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Friedman & Partners - Growth stategies for A/E/C and environmental consulting firms
Friedman & Partners - Growth stategies for A/E/C and environmental consulting firms
Friedman & Partners - Growth stategies for A/E/C and environmental consulting firms

Recruiting and Retaining Staff in a Candidates’ Market: One Firm’s Story

With nearly every A/E firm in existence desperate to add technical staff, a strategic approach to recruitment and retention can be the difference between winning and losing in the battle for talent. In this issue of The Friedman File, we examine how the Foth Companies, a 675-person, multidiscipline science and engineering company, has been able to keep its turnover percentage low and its hiring success rate high across its 28 locations.

Can an Interview Be “Enjoyable”?

Jobseekers will tell you that the interview process can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences that a human can endure. According to employment consulting firm JDP, 93% of job candidates have experienced anxiety related to their interview.

And why wouldn’t they? Strangers firing questions at you that you may or may not be able to intelligently answer. Doubts swirling in your head. Is this the right fit for me? […]

By |2022-04-12T13:15:34-04:00April 2022|Case Studies, Recruiting & Retaining Talent|

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 […]

The Pandemic’s Impact on Marketing and Business Development: One Firm’s Story

Forward-thinking AEC firms are institutionalizing the best of the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic forced on the business world and our industry. In this issue of The Friedman File, we detail how one firm effectively adapted its marketing and business development strategy to align with the realities of the post-COVID market.

Adapting to a Pandemic

The larger lessons of the pandemic can’t be overstated. As devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic has been to the planet, it has also underscored the adaptability and resilience of the human race. While fatalities mounted and economies crumbled, individuals and communities found a way to move forward.

Within this profound setting, we find many examples of this determination to keep on keeping on. In the narrower context of The Friedman File, the strategic decisions and bold steps taken by AEC firms to counter the effects of the pandemic are instructional.

For example, […]

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|

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 […]

2020: Lessons learned and where we go from here

If there’s one phrase that describes 2020, it is not “business as usual.” The ways in which A/E/C and environmental consulting firms have fared in this unprecedented year have been as varied as the businesses that they run. In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re sharing some lessons learned, how firms have coped (or thrived) and what we see as ways forward in a still uncertain landscape.

Leading during crisis

While I’ve long advocated for transparent management, 2020 has required that on a whole new level. At times of economic uncertainty, employees look to their leaders to chart a course, to have a plan and to enact, if necessary, transformational changes or survival measures. It hasn’t been easy to be a leader this year, but many have risen to the challenge: enlisting staff in the need to create new services, implementing firmwide business development […]

Baking business development into your culture: how this firm did it

In my many years of advising AEC and environmental consulting firms on effective business development practices, I’ve seen that firms who are successful have several things in common:

  • They understand the need to position themselves within their key markets using a one-to-many marketing strategy (instead of relying solely on 1:1 relationship-building).
  • They put systems in place that allow that strategy to deliver valuable data that can drive and inform BD strategy and implementation.
  • They align both business development and marketing efforts to clear and client-focused business plans for each of their key markets.

This level of strategy and focus is what allows firms to successfully drive growth, brand and client relationships. But it’s not always easy to implement. Trying to drive the effort from the marketing department without enforcement and accountability from the top is rarely effective. Employing marketing and BD tactics without clear […]

Thriving in a time of crisis and disruption

Few, if any, businesses can say they saw this pandemic coming. For some AEC industry firms, the business ramifications have been severe. While the market sectors you serve do play a role, there are other factors that can significantly impact the resiliency of your business during a time of crisis.

In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re going behind the scenes with one engineering firm that isn’t just coping with the COVID-19 disruption, they’re looking at it as an opportunity to reinvent their business.

Fortunately for 175-person engineering firm Borton-Lawson (Wilkes-Barre, PA), that business focuses on two client sectors with ongoing operations— public and private infrastructure, and industrial and energy. Three years ago, the firm also rolled out Beyond Engineering, a technology-focused initiative that is proving itself well positioned to meet the current moment.

To President and CEO Frank Joanlanne, the opportunity is not just […]

By |2020-06-03T16:20:16-04:00June 2020|Business Strategy, Case Studies|

Client relations in the era of COVID-19

As COVID-19 turns business as we know it—and our global communities—upside down, there are no easy answers or sure projections. While some AEC and environmental consulting firms have not experienced a disruption to projects, others are seeing warning signs and are increasingly nervous about what’s next and some are already slashing costs to contain the bleeding.

Multiple industry surveys reveal that the business impacts, like the virus itself, could vary widely and may well get worse before they get better. I’m hearing from many firm leaders who are doing their best to balance the day-to-day pandemic response with planning for project delays and revenue declines.

None of us knows when our business life will return to any sense of normalcy, but we do know this: firms must prioritize their relationships with current and prospective clients now so that those relationships come out stronger on […]

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