Recap of Principals Roundtable on Ownership Transition

Options and Viewpoints Fuel Principals Discussion on AEC Firm Ownership Transition

Six­teen prin­ci­pals rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous AEC firms from around San Diego Coun­ty shared options, opin­ions, and expe­ri­ences relat­ed to past, cur­rent and upcom­ing AEC firm-own­er­ship tran­si­tions. NV5 host­ed and spon­sored Prin­ci­pals Round­table #3 for the Soci­ety for Mar­ket­ing Pro­fes­sion­al Ser­vices (SMPS) San Diego.

The infor­ma­tive and some­times eye-open­ing ses­sion offered view­points from both sea­soned prin­ci­pals look­ing to retire in the future and a new­er gen­er­a­tion of own­ers that recent­ly rose to the helm.

Beth Bate­man, Prin­ci­pals Round­table Facil­i­ta­tor, opened the meet­ing, shar­ing resources regard­ing the rea­sons for and the best time to plan for own­er­ship tran­si­tion. Var­i­ous tran­si­tion options, such as inter­nal or exter­nal younger staff mem­bers buy­ing-in, struc­tur­ing an employ­ee-own­er­ship plan (ESOP), and merg­ers and acqui­si­tions (M&A) were all on the table.

Car­men Kas­ner, Prin­ci­pal, NV5, shared lessons she learned through­out her career where­in she has expe­ri­enced sev­er­al own­er­ship tran­si­tions, includ­ing NV5’s ongo­ing hybrid involv­ing both organ­ic lead­er­ship devel­op­ment and an active M&A strat­e­gy.

Every­one par­tic­i­pat­ed in the dynam­ic dis­cus­sion, which cov­ered a range of top­ics includ­ing best prac­tices, firm val­u­a­tion, inte­gra­tion of new staff and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and men­tor­ship of new lead­ers. Oth­er issues includ­ed a process and timetable to relin­quish pow­er and con­trol, as well as set­ting goals, expec­ta­tions and respon­si­bil­i­ties for ris­ing lead­ers. Addi­tion­al dis­cus­sion cov­ered deter­min­ing if re-brand­ing the firm was advan­ta­geous, cre­at­ing a fair deal for both sides, and under­stand­ing gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences that may come into play.

Sharon Sin­gle­ton, Prin­ci­pal, KTUA Plan­ning and Land­scape Archi­tec­ture, summed it up nice­ly, com­ment­ing after the event, “The dis­cus­sion proved there are many, many options and opin­ions when it comes to fig­ur­ing out the next gen­er­a­tion for your firm. The shar­ing of ideas was tru­ly enlight­en­ing.”

The SMPS San Diego Prin­ci­pals Round­table is one of the first Prin­ci­pal-lev­el offer­ings on the Chap­ter lev­el. It is free and open to Prin­ci­pals Only with firms that have at least one SMPS mem­ber on staff. Designed by area firm prin­ci­pals, the Round­table series meets quar­ter­ly to dis­cuss firm man­age­ment issues that weren’t cov­ered in AEC col­lege-lev­el design and con­struc­tion degree pro­grams. Dif­fer­ent area firms spon­sor and host the ear­ly morn­ing event. If you are inter­est­ing in host­ing and/or attend­ing a future Prin­ci­pal Round­table or have a top­ic sug­ges­tion, please con­tact one of the Plan­ning Com­mit­tee mem­bers below or vis­it www​.smpssd​.org. The next Round­table is being planned for Feb­ru­ary 2018.

For addi­tion­al resources on lead­er­ship tran­si­tion and train­ing, vis­it the Prin­ci­pals sec­tion of www​.smps​.org.

SMPS San Diego Prin­ci­pals Round­table Plan­ning Com­mit­tee:

Co-lead­ers:

Sharon Sin­gle­ton, PLA, Prin­ci­pal, KTUA Land­scape Archi­tec­ture and Plan­ning, Sharon@kuta.com

There­sa Casey, Principal/CEO, On Tar­get Mar­ket­ing & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, tcasey@on-target.biz

Com­mit­tee Mem­bers:

Eliz­a­beth Bate­man, Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor, SMR-ISD Con­sult­ing Struc­tur­al Engi­neers, Elizabeth@smr-eng.com

Kamala Kures­man, Cor­po­rate Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor, NV5, kamala.kuresman@nv5.com

Karen Tour­naire, Direc­tor of Mar­ket­ing, Sill­man Wright Archi­tects, karen@sillmanwright.com

By There­sa M. Casey, FSMPS, CPSM, SMPS San Diego Chap­ter Cham­pi­on and Prin­ci­pals Round­table Co-leader, Principal/CEO, On Tar­get Mar­ket­ing & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

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