Served Best when Hot

Nov 14, 2016

The annual Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference in Phoenix was a success, and it’s heading to Seattle for 2017.

By Richard Massey Managing Editor

The 2017 annual Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference will be held on September 21-22 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, one of the hottest AE markets in the United States.

Early bird registration is already open at Come early and stay late to enjoy a great conference and a great city. But while you consider the prospect of joining Zweig Group and your industry colleagues in the Pacific Northwest, take a moment to look back on what happened this September.

Representatives from 75 firms from across the country and from across multiple AEP disciplines convened at the Arizona Biltmore for food, fellowship, knowledge sharing, and good-old fashioned fun. One hundred Hot Firms were recognized for their growth – Gate Inc. of Houston earned top honors – and a total of 138 firms were recognized as Best Firms to Work For in multidiscipline, civil engineering, architecture, environmental, structural, and surveying.

Mark Zweig, founder and CEO of Zweig Group, had this to say of the event he founded 17 years ago.

“Our annual Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference is the most positive industry event there is,” Zweig says. “It’s a celebration of achievements as well as a source of inspiration for accomplishments yet to come.”

After Zweig made his opening remarks, the conference got going with Richard Earl, an automotive consultant, historian, and professional speaker. Earl gave his presentation, “The Harley Earl Story: Building the largest industrial corporation in the world through design leadership.”

Earl enjoyed the experience of speaking to a roomful of architects and engineers.

“Overall, I simply had a wonderful experience before, during, and after the ZG conference during the black tie awards event,” Earl says. “Certainly, it helped me a great deal since architects and engineers are at the forefront of the GM/Harley Earl leadership story. This allowed me to share ‘something-in-common’ with all the attendees, so it was easy to engage and freely talk. All feedback I received was extremely positive.”

Even for an automotive historian, the networking was top-tier.

“Positively interacting with a wide variety of kind hearted, garden-variety people, like myself, is always a good experience,” Earl says. “I was able to build some good new relationships.”

Another keynote speaker was John Quale, professor and director of architecture at the University of New Mexico. He spoke on the topic of “Making Design Education More Valuable.” While Quale is a seasoned speaker, the Hot Firm gathering represented something new.

“It was a slightly different audience than I usually speak to – far more interdisciplinary than who I normally have a chance to communicate with in the industry,” Quale says. “Normally, I speak to professors and students of architecture, or university faculty members from various disciplines. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with engineers, contractors, and other professionals.”

Quale also participated in a breakout session, “Recent Trends in Design Education and New Graduates.”

“In the breakout session, we had a very productive conversation about millennials and how they are impacting the work place,” Quale says. “I think the biggest takeaway was the importance of mentoring recent hires, but also allowing them to explore their interests.”

Keynote speakers included Fred Prozzillo, director of preservation at Taliesin West, who gave his presentation on “Frank Lloyd Wright, the Arizona Biltmore, and Wright’s legacy at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.” Wright was a consulting architect on the Biltmore.

Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist and acting CMO at Brand Innovators, was also a keynote speaker. With more than 700,000 followers on Twitter, he is a leading expert on branding. He talked about the power of relationships in marketing your firm, and the ways in which your customer interactions and social media can help or hurt your brand image. His mantra is, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Chad Clinehens, Zweig Group’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, says the goal of the Hot Firm conference is to “wow” its attendees. But when firm leaders return to their home offices, he hopes the conference, and what was learned there, will continue to resonate.

“We work hard to make this conference stand out in the industry,” he says. “We want to dazzle everyone with a high level of production and choreography combined with a great venue and amazing food. We want the experience to be a real treat for all the attendees. While being fun and educational, we hope attendees go back to their firms and inspire even greater success.”

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.