TZL 1428 (web)

Feb r ua r y 1 4 , 2022 , I s sue 1 428 W W W . Z W E I G G R O U P . C O M


Employee productivity

Training is an investment with big payoffs, so do your research when determining the best fit for your firm. Finding the right fit

F I R M I N D E X AG&E Associates, PLLC.................................10 Blue Ridge Design.............................................10 Integral Group, LLC..............................................2 Lamar Johnson Collaborative..................... 6 Ross & Baruzzini, Inc...........................................2 SCS Engineers......................................................10 Ware Malcomb........................................................4 MO R E A R T I C L E S n ROB HUGHES: Managing employment-related exposures Page 3 n Opportunity builder: Erik Anderson Page 6 n BRITTNEY ODOM & EDUARDO SMITH: Delivering desired outcomes consistently Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: You and your business Page 11 In Zweig Group’s AEC Workplace of the Future survey , firm participants are asked about current and future policies in their company as well as their current personal ideals. For example, participants were asked to rate their current productivity level versus their productivity level pre-pandemic. Participants that work from home expressed that their productivity level was generally higher now. Participants that primarily work at the office or on the road said that their productivity level remained the same. The other participants that worked a hybrid model fell in-between. The main purpose of this is not to compare the options one-to-one, but to understand your staff and implement policies with them in mind. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

T raining and development for your team is a powerful tool to target when assessing your firm’s recruiting and retention strategy. Training opportunities can increase knowledge, teach people new skills, improve motivation, and encourage people to stay with your firm (e.g., Bibi et al., 2018; Ozkeser, 2019). This not only supports the employees but also the organization, as the combination of reduced turnover and increased engagement of skilled team members increases the efficiency and productivity of the firm. Employee training and development is becoming increasingly sought after, according to Zweig Group’s Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report , with it being the highest ranked benefit by survey participants two years in a row. Not all training is equal in its quality and impact; choosing high quality trainings that work toward the goals of the individuals and firm is critical. When speaking with stakeholders across firms, we hear similar feedback on what type of trainings are truly useful – engaging trainings that include skill development, active participation, and support for how to apply the skill back in the office (outside of the training room). Although many trainings provide great theoretical information, many do not provide actual tangible skills that can be used, and even fewer tailor the application of skills to the actual needs of the organization. Both organizations and employees want to see the knowledge and skills learned translate into everyday work. The majority of training experiences and opportunities out there are described, like learning how to hit a golf ball by simply detailing the process rather than providing an actual golf club, tee, ball, and feedback as they try swinging for the first time. A simple description of a topic does not translate into how to do something and definitely does not translate into actually doing it. So how can we fix this? The first step is choosing the right training and doing research on which program will be best for you. Finding the right fit will help you achieve your goals, as well as those of your firm. Here are a few questions to guide you in this journey of finding the right training and development opportunities: 1. What are your training goals? Ask your team what training they are interested in and determine if this fits within your evaluation of the organization’s training needs. Consider potentially limiting factors such as time, money, resources, and change orientation. Are there options available in the market that speak to your unique

Justin Smith

See JUSTIN SMITH, page 2



TRANSACTIONS INTEGRAL GROUP AND ROSS & BARUZZINI ANNOUNCE MERGER Integral Group, LLC, and Ross & Baruzzini, Inc. announced an intent to merge. Expected to be finalized in late-2022, the new company will consist of more than 1,000 employees located in 31 offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Serbia, and Australia, creating one of the largest building engineering and consulting firms. Ross & Baruzzini has demonstrated expertise across the transportation and buildings sectors through a well- diversified market approach, underpinned by delivering cutting-edge technology

solutions. Integral Group has built a global business delivering deep green engineering solutions on some of the world’s most complex projects with an emphasis on decarbonization and resilience. The future is at the intersection of technology and sustainability within the built environment — where buildings and infrastructure become living systems that address the complex challenges facing society and connecting communities. The name of the new company and the timing for the merger will be announced in the months ahead.

Interested in learning more

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

JUSTIN SMITH , from page 1

needs? Oftentimes custom in-house trainings that hit all of your firm’s identified needs are the best way to ensure training has the best return on investment. Many are concerned these programs cost more. However, figure out the cost of multiple trainings that you need to touch on the areas identified and compare this to the cost of custom trainings. It could be more cost effective, have a better return on investment, and most importantly be more impactful for your organization. 2. Will my team leave the training with knowledge of skills that have been shown to work? Much like learning to golf, effective training blends expanding your knowledge of the topic, skill development, and practice – and, more importantly, practice with support and feedback! Most training presents information in lectures and leaves attendees able to pass a declarative knowledge quiz, but does not actually change behavior or skills used when they return to the office (e.g., Turk et al., 2019). Seek out opportunities that blend all three pillars for maximum results. 3. How strong is this training? It’s all too easy to create beautiful websites with great marketing these days. When it comes to your people, the stakes are too high to take chances on something that does not have outcomes to back it up. Do your own research. Ask the trainers for feedback, data, and testimonials. Great programs have raving fans in your industry that are eager to talk about them. Training is an investment with big payoffs. Do your research to determine what will be best and do not rule out any options right away. Keep in mind that what is best for one AEC firm might not be the best for another – and that’s OK, as long as it’s providing what you need. Fit is more important. The optimal program strikes the right balance of understanding your unique needs with thoughtfully designed experiences that are focused on developing skills and shaping the behaviors that are best linked to results. Taking a step forward in supporting training for your organization will help differentiate your firm from others and support an environment in which employees want to work. Justin Smith is an advisor at Zweig Group, specializing in project management and leadership development. He can be reached at

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Shirley Che | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Group-1030428053722402 Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year). Free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2022, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT SEMINAR This one-day training course covers the critical focus areas every AEC industry project manager should be familiar with and is presented in lecture, tutorial, and case study workshop sessions. Attendees will leave armed with a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics, skills, and techniques successful project managers must have to flourish in their role. This seminar will be in Tampa, FL March 10 and 11. Click here to learn more!

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Many design firms that adjusted their workplace to address COVID-19 face heightened exposures to employment-related litigation and related negative consequences. Managing employment-related exposures

A s design firms of all sizes emerge from the prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they shouldn’t overlook potential exposures to employment practices related litigation. These actions typically exceed $250,000 in judgment costs and attorney’s fees. Furthermore, even when employers prevail, they face significant defense costs and the potential for lasting impacts on employee morale, productivity, and reputational damage.

Rob Hughes

The number of employment-related lawsuits remains high. In 2020, as payrolls dwindled due to COVID-19, the EEOC still received more than 67,000 employment-related complaints, including a record 56 percent alleging retaliation. Many employers, including design firms, were forced to downsize during COVID-19 and those layoffs are often recharacterized as age- or gender-biased discrimination claims. It is safe to assume that concerns about claims relating to back-to-work and vaccination mandates/mask-wearing protocols together with remote work and similar policies will continue well into 2022. Sound risk management practices reduce the likelihood of claims and establish a firm’s defense in any related litigation. In addition, they help firms

obtain better terms and conditions in the purchase of employment practices liability insurance. Here are some key elements of an employment practices risk management program: ■ ■ Create/update an employment manual. This is the firm’s first line of defense and should articulate clear and consistent policies and procedures, including any process for reporting situations involving discrimination or harassment. If your firm already has a manual, when was the last time it was updated? Manuals should be updated to take into account COVID/post-COVID changes in business practices. ■ ■ Review the employment manual with all current

See ROB HUGHES , page 4



ON THE MOVE WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES CHARLES SWANSON HAS JOINED OAK BROOK OFFICE AS DIRECTOR, ARCHITECTURE Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, announced that Charles Swanson has been named Director, Architecture in the firm’s Oak Brook office. A seasoned architect, Swanson leads the growth and management of the Architecture Studio and supports the continued success of the Ware Malcomb Midwest Region.

Previously the leader of an architectural office for a multifamily housing firm in Chicago, Swanson will oversee architecture projects for the Oak Brook and Chicago markets. In addition, he will focus on business development, staff mentorship and expanding the Ware Malcomb multifamily portfolio. “Charles’ strong leadership and industry experience adds a tremendous wealth of knowledge to our team,” said Cameron Trefry, Principal, Ware Malcomb. “In

addition, his vast multifamily expertise is a great resource for our region and the firm.” Originally from Texas, Swanson earned both a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is licensed in nine U.S. states, has successfully delivered projects for clients in many more, and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

■ ■ Carefully check classification of employees. All employees should be properly classified as either exempt or nonexempt to avoid wage and hour claims. Be aware that salaried employees or employees with professional degrees (such as engineers) are not automatically “exempt” from overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While the FLSA contains specific exemptions from overtime pay requirements for executives, administrative, and professional employees, design firms should understand whether and how the exemptions apply to their employees. In addition, as a vital element of their risk management, AEC firms should consider purchasing employment practices liability insurance, which can protect firms from the financial consequences of employment-related lawsuits. Many EPLI/ management liability insurers offer their policyholder firms training content that can be readily tailored to your firm and presented online. EPLI can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, combined with other management liability coverages (e.g., directors and officers and/or fiduciary liability), or provided as a sublimit under a business owners policy or an AEC professional liability policy, depending on the size of the firm and the insurer providing the coverage. AEC firms should work with their insurance broker or advisor to identify the program that best meets their needs and to help determine appropriate coverage limits. Employers with educated and highly paid staff, such as AEC firms, tend to pay more for EPLI coverage as these employees are more likely to engage in litigation and potential damages tend to be higher. Underwriters also pay close attention to claims history, staff turnover, and a firm’s employment-related risk management measures, as described earlier. As design firms have adjusted their workplace practices to address challenges posed by COVID-19, many now face heightened exposures to employment-related litigation and related negative consequences. Fortunately, by adopting and maintaining sound risk management and purchasing appropriate EPLI coverage, AEC firms can reduce the likelihood of employment-related claims and limit their exposures from such losses. Rob Hughes, senior vice president and partner, Ames & Gough. He can be reached at

ROB HUGHES, from page 3

and new employees. Require employees to sign a written acknowledgement letter that they have read the manual and agree to follow the firm’s policies and procedures. Signed acknowledgements should also be secured when you’ve released a substantively updated version of the manual. ■ ■ Hold occasional meetings with employees regarding the employment manual. Use the meetings to review changes to your employment manual and reinforce the policies and incident reporting procedures. The ability to host these meetings online makes them easy to schedule and conduct on a regular basis. ■ ■ Provide training for all managers/supervisors involved in the hiring process. Make sure they understand the dos and don’ts of the interview process. ■ ■ Have an employment attorney review all recruitment advertisements, employment applications, job tests, employment contracts, and employee manual/ acknowledgement letters. The attorney should make sure they comply with federal and state employment laws in your jurisdiction. ■ ■ Establish a written policy of “zero tolerance” against sexual harassment and discrimination of all types – race, sex, age, national origin, religion, disability, etc. Communicate the policy to all employees and make sure your employment manual includes behavioral guidelines, reporting procedures, and disciplinary actions, up to and including termination. ■ ■ Prominently publish and display the firm’s equal opportunity employment policies. ■ ■ Establish confidential internal complaint procedures and communicate them to all employees. Typically, such complaints should be submitted to a higher-level manager or HR professional, rather than a direct supervisor (who might be the source of the problem). ■ ■ Thoroughly investigate any charge of discrimination or sexual harassment. Not doing so can have significant consequences to a firm, such as an accused employee suing for defamation or the complainant bringing suit for failure to properly evaluate the complaint.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


2022 Learning Opportunities

Learning is your competitive advantage. Zweig Group is your life-long learning provider of choice.

IN-PERSON SEMINARS & EVENTS MAR 10-11 Project Management & Advanced PM for AEC Professionals Tampa, FL

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Group rates availble for some of the offerings. Contact for more details. Zweig Group also offers customized seminars to address your firm’s specific needs. Get in touch today, and bring these seminars to your firm.

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Opportunity builder: Erik Andersen Senior principal at Lamar Johnson Collaborative (Chicago, IL), a full-service design and architecture firm committed to enhancing the quality of the human experience.


A ndersen and LJC are collectively committed to working to enhance the quality of the human experience and to improving how design and architecture can impact each individual’s emotional being. Individually, Anderson has led design efforts on transformational projects for prominent academic medical centers and large healthcare systems across the U.S. and internationally since 1989. “As architects, we need to think of our clients as partners and build relationships that go beyond singular projects,” Anderson says. “Trust is earned when a relationship is built on sharing knowledge, experience, and design thinking that allows a client to succeed.” A CONVERSATIONWITH ERIK ANDERSEN. The Zweig Letter: I see that you have a great deal of experience in designing educational healthcare facilities. Can you tell me about one that your firmworked on recently that really made you excited and share why?

Erik Andersen: The LJC designed a 190,000-square-foot Recreation and Student Center for the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, which stands out to me as an exceptional example of a healthcare educational project integrating multiple synergistic programs into a single facility. The project seamlessly fused a wide range of uses, while honoring the critical divisions between quiet study and active collaboration, restful sleep and athletic activity. The project has become the new gateway and center for student activity for this university’s urban campus located in a growing academic medical center. The vibrant, walkable and transit-oriented CWE neighborhood supports the student-oriented building as a model of identity for the campus. A hub of collaborative spaces connected by a vertical landscape of themed stairs integrates diverse programs at the corner in an expression of visible activity. I believe the RAS Center represents a future vision of education in which “program fusion projects” create interdisciplinary and multi-activity environments that attract and retain students and faculty and create vibrant educational communities.



TZL: Howmuch time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” EA: Typically, advancement in a career means more time spent in the business rather than on the business. Our firm encourages a focus on the business and we recognize the experience and talents of seasoned professionals is one of our most valuable offerings to our clients. We mentor our less experienced colleagues and strive to lead by example. Personally, I’m always focused on the business of solving our client’s challenges and delivering successful designs to inspire and exceed expectations. “Our design culture of inclusiveness, collaboration, and entrepreneurial opportunity motivates our staff and creates professional and personal bonds that go well beyond work.” TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? EA: As architects, we need to think of our clients as partners and build relationships that go beyond singular projects. Trust is earned when a relationship is built on sharing knowledge, experience, and design thinking that allows a client to succeed. Help clients think strategically about what they are trying to accomplish and then deliver effective solutions flawlessly. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? EA: Being an architect is a commitment that requires passion and diligence. For me, there’s always overlap and I am grateful that my family is very supportive of me and my work. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? EA: As a core LJC philosophy, we actively engage in ongoing inclusion and diversity initiatives creating mentorship structures to advance opportunities for minority individuals, firms, and the communities we work in. A recent example of our commitment to address diversity and inclusion is an Advanced Outpatient Care Center project we are designing for a large health system here in Chicago. Located in a diverse neighborhood for a community that has historically been challenged with healthcare access, the

project is a collaboration with our client and the community. Our design team for the project includes genuine partnerships with a number of minority partners, firms that we have collaborated with on multiple projects. For this unique project, we aspire to create a new paradigm for care and community collaboration. TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? EA: Our LJC team is energized by the integration of our people across the development, design, and construction industry. Additionally, our people are aligned and committed to our LJC vision of inclusivity, diversity, and giving back to our communities. We recently completed a project called PopCourts! which transformed an empty lot into a bright and welcoming public open space in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. The project, which opened this year, was developed in concert with Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative. The goal in Austin was to create a sense of place and identity for a community that has limited access to public open space. I believe LJC’s commitment to our community and design excellence is what excites our people the most. For more information on PopCourts!, click here. “We solve our client’s most complex challenges by leveraging the collective expertise and ingenuity of the best and brightest minds across the development, design, and construction industry.” TZL: Overall, what do you think will be the greatest challenge to the architectural industry as a whole, in say, the next five years? How is your firm stepping up to meet the challenge? EA: I believe clients’ growing expectations for innovation, quality, cost, and schedule will require greater and greater integration across the design and construction industry. Those architectural firms that seek to integrate and provide cross industry-informed and data driven “smart” solutions will succeed. LJC is part of Clayco, one of the country’s largest and most successful full-service, turnkey See OPPORTUNITY BUILDER , page 8





■ ■ Chicago, IL

■ ■ Kansas City, MO

■ ■ St. Louis, MO

■ ■ Los Angeles, CA


■ ■ Education and science

■ ■ Public and open space

■ ■ Healthcare

■ ■ Industrial

■ ■ Corporate and commercial ■ ■ Residential and hospitality

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE US TO KNOW: We are ‘Integrated by Design’

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

RUARY 14, 2022, ISSUE 1428


BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF HILTON GARDEN INN LONGMONT Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, announced construction is complete on the Hilton Garden Inn Longmont located at 470 South Martin St. in Longmont, CO. Ware Malcomb provided architecture and interior design services for the project. Located on St. Vrain Creek, Hilton Garden Inn Longmont is a four-story 74,800 square foot ground up hotel with 105 rooms. The hotel features a 24-hour fitness center, conference rooms, an indoor pool, two meeting rooms and 1,529 square feet of total event space. The new family-friendly, pet-friendly hotel is the perfect location for group and corporate travelers and offers cooked-to-order breakfast, full dining services, a bar and is minutes from many outdoor activities, retailers and restaurants.

The hotel is designed to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings, with many large windows offering ample natural light and scenic views of the Colorado Rockies and downtown Longmont. The functional and spacious rooms offer a large work desk, microwave and all the necessary amenities for the business traveler or family. Meeting rooms are equipped to accommodate large groups with an on-site business center for printing or computer access needs. “Longmont’s growing business community needs for a high-end hotel and large group meeting space have been met with the new Hilton Garden Inn,” said Matt Chaiken, Principal of Ware Malcomb’s Denver office. “The hotel’s location in the heart of a redeveloped portion of the city allows guests and locals to enjoy the newly created amenities. It was a pleasure working with Cimarron Hospitality on this project.“

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, the firm 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.


real estate development, master planning, architecture, engineering, and construction firms. We solve our client’s most complex challenges by leveraging the collective expertise and ingenuity of the best and brightest minds across the development, design, and construction industry. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? EA: I’ve had many mentors in my professional career. My greatest mentor, Hank Winkelman, is a visionary healthcare designer who influenced me greatly in my design thinking, my ability to connect with clients, and my relationship with my fellow design colleagues. He is 20 years my senior and now retired, but I still consult with him often as a friend and fellow colleague on the work I do. Hank blessed me with a legacy of collaboration and mentorship that I endeavor to pass on to our up-and-coming designers. My hope is that they, in turn, will pass on that same legacy of mentorship and generous way of being to future generations of architects and designers. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? EA: Relationship and opportunity builder. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? EA: Our design culture of inclusiveness, collaboration, and entrepreneurial opportunity motivates our staff and creates professional and personal bonds that go well beyond work.

LJC’s PopCourts! project in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




In today’s fast-paced and mostly remote work environments, the processes described on paper often don’t resemble the way work is actually conducted. Delivering desired outcomes consistently

W hen working in a small company or with a group of people, it’s fairly easy for the methods by which work is produced and delivered to evolve informally under the influence of a key leader or two. But as the company or group grows, it becomes more difficult, if not impossible, to rely on such organic, ad hoc means of ordering the flow of work as a team. Eventually, the need for more detailed and reinforced processes becomes apparent in the pursuit of delivering consistent quality outcomes to clients.

Brittney Odom

Especially in a company that is organized hierarchically, in which power flows upward and employees follow a chain-of-command, processes are often developed by management teams and rolled out or pushed down to employees. However, in today’s fast-paced and mostly remote work environments, in which staff want to determine the means and methods for themselves, traditional processes are likely not going to be followed. Therein lies the rub for most firms – the processes described on paper often don’t resemble the way work is actually conducted. How can process and practice be brought into better alignment? We suggest considering these three factors:

1. Prioritize those processes that are most important. A process is a series of steps taken to repeatedly achieve a certain result. The result is the goal, not the process – the process is the means to an end. Prioritize the goals or results that are most important to the firm’s success, such as quality, risk management, or client service. 2. Get input from those who will follow the process. The best way to get buy-in is to involve those who will implement a process in its development. Further, ask for feedback

Eduardo Smith




TRANSACTIONS AG&E EXPANDS RANGE OF SERVICES THROUGH ACQUISITION OF VIRGINIA- BASED BLUE RIDGE DESIGN, INC. AG&E Associates, PLLC, a structural engineering firm headquartered in Texas, has acquired Blue Ridge Design, Inc., a preeminent specialty precast engineering firm based in Winchester, Virginia. BRD delivers structural engineering services with special expertise in the precast, prestressed concrete industry. The founding member of BRD, Ned M. Cleland, PhD, PE, joins the leadership team of AG&E as an Executive Principal and Director of Specialty Precast Engineering. BRD, established in Winchester, Virginia in 1986, is recognized in the precast industry as a leader in the design of complicated structural precast concrete systems. Its services include advanced engineering consulting to owners and developers using precast, prestressed concrete as a primary structural system in a wide range of buildings. BRD also provides engineering services to precast concrete manufacturers for the detailed design and drawings of their products. Under the leadership of Dr. Cleland, PE, BRD’s expertise and vast experience complement AG&E’s existing practices.

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Cleland and the entire BRD staff to the AG&E family. They are highly regarded by their clients and peers in the industry,” said Sanjay Agrawal, PE, SE, president and CEO of AG&E. “The acquisition of BRD represents the boots-on-the-ground that AG&E had been seeking and our clients had been clamoring for in the bustling Virginia construction market.” “Blue Ridge Design is excited to become a part of AG&E,” said Ned M. Cleland, PhD, PE, founder of BRD. “We bring our knowledge and experience in the specialty of precast, prestressed concrete design to a wider clientele. Combined with the strength and resources of AG&E, we look forward to providing a range of services to address future challenges, especially in mission critical projects.” Founded in 2004, AG&E has become one of largest structural engineering consulting firms in Texas. With six offices across the state, AG&E works with architects, general contractors, and owners across the nation on a myriad of projects. Market sectors include mission critical, aviation, healthcare, corporate, industrial, education, federal, municipal, living spaces, parking

garages, and transportation. AG&E also offers structural sub-specialties such as parking planning, vibration consulting, and blast engineering to provide fully integrated structural services to clients. “The acquisition of Blue Ridge Design continues the practice of adding premier structural engineers to our team. It increases AG&E’s breadth of services as we now can offer our clients specialty precast, prestressed engineering,” said Al Baysek, PE, SE, CSO and executive principal of AG&E. “BRD also adds a strategic locale, Northern Virginia, to our bases of operation.” The acquisition of BRD, a team of committed and energetic professionals, expands AG&E’s portfolio of services and positions itself to better serve clients nationwide. AG&E is uniquely qualified to provide structural engineering services, vibration testing and analysis, and LiDAR + BIM. Utilizing the latest design techniques, computer applications, and proven engineering concepts, AG&E derives structural solutions based on efficiency, economic feasibility, and support of a project’s architectural intent and expression.

need to build flexibility into our processes. Management should provide boundaries and the expected results, and let staff manage the in-between. Back to our example above. When it became apparent that our forced process was no longer employed, we changed our tactics. The management team defined the end goal, provided clear expectations, and let staff develop the specifics that would lead to, in this case, improved communications across our project teams and with clients. Project managers were given the freedom to work the process in a way that fit their management style and clients’ preferences. This led to individual ownership of the process and, more importantly, to the desired outcome. As an industry, we have done marvelously well in adapting to our newwork environment, now it’s time to apply that same flexibility to our processes – if you want to deliver consistent outcomes. Brittney Odom is southeast region environmental services leader at SCS Engineers. Contact her at bodom@scsengineers. com . Eduardo Smith, P.E. is senior vice president of business development at SCS Engineers. Contact him at esmith@


from those individuals to continually improve and adapt the process to increase efficiency or adapt to changing conditions. When we were faced with a series of preventable and atypical mistakes by a few of our project managers, our management team quickly developed a process to enhance communication across our project teams and with clients. We were pleased to see immediate results from our new process, but not surprisingly, the process was essentially abandoned after a few months. In today’s environment, pushing down processes will typically only get obligatory compliance, which is often short-lived. 3. Allow flexibility. From where staff work, to how they get their jobs done, flexibility is expected these days. So we “As an industry, we have done marvelously well in adapting to our newwork environment, now it’s time to apply that same flexibility to our processes – if you want to deliver consistent outcomes.”

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




You and your business

F or some reason, I feel compelled to express my distaste for so much of what I read on entrepreneurship, management, and business these days. But if I do that, then to some I will sound either willfully ignorant or just like a bitter old guy. If your business requires so much attention from you that you don’t have the overall quality of life you want, it’s time to do something different.

So, let me say this: You don’t need a lot of this stuff. The AEC business is not that hard to make a decent living in these days. Demand exceeds supply. Put that extremely high demand on top of a labor shortage – combined with basic competence in what you do – and you have a formula for making money. But my two questions for you are these. First, do you have a business that will succeed without your continuous high level of personal involvement and attention? And secondly, will you be able to extract the value you have built in your business when you decide you want to get out of it so you can do something else? Those two questions have always been top of mind for me when working with any firm in this industry. So let’s talk about my questions. Does your business require continuous attention from you such that you don’t have the overall quality of life you you want and

you haven’t set the stage to be able to sell it internally or externally some day? If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to do something different. These are the six things you need to be working on: 1. Having the right people working in your business. That involves both recruiting and retention. Every time I talk about recruiting, someone has to show me how smart they are and remind me retention is critical, too. I know that! But you can’t retain anyone good if you don’t first hire good people. That takes your willingness to commit real resources (time and money) to the problem. Most firms in this business really aren’t doing that. Look at the percentage of net service revenue going for recruiting in the typical firm in this business and tell me if you don’t agree. There is little that is more important today than

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG , page 12




compensation levels, prepare job offers, evaluate pay equity, and compare salaries with competitors. “We’re in a very competitive job market in this industry right now – it’s very important that AEC firms have the data needed to set salaries and compensate their employees effectively. While compensation is just one small piece of effective recruitment and retention, it’s not an area that should be based on guesswork,” said Zweig Group director of research, Christina Zweig Niehues. Data is included for all types and levels

of staff including interns, technical staff, administrative, operations, and management, ranging from entry level through principal status. Technical staff data is broken into five levels – entry-level, project engineer, project manager, department head, and principal. The report also shows salaries for management positions – such as presidents, CEOs, CFOs, branch managers, and others – as well as IT, marketing, and administrative staff. Descriptions and average years of experience are included for all titles in the survey, and 10-year trend data is also given for the majority of roles.

SALARY LEVEL RESEARCH FOR THE AEC INDUSTRY Zweig Group, a leading provider of advisory services, research, and education for the AEC industry, has just released the 2022 Engineering Salary Reports for all regions of the United States. These reports are based on a comprehensive salary survey of hundreds of industry individuals and firms, and is presented in three separate regional editions: North and South Atlantic, Central, and Pacific and Mountain, in both PDF and hardcopy options. This salary research can be used by engineering firms to assess

your author to swallow at times. You are going to have to let other people be in the spotlight. If you are the only one who is, guess what? You will be the only person any clients want to deal with. And there is the trap you just made for yourself. Ditto if you have any partners and the focus is on them. The sooner you can start promoting the accomplishments of the other people in your firm, the better. 5. Building a “brand” for your business that continuously generates leads and allows you to charge higher prices than other firms that do what you do. This will not happen unless you make the consistent investment in brand- building marketing activities. That means lots and lots of direct mail, email, social media, community involvement, signage, vehicles, and a lot of other things. Get out your checkbook. This is a pure “overhead” expense (I prefer to see it as an investment) you must make if you want to have the benefits that result from it. So spend the money it really takes to build your brand. 6. Learning to separate what you do from your identity as an individual. In other words – learning how to think of yourself as more than just the owner of a successful AEC business. You may scoff at this last point and say that isn’t you, but believe me, I get it, and a lot more of the people I knowwho own and operate these firms are in this mode than those who aren’t. It’s all-consuming to build and run one of these businesses. It’s your baby. It’s so important to you. I understand. But there is more to you as a complete person than just someone who runs a successful business. Don’t forget that. And you do have/will have other needs in your life. Needs for good family relationships. The need for a spouse or significant other. The need to work with your hands and do something tangible. The need for travel experiences. And time to do nothing. That’s why your whole identity cannot be wrapped up in what you do for your business or you will never devote any energy to any of these other things. That’s it for now. See you next week! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 12

recruiting. And as far as retention goes, the key to that lies in NOT giving people reasons to feel they need to leave your business and go somewhere else. What do you make your people do that makes them feel they have to lose their personal dignity to do it? Those things take many forms, from having them fight in a bureaucratic system that wastes their time, to having them participate in something even slightly unethical, to talking down to them, to paying them less than they are really worth – and more. Focus on eliminating these things and your retention rate will improve. 2. Learning how to effectively delegate. Sure – there is information out there on how to be a better delegator. That’s all basically about being clear in what you want people to do and checking in with them every so often. But the real problem related to lack of delegation in our business is that the delegators don’t have faith in their people to do what they want them to do the way they want it done. In some cases it is founded. See my point No. 1 above. In other cases, it’s either ego, or what I call the “craftsman mentality,” (i.e., no one can do it as well as I can, so I might as well do it myself) that keeps design professionals from delegating. Either way, not delegating is a trap that will hold back your people, your business, and yourself needlessly. 3. Training your people in how your business works. You will never have a business that can exist without you – or better yet, thrive without you – if you don’t have a lot of people who really understand what you are trying to do and how your business makes money. This will only come about if you have a business planning process that gets a wide range of engagement from your people and if you share your numbers and talk about what they mean. Open-book management is the single best tool I have used to accomplish that. There are entire books on the subject. One of these may actually be worth reading. Companies such as Zweig Group can also help you implement open-book management. Do it. 4. Being willing to subjugate your ego for the greater good. This is a really hard one and was a difficult pill for

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