Putting people first: Greg Shipley

Mar 06, 2022

Vice president of Morrison-Shipley Halff (Richardson, TX), a consulting firm with a passion for providing smarter solutions with a distinctly human touch.

By Liisa Andreassen

Shipley – former president of Morrison-Shipley Engineers and current vice president, Morrison-Shipley Halff – shares that his firm was officially acquired in November 2021 by Halff, one of the nation’s leading engineering/architecture consulting firms. Zweig Group represented Morrison-Shipley in the transaction. Morrison-Shipley will now do business as Morrison-Shipley Halff.

“Being part of the Halff family is a big step forward for us,” he says. “Our firm prides itself on excellent culture, accelerating growth, and continuing to put our clients first. This acquisition allows Morrison-Shipley Halff to expand our professional services and to provide more resources and tools for our employees and clients to achieve their goals.”

The acquisition adds 50 employees to the Halff family and expands the company to 27 offices located in five states: Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Florida.

A conversation with Greg Shipley.

The Zweig Letter: What was the impetus for the acquisition and how has it gone? What are the top benefits to each?

Greg Shipley: When Halff first contacted us, we were not looking to sell. We had discussed M&A as a growth strategy, but with Morrison-Shipley Engineers being the acquirer. As our discussions progressed, it became clear Halff and Morrison-Shipley Engineers shared many of the same core values – the first being putting our people first. We also viewed this as an opportunity to greatly expand service offerings to Morrison-Shipley Engineers’ existing clients.

The acquisition has gone remarkably well. It has been great to watch Morrison-Shipley Engineers’ employees get plugged into Halff’s training and philanthropy opportunities and other pursuits. Everyone at Halff has been so kind and welcoming to Morrison-Shipley Engineers’ team, and other than a name change and a few procedural differences, it really feels like nothing has changed.

TZL: How has your role changed, if at all?

GS: My new role as Halff’s vice president has allowed me to move away from the administrative duties I had at Morrison-Shipley Engineers. This is allowing me a fresh opportunity to spend time working “in” Halff’s business instead of working “on” the business.

TZL: Now that you’re part of the Halff team, what will you be doing differently? What will you be doing the same?

GS: Given that I now have no administrative duties, the greatest difference is that I am now focused solely on growth and improvement initiatives. Halff and Morrison-Shipley Engineers put our people first, so one thing I will be doing the same is looking for opportunities that improve the lives of our employees by providing them with long-term career paths and advancement.

TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients?

GS: I believe trust in our industry is established by the following principles:

  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Charge what you say you will charge.
  • Deliver projects when you say you will.
  • Do not make excuses when you are at fault.

TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now?

GS: Nothing replaces hard work – you must be willing to do anything at any time. Running a successful practice is not an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, but instead a 24/7 commitment to your team. Certainly, there are the obvious skills needed such as earning the trust of your team, good decision-making, and creating paths to success, but to accomplish all of these, a strong work ethic must be at the core.

TZL: What’s currently on your plate that you’re most excited to work on and why?

GS: I have recently become a part of the leadership for Halff’s Land and Site Development practice, and I am very excited to be a part of one of our fastest-growing practice areas. We have such a great group of people in our LSD practice, and I’m eager to get out and share our capabilities with new clients.

TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be?

GS: My leadership style is to let those I lead do their job without my interference. Instead, I want to be a resource. I have always believed in hiring people who can work without being managed as I see people do their best work when they are not constrained. Micro-managing is extremely demoralizing to employees and creates so much more failure than it does good.

TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about?

GS: Employees expect outstanding training opportunities and the desire to be heard. Halff offers so many resources to its employees from technical and leadership training to better communications skills through our Halff Chats program.

Also, Halff’s management team is highly visible to all employees, and they routinely engage them in one-on-one discussions. The most common question I hear is, “What can we do for you?”

TZL: What excited you most about what the next five years has in store for the field of architecture and engineering?

GS: I’m excited to watch the advancement of technologies in the areas of smart cities, artificial intelligence, BIM, virtual/augmented reality, and large-scale 3D printing. Halff is making significant investments in these fields, and I am eager to watch how these will better serve our clients moving forward.

TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility?

GS: Inspire. 

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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.