What makes a Hot Firm winner?

Aug 23, 2020

Leaders from Zweig Group’s top five Hot Firms talk about what they attribute their success to.

Dickerson Wright, P.E., Chairman & CEO, NV5: We attribute our success to a flat organizational structure and vertical focus, allowing us to put the best people in front of our clients. We strive to enter the client at the highest level – the design phase – and seek to be a value-added consultant differentiating our offerings, increasing margins, and creating barriers to entry. NV5 focuses on five core business verticals: construction quality assurance, infrastructure, program management, utility services and environmental, and also delivers geospatial services through Quantum Spatial, North America’s largest geospatial solutions company.

Bryan Carruthers, CEO, Anser Advisory: Anser’s growth is a combination of upper quartile organic growth and strategic acquisitive growth of culturally aligned legacy brands. This combination has led Anser to become a nationally recognized leader in providing capital program and project advisory solutions to our clients’ unique challenges across a diverse range of public and private end markets.

Ozzie Nelson Jr., CEO, NELSON Worldwide: Through a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, and a recent transformative rebrand, NELSON has become a leader in workplace, retail, mixed-use, hospitality, industrial and healthcare design. NELSON touts universal capabilities across all verticals in architecture, interior design, graphic design, and brand strategy, primed for regional, national, and international applications. This change marks a key turning point in response to consumers’ brand preferences and the future of experiential design in the 21st century. The organizational strategy allows NELSON to utilize cross-functional teams, spanning from innovation to implementation services to collaboratively influence the dynamic nature of brand experiences. NELSON is one of the largest multi-disciplinary firms in the nation, with 1,100 employees in 25 locations and over $200 million in annual revenue.

Paul Greenhagen, CEO & President, Westwood Professional Services: Westwood has a strong team and we are very much aligned in our vision and values. We have a lot of initiative and collaboration across our company, and in the end, we all benefit from each other’s successes. I feel very fortunate to lead this team.

James Ross, P.E., Senior Vice President, Land Development, LJA Engineering: Two things: First, we stick to a founding principle that everything we do is about employees and clients. When our president, Calvin Ladner, says everything is for employees and clients, he means employees and he means clients. If we are good to clients, they are good to us, our employee-owners, who benefit from the company’s success, who can then go be even better to clients and each other. It is a circular, ever feeding loop from which we do not stray. Ever. And secondly, we continued to diversify and grow, both in services and geographically. “Grow or die” is another founding principle. In late fall 2018, LJA actively undertook growth of our Dallas transportation and land development divisions. We hired two local industry leaders, and the group went from two to 40 in only weeks. Although 40 was unexpected, Calvin had the courage to embrace the rapid hiring with confidence that the projects and clients would follow. They promised $12 million in revenue their first year and delivered $19 million. LJA also completed two area M&A transactions in 2019. The North Texas operations hit its 100th employee in January 2020.

Learn more about Zweig Group's Elevate AEC Virtual Experience. Click here to read the full issue of The Zweig Letter.

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.