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Vol. 45 No. 26

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Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G. Is New GBA President
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G. (Schnabel Engineering, Inc.) is the new GBA president. Accepting office during ceremonies at GBA's annual meeting in Miami, Florida, Dr. Matheson is the 45th individual to serve as GBA's president and chair the group's board of directors. Other directors who will serve during GBA's 2015-16 fiscal year are: Dr. Matheson is the president and CEO of Schnabel Engineering, Inc., a multidisciplinary geoprofessional firm headquartered in Glen Allen, Virginia, with offices throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Dr. Matheson has more than 35 years of geoprofessional-practice experience, both domestic and international. He has been actively involved in professional societies throughout his career, and has also served as an adjunct faculty member and as a member of several universities' faculty-advisory committees. Dr. Matheson earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; his Master of Science degree from the University of Missouri at Rolla (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology); and his doctorate from the Colorado School of Mines.
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GZA's Ken Johnston Appointed to GBA Board
Last year, Chuck A. Gregory, P.E., manager of Terracon's San Antonio office, was nominated to serve on the GBA Board of Directors. Chuck had for several years chaired what is now GBA's Construction-Materials Engineering and Testing (CoMET) Business Council. Chuck was elected, but — when then-President-Elect Steven D. "Steve" Thorne, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE also joined Terracon — Chuck agreed to step down: GBA bylaws permit only one representative from any given GBA-Member Firm. Also per the bylaws, the Board appointed an individual to replace Chuck: Charles L. "Charlie" Head, P.E., P.G. For the 2015-16 fiscal year, Chuck was again nominated to the Board, but — just after he got the votes needed to serve — Laura R. Reinbold, P.E. joined the Terracon team and, once again, Chuck stepped down. Now, the Board has announced that Kenneth R. "Ken" Johnston has been appointed to fill the vacancy. Thanks, again, Chuck! Welcome, Ken!
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Once Again, GBA Delivers
No other organization we know of delivers as much bang for the buck as GBA. That's something that just about everyone realized as now Immediate Past President Steven D. "Steve" Thorne, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE (Terracon) delivered his annual report to the membership assembled at GBA's Spring Conference, April 17, in Miami. Steve characterized his term in office as "extremely productive," and that may be the understatement of the fiscal year! Some of the highlights: GBA's transition to self-management will begin in earnest in June, when GBA's new executive director is introduced. In the area of new initiatives, look for GBA to set the groundwork for our first local chapter, expansion of the Crystal Ball workshop into an industrywide event led by GBA, and a new, more robust relationship with the Geo-Institute of ASCE. GBA has also been busy in the arena of educational-materials development, with ten or so GBA Best Practices monographs published or in the works, plus three new stand-alone publications, including the Moist-Curing Room Design Guide, Claims 101, and Getting Paid. Said Steve, "All of this comes on top of some of the other things we have been doing or we've done to enhance this great organization: implementing our name change, reorganizing our committees; developing our new three-year strategic plan; creating our new graphic identity and brand; and upgrading the website to reflect all of that. And just like you all, we have day jobs, too."
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Establishing a Cell-Phone Safety Policy for Your Firm
All firms should want to establish and rigorously enforce cell-phone safety policies to help protect their employees from falling victim to their own bad, distracted-driving habits. That's the message being delivered by the new GBA Best Practices monograph, Establishing a Cell-Phone Safety Policy for Your Firm. Prepared by GBA's Business Practices Committee, the new monograph — an update of previously issued material — also points out the potential financial consequences of failing to pursue preventives: "[C]ell-phone use while driving creates a special risk…because so many triers of fact — judges and juries — seem eager to consider the mistakes of employees the responsibility of the employers whenever a cell phone is involved." The new publication cites an array of case histories, pointing out that "Hands-free devices are not safe alternatives." Most of the new publication discusses policies and techniques for implementing them, and provides samples for firms to use. Also provided: Talking points for dealing with those who resist stringent new policies, as well as "work-arounds" for those who find long-term cell-phone-use addictions tough to break.
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See How Your Firm's Finances Compare to Other Member Firms'
Each year, the Business Practices Committee conducts its Financial Performance Survey and issues a report that conveys results (click here for last year's). The new survey is ready for your firm's participation! Send the name of your top finance person to Operations Director Sarah Lanning at, or ask the person to go directly to the survey at We even have a free, members-only webinar if you want to learn how to calculate the numbers involved!
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BUSINESS 101: On-Line Lending Gives Banks a Run for Their Money
The New York Times
Would you pay an annual interest rate of 38% to 54% for a loan? If your response is something along the lines of, "Do you think I'm out of my mind," it may be time for a second thought, because 38% to 54% is precisely what some nonbank online lenders are charging, and their clients love it! Why? Because the service is fast and easy; it requires very little of the research, interviews, and paperwork required to qualify for a bank loan. One of these online services, Fundbox, allows a firm to obtain loans based on its accounts receivable (A/R). As one user described it, "Within an hour of signing up on Fundbox's website and giving it access to our company's bank account and accounting software (QuickBooks Online), I had the line I asked for." And Fundbox is hardly the only game in town.
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  Past Conferences on Demand

Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.

GBA's CLAIMS 101 Now Ready for Download
CLAIMS 101: The Fundamentals of Claims Detection and Response is the title of an all-new, 18-page guide prepared by GBA's Legal Affairs Committee, with support from Terra Insurance Company. The guide provides an overview of the claim-resolution process, from initial filing to the final resolution and beyond. Chapter titles are:
  • Do Not Admit Fault,
  • Claim Precursors and Responding to Them,
  • Unconventional Initial Notices,
  • Pre-Litigation Claim Notices,
  • First Things First,
  • Pre-Litigation Claims Resolution,
  • Litigation, and
  • It's Over: Put the Case behind You.
According to Michael J. "Mike" Yost, Esq., vice president and general counsel of GBA-Member Firm Terracon and chair of GBA's Legal Affairs Committee, "We wanted to produce a guide that would be particularly instructive for younger geoprofessionals and a solid refresher for some of the 'old hands.' We wanted it to be an easy read, without legalese or Latin, that would take only about 15 minutes to review, and people would come away with an understanding of the process." CLAIMS 101: The Fundamentals of Claims Detection and Response is available to GBA members free of charge. Nonmembers may purchase it for $150 per copy.

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Deadline Tomorrow! Call for Abstracts: Fall Conference in Southern California
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the GBA Fall Conference in Dana Point, CA, October 8-10, 2015? Here's your chance to share it with us: Just download the submission form, complete it, and send it in. The GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The theme of the conference is "Confronting Risk for Our Firms and Our Clients: The ROI of Engagement."
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Date Event Location
Oct. 8-10, 2015 GBA Fall Conference St. Regis Monarch Beach
Dana Point, California

  For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.

Droning On
Prairie Business
Imagine sitting down for an interview with a prospective-client representative and responding to "What kind of software do you use?" with "Software? We don't trust the stuff. We do it all by hand. It may take longer and cost more, but we like it that way." Good luck with the presentation! Face it: Technology allows people to do more than ever before, faster than ever before, and at prices that can greatly increase the cost-benefit-ratio denominator. So, how would you answer the question, "What kind of drones do you use?" Far-fetched? Not for geoprofessionals. And it's happening faster than you may think. National and international companies are jockeying for position in the 1.2-million-square-foot Grand Sky industrial park, the former home of the Grand Forks Air Force Base and one of six sites selected for drone R&D. There, tenants will test drones for public safety, infrastructure management, energy, and other applications. Northrop Grumman has agreed to anchor the park; more big names are likely to follow.
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Legendary Leadership in Changing Times
Constant challenges are a fact of life in today's business world, making effective leaders more important than ever. Some groups are weakened by challenges. Others welcome the challenges and use them as a time to learn, grow, and contribute more. Nate Booth DDS, MS addresses the essential beliefs and skills outstanding leaders use to create environments where challenges bring out the very best in their people. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $199 for everyone else.
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HR DEPT.: Design for Employee Engagement
Just how important is employee engagement? In a recent Deloitte survey of 3,300 organizations in 106 countries, 8 of every 10 respondents said organizational culture and engagement are the most critical issues in their organizations. So when do we see the light? Employee disengagement continues to cost the U.S. economy about $500 billion per year. And the U.S. is not alone: A 2013 Gallup global-workplace study involving 25 million employees in 142 countries found that only 13% of workers rated themselves as engaged. A Steelcase study of 10,500 workers in 14 countries discovered that employees who are highly satisfied with their workplaces are also the most highly engaged. By contrast, employees who said they were disengaged felt their work environments were not supportive. Is yours? It is if it:
  1. positions close to one another employees who need to share information;
  2. allows flexible seating arrangements;
  3. provides a variety of collaborative spaces;
  4. provides spaces for casual conversations and socializing; and
  5. protects privacy.

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Confronting International Business Risks
Connected to the here and now via the Internet, the world's have-nots see what others have and want some of it themselves: The growing demand for preservation of natural resources, development of effective infrastructure, and creation of renewable energy sources is creating unique opportunities for geoprofessionals in diverse emerging and frontier markets. With opportunity comes risk, of course, and Donald J. Anderson, Jr., P.E. discusses how to confront those associated with international business, sharing his experience as an engineer and risk consultant. His presentation addresses recent case studies from Ukraine, West Africa, and Asia, to help you take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls of working outside the U.S. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $99 for everyone else.
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DR. ENGLISH: Just Desserts
The good doctor has for years encouraged people to use "home in on" rather than "hone in on," because the former is correct and the latter — popular usage notwithstanding — isn't. (That's why we don't have honing pigeons.) But what about the saying, "She got her just desserts." Does that bring to mind someone who, metaphorically, has had a huge, costly meal and then, for dessert, got a comeuppance? It just might, but that — like "hone" — would be incorrect. The "desserts" involved aren't food based at all, which spelling should make clear: "Just deserts" is spelled with two esses, not three. The key to understanding why is to realize that the "desert" we're talking about is not a huge, arid area (pronounced DEZ-ert), but a word derived from a different Latin root: deservire, which means "to serve well." The resulting noun — desert — is pronounced the same as dessert; i.e., dez-ERT). As such, "She got her just deserts" means she got what she deserved, and that could be a punishment or (per the usual original usage) a reward. Bottom line: The desert we're talking about is pronounced the same as "dessert," but spelled differently — even when the reward involved is a banana split.
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BYOD: Get on the Bandwagon...Cautiously
Phoenix Business Journal
One of the newer concepts many businesses are adopting goes by the initialism BYOD, for "bring your own device." But it's not as simple as it may seem; solid planning is required to institute the policy in a risk-aware manner. One of the problems stems from wage-and-hour issues: If an employee sends or receives work e-mails outside of work hours or while on paid time off, the employee could file a claim for minimum wage and/or overtime violations. The potential for losing trade secrets also exists, given that using a personal device at work could result in confidential information ultimately residing on that device. And there's also the potential for invasion-of-privacy claims. None of these risks is insurmountable, but they must be accounted for in developing a BYOD adoption plan that will avoid unintended consequences.
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Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)

Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)

Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)

Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)

Kenneth R. Johnston
(GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA)

Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)

Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)

Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)


Phone: 301/565-2733

Executive Vice President
John P. Bachner
Ext. 223 /

Operations Director
Sarah P. Lanning, PMP
Ext. 231 /

Program Director
Barbara A. Nappy
Ext. 222 /

Program Manager
Sara Menase
Ext. 232 /

Associate Program Manager
Melody A. Patrick
Ext. 225 /

Phillip D. Pettway
Ext. 233 /


John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223   
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Cait Harrison, Content Editor, 469.420.2657   
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