A Note from Jamie Claire Kiser
Director of Consulting
Highlights from 2017
In 2017, we helped clients across the country close deals, taking our mergers & acquisitions team everywhere from Texas to Michigan, Minnesota to California, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and many more states, all in pursuit of growth.
A related personal highlight of 2017 was earning Executive Platinum status on American Airlines.
I’m also proud to have added exceptionally bright, driven talent to the consulting team last year, and watching our team gain national media attention in publications. Zweig Group expertise was shared in ENR, Colorado Real Estate Journal, Arkansas Business Journal, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Public Works Magazine, among others. It’s great to see our colleagues recognized for their thought leadership!
For 2018, I have but one lofty personal goal (as I am a consultant, I took a Solemn Oath of Buzzword, so I must refer to this type of goal as a “BHAG”) – upgrade from Executive Platinum to Concierge Key.
Predictions for 2018
Continued high volume of M&A activity. Our M&A department has never been busier. If you aren’t considering acquisitions as a growth strategy (buying or selling), know that we are seeing the highest EBITDA multiples on transactions that I’ve ever seen. I predicted last year that we would see smaller firms engaging in M&A, and it’s so great for the industry that entrepreneurial leaders of small firms – 20 people – are growing through M&A. You don’t need 200 people to consider M&A as a growth strategy.
I also predict that we will see knee-jerk conversions of s-corporations to c-corporations in response to the new tax bill. I’m not sure how this will play out over time, but I can tell you that c-corporations have unique attributes that can lead to fewer options when selling externally (M&A). I think we may also see a decline in ESOPs as an ownership transition vehicle as at least a short-term impact of the new tax bill.
The talent shortage in the industry will spur investment in employee retention, and eventually will break the stodgy “back in my day” pride in austerity and sweatshop-inspired work-life balance practices. Expect to see firms offer wild perks that rival any other industry -company cars for young staff members, tons of company parties and social events, dogs in the office (hint hint, Mark Zweig, please consider), casual dress codes, fridges stocked, massages in house, foosball tables (has anyone ever – ever – played foosball in an office? I think these are purely ornamental, but they do convey a fun message), and anything else that you’ve heard someone throw out as a crazy amenity or perk offered by any company in any industry.
2018 is going to be a big, fun year in the AEC industry.