experience, and innovation and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? DE: A&E works closely with Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Our firm is made up of many MSU graduates and we continue to stay connected to the School of Architecture and the larger university. We serve as guest lecturers, adjunct professors, members of the advisory council, and are strong financial supporters. We’ve been fortunate to also maintain a strong working relationship with the university, designing many of the largest and most complex buildings on campus over the last 30 years. We recently completed the Norm Asbjornson Hall that serves as home to the College of Engineering and Honors College. It is the first LEED Platinum facility on campus and proving to be the most energy-efficient building across the state. It’s an innovative facility, unlike anything else, and has set a new design standard across the campus. The significance of striving for unprecedented innovation is how it can be leveraged as a teaching tool for students. We partnered with architecture and engineering students throughout the design and construction to collaborate on explorations such as daylight studies, energy modeling, and a wide range of construction monitoring. We learned as much from the students as I hope they did from us. “A critical part of my role is to empower others to achieve what they didn’t think possible – to truly strive for greatness.” TZL: What measures are you taking to protect your employees during the COVID-19 crisis? DE: The health of our company starts with the health of our employees. While we followed the CDC recommendations and encouraged remote working, I also found that it was critical to address each employee’s needs, individually. Everyone has a different situation and it quickly became apparent that what may work for one person is not ideal for another. We’ve worked incredibly hard to respond and adapt to everyone’s unique situation to ensure they could still work while also managing family and health obligations. TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key See EMPOWERING PEOPLE, page 8
and the Zweig Group team, we outlined specific goals for our leadership team’s time allocation and management. That planning has been exceedingly helpful in not only identifying our highest and best use for the firm, but also empowering each other to achieve our goals. “Our leadership team and staff have stepped up and we’re managing this situation successfully, and for the most part, remotely.” TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? DE: Creating a culture of empowered leaders is at the heart of our firm. A critical part of my role is to empower others to achieve what they didn’t think possible – to truly strive for greatness. Empowering others to lead and take A&E to new heights means we need to intently and genuinely listen to every person who works for us. In order to do that, we built a comprehensive strategic plan that was shaped by every employee – their goals, aspirations, and vision for A&E is reflected. Building a management team that understands the value we place on everyone’s role is critically important to our success. When our entire team feels heard and valued as an integral part of crafting where we go next, I believe that’s key to keeping people not only happy and productive, but continually inspired. TZL: What novel approaches are you bringing to recruitment, and how are your brand and differentiators performing in the talent wars? DE: The most exciting development I’ve watched in the last few years is our brand serving as a recruitment tool. We’ve put incredible focus on building a powerful brand that people associate with two key things: an extraordinarily high level of design and a great culture. Those two elements alone drive everything else. When people seek us out because of the quality of our work or the culture they’ve heard about, I know we’re building our firm the right way. TZL: Does your firm work closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology,
HEADQUARTERS: Billings, Montana NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 70 YEAR FOUNDED: 1973 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ❚ ❚ Billings, MT
❚ ❚ Bozeman, MT ❚ ❚ Kalispell, MT ❚ ❚ Missoula, MT ❚ ❚ Seattle, WA
SERVICES: Architecture, historic preservation, interior design, and graphics VALUES: People, passion, and purpose. RECENT PROJECTS: ❚ ❚ The Missoula Airport – architecture, branding, and interiors ❚ ❚ Yellowstone Bank – interiors and architecture ❚ ❚ Mystery Ranch – branding ❚ ❚ Old Faithful Inn – architecture and historic preservation ❚ ❚ Missoula Public Library – architecture and interiors ❚ ❚ MSU, Norm Asbjornson Hall – architecture ❚ ❚ Ben Steele Middle School – architecture CULTURE: Its culture goes beyond happy hours and ping pong tables. For A&E, it’s a blending of its people, passions, and purpose. (Note: It may have an office with a pool table.)
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ril 6, 2020, ISSUE 1339
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