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|July 15, 2020 ||
Vol. 49 No. 58
GBA Business Practices Committee
Even before the recent economic downturn, member firms reported an erosion in profits driven by lower net multipliers and utilization ratios along with higher operating costs.
How does your firm stack up?
For more than 15 years, GBA has been collecting key financial metrics from member-firms so our members can measure their success, improve business performance, and optimize efficiency.
The newest GBA Business Brief is free and only available only to members. It compiles data from GBA Business Practices Committee's 2019-2020 Financial-Performance Survey in a short report, covering key financial-performance issues of surveyed firms.
In the spirit of our Association, GBA publications are a collaborative effort of GBA Member-Firms. They are provided to GBA Members to make them stronger, smarter and more successful and they are FREE to all members.
GBA Resource Collaboration Committee
No other professional association shares mistakes, losses, and lessons learned like GBA.
Learn from others. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past! GBA Case Histories are being
used by our members for loss prevention discussions in support of professional
development and mentoring. That is why GBA case histories are so valuable, and why GBA is updating them all, while adding new ones, too. Five more Case Histories have been re-issued.
GBA CASE HISTORY 91 (download):
An assisted-living facility owner accepted the general contractor’s ill-advised “value-engineering” suggestions that led to a serious and costly mold infestation. The owner retained an environmental consultant to identify whom the owner could sue. The only potential victim was the geotechnical engineer. Fortunately, the geotechnical engineer had included appropriate limitations in its report, indicating, among other things, it could not be responsible for problems arising from changes about which it was not informed.
GBA CASE HISTORY 92
The bizarre tale of a politically well-connected civil engineer who retained a geotechnical engineer to provide support services on a municipal airport project. The airport manager was busy with several other projects, the civil engineer told the geotechnical engineer, explaining why the airport manager failed to approve and pay for the final plans. But the airport authority had approved and paid for the geotechnical engineer’s plans; the civil engineer had signed them – illegally – months before. Soon after the state’s registration board gently slapped the civil engineer’s wrists, the civil engineer died. His son – an attorney – threatened the geotechnical engineer with a wrongful-death suit.
GBA CASE HISTORY 93
A geotechnical engineer was engaged to serve as the owner’s representative during earthwork operations on a five-city-block cluster of high-profile, mixed-use, high-rise buildings. The foundation subcontractor claimed a changed condition when the project’s soldier-pile system began to collapse. The geotechnical engineer suggested a study to learn why the collapse was occurring. When the developer refused, the geotechnical engineer demonstrated “financial fortitude” and undertook the investigation on his own.
GBA CASE HISTORY 94
An archaeological firm that was far more astute about technical issues than business issues accepted a one-sided contract for a major project that ran into a variety of difficulties, including a long-simmering feud between the public-agency owner and the public-agency regulator; unexpected soil conditions; and unusually severe weather. The project took five years to complete; one year for the technical activity and four for the litigation.
GBA CASE HISTORY 95
A rack-system supplier retained the GBA-Member Firm to test the welds of a preproduction rack assembly. The welds failed to meet specs and the Member Firm reported that result. The client paid the less-than-$1,500 fee and shortly thereafter retained the firm to test a welder’s qualifications. Three years later, the GBA-Member Firm was sued because of its involvement in the more than $100-million collapse of an automatic rack-storage system. Making matters worse, the collapse killed an employee of the warehouse where the system was installed.
GBA Case Histories are FREE to all Members.
GBA Board of Directors
In normal times, the GBA Board of Directors updates the Strategic Plan every three years. In response to the current business climate and GBA’s efforts to remain nimble, dynamic, and relevant, the Board of Directors elected to update and extend the 2017-2020 for one year to remain focused on providing members with support through and past COVID-19 with the strategic objectives previously developed.
Download GBA’s Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Strategic Plan: HERE
Our most popular article from our last issue of GBA NEWSlog.
GBA Photo Contest
The Last Word
Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc. associate Josh Moore never expected his day would result in a life or death situation, but that's exactly the situation he found himself in last week on our Loudoun County Courthouse project. Moments after witnessing a man fall unconscious and unresponsive, Mr. Moore unselfishly and heroically jumped in and began administering CPR. With total disregard for COVID-19 and his own safety, Josh continued with life-saving chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth until EMS arrived. David Costello arrived within two minutes of the incident and was incredibly moved by Josh's determination, courage, and focus. Mr. Costello said, "he did everything right." Thank you, Josh Moore and Greg Daymude of Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc., for your heroic, life-saving actions. We are grateful for your efforts and proud to work alongside you.
Picture: Josh Moore second from the right
Froehling & Robertson
Dan was born and raised in Rochester, New York. After reading the children’s book Who Built the Highway (Norman Bate, 1953) at an early age, Dan was hooked and knew that somehow, someway, he was going to be involved in construction. He joined F&R’s Raleigh, North Carolina office as a Geotechnical Engineer in 1990. During his early years here he completed his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. In 2001, Dan became the Branch Manager of F&R’s Raleigh office, a position in which he excelled so considerably that in 2015 Dan was promoted to the position of F&R’s Carolina Regional Vice President.
Dan has had a positive impact on many people at F&R over these past 30 years, as evidenced by these words from his colleagues:
Universal Engineering Sciences
Universal Engineering Sciences (“Universal”) is pleased to announce the acquisition of Georgia-based Contour Engineering, LLC (“Contour”). Through its family of companies, Universal Engineering Sciences, LLC (UES), GFA International, Inc. (GFA), Nova Geotechnical & Inspection Services, LLC (Nova Geotech) and now Contour, Universal is a leading provider of professional engineering and environmental consulting services for a wide array of markets, clients and projects.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome Jack Rebeiz, David Hesterlee and the talented team at Contour to the UES family,” said Mark Israel, P.E., Chief Executive Officer of Universal Engineering Sciences, LLC. “It was evident from the beginning of our discussions that Contour shares our commitment to client service, core values and business principles—enhancing our ability to become a leader in this industry.”
MAKE IT BRAVE
Although women have come a long way in the workplace, in many industries, women are still vastly underrepresented. That’s definitely the case with engineering. Depending on which numbers you look at, women only make up roughly 20-30% of the workforce in that industry.
That’s why it’s remarkable that Laura Register is in a position of leadership at a large engineering firm. In fact, she was just named Engineer of the Year by the Nashville Business Journal.
But, this kind of accolade wasn’t common for women in her industry even as recently as a few years ago. In fact, she started the Power Women in Architecture, Engineering and Construction after seeing no women and people of color represented when the local paper highlighted leaders in the industry.
During our conversation, we discuss Laura’s experience working in a heavily male dominated industry, her ongoing battle with imposter syndrome and the power of asking questions and doing internal work to question and challenge implicit bias in our lives.
This is a wonderful interview for women in positions of leadership, especially since Laura talks a lot about how to build a more equitable workplace.
Hull and Associates
Gerry Salontai has joined Hull as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with the start of the investment made by RTC Partners in the company. Gerry is an industry veteran that brings decades of leadership and management experience to Hull. As CEO, he will be responsible to lead the vision for the company, strategic direction and ensure the company meets its business objectives.
Gerry has held progressively responsible positions in several multi-disciplinary companies in the industry and previously served as the CEO of Kleinfelder, a global engineering, science and construction-related services company, where he led the growth of organization from $65 million to over $300 million during his leadership tenure. Gerry has both a Bachelor and a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering and has an Executive Management certificate in Business. He is a licensed professional civil engineer.
Wood, the global engineering and consulting company, has secured two solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts from an American power and energy company worth over $200 million.
Wood was selected following a competitive tender process and will be responsible for delivering two major solar projects in the U.S. state of Virginia with a combined output of 190 megawatts. The first project is a 120-megawatt solar facility in Pittsylvania County, expected to be operational in 2022.
The second project covers a 70-megawatt solar facility in Chesapeake and is expected to be operational in late 2021.
Both solar facilities also further Virginia’s Clean Economy Act, passed on April 13, 2020, which mandates that the state’s electricity be 100% carbon-free by 2050.
We are pleased to announce Derek Clyburn, PE has been promoted to Subsidiary President of ECS Southeast, LLP effective as of July 6, 2020.
Derek succeeds Steve Gosselin, PG who will take on the role of Executive Vice President supporting Derek and the Southeast Management Team in day to day operations, business development efforts, expanding the Subsidiary National and Regional Accounts Program, and developing a corporate mentoring program.
“I’m excited about Derek taking the lead for ECS Southeast,” says Gosselin. “I’ve worked with him for more than 25 years and he has the energy, passion, leadership skills and experience to take the subsidiary to the next level. He is committed to the success of our people and our clients, and that commitment will take us to new heights.”
Weston & Sampson
Weston & Sampson is pleased to announce that Jeff Alberti, LEED® AP, Vice President, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the firm, effective July 1, 2020. Jeff joined Weston & Sampson in 2006 as a Senior Project Manager and has more than 25 years of experience assisting clients with planning, design, and construction administration services for a variety of municipal and industrial facilities. A LEED® Accredited Professional, Jeff’s expertise has been providing operationally based and sustainable facility improvements for our clients.
“I am very excited about taking on this challenging role. I’m grateful for the trust that Weston & Sampson has placed in me and I’m looking forward to making a positive impact,” says Alberti.
Haley & Aldrich
Haley & Aldrich, an engineering and environmental consulting company, today announced that Don Craig has joined the firm’s corporate leadership team in their Burlington, Massachusetts office as Chief Financial Officer. Craig brings over 25 years of financial leadership at dynamic, leading-edge engineering and architecture, telecommunications, and technology companies across the United States and Canada. He has extensive experience in financial reporting and analysis, budgeting, strategic planning, development and implementation of accounting policies, and compliance with financial principles and standards.
Craig replaces Haley & Aldrich’s Bob Gabel as Chief Financial Officer, who is retiring after nearly a decade with the firm. During his tenure, Gabel has played a critical role in navigating market turbulence, supporting financial growth, and positioning Haley & Aldrich for the future.
Atkins, working closely with BT’s Active Intelligence team, has been using mobile network data to monitor the shift in usage of some of the UK’s key roads since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Using anonymised and aggregated data, we can gain insights into what to expect for the future of our roads. We have been collating data throughout the lockdown, providing key information on journey volumes, average journey lengths, journey regularity (how frequently the same journeys are made) and overall origins and destinations. By comparing data gathered during the lockdown with the same period in 2019, we have witnessed substantial changes to road usage. Differences are likely to remain until we lift all coronavirus related restrictions, and so understanding what’s happening on the UK’s roads will be particularly important in the coming months.
Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc.
Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. (Sanborn Head) is pleased to announce that , P.G. has joined the firm as a Senior Vice President, based out of our Philadelphia office. Her strategic focus is to help grow Sanborn Head’s presence in the Mid-Atlantic region and provide differentiation in the environmental market leveraging the company’s strong legacy of technical innovation and client service excellence.
Colleen is a Professional Geologist with over 30 years of experience focused on the development and delivery of leading-edge strategies and business-impacting solutions, driving sustainable outcomes for both private and public sector clients. Most recently, Colleen was the North America Contamination and Remediation Sector Leader, as part of a large global consultancy firm, managing environmental issues across multiple industries and within a wide range of regulatory frameworks.
The ECS Group of Companies (ECS) is pleased to announce the addition of Luke Johnson, SE, PE, to the Midwest Facilities team. As Facilities Department Manager, Mr. Johnson will lead the development of regional accounts across the Midwest for the Facilities group. Additionally, he will focus on maintaining, developing and expanding facilities service offerings within the Midwest while coordinating with the firm’s construction materials testing and geotechnical service lines.
NOVA knows the best way to succeed is to grow and learn! We are so happy to announce the addition of Jake Sarna, PG to NOVA’s Charlotte, North Carolina branch. He comes to us with over 20 years of experience in geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, special inspections and environmental consulting services.
While his education is in Geology, Jake has built experience across all 4 tiers of the industry. Working with a broad array of clients, he has been successful at establishing a diverse client base and project portfolio. Not only that, Jake has worked largely in the Southeast and has a full knowledge of what obstacles may be encountered. From transportation systems to education projects to power generation facilities, Jake has built a solid foundation of skills and experience that brews consistent success.
GBA's Crystal Ball Workshop Featured in GEOSTRATA Magazine
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." — Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and theologian.
Have you ever stared out the window wondering how your company will operate in the future? What will your clients want? What will your team need? The Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) convened its latest Crystal Ball Workshop (CBW) to try to answer these questions. Held in Louisville, KY, in October 2019, this widely acclaimed series brought together 24 distinguished geoprofessionals to brainstorm current and potential future trends most likely to disrupt our industry (Figure 1). These individuals included representatives from GBA member firms and collaborative partners for the event, ACEC’s GeoCoalition, the Geo-Institute, and ADSC, all of whom provided broad and insightful inputs to the outcomes of the CBW.
This 5-minute video produced by the DFI Women in Deep Foundations (WiDF) Committee answers the question: “What is the geotechnical field?” The video features dynamic and engaging DFI members as they take you from the office to project sites and through the many roles available in the geotechnical field including designing, supplying specialty equipment, managing, constructing and more.
The Delaware Supreme Court dismissed an action to enforce a mechanic’s lien because the geotechnical and construction observation services provided by the plaintiff were not covered by Delaware’s mechanic’s lien statute.
Podcast by Civil FX
CivilFX makes visuals for transportation and other civil engineering projects for public outreach. They also offer podcasts around the theme of making civil engineering “look good.” Check out their latest in the series entitled: “Evangelizing Technology in Civil Engineering.”
It's been so strong that a beach has sunk into the water.
On March 31, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake rolled through Idaho's Sawtooth mountain range, northeast of Boise. It was the second largest earthquake to strike Idaho, according to the Idaho Statesman. (The strongest temblor in Idaho history, 1983's Borah Peak earthquake, registered as a magnitude 6.9.)
But the region hasn't stopped shaking since.
The idea of managing an employee performance improvement plan during Covid-19 can give a manager sleepless nights. But if you could change the way it is perceived and implemented, it could help you drive better results with your team.
Researchers are monitoring genetic traces of COVID-19 in wastewater to track the course of the pandemic, find hotspots and predict outbreaks. Now standard methods are needed for a global sewage epidemiology system.
Construction Law Zone
The mixture of sheltering-in-place, warm weather, and increasing drone usage creates a combustible situation – literally. Drone shootings are on the rise as property owners seek to combat perceived trespass, nuisance and invasions of privacy. There are ways to balance new technology and privacy when using drones in land use and construction projects.
If the world is to maintain a sustainable economy and fend off the worst effects of climate change, at least one industry will soon have to ramp up dramatically: the mining of metals needed to create a vast infrastructure for renewable power generation, storage, transmission and usage. Geologists have identified deep-earth structures that may signal hidden metal lodes.
Learn how to calculate customer retention and the 10 easy and affordable ways to keep your customers coming back to your business during the time of coronavirus crisis.
Critical infrastructure such as transport networks are the lifelines of modern society. Extreme weather events may cause damage to railway tracks, roads, tunnels and bridges. A multi-sensor system for the precise and efficient inspection of roads, railways and similar assets has been developed.
The earth’s mysterious eighth continent doesn't appear on most conventional maps; that's because almost 95% of its land mass is submerged thousands of feet beneath the Pacific Ocean. Now, GNS Science — a geohazards research and consultancy organization owned by the government of New Zealand — hopes to raise Zealandia (in public awareness, at least) with a suite of new maps and interactive tools that capture the lost continent in unprecedented detail.
Although we're surrounded by millions of them every day, most of us don't think about bricks too often. For thousands of years, the humble clay-fired brick hasn't changed. The building blocks of modern suburban homes would be familiar to the city planners of ancient Babylon, the bricklayers of the Great Wall of China, or the builders of Moscow's Saint Basil's Cathedral.
But the brick as we know it causes significant environmental problems, by using up raw, finite materials and creating carbon emissions. That's why Gabriela Medero, a professor of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University, decided to reinvent it.
Words of Wisdom
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
President: Kenneth R. "Ken" Johnston, (GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA), 781/278-3700|
President-Elect: Thomas W. "Tom" Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE (Blackburn Consulting / Auburn, CA), 530/887-1494|
Secretary/Treasurer: Leo J. Titus, Jr. P.E., (ECS, Ltd. / Chantilly, VA), 703/471-8400
Chuck A. Gregory, P.E. (Terracon / San Antonio, TX), 210/641-2112
Martin LaRoche, P. Eng, M.Sc. (Kiewit / Montreal, Canada)
Guy Marcozzi, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, F. ASCE (Duffield Associates, Inc. / Wilmington, DE) 302/ 239-6634
Christopher Matthew "Matt" Moler, P.E. (S&ME, Inc. / Greensboro, NC), 336/553-1245
Matthew "Matt" R. Poirier, P.E. (Sanborn Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH) 603/ 229-1900
Steve Wendland, P.G. Steve Wendland, P.E., R.G., D.GE (Kleinfelder, Inc. / Prairie Village, KS ) 913/475-5851
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