Go deeper on the statements you make to potential clients. Convincing them to hire you takes a customized approach every time.

How many times have you used the “we’re local” crutch as one of your key points in a proposal or interview situation? Most clients don’t care about local unless you tell them why being local benefits them. Do you live in a community that values local business and there is a demonstrated selection of local businesses? Furthermore, does your specific client reflect those values and actually give you points for being local?

I hope you know how to answer those questions. If the answer to them is no, then you better tell the client why being local is good for them. We often offer weak reasons, such as: “Our firm is close to the project,” or “Someone in our firm lives near the project,” or “We have done other projects in the area.” Those weak associations will not advance your team in a competitive environment.

I was recently in a client’s office and had the opportunity to sit in on a proposal planning meeting for a municipal project. The project manager outlined their top three selling points and, low and behold, one of them was (drum roll please)… “We are local.” I challenged them as to what that meant. Did it mean that they would have lower project costs because their staff was 0.7 miles closer to the project than the competition? Would the client save money, headaches, or time by the firm being local? What does local mean? This particular firm has been competing with mainly much larger national firms that had a “local office” in the area. In other words, everyone could claim they were local. It turns out that this company did develop some strong statements that proved their local presence was superior to all others, but it took a lengthy discussion that resulted from being challenged. Most firms are satisfied with making a simple statement of being local and moving on to the next point.

Here’s the deal: Being local is often good in a service industry like ours; however, stating your firm is local rarely stands on its own as a value proposition. Furthermore, differentiators are not generic, especially in our business. Everybody reading this knows how close we are to being a commodity. What that means for all of us is that we must dig deep when defining the differentiators that set us apart from the competition. Tell your clients exactly what your benefits mean to them and how they translate to fit their mission. Anytime you can quantify the benefit, you will improve your chances even more. When developing your proposition around being local, you will need to look for the most powerful and quantifiable benefits your firm can uniquely offer your client. Also, consider that your job is to educate the client on what the project needs are and that your team uniquely qualifies as the best team to meet those needs.

The next time you hear someone in your firm (or even yourself) say that being local is important to a project or client, take the time to challenge them. Challenge your firm to go deeper on the statements you are making to clients when selling to them. Convincing your clients to hire you takes a customized approach for every pursuit. Every project and every client is unique and so should what you offer them. Start improving your marketing and sales materials by asking the simple question: Why?

Chad Clinehens is ZweigWhite’s executive vice president. Contact him at cclinehens@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1057, originally published 5/26/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

Feel trapped at work? Four suggestions from Mark Zweig to help you have a saner lifestyle.

It’s interesting – and frustrating as well – to see how many A/E/P and environmental firm owners and managers feel trapped by the firms they work in.

It’s easy to understand how this can happen to any of us. We work in project-centric businesses. Client demands from outside the organization have to be met. If they aren’t met, we aren’t needed – we become unemployed and our firms go out of business.

But the truth is, all demands on our time are not coming from outside. The higher up you go in the hierarchy, the more time you spend on firm management. There are so many meetings and requests for information. Personal stuff can be hard to fit in, too, especially in families with two parents who work outside the home. Picking up Johnny from school, taking Sally to her softball game, and running your car to the dealer 30 miles from home all take up our limited time and contribute to us feeling trapped.

So how can we be liberated? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Get capable people working for you. The second-in-command(s) and the direct reports to each of us are extremely crucial to the quality of our lives. Yet, A/E firms seem plagued by a culture of what I call “The Full Employment Act of the A/E Industry,” where we act like we’re obligated to keep whomever comes to work for us employed forever, regardless of their capabilities or performance. You have got to stop thinking like this because you are the paying the price with your very life.
  2. Learn to say “no.” I’m not encouraging you to become a negative jerk but I am suggesting you simply cannot say “yes” to every request you get, especially when it may be something that you just don’t have time for. You don’t need to say “yes” and sign up for every committee in your professional association. You don’t need to say “yes” to every request for an “informational interview” from job seekers you know you wouldn’t hire. You don’t need to say “yes” to those who want only 30 minutes of your time to sell you something. There are many, many more of these kinds of time wasters and you have to say “no” to more of them.
  3. Get control over your email. Email can take so much of your time if you let it. Unsubscribe. Don’t feel obligated to reply to every “reply” you make. Don’t copy everyone and then get their copies. I’ve even gone as far as requesting I not be included in threads that I don’t need to be involved in. And, allocate a certain time every day to file your inbox so it doesn’t build up too much.
  4. Don’t take on the extra “job” of Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’ve said before that I have found both Facebook at Twitter to be effective marketing tools for both ZweigWhite and my design/build/development business, Mark Zweig, Inc. I’m not a fan of LinkedIn but it, too, can be a great recruiting tool. That said, I also know their downsides. They can take up a lot of your time. It’s easy to make a Facebook post about a project and then get sucked into 20 minutes of looking at your wife’s postings of pictures of your kids, what your neighbor ate for dinner last night, and what particular cause or complaint one of your former college roommates is ranting about. Take control and say “no” to this stuff.

All of these things – and many more – will work to liberate you and help keep you from feeling trapped. Want to add to this list? Send me a line and we will try to publish your comments.

Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1058, originally published 6/2/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Jun. 2, 2014) –Zweig Group is proud to announce Bentley Systems, global leader in software solutions for architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, constructors, and owner-operators, as the Gold Sponsor of the 2014 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards conference, held on September 25-26 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
“Bentley Systems is proud to be the premier sponsor of the 2014 Zweig Group Hot Firm Conference. We have long appreciated the thought leadership and insights that Zweig Group brings to the A/E community, and we look forward to participating in this worthwhile conference,” said Chris Barron, VP Corporate Communications, Bentley Systems. 

Hot Firm and the A/E Industry Awards Conference is one of the biggest and most exciting events in the A/E industry.  Attendees will participate in educational sessions led by some of the most dynamic movers and shakers in the A/E industry and business world at large and be able to network at the beautiful venues provided by the Beverly Hilton.  The event will culminate with a stylish black-tie dinner and awards ceremony honoring winners of the Hot Firm Awards, Best Firms to Work For Awards, Marketing Excellence Awards, and the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award. 

Other event sponsors include Acuity Business Solutions, which specializes in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and client relationship management (CRM) solutions for project-based professional services firms.

Please visit www.hotfirm.com for more information.

Are you investing in consistent, brand-building marketing activities, Mark Zweig asks.

Let’s face it. Living too well can be a problem. I’m talking about eating your seed corn, spending too much, and not reinvesting in your future. “Overharvesting” is like a drug. It’s hard to wean off the excess profitability. Everyone in the company (substitute “family” if you like) is used to living too well. They don’t want to make any sacrifices for the future.

Marketing is one of those “off balance sheet” investments that masquerades as an expense. When it comes to the A/E or environmental consulting business, brand-building marketing activities are most conspicuous by their absence in firms that are living too well. Money just isn’t spent on marketing (it’s viewed as a waste) unless it is directed at winning a specific project.

The difference between a small business and an entrepreneurial venture is that a small business exists solely for the immediate benefits of its owners (profits paid out), whereas an entrepreneurial venture builds value that is primarily extracted not along the way, but rather mostly upon exit. Operating like a small business and not investing in brand building marketing activities when you have so many people depending on you is just plain irresponsible.

The problem in many of these companies is that the owner(s) actually like the fact that they have created a cult of personality around themselves. They want to be indispensable and essential to the business. But this means there’s a limited lifespan because these owners will only live so long or be engaged in the business so long. So, fat and happy, they become unmotivated.

But it’s hard to get people who are successful to change. They don’t see any reason to change their behavior. It’s human nature. We don’t do anything we don’t have to (for the most part).

A/E firms need to allocate a reasonable budget to brand-building marketing activities and then look for ways to spend it. It is easier than ever to quantify the benefits of doing so. Web hits – how long visitors stay on your site – and the number and value of incoming leads are just some of the metrics you can easily track and report on these days that should be going up the more you spend on this stuff. Revenue growth should follow. Higher growth firms are more profitable and more valuable. You get the picture. The seeds are planted through the marketing budget and resulting activities.

So how does your firm look? Are you investing in your future and that of your employees through consistent, brand-building marketing activities? Or are you sitting on the sidelines, overharvesting, and praying the gravy train continues?

Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1059, originally published 6/9/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

Take the time to share with new hires your wisdom about why things are the way they are and how they got that way.

What happens when someone joins your firm? Do you merely sit them down in front of a computer terminal and tell them to “get to work” or do you spend a little more time with them to give them a sense of the purpose of the work they’re doing?

The sink-or-swim version of “on-boarding,” which I have written about before, is akin to “water-boarding.” It’s painful, not particularly effective, and it certainly doesn’t set the kind of attitude and behavior you want the new person to carry into their work and interactions with others. There are far more efficient and effective ways to assimilate new employees. The little extra time invested in immersing new people into the firm’s values and culture pays big dividends almost immediately.

At Gensler, we figured out pretty early on that you can’t “control” people’s behavior or performance through rules and hierarchical oversight. In the design professions, particularly because fees have always been lean, it is simply too costly to have people scrupulously checking every new person’s actions. Most of us are acting unilaterally on behalf of the firm with clients, contractors, consultants, building officials and others. There simply isn’t time to have someone going back to review and check on every person’s work. We have to be able to rely on our staff members to act professionally, accept responsibility for the quality and accuracy of their work, to know what they don’t know and ask for help when needed, rather than “faking it.” They need to constantly make judgment calls in a manner consistent with the values, ethics, policies, goals and objectives of the firm.

So, how can we make that happen? I believe it comes about when each member of the firm feels truly responsible for their actions – no excuses and no blame ladled onto someone else. It happens when each individual embraces the reasons the firm is in business. This requires you to have a very clearly defined and documented summary of your values and culture. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

  • To serve our clients and the communities in which we build well.
  • To collaborate with each other, taking advantage of the larger talent and knowledge base within the firm and its stakeholders in order to deliver the highest value to our clients.
  • To help each other to continually grow as professionals.
  • To treat each other, our clients and our stakeholders with respect at all times.
  • To act as a business, taking the discipline of adhering to schedules and budgets seriously, treating our clients’ money as if it were our own.

These are all the things you want to be known for. More importantly, you become known for your values when everyone behaves in accordance with those values at all times. And, if they do, you don’t have to spend much time checking up on them.

Each firm has its own unique set of values and culture. Is yours known? Documented? Consistently understood? Does everyone in the firm have the authority to challenge anyone else, including the president or partners, if that person is not acting in accordance with those values and your culture?

Now, how do you achieve “Immersive Acculturation?” That means taking each person who joins your firm into a program that conveys what your values and culture are, why they’re that way and, most importantly, what are the benefits to employees, clients and stakeholders of behaving consistently, at all times, in accordance with your values and culture. This is particularly important for senior staff who will have others answering to them or when a firm is acquired or merges with another firm.

Immersing everyone in your culture requires time and commitment from the minute a person sets foot in the door. It can’t wait until next week, or be satisfied by handing out a little wallet-sized card with your Mission, Vision and Values printed on it. In my article on “on-boarding,” published April 14, 2013 (issue #1003), I described the first minute, first hour, first day, first week and first month as each new person becomes part of your enterprise. It involves formal roles for a buddy, a coach and a mentor augmented by some brilliant sages who take the time to, as Desi Arnaz on “I Love Lucy” used to say, do “some ‘splanen’.” For those of you too young to remember, that means “explaining” – taking the time to share their wisdom about why things are the way they are and how they got that way.

That’s how you achieve strong, consistent, behavior in your firm; how you achieve excellence; how you obviate the need for constantly monitoring every action; and how you build a cadre of people who are deeply engaged in the work they’re doing, with each other and with your clients.

Edward Friedrichs, FAIA, FIIDA, is a consultant with ZweigWhite and the former CEO and president of Gensler. Contact him at efriedrichs@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1059, originally published 6/9/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

Mark Zweig tackles the misconceptions with four examples.

I started out in business at a young age, buying and selling bicycles, then motorcycles and then cars, on my Mom and Dad’s street corner. Then I had a variety of other ventures until I started Mark Zweig & Associates (which later became ZweigWhite) in 1988 and Mark Zweig, Inc., my design/construct/development company, in 2005. I’ve also been an owner involved with some startups and other A/E firms.

The point is this: There are a number of misconceptions some people have about what it means to be an owner in the firm. I’d like to disarm those now…

  1. Just because you are the owner it doesn’t mean you rule. NO ONE has to do what you tell them to do or want them to do. Everyone has free will. They will each need to be sold, convinced, cajoled, influenced, listened to, loved, and paid attention to if you want them to act the way you want them to. It isn’t easy. You cannot just issue an edict and expect everyone to do it. If you do happen to be one of those people who thinks this way, you’re going to be doomed to a life of misery and frustration.
  2. Just because you are the owner it doesn’t mean you get all the money – or even the lion’s share of it. Of course, some people who own businesses DO think this way. But their long-term success and options are very limited as a result. You have to pay people well – make them feel like if they work hard they will be treated fairly – and share the booty (liberally) if you want to keep them around and keep the whole thing growing and moving in a positive direction. That means you have to take care of them FIRST before yourself if you want to really get their loyalty and convince them their efforts and care will pay off.
  3. Just because you are the owner doesn’t mean you get special privileges. The perks that you allow yourself (dinner with the spouse on the company nickel, Thursday afternoons off for golf, etc., no matter how well-deserved they are) have the potential to demotivate other people there. Even coming into the office late when you got back home from a business trip at midnight the night before could be criticized or misinterpreted by others.
  4. Just because you are the owner it doesn’t mean you don’t want everyone else to feel like one, too. Many times owners think they are the only ones with a lot to lose if they fail or the company fails, but the employees do, too. Their job is their livelihood. It may not be that easy to replace that job. It’s like they are self-employed and have one client – your company. That is a very precarious position. Acknowledge it. Recognize it. Embrace it. And consider this. These people didn’t START companies. They are going to be more risk-averse than you are.

It doesn’t matter that you started the company or own it now. You are constantly being judged. Truthfully, no one cares about the sacrifices you made or the risks you took to get where you are. The sooner you figure this out and accept it, the better off you’ll be. It takes a team to do anything worthwhile and you have to feed that team – physically, ego-wise, and even spiritually – to keep it together.

Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1060, originally published 6/16/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

Mark Zweig offers six pointers that will help resolve conflict inside the company.

Professional services firms such as architecture and engineering companies are owned and run by smart people. I’ve said it before – as someone who got his terminal psychology degree vicariously through his ex-wife – that the average IQ of principals and top managers in an A/E/P or environmental firm is probably in the top two percent, or higher, of the overall population.

The problem with that is that when you put a bunch of these people together in one place (i.e., the office), they don’t always get along. Different people have different ideas about the direction of the firm, their priorities, what the other guys’ priorities should be, and more. In some cases, there are even wildly different values and belief systems, which further complicates the situation. Fundamentalist Christians may be working alongside atheists, hardcore conservative Republicans next to diehard liberal Democrats, northerners next to southerners, “logical” men with “intuitive” women, “thinking” engineers with “feeling” architects. You get the idea.

These are smart people with different histories and in some cases radically different orientations. That’s good and bad. It may make for a more creative, diverse workplace. But it can also lead to conflict and infighting. Lots of it.

So what can you – as the CEO or top manager of your unit – do to combat this? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Get everyone’s input. People like to share their two cents. They want to be heard. Yes, it is a problem in our business culturally. All owners and managers want veto rights on all decisions. You cannot give them that or it will paralyze the company, but you can fully listen to their input.
  2. Keep everyone focused on the overall company goals. The business plan – with a worthwhile mission and inspirational vision – is really critical here. People have to see how achieving these things is going to be valuable to them. You need to be sure you have a plan, that everyone knows what it is, and then be the head cheerleader to sell the thing to everyone in the organization. If the real goals of the business are appealing to a broad range of people, you can minimize the negative effects of internal disagreements.
  3. Respect the other person even if you disagree. This is critical and it’s not always easy. You may be a staunch Republican and just can’t agree with your Democrat partner. So you point that out and try to sell or cajole your partner constantly. This isn’t good. It contributes to the division in your company and really isn’t relevant to doing what you have to do, which has to be directed outside the company to your clients and customers.
  4. Be honest with people. It’s hard to do. When people fight with each other you need to bring them together. You need to let them each know you care, listen to their concerns, and fully air out their differences. But if you agree with one or the other on a course of action (and we’re talking about the business here, not politics, religion, or child rearing!) you need to let it be known to all. If you are the “boss,” it’s your job to decide who/what is right and act accordingly.
  5. Show your appreciation for all. Everyone wants acknowledgment for their efforts and accomplishments. Give praise when it’s due so people realize that you can see what they’ve done. This, too, isn’t always easy. Everyone is busy and you aren’t always with the people who are making it happen.
  6. Bang heads together if you must. Sometimes two people – in spite of your best efforts – will simply not be able to overcome their differences and can not/will not get along. I have even had cases of this with husbands and wives who worked together, side-by-side, in the same business. You may need to confront both at the same time, together, and point out how their behavior is damaging everyone else’s morale. And if repeated attempts to do this fail, one of the two may need to go do something else and that may be OK.

The point is, you will have conflicts. It’s OK if you stay calm and work to find a resolution. When you have strong people who deeply care about the company, I’m sure almost anything can be resolved.

Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1061, originally published 6/23/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.


Coach your staff on the small things that make all the difference and follow these four tips from Mark Zweig.

So much of one’s success in the architecture, engineering, planning or environmental business has nothing to do with one’s technical, design, or computer skills. Don’t get me wrong – before you fire off an angry email to me, I’m not saying those things aren’t important. They obviously are. That’s the business you’re in and you better be good at doing it.

What I’m talking about today is the other stuff. The stuff it takes to be a good leader, manager, and seller – or the stuff you don’t want to do because it gets in the way of success. None of us has enough of these people (those who know what it takes and do it) in our employ. Here are a few ideas for you:

  1. Be willing to confront the odd quirks and mannerisms someone may have. I have seen it all. A principal who snorted like a pig every 30 seconds, a guy who always had both hands in his front pockets, a woman with horrific dandruff, a project manager who wouldn’t look at you when he talked, a department head who dressed horribly, and much more. All of these things have to be dealt with because they could be big negatives when it comes to managing clients and people inside and out of the firm.
  2. Help your people with their writing. It may be as simple as explaining the difference between “your” and “you’re” (I see “your” misused constantly these days!) or “to” and “too” (another pet peeve). Misuse of the language makes you look bad inside and out of the firm. Other common writing problems are those who insist on using “olde” English and start out every letter with “as per your request” and “enclosed herewith.” This stilted style was not good 30 years ago and it’s really not good today. But then there are major problems, such as the person simply cannot communicate their thoughts in writing. Classes may be needed to bolster their skills here.
  3. Help your people with their manners. I was taught by my parents to sit up straight and hold my fork properly, to keep my napkin on my lap, to not talk with my mouth full, and to take some butter off the plate and put it on my plate before using it on my bread. I also learned early on to see if my guest was drinking an alcoholic beverage before ordering one for myself. But not everyone had these lessons. Some people really need to be told this stuff – by you – or they will never learn.
  4. Coach your people and help them with other things. Whether it’s buying them a car wash for their car that is well beyond filthy, coaching them on being at work at a regular time because it looks bad to the troops if they aren’t, or telling them how to pack proper clothing for a business trip, you need to be the coach. You are the trainer and advisor who is looking out for everyone who works for you in an effort to help them avoid mistakes you may have made yourself or have seen others make. That is in all our job descriptions. As the principals, managers, and in some cases owners of the enterprises we work in, it’s our responsibility to help all of our people succeed.

Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1062, originally published 6/30/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

Make your company stronger by involving marketing folks in the sales process.

I recently attended a SMPS “Spring Training” one day seminar in Oklahoma. The first speaker, Carolyn Ferguson, asked several probing questions about developing interviews. She asked how many of the attendees had ever been to an interview. Affirmative answers were absurdly low, especially considering that most attendees had job duties that included assembling presentations for client interviews.

Although I was not surprised, this exercise exposed a big problem in many A/E firms. The people responsible for developing our sales documents are completely isolated from a big part of the process. An example: We have marketing staff developing interviews who have never been to an interview and do not understand what really goes on behind those doors.

Why does our industry view marketing as a separate function from the rest of the firm? Can you imagine if General Motors never allowed their marketing people to see the production floor, visit a dealership, or participate in any of the vehicle development decisions? Marketing is often at the heart of every business, yet the professional services industry seems to be an exception. Some of the great and somewhat untapped resources in our firms are marketing people. They are wired differently than the typical design and technical professional. That perspective can be beneficial, especially when you are reaching out to a diverse audience. Many of the selection processes and committees include a diverse range of people that respond differently to documents or presentations. A more focused and deeper integration of marketing people with the design and production staff produces a more comprehensive and wider reaching message. Instead of sharing this view, A/E firms often view marketing as an overhead function and isolate them in the organization chart – off to the side. It is that visual that captures what we think about marketing. Deep down in the subconscious of many leaders is the tendency to view marketing as an overhead expense that must be minimized. We keep the marketing people in a nicely defined box where they don’t get in the way of the design and production teams, viewed as the “heart” of the company. Instead of fully leveraging our internal marketing resources, we tend to only trust them with a very limited scope of services. There is great opportunity to get more out of the valuable marketing talent that already exists in many of your firms.

At ZweigWhite, we have plenty of data that shows that marketing investments produce some of the greatest return. Our high growth firms survey consistently shows that rapidly growing firms do so by investing more in marketing than their average performing peers.

Here are some simple and easy things you can do to invest more in marketing and better integrate your marketing people into the sales process:

  1. Include marketing people in meetings. This is especially true for meetings that discuss clients and upcoming projects. It is important to give marketing people a complete perspective of what the firm does on a daily basis and how the project teams interact with clients. I am not suggesting that all marketing staff attend every project meeting. Rather, I am suggesting that you designate a marketing person to have some ownership over an area of the business and look for opportunities to include that person in meetings or communications that discuss clients and future projects. This is opposed to just bringing them in to just assemble a document or presentation.
  2. Invite marketing people to interviews when possible. At a minimum, each person that is involved in developing interview presentations should be invited to at least one interview per year. This is should be very easy. At any interview where you need some set-up and break-down help, invite a marketing staffer to do this job. This allows the interview team to maximize their interaction and influence over the interview selection committee. During the interview, have the marketing staffer watch the presentation closely and the reaction of the committee to slides, statements, and answers to questions. That experience can provide invaluable input for that person to take back to the office. All of these benefits are a bonus to the career fulfillment and sense of inclusion the employee will feel.
  3. Involve marketing staff in more events. Conferences, ground breakings, ribbon cuttings, and career fairs are all examples of events where a marketing staffer can aid in making the event more productive for your design and technical representatives. Plus, they provide opportunities for the marketing person to observe brochures, giveaways, and what the competition is doing. Again, involving marketing folks in events provides them greater job satisfaction and valuable on-the-job training.

You can see the theme here. It is all about engaging your marketing staff in more areas of the firm. Allow them to contribute in a bigger way while providing them a sense of empowerment and greater job satisfaction. As design and technical firms, it is time we make make marketing a larger part of our businesses. Marketing is one of the three areas of investment that we believe will have the biggest impact on making firms bigger, better and stronger.

Chad Clinehens is ZweigWhite’s executive vice president. Contact him at cclinehens@zweigwhite.com.

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1062, originally published 6/30/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (July 7, 2014) – Zweig Group is proud to announce the winners of the Best Firms to Work For Ranking. Since the Best Firms To Work For list began in 2001, hundreds of outstanding architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms have been recognized for their ability to inspire their teams to perform at the highest levels.  These firms create an environment where their people feel valued, can make a difference, and can clearly see their contribution to the overall mission and success of the firm.

The winners will be celebrated at the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference held at the Beverly Hilton in in Beverly Hills, CA, on September 25-26, 2014.  Firms who applied for this prestigious ranking were evaluated comprehensively on firm culture, workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, professional development, and more – both from the management and staff’s perspectives. Awards were given in the categories of architecture, civil engineering, environmental, multidiscipline, and structural engineering.

The top winners are as follows:


  1. Davis Bews Design Group, Inc.
  2. The Collaborative
  3. English + Associates Architects, Inc.

Civil Engineering

  1. Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Inc.
  2. Nitsch Engineering, Inc.
  3. Choice One Engineering Corporation


  1. EHS Support
  2. All4 Inc.
  3. Comprehensive Environmental, Inc.


  1. Bowers + Kubota Consulting Inc.
  2. Garver
  3. CRW Engineering Group, LLC

Structural Engineering

  1. Hinman Consulting Engineers, Inc.
  2. Structura, Inc.
  3. Finley Engineering Group, Inc.

For a full list of award winners visit: http://www.zweigwhite.com/awards/best-firms-to-work-for/2014_winners.php

For more information on Hot Firm and the A/E Industry Awards Conference visit: www.hotfirm.com

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