Pavement reinforcement Tensar Earth Technologies (TET) obtained from Saint- Gobain Technical Fabrics exclusive sales and marketing rights for the GlasGrid product line throughout North and South America. GlasGrid is a stiff, fiberglass material coated with an elastomeric polymer that reinforces asphalt concrete overlays.According to TET, GlasGrid dissipates stress concentrated in the asphalt layer to reduce […]
Quality of Clients
I just finished reading John Bachner’s article "Open Letter from a Client Representative" in the May issue of CE News. It relates a hypothetical letter from a dissatisfied client and provides several points regarding the desired role of the engineer from the client’s point of view. Of course, correspondence from a client like this is rare. Many firms may attempt to gauge their performance with post-project surveys or interviews, but this valuable insight often is foregone in favor of moving on to the next project.
For a client to write such a letter might indeed be a once-in-a-career event. But the hypothetical views in the article provided as much information about the client as they did about the consultant. The letter also implicitly distinguishes between two extremes of potential clients: those who want a low-cost, textbook solution to their "typical" project and those who have a vision for the edge of technological ability and want a consultant who is willing and able to venture into the unknown with them.
Shortage in Consulting Engineers Poses a Problem
> Firm leaders cite a lack of qualified candidates and the proximity of potential candidates to the office as the key obstacles to filling vacancies.
In ZweigWhite’s 2006 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Consulting Firms, 65 percent of firms responded that a lack of qualified candidates was their biggest reason for difficulties with hiring while, following that, 11 percent said geographic location of the office in comparison to the potential workforce.
Those numbers rang true with engineering firm leaders we spoke with, who say that the lack of qualified consulting engineers, coupled with the office’s geographical location, is indeed posing a challenge in filling positions. A job posting might yield several resumes, but firm leaders say that it’s difficult to find qualified consulting engineers for the vacancy.
Business Briefs: Firms in the news
ENGEO Incorporated, San Ramon, Calif., recently was recognized as one the Best Places to Work (101-500 employee category) by the Business Journal/Business Times. The firm was awarded the top spot among companies from the 10-county Greater Bay area. Additionally, ENGEO is the only engineering firm to receive an award in its category this year.
Fort Worth, Texas-based Teague Nall and Perkins, Inc., has opened a new office in Sherman, Texas. The new location-the firm’s fourth-will serve as a northern extension of its civil engineering, surveying, and landscape architecture/planning operations.
The Canadian consulting firm Stantec has acquired North Springfield, Vt.-based Dufresne-Henry, adding 270 employees and 12 office locations to its growing business. "We are now part of a North American firm with an extensive network of experts enabling us to provide a wider range of services to our clients," said Dufresne-Henry President & CEO Rich Allen, who will continue with Stantec as a senior vice president.
Kleinfelder, San Diego, Calif., has opened an office in Tampa, Fla. According to Senior Vice President of Corporate Development Kevin Pottmeyer, the expansion brings the firm’s expertise to an area where rapid, sustained population growth translates to an inherent demand for professional engineering services.
Does Technical Communication Get 'Lost in Translation?'
In any communication, at least some of the meaning is lost in simple transmission of a message from the sender to the receiver. "It was obvious that the engineers knew all the ins and outs of the work," a neighbor said about a public project meeting. "But I didn’t get half of what they were saying. And they didn’t address the matters that are of interest to me."
Florida: A Hot Spot for Mergers and Acquisitions
In the minds of most architecture and engineering dealmakers, Florida is, by far, the most desired location for external expansion and acquisition goals. "Since 2001, we have witnessed over 40 transactions of Florida engineering, architecture, and environmental consulting firms, with another four announced in the first quarter of 2006 alone," said Steve Gido, CFA, a principal with ZweigWhite who specializes in financial advisory services. Prominent engineering and design firms such as ARCADIS (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), HNTB (Kansas City Mo.), Edwards and Kelcey (Morristown, N.J.), Tetra Tech (Pasadena, Calif.), and Boyle Engineering (Newport Beach, Calif.) have made significant purchases in Florida during this time.
Keeping Profits Up At Branch Offices
> Firm leaders share techniques and insight into how they struggle with profitability at their satellite offices.
It takes an average of 18 months before a new branch office becomes profitable, according to ZweigWhite’s 2005 Multi-Office Firm Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms.
If it’s taking longer than 18 months for your branch offices to be profitable, it’s probably time to take some action. To turn around a struggling branch office, firm leaders say a variety of strategies can be applied, including providing the office manager with additional marketing or financial support, sending a representative from headquarters to intervene, or changing management.