

management department to handle the increased workload. However, it was the ATS system that supported the fivefold productivity growth. Even with the additional HR staff, there was no way we could have attained that growth without the ATS system. ❚ ❚ Integrate for improved efficiency. Our system was working well, but problems began to surface. We had islands of functionality that needed to work better together. We decided that it was time to integrate the components into a comprehensive system that was highly efficient, and was also more accessible to all employees. After much consideration, we decided on ADP Workforce to integrate all the outstanding components. Workforce would also serve as a platform were we could add employees in other countries, as ADP software is used in more than 100 countries worldwide. ❚ ❚ Automate for scalability. Transitioning our system to ADP Workforce would allow us to infinitely scale our talent acquisition and management system to achieve our goal of hiring 1,500 employees by 2026. We migrated all of our components into Workforce, other than Talent Pool Builder. Instead we opted to create links to ADP Workforce so we could continue to use our best-of-breed applicant tracking system. The resulting system was stable and ideally suited to our needs. Best of all, the system was scalable to support our continued growth. Why didn’t we just use ADP Workforce from the start? As a start-up, we needed to better understand our needs before we jumped into a system that may not have been best suited for us, or one that was not customizable enough for our needs. We needed to educate ourselves on our homegrown system before we could determine what would be best for us later on. In other words, we had to walk before we could run. JIM PAPPAS is head of talent acquisition and management at Mitrex Inc. Contact him at

❚ ❚ Creating a workable manual process. The challenge with a start-up is that you don’t know what you don’t know. We opted to develop workable procedures and combine them into a comprehensive system that worked. As we started hiring people and flushing out potential limitations, we were able to quickly modify our system until we reached a point where the system’s functionality met all of our needs. We used Easypay for payroll, an existing time-clock for clocking work hours, Indeed for finding candidates, Zoom for remote interviews, HRprimed for onboard training, and Dropbox for storing candidate/new hire files, resumes, and video interviews. We administered our benefits program manually. At this point, the demands of this system were fairly low, at about two hires a month. “Developing [a new company] in such a way that it can grow quickly while maintaining its entrepreneurial, ‘can do’ culture requires systems and procedures that are smart, effective, efficient, and, most importantly, scalable.” ❚ ❚ Improve system effectiveness. As the demand for hiring people grew, we decided to take the best-of-breed route and improve the effectiveness of the most critical part of our system – namely the talent acquisition. We looked at various systems and decided on Talent Pool Builder software, an innovative applicant tracking system. With automated video interviews, and being able to pull candidates from additional sources such as LinkedIn, Monster, and ZipRecruiter, we greatly improved our effectiveness in acquiring highly talented candidates and in greater numbers. At this point we brought on two more staff in the talent acquisition and

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Only a small number of people really get the idea that building a business is not a sprint – it’s an endurance race. It is all about who can last the longest. Building a business is an endurance race

O bserving and working with literally thousands of AEC business owners over the years has taught me that a small number of people really get the idea that building a business is not a sprint. It’s an endurance race. It is all about who can last the longest. The question is, “What are some things you can do to build a firm that will outlast you?”

Mark Zweig

There are many reasons that is important. You want to be there for your loyal clients who need you. You want to provide what could be lifetime opportunities for your employees. You want to build something good and be known for it. And you want to maximize your exit options and value should you ever decide to retire or do something else in the future. Any or all of those could be motivators to build an enduring business. If building an enduring business is something you want to do, here is my best advice as the founder of a more than 34-year-old business that is still going strong: 1)Make ongoing business planning part of your operational discipline. Business planning is not

an academic exercise. It is a discipline. I think business planning is more important in a project- driven business like an AEC firm than it might be in other types of businesses because the projects and clients are where the priorities are. And because one constantly has deadlines set externally and always has projects to do and clients to serve, “working on the business” can too easily be relegated to the back seat. Yet, there are always problems and opportunities that need some intentional management time to either solve or capitalize on. The business plan is the place to address those – it’s where priorities are established – and it establishes goals for the business that are motivational for everyone in the organization. Business plans aren’t static, especially in times like now where everything

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE DEWBERRY’S NIMISH DESAI APPOINTED TO ACEC/MD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, announced that Department Manager Nimish Desai, PE, ENV SP, has been appointed to the American Council of Engineering Companies – Maryland executive committee as a director. He will serve a three-year term. Desai is a department manager and civil engineer in Dewberry’s Baltimore office. He has 20 years of experience in hydrology, water resources, and highway design.

“I am honored to have been appointed to this committee,” says Desai. “I look forward to what the next three years will bring and helping to advance our mission of contributing to America’s prosperity and advancing the business interests of our member firms.” Desai earned his master’s degree in transportation from Morgan State University and his bachelor’s degree in chemical plant engineering from the University of Mumbai. In addition to ACEC/MD involvement, he is a member and currently serves as the president

of the American Society of Highway Engineers Mid-Atlantic Region and is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dewberry is a market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

client. Don’t kid yourself that it’s OK to not be trying to grow. It isn’t if you want to win the race over the long haul. 5)Learn to be an effective delegator. You cannot grow yourself if you can’t get competent people doing most, if not all, of what you are doing yourself right now. Delegation is a skill that can be taught. It requires you to spend time with the people who work for you to train them in how to do things. They won’t be as good as you are at first, but could be better at whatever it is that you do over time. And when they are, they will not only be happier and more motivated, you will be liberated! YOUR motivation as a leader in your firm is essential not just to you, but to everyone else who works there as well. Think about that. 6)Share your numbers with everyone. Open-book management in some form is absolutely essential to your ability to train enough people in business skills that the firm will be able to survive the comings and goings of anyone. Get over your fears that your people cannot understand this stuff. They can. It isn’t that difficult. If they can do the complex design and technical work that they do every day, they can certainly learn to understand concepts like average collection period, utilization, labor multiplier, revenue factor, accrual revenue, and proposal hit rate. All of this stuff is SIMPLE compared to what they are already doing in the course of doing their jobs. You need everyone in the firm to understand the financial aspects of the business if you want to be a firm that lasts over the long haul. 7)Don’t be greedy or selfish, or a glory hound who hogs all the accolades and credit. If you are making $500K a year and your next level down is making $100K, maybe that isn’t fair. Maybe more of that money does need to go down to the rest of the staff if you want to keep them working there and having a good attitude, and serving your clients the way you want them served. And when it comes to credit and recognition, it is (according to one credible, multi-source survey I saw recently) the NUMBER ONE reason people quit your firm. Promote their accomplishments. Promote their achievements. Show appreciation. Build a positive culture of celebration around the good things your people do every day. The long- term benefits will be well worth it. And you will have a workplace you enjoy working in more every day. These seven things are just some of the keys to building a firm that will be self-sustaining and survive beyond your involvement with it. And isn’t that really one big way you can create a lasting legacy for yourself? I think so. MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

is changing at a faster and faster pace. They have to be updated and modified continuously. 2)Focus on constant innovation and finding better ways to market your business. I have thrown this idea out there in my writings and talks many times: Finding new ways to market and new services (or service packages) to sell should be a regular part of your business planning process. I am a big fan of having each profit center come up with three to five new ways to sell their services and three to five new services to sell each year as a part of the annual business planning process. This will “bake in” innovation, something that is essential for any business that wants to evolve and grow in a dynamic market over a long period of time. There are many other ways to support innovation. Having a real R&D budget and time allocated for people to spend on new stuff or figuring out better ways to do things is critical. So is over- investing in IT. I remember years ago when WD Partners in Columbus, Ohio, was growing so rapidly that they had an IT budget that was about twice what a normal big “A,” small “E” firm like theirs would have. It was a conscious decision to find ways to spend money to figure out better and faster ways to do things and one of the reasons for their dramatic growth over an extended period of time. is you CAN build a brand for any firm in this business, regardless of size or geographic market served, and if you do you will get multiple benefits. Clients and project opportunities will come to you versus you going to them. You will be in a better position to cement higher fees. The best employees will be contacting you trying to get on there. And the value of your business will be higher when you decide to get out of it. It takes some money (though not a lot), along with some real discipline to build a brand (something so many firms in this business lack). 3)Build a brand. My article in last week’s issue of The Zweig Letter went into this topic in depth. But the bottom line 4)Don’t think it’s OK to not be growing. If you aren’t entrepreneurial, and only want a business to support your personal living expenses and ego glorification, and don’t care if anyone leaves you, then by all means “stay small successfully.” If, on the other hand, you don’t want to wake up one day and find that the handful of people who work for you have all decided to go somewhere else, you may want to consider committing to a regular growth goal. Yes, I am advocating growth for the sake of growth. I know that gives a lot of people heartburn, but having constant growth is essential to maintaining a really good team. It is also necessary to keep improving your offerings and reducing the risk of the business by being less dependent on any one

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


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