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Business Strategy

Living the Dream: PAE Engineers’ HQ Embodies an Aspirational Vision

PAE Engineers enjoys a unique symbol of its brand identity – the company’s Portland headquarters office, which is the world’s first developer-driven Living Building. In this edition of The Friedman File, we look at how 375-person PAE Engineers achieved the multiple benefits of creating a sustainable, resilient and cost-effective speculative mixed-use building that serves as its main office, as well as an investment property, marketing jewel and beacon of the firm’s vision, mission, principles and values.

PAE’s Living Building Challenge

The PAE Living Building is a five-story, 58,000-square-foot mixed-use building located in a historic neighborhood in Portland. Designed to last 500 years, the comfortable, modern and functional structure uses far less energy, water, and material than comparable buildings of its size. The largest commercial urban Living Building in the world, it “demonstrates how the built environment can achieve the deep and immediate carbon emission reductions […]

Here Comes 2024: What’s the Outlook?

Predicting the outlook for the U.S. economy and its market sectors is never easy, but 2024 presents particularly difficult and unique challenges. Even if you assume that the dysfunction in Congress dissipates and the likely historic presidential race between a politically unpopular octogenarian incumbent, an antagonistic septuagenarian facing 91 criminal charges, and an outlying independent from Camelot is more a sideshow than a driver, 2024 still has its share of questions. Will inflation remain in check? Will the Fed continue to raise interest rates? How will the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East impact our economy? What’s China’s next move? What of the stock and bond markets? Nostradamus might call it quits faced with these uncertainties, but in this issue of The Friedman File, we fearlessly attempt to assess the various major markets served by A/E/C firms and venture an educated guess […]

By |2023-11-07T09:55:57-05:00November 2023|Business Strategy, Market/Client Research|

Is EOS the Answer or the Leadership Flavor of the Month?

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a hot topic in A/E/C leadership circles. Curiosity about the effectiveness of this 15-year-old management approach runs high at conferences, online discussion boards and other gatherings. In this edition of The Friedman File, we examine pros and cons of EOS with insight from two CEOs whose firms adopted it.

What is EOS?

As perfectly described by the website Ablison.com, “Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a framework designed to help companies achieve their goals by creating structure and discipline in their operations. It is a set of tools that encompasses various management concepts such as Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and total quality management.”

Founder and entrepreneur Gino Wickman hatched the concept for EOS while advising companies on business and leadership in the 1990s and early 2000s. He and co-founder Don Tinney launched EOS Worldwide in 2008. The company – of which […]

By |2023-09-05T12:33:17-04:00September 2023|Business Strategy, Case Studies, Leadership|

The AI Dilemma: How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You (and Possibly Hurt You)

Few issues have dominated a news cycle the way that artificial intelligence (AI) has in 2023. The watershed moment was the release of ChatGPT, a transformative word processing tool that uses AI to quickly, efficiently and comprehensively answer questions posed to it. Almost immediately, people and businesses found myriad ways to use ChatGPT’s functionality to save time while developing written content and performing other tasks. In this issue of The Friedman File, we look at how some A/E/C firms are using AI, and what you should do – and shouldn’t do – to make it work for your firm.

BD & AI: Great Match or Mismatch?

Marketing and business development is the area most expected to benefit from the use of AI. While many firms are still in the investigation and discussion phase of figuring out how AI can benefit their marketing/BD effort, some firms […]

By |2023-06-07T10:36:03-04:00June 2023|Business Strategy, Market/Client Research|

Here Comes 2023: What’s the Outlook?

The surprises of the midterm election are behind us, and the uncertainty of 2023 lies ahead. In the last year, we experienced skyrocketing energy prices that eventually moderated, historically high inflation that has begun to temper, and major legislation kicking in that is likely to keep the good times rolling for many architecture, engineering and environmental consulting firms well into the future. In this issue of The Friedman File, we assess various markets served by A/E/C firms and venture an educated guess at their outlook for the coming year.

The Housing Divide

One of the biggest and most unexpected developments of late 2021 and early 2022 was the health of the housing construction market across all types. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index stood at a near-record-high level of 83 in January 2022, but gradually began to drop as the year […]

By |2022-12-05T11:37:15-05:00December 2022|Business Strategy, Market/Client Research|

Putting it on the Line: Equal Opportunity Theory in Practice

Policies promoting equal opportunity have long been standard in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, but putting these policies into practice is not as common. In this installment of The Friedman File, we examine how three firms elevated the spirit of equal opportunity into actions delivering tangible benefits.

A “Chance” Meeting

Three years ago, Al Spagnolo and Troy Depeiza were among a handful of architects competing for a project. Neither won. And both did.

Their chance meeting sparked a friendship and formal partnership that underscores the concepts on which the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) movement is based. Spagnolo’s multidiscipline design firm, SGA, is renowned for its work in life sciences and higher education. It celebrated its 30th Anniversary in January. Depeiza founded DREAM Collaborative, LLC, in 2008 with fellow Caribbean-born architect Greg Minott, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the workload allowed them to […]

How Will Your Firm Handle a Cyberattack?

When discussing cyberattacks with anyone knowledgeable on the topic – security experts, victims, insurers, even the criminals themselves – their ominous warning is the same: it is not if your firm will be attacked, it’s when. In this issue of The Friedman File, we speak with two firms who suffered and survived the nightmare of a ransomware attack, and we offer several crucial steps that every firm should take to protect itself from this growing and potentially catastrophic threat.

A Threat to the Firm’s Existence

On Monday morning, March 25, 2019, Grimm & Parker Architects’ President & CEO Melanie Hennigan led a successful client interview for her firm. Satisfaction quickly turned to disbelief, then to dread when she was informed on the ride back to the office that her firm’s computer network had been encrypted by cybercriminals demanding an exorbitant ransom.

“You don’t realize the pit you feel in your […]

By |2021-08-11T10:31:18-04:00August 2021|Business Strategy, Case Studies, Leadership|

Markets Rebounding, but Uncertainty Reigns for AEC Firms

These are confusing times for AEC firms wondering where their markets are heading. Most sectors are recovering as economies in the U.S., Canada and across the globe emerge from the pandemic-induced slowdown. Some – particularly in the commercial and educational spaces – continue to struggle in many locations. Add to this the threat of inflation in materials pricing leading to escalating project costs, and the potential of a $1.9 trillion U.S.-government-backed infrastructure package, and you have an industry in flux.

In this issue of The Friedman File, we assess the current state and outlook for the markets that AEC firms serve, as well as disruptors and catalysts that could dictate the health of the industry for the next several years.

Recovery in Full Swing

Since 2003, consulting and publishing firm PSMJ Resources, Inc. has surveyed its customers about the outlook for the major AEC markets, using […]

By |2021-06-03T19:28:26-04:00June 2021|Business Strategy, Market/Client Research|

Confronting Loss in Your A/E/C Firm: One Firm’s Story

Loss was all around us in 2020. Recent polls found that between 20% and 33% of all Americans knew someone who died from COVID-19, while many millions lost jobs, life-affirming activities and other cherished freedoms during the pandemic.

In this installment of The Friedman File, we discuss how loss affects A/E/C businesses and the people who work in them. We examine this sad fact of life through the lens of a resilient architecture firm that encountered great loss in 2020, and – with strategic foresight and a rock-solid culture – expressed their collective grief and marched forward undeterred.

The Best Laid Plans…

JLG Architects was looking forward to a big 2020. The 150-person employee-owned firm carried a record backlog into the new year and was pursuing a jewel of a project – the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, North Dakota. With 11 offices in Minnesota, […]

By |2021-04-12T16:27:53-04:00April 2021|Business Strategy, Case Studies, Leadership|

Lessons in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: stories from the front lines

Even before much of the nation erupted into protest at the brutal death of George Floyd last May, social justice was on the minds and tongues of Americans to a degree unseen since the turbulent Sixties. For much of the past decade, in corporate boardrooms and small firms across the United States, leaders assessed and addressed their organization’s commitment to DEI – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

In this issue of The Friedman File, we examine how socially conscious AEC firms are creating DEI initiatives that contribute to improvements in employee morale and overall financial and operational performance.

The Business Case for DEI

Whether driven by a grassroots effort among rank-and-file employees or a top-down strategy, even the most selfless pursuit of practices and policies that further the goal of DEI come with an undeniable incentive — businesses that embrace DEI perform better.

Global management consulting firm McKinsey […]

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