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It's Official: We Are Now the Geoprofessional Business Association
The votes are in! Member firms have voted all proposed bylaws amendments into effect and, from this point forward, we are the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA). According to GBA President Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE (Terracon), "The time had come. Continually fewer of our most active members knew what ASFE originally stood for or how we've evolved over the years. Geoprofessional Business Association identifies who we are today."
ASFE was an acronym for Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers, the name the organization began with in 1969. Then, when ASFE-Member Firms became active in the environmental-remediation field in the early 1980s, member firms' staff who focused on the environment felt like second-class citizens. "That's when we changed our name to ASFE — adopting the acronym as our name in full — and added a tag line explaining who we were. Taking that approach, we were able to recognize our geotechnical heritage while also explaining what we had evolved into. But answering the question 'What's ASFE stand for?' was becoming a steadily more cumbersome process."
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Now Available: Fiscal Year 2013-14 Financial Performance Survey Report
How does your firm's financial performance compare to other GBA members'? Find out now by reviewing Fiscal Year 2013-14 Financial Performance Survey Report, presented as GBA Practice Alert 59, developed by the GBA Business Practices Committee. (Special thanks to the Committee’s Lee James, who — as usual — did the "heavy lifting.") Items covered (among others) include discretionary profit distribution, net multiplier, utilization rate, predistribution overhead, marketing cost, group-insurance costs, collections, vacation/holiday/sick leave, cost of space, and fee backlog. Available to GBA members only, download your copy now.
GBA Has Your Back (Yard)
Is the time ripe for a GBA BackYard Seminar? Pick a topic and GBA sends you all the guidance and materials you need, then a speaker. Most BackYard Seminars comprise full-day presentations; a few take 1.5 or 2 days. Some firms put them on solely to meet their own needs; others invite client representatives and/or government officials (especially for Write Right) usually at a discounted rate or via a free pass, and/or — for a reasonable fee — representatives of area GBA-Member Firms. (If enough "others" attend at a reasonable fee, the net cost to a firm could be as low as $0.00 (or less!).) For more information, contact John Bachner at 301/565-2733, ext. 223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are You a Municipal Advisor? And If So, Are You Exempt?
Securities and Exchange Commission
The Dodd-Frank financial services reform law, which is now in effect, requires Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration on the part individuals and firms that provide financial advice to municipalities. Does that mean you and/or your firm? Maybe. Dodd-Frank includes an exemption for engineers that provide engineering advice, such as feasibility studies and cash-flow modeling. However, according to a new SEC Q&A, "an engineer providing advice on how to structure the related issuance of municipal securities, including the length of any capitalized interest period and the amount of capitalized interest to be financed, would constitute municipal advisory activities outside the scope of the engineering exclusion" and so would require registration. If you or your firm provides services to government entities, you need to know this law!
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Bullet Train To Link Dallas and Houston
Texas Central Railway is a private company that plans to link Dallas and Houston with a 200-mile-per-hour bullet train as soon as 2021. Chairman and CEO Richard Lawless believes the $10 billion project may be bullet trains' best hope in the United States, given Texas' flat, rural landscape, staggering growth potential, and "business-friendly approach." Lawless adds that "as city pairs, Dallas and Houston are pretty unique in the United States." They’re cities 240 miles apart, a distance Lawless describes as a "sweet spot" for high-speed rail, where it beats both air and highway travel. "The project has been progressing below the radar, very quietly, very deliberately, over the last four years plus," says Lawless.
Launch Your Rising Stars through FOPP
FOPP — the Fundamentals of Professional Practice program – is boot camp for your firm's rising stars; the "phenoms" who will benefit from a solid, memorable, and proven-effective overview of what it means to be a true professional. Want us to hold some spaces for you? We'll be happy to, without obligation. Just send your request to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, or give us a call: 301/565-2733.
PROFESSIONAL SELLING: PowerPoint Is Just SO Last Year
Going to create a presentation? Open up PowerPoint and go for it! Or not. In fact, at least ten other options are available, and some of them can add extraordinarily memorable pizzazz to your offerings. Five of the ten:
And that's only half the list!
- Google Slides: A free cloud-based app that permits development-team collaboration.
- Haiku Deck: Free, this program offers high-quality backdrops and images plus an assortment of professional designs and color schemes.
- Prezi: Great for storytelling, Prezi is a cloud-based program that includes slide templates, a content library, and a collection of images and videos to enhance their presentations.
- PowToon: Use this one to create animated presentations and videos. Free for standard-definition videos.
- Projeqt: Make new slides or renovate your old PowerPoints by adding new media, such as live tweets, blog feeds, interactive maps, streaming videos and other rich, real-time Web elements.
In-House Lunch & Learn Topics
GBA's Education Committee developed the Lunch & Learn seminar series to help GBA-Member Firms conduct high-quality, to-the-point seminars for staff members and others, such as client and colleague staffers. Each Lunch & Learn includes a PowerPoint presentation and note-taking forms participants can use to help reinforce key lessons. Each seminar uses GBA materials that members can obtain free of charge in unlimited quantity.
Using these is so easy! Just download the materials, set a date, reserve a conference room, issue the invitation, order in some pizza and sandwiches if you're feeling particularly generous, and you're ready to go!
Insurer Calls for New Flood-Prevention Techniques
Zurich Insurance Group
Zurich Insurance Group has published two new research reports about flood resilience. Enhancing Community Flood Resilience: A Way Forward reveals that, in the past 20 years, about 87% of flood-aid funds went to emergency response, reconstruction, and rehabilitation, with the rest – 13% — going to reducing and managing flood risks. Even more concerning: For every $100 spent on development aid, just 40 cents has been invested in defending that aid from the impact of disaster. Zurich is calling for a "radical rethink" of how we prepare for floods, and the report offers a how-to, proposing a new framework to measure the ability of communities to withstand floods and assess the best use of capital to improve resilience. The second report, Flood Resilience Review: Central European Floods 2013: A Retrospective, examines major central European floods in 2013 and highlights several successful measures to increase flood protection. Both reports are free.
Just Add Water
Yale Environment 360
We've run several recent articles about desalination, an engineered water-supply process that geoprofessionals could declare their own, creating exciting new market potential for many GBA-Member Firms. But engineered water supply goes far beyond conventional desalination, principally because conventional desalination relies on reverse osmosis, the process through which high-pressure pumps force seawater (usually) through semi-permeable membranes to extract salt and impurities. As it so happens, reverse osmosis has problems: It uses a tremendous amount of energy; damages aquatic ecosystems by sucking in fish eggs (among other things) with its intake water; requires harsh chemicals to clean membranes; and releases large volumes of highly salty liquid brine back into the water.
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HR DEPARTMENT: How To Hire Better Talent
Finding job applicants with the right skills can be challenging under any circumstances, let alone during the rapidly shifting business environments confronting us now. Making matters more dire, the talents and capabilities needed to succeed tomorrow will be vastly different from those needed today. Happily, finding talent from inside or outside your organization isn't as challenging as it seems, provided you know what traits to look for in prospective recruits.
DR. ENGLISH: Wise to the Words
Geoprofessionals write more than just about any other professionals, are constantly under the gun to produce now, and are personally liable for every word they write in their professional capacities. And because the best legal evidence always is what's in writing, wise geoprofessionals want to be certain that what they say is unambiguous, so it is not subject to interpretation and so limits the ability of others to claim, "What the geoprofessional wrote was ambiguous, making the geoprofessional liable for the consequences because professionals are supposed to write clearly." Words to the wise: Unless you are trying to be ambiguous, always select words that have the fewest alternative meanings.
Help GBA Grow
GBA needs your help! You know the value of being a member. Here is your chance to share the value and help GBA grow its membership ranks. Do you know a firm we should be talking to about membership? If so, please contact Executive Vice President John Bachner at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can help us with a personal introduction, that is even better, but if not, we'd still love to get your recommendations.
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2014-2015 ASFE/GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063