2019 Best Firms and Hot Firms

Aug 26, 2019

Data collected from Best Firms To Work For and Hot Firms continues to provide valuable insight into the AEC industry.

Zweig Group’s 2019 award recipients have been announced and winners are celebrating all over the country. While Zweig Group loves promoting the industry as a whole, especially our award winners, there is another important factor that comes out of our awards program: The data we collect provides insight into the industry from top to bottom. Our Best Firms To Work For and Hot Firm awards provide well over 2 million data points on the industry. Yes, you read that right: 2 million!

Best Firms To Work For continues to be our largest source of data and is growing every year:

  • Seventy-nine percent of Best Firms To Work For responded that they share revenue data at least annually. We think this is a very important tool to keep employees informed and to create a positive, open culture at your firm.
  • AEC firms continue to perform well and paid out more than $281 million in bonuses alone in 2018. That’s a 25 percent increase over 2017. Employee satisfaction with overall compensation increased in 2018, though the amount and frequency of raises continued to be rated among the lowest categories in the entire survey.
  • Beyond compensation, Best Firms To Work For are having to come up with other ways to distinguish themselves in this very competitive labor market. Half of firms indicated that medical insurance premiums paid by employees would not increase from 2018 to 2019. Firms are now offering about 22 days of PTO in addition to an average of nine paid holidays per year. Eighty-three percent have a parental leave policy.
  • Best Firms To Work For are responding to the biggest wants/concerns of employees: Training and learning opportunities. Every firm offers some type of training opportunity, either in-house or some kind of outside training. About a third of firms have their own “university” training program. Training and continuing education is a great way to invest in your employees and shows that you care about their career development.

The Hot Firm Award provides us with great data on the fastest growing firms in the industry:

  • The average Hot Firm grew by $28.9 million from 2015 to 2018. A $3.7 million increase from last year. The average percentage revenue growth for that time period was 81 percent, up 8 percent over last year. Net service revenue per full-time employee is up to an average of $202,381 this year. This is up almost $15,000 over last year, indicating firms are becoming more efficient. These are great signs of strong performance within the industry.
  • The top 10 numbers are even more impressive. Top 10 firms grew by an average of 195 percent while dollar revenue growth averaged more than $107 million for the last three years. The average NSR per FTE for these firms was an astounding $309,094.
  • Mergers and acquisitions among Hot Firms matched what we saw last year with 40 percent responding that they had been involved in at least one transaction over the last three years. For firms in the top 10, M&A seems to be an even larger part of their growth strategy with eight out of 10 being involved in a transaction. M&A continues to be a popular choice in this tight market.

Best Firms To Work For and Hot Firms continue to distinguish themselves in a highly competitive industry by taking care of their employees and striving for tremendous growth. Their data helps us gain insight into the industry, but we also enjoy celebrating all that these firms do to Elevate the Industry! We look forward to highlighting them at the Elevate AEC Conference in Las Vegas on October 2-4.

Kyle Ahern is awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at kahern@zweiggroup.com.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.