2020 Best Firms and Hot Firms

Aug 23, 2020

The impressive data collected from Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For and Hot Firms continues to provide valuable insight into the AEC industry.

In the past month, Zweig Group has been preparing to announce all of our 2020 award winners. This has been especially important for us this year as we honor the outstanding firms in this industry during a time that has been unlike any other we have seen. The celebrate tenet of our mission has taken on a whole new meaning given all of the challenges we are facing right now. Even though the way we celebrate may look a bit different in 2020, celebrating our accomplishments may be more important now than ever. Beyond the awards ceremony, I want to dive into a bit of the data to celebrate some great statistics to come out of this year’s Hot Firm and Best Firms To Work For data.

As we have previously said, sharing revenue data firm-wide is a great tool to create a positive and open culture at your firm. It helps keep all employees informed about the health and strength of your company. The percentage of firms that share revenue data at least annually rose quite dramatically in 2019. Eighty-eight percent of firms share their revenue data at least annually compared to 79 percent in 2018.

Best Firms To Work For don’t just offer great work environments, but they also compensate their employees and take care of them financially. Ninety-two percent of permanent staff received a pay raise in 2019, and no firms administered pay cuts. Firms also paid out an average of more than $8,500 in bonuses per employee last year. The average number of PTO days was just under a total of 20 days per year and the number of paid holidays was nine per year.

This year has presented a number of unique challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic. Firms have had to completely adjust how they conduct business and how to best take care of their employees. There is a silver lining given these challenges, though. Ninety-two percent of employees have been satisfied or very satisfied with their firm’s COVID-19 response. This shows that our industry has been able to adjust well to such a unique challenge. Another good sign is that employees ranked communication as the least challenging aspect of working remotely. Normally, communication is considered a weakness for firms in the AEC industry. Hopefully, we can keep up good communication once we transition into the new normal.

We did see some very impressive growth from our Hot Firm winners this year. The average dollar revenue growth from the end of fiscal year 2016 to the end of fiscal year 2019 was $31.5 million which is $2.6 million higher than the average for 2019 Hot Firm winners. The average percentage growth rate held steady year over year at 81 percent. The average gross service revenue per FTE is up slightly over 2019 at $204,500. This is great news. It shows that there is real growth going on in the industry, helping to create and retain good, high paying jobs. I think that is something we can all celebrate right now.

Zweig Group’s awards program – including Hot Firm, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Venture, and Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership – offers a wide variety of ways for firms in the AEC industry to honor and celebrate their achievements. I wish I could go through all of the impressive data that we get through the awards, but I am glad I can celebrate some of the highlights from the 2020 winners. Things are certainly very tough right now, and we recognize and appreciate that. But don’t let that stop you from celebrating what makes your firm so great!

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

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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.