Editorial: Welcome to the Zweig Group

Oct 06, 2014

A new era dawns as this company moves ahead refreshed and re-emboldened.

The 15th Annual Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Event marked the announcement of a new name and complete rebranding of ZweigWhite to the Zweig Group. It marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new age for our 26-plus-year-old firm. We started the company back in 1988 – Mark Zweig & Associates as it was first called (changed to ZweigWhite in 1994) – with a simple idea: We were in business to help make our A/E/P and environmental firm clients more successful. And we were successful ourselves, growing by 30 percent a year for 13 years and getting a spot on the prestigious Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing privately held firms two years in a row. We lived the American entrepreneurial dream: We started our business with $1,000, made a profit every year, and sold out for a nice chunk of cash and some continuing ownership in a combined enterprise that included a media company and tradeshow group – all under a new entity called “ZweigWhite Information Services.” We went through Hell and back since then. After the sale, the company grew for a short bit, borrowed a bunch of money from a mezzanine lender, and then got bloated and eventually imploded. We were but a shell of our formal selves when I got drafted back here in 2010 by the lenders who took over the company in 2009. Since then, we have gone through most every area of our firm, making changes and improvements to get us back on course. We bought our magazines back in 2011, bought ourselves back from our lender in 2012, and even got named to the Inc. 500 | 5000 list again in 2013 – a big accomplishment, especially considering how far back we’d fallen. We paid down a ton of debt. The firm owed everyone (in 2009, our debt was close to two-and-a-half times our annual revenue!). We hired some new people. We changed, massaged, improved, cut, added, rebuilt – did everything we could do with little or no money to make things right again with our business, clients, customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, and service providers. Now, here we are in 2014 with a company that’s rock solid – thanks in no small part to you, our readers, clients and customers – and the hard work of our loyal and dedicated group of employees. And we’re going forward as the Zweig Group, giving my first business partner, Fred White, his name back (he hasn’t been working here for more than six years) and recognizing the fact that we are a group of many other people and talents. We are excited to be THE business resource for the AEC industry going forward. Notice I said “AEC” industry. We had to add the “C” as integration of design and construction is simply the way things are evolving today. We can no longer allow that imaginary line to be one that we aren’t willing to cross. We are, and will be working for construction contractors and related companies in the years to come. I’ve learned a lot myself in the 10 years since we sold ZweigWhite. I moved to Fayetteville, Ark. (where we are now headquartered), became a college professor teaching entrepreneurship at The University of Arkansas, and started my own design/build/development/contracting company, Mark Zweig, Inc. (#3720 on the Inc. 500 | 5000 List for 2014, I’m proud to say!). I’m also a BOD member and minor investor in some firms in our business. Being both a client and provider of design and construction services as well as broadening my knowledge of entrepreneurship, and particularly finance, at a higher level has been an eye-opener for me. Other new talent added here includes my primary business partner, Chad Clinehens, a registered professional engineer and MBA who was a principal and CMO for a leading growth company in our business; Ted Maziejka, an experienced CFO and general manager who has worked for several of the nation’s top architectural firms; and Randy Wilburn, a consultant and former ZweigWhite shareholder who at one time started our Atlanta office, among many others. They are all good people who care deeply about our mission and want to help you succeed, and do so from a framework based on research, working closely with other firms in your business, and running our own successful business. We do not preach the gospel from pop psych management books we’ve read and mindlessly spew back recitations from “Good to Great,” “Who Moved My Cheese,” and other nonsense. Our opinions are our own and based on our own data and experience! We are proud to be associated with a great industry that plays such an important role in our nation’s and the world’s economy and helps improve the quality of life for all. We look forward to working with you personally and helping you and your firms succeed in business in 2015 and beyond. Thanks for your support of the Zweig Group! Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him with questions or comments atmcz@zweiggroup.com. This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1073, originally published 9/29/2014. Copyright© 2014, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

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.