Category Archives: Practice Management

Gilbert Seltzer AIA Celebrates 100th Birthday

WO-gilbert-seltzer-C-300x225Longtime West Orange resident Gilbert Seltzer, an architect, recently celebrated his 100th birthday.  Seltzer, who was born in Toronto in 1914, is the owner of Gilbert L. Seltzer Associates in West Orange. He still drives himself to work every day and has no plans on slowing down.

AIA New Jersey congratulates Gilbert on this milestone and wishes him many more years in the architecture profession.

Click on the links below to see some of the articles that have been published online and in local newspapers:

West Orange Patch

Essex News Daily

AIA-NJ Leadership

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Members and leaders from around the six sections that make up AIA New Jersey attended the 2014 Leadership Conference on Saturday, November 15th.   The day was spent looking at the current organization and how it can be improved to serve its members and the profession of architecture better.

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The topic of the day was Effective Practices of Successful Boards lead by Glenn Tekker of Tekker International, LLC. Attendees said the session was very informative and gave all bullet items to take back to their local groups to help further the discussion.  Throughout the afternoon break-out groups started the task of identifying areas where AIA-NJ can focus to improve it’s core mission of member value and enhancing the architecture profession in NJ.   Each break-out group generated pages of information that is being organized now for the next working session to be held in upcoming months.  What for more on this in 2015.

See more images: Leadership Conference pictures

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Empowerment by Design Series: Surviving the Commoditization Trap

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by Steve Whitehorn

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in the Empowerment by Design series by Steve Whitehorn of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., providing A/E professionals with practical tips for a more successful, profitable practice.

The design industry has seen substantial change in business models over the past 15 years. The financial crisis and slow recovery coupled with the rising popularity of design/build have created pressure to reduce fees and lead to fierce competition. As a result, architectural firms are falling into the commoditization trap.

Commoditization occurs when clients don’t understand the difference between goods and services. The ever-increasing availability of computer-aided design and the myriad of delivery options available for design services in today’s marketplace have led to the misguided notion that design is a good rather than a service. Project decisions are increasingly being made based on price and ease of delivery, rather than design expertise or lasting value.

Many firms are struggling against commoditization by trying to be all things to all clients. Others are becoming bloated and unfocused by taking on any and all projects just to bring in revenue. These reactionary tactics can lead to a race for survival among competing firms.

How can you avoid commoditization? The first step is to define your value proposition. A value proposition is a succinct statement that explains why a client should choose your firm over the competition. Your value proposition needs to communicate exactly what services your firm is offering, and what differentiates your firm from the others. It should also clearly convey the value your service can bring to a given project.

One of the best ways to define your value proposition is to perform a “Dangers, Opportunities, Strengths” (D.O.S) analysis.

Begin by making an honest self-assessment of your firm. Assemble your firm’s leadership and key-stakeholders to discuss your firm’s dangers, opportunities, and strengths. Ask questions such as: What do we do best? What is our current specialization – healthcare, hospitality, cultural facilities, etc.? Who are our preferred clients?  Who are our competitors? What differentiates our firm from our competition?

Next, ask your clients for their perspective. Talk to your top 20 or so clients and ask questions about dangers, opportunities and strengths. The following are some example questions that can help you formulate your client-facing D.O.S. analysis:

Dangers: What do your clients see as obstacles to their projects – project financing, divergent interests of stakeholders, community pressures? What are they most concerned about during the construction process (issues arising from delays, changes to the plans, etc.)?

Opportunities: What do they see as the prime opportunities for their projects, for example: building a legacy, visible impact, community improvement, etc.?

Strengths: What influenced their decision to work with your firm? What does your client see as your firm’s advantages and differentiators?

Review your clients’ responses and compile their common top three answers on dangers, opportunities, and strengths into one list. When you have that list, compare it against the list of answers from your internal review. Are you on the same page as your clients? Do they see your D.O.S. the same way you do? Are you adequately addressing their concerns? Do you understand your clients’ aspirations in the opportunities column? Does your client see your firms’ strengths the same way you do? Identify the gaps between your clients’ answers and your firm’s answers and determine a strategy to bridge those gaps.

Now you are ready to define your value proposition. Go back to the questions you first asked yourself: What do we do best? What is our specialization? Who are our competitors? What differentiates our firm from the competition? Use your D.O.S. analysis and the input from your clients to refine your answers. Make a pro-active plan to mitigate the dangers, take advantage of your opportunities, and refine and reinforce your strengths.

Your value proposition needs to be simple and direct. Explain how your firm can meet your clients’ needs, the specific benefits your firm can deliver, and why the client should choose your firm over the competition. Above all, keep an eye out for changes in the market. Revisit your D.O.S. analysis as necessary to identify how your value proposition can fulfill a unique niche in the current market.

Knowing who you are, what you can deliver, and understanding your value proposition will help you break free from the commoditization trap.

- – -

Steve Whitehorn is the author of the upcoming book, Ensuring Your Firm’s Legacy, and Managing Principal of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., and is the creator of The A/E Empowerment Program®, a three-step process that helps firms create a more significant legacy and empowers them to achieve greater impact on their projects, relationships, and communities.

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DESIGNrealized Call for Speakers

DESIGNrealized is accepting proposals for our 2015 online education program. This is a tremendous opportunity for presenters to share their expertise with architects and building professionals from across the U.S. Presenters will receive complimentary registration for all DESIGNrealized AIA CES programs in 2015, a great way for speakers to fulfill AIA CES 2015 requirements.
  • Theme : INSPIRE
For our 2015 DESIGNrealized program we’re looking for speaker proposals that provide inspiration in design and technology. We encourage you to share your experience and inspire AEC professionals to innovate and think outside the box. The program tracks for our 2015 program are listed below and the deadline to submit is November 21, 2014.
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Design Program Tracks
  • Series 1 : Master Architect Series
    • Examine works of architects whose designs, local or national, influence the practice.
  • Series 2 : Innovative Building Practices
    • Explore methods of design or construction that deliver better buildings for clients.
  • Series 3 : Green & the Living Building
    • Discuss methods of sustainable design that help foster living buildings.
  • Series 4 : Designing for Wellness
    • Share how design methods and building material selections can improve well-being.
Technology Program Tracks
  • Series 1 : New Uses of Technology
    • Learn how firms are using technologies to improve design and construction.
  • Series 2 : Project Collaboration 
    • Discuss technologies that help teams communicate and build a better workflow.
  • Series 3 : Websites & Social Media 
    • Share techniques on how to use the web and social media to grow new business.
  • Series 4 : Using BIM in the Small Firm
    • Review how small firm projects use BIM and opportunities for new services.

To submit a proposal go to: http://www.designrealized.com/2015speakers
For more information contact:

- Tracie Simmons
- Speaker Coordinator
- e: tracie.simmons@learnvirtual.com

- p: 415-373-1841

 

Fall & Spring Internship and Interim Opportunities – Surveying

Work for an Industry Leader!

Challenging Projects Dynamic Work Environment Outstanding Opportunities

UnknownLangan Engineering and Environmental Services is an award-winning ENR Top 500 Design Firm and is recognized by GlassDoor.com as an Employees’ Choice Best Places to Work. We have also been recognized as one of CE News Best Civil Engineering Firms to Work. Join our team of industry leaders and make a difference on some of the most exciting and interesting projects in the field!

Langan offers integrated engineering and environmental services for both public and private sector clients at sites located throughout the United States and abroad.
Job Requirements:Langan is seeking Internship or Interim candidates for our Survey/Laser Scanning discipline at our Elmwood Park, NJ office. Our hours of operation are 8:30 am – 5:15 pm Monday through Friday. The successful candidates for our Survey discipline will assist with modeling existing buildings using AutoDesk Revit software.

• Student actively pursuing a four year degree in Engineering Technology, Survey or Civil Engineering; • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher;
• Excellent communication skills, written and verbal;
• Strong attention to detail with excellent analytical and judgment capabilities;

• Ability to effectively work independently and in a team environment;
• Knowledge of land surveying and 3D modeling experience a plus; and, • Proficiency in AutoDesk Revit building systems.

Please submit resume, cover letter and include academic transcripts. Preference will be given to students who are currently in their Jr. or Sr. year.

Langan does not provide housing or relocation assistance.

We provide our staff with the opportunity to direct their own career path. If you are a highly motivated self-starter, we can offer you challenge, responsibility, and an environment to grow your career!

We offer employees competitive compensation packages; company paid medical, dental, and vision coverage; life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance; 401(k) with company match; educational reimbursement; extensive training; and much more!

Should you want to be considered for a position at Langan, please click on the link below to search for current job openings and apply to positions of interest.  Learn More…

We thank you for your interest in Langan!

Governor Signs Good Samaritan Bill

AIA New Jersey is pleased to announce the successful completion of one of its major legislative initiatives with the enactment of the Good Samaritan bill signed by Governor Christie yesterday. The profession will be in a position to offer its services to the people of New Jersey during a declared disaster as a first responder with the protections afforded in this statute. We want to thank our prime Sponsor Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and sponsors Assemblymen Moriarty and Chivukula and the Governor for their support. Below is a press release regarding the bill.

AIA-NJ President Jack Purvis AIA,  along with Homeland Security Committee Chair and Past President Laurence Parisi AIA, President Elect Kurt Kalafsky AIA, and 1st Vice President Kimberly Bunn AIA at press conference with Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald.

AIA-NJ President Jack Purvis AIA, along with Homeland Security Committee Chair and Past President Laurence Parisi AIA, President Elect Kurt Kalafsky AIA, and 1st Vice President Kimberly Bunn AIA at 2013 press conference with Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald.

Greenwald, Moriarty & Chivukula Bill to Help Improve Natural Disaster Response Signed into Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula to improve the state’s ability to respond to large-scale natural disasters has been inked into law.

The law (A-2025) bolsters safety inspection capacity in the aftermath of disasters like Superstorm Sandy – the scale of which can easily overwhelm local governments – by shielding licensed architects and professional engineers from liability when they volunteer to help local governments respond to major natural disasters.

“Whether it’s tornadoes in Alabama, earthquakes in California or hurricanes in New Jersey, Good Samaritan laws are critical in ensuring a safe, effective and speedy response to major natural disasters,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “By passing a Good Samaritan law in New Jersey, we better prepare our state to respond rapidly and efficiently to the next Superstorm Sandy.”

“Not having had this protection deterred many of these professionals from volunteering their services in times of critical need, which unduly restricted our ability to quickly and effectively provide safety inspections after a large-scale disaster,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We cannot afford to go without such valuable assistance when the next big storm hits.”

“These are professionals who are willing to volunteer their time, expertise and services to help rebuild communities that have been damaged by major natural disasters,” said Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “With the weather expected to become even more severe in the future, it will be wise to have people with expertise who are ready and able to help when the time comes.”

Nearly 400 architects stood ready to use their professional expertise to assist in assessing storm-damaged properties in New York City days after Superstorm Sandy hit, according to a 2013 Crain’s New York Business article. The specter of thousands – if not millions – of dollars in potential lawsuit liability deterred the vast majority from volunteering their assistance, leaving local officials overwhelmed by the scale of the task.

In contrast, Alabama’s Good Samaritan law, enacted in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, was crucial in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes that in April 2011 killed 64 people and caused $2.2 billion in damage. In response to the devastating category EF-4 tornado, over 200 professionals volunteered nearly 1,300 hours in Tuscaloosa alone, inspecting over 7,000 buildings for safety–critical assistance given the municipality’s limited staff resources.

Under the law, licensed architects or professional engineers would remain liable for the full extent of damages caused by their own acts or omissions that are wanton, willful or grossly negligent.

We are very pleased that the governor has signed the Good Samaritan legislation, particularly with widespread support from both the the Assembly and Senate. By removing prohibitive regulations against building professionals, the Act will allow trained architects and other professionals to quickly and effectively respond to pressing infrastructural issues in times of emergency.  This legislation reflects the mission of the AIA to contribute its collective expertise when it is needed most, which is crucial in the planning and rebuilding of New Jersey’s communities. We commend lead sponsor and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, along with sponsors Paul Moriarity and Upendra Chivukula, for their sound and rational advocacy of this bill.

Good Samaritan Signed Into Law

Greenwald, Moriarty & Chivukula Bill to Help Improve Natural Disaster Response Signed into Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula to improve the state’s ability to respond to large-scale natural disasters has been inked into law.
The law (A-2025) bolsters safety inspection capacity in the aftermath of disasters like Superstorm Sandy – the scale of which can easily overwhelm local governments – by shielding licensed architects and professional engineers from liability when they volunteer to help local governments respond to major natural disasters.
“Whether it’s tornadoes in Alabama, earthquakes in California or hurricanes in New Jersey, Good Samaritan laws are critical in ensuring a safe, effective and speedy response to major natural disasters,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “By passing a Good Samaritan law in New Jersey, we better prepare our state to respond rapidly and efficiently to the next Superstorm Sandy.”
“Not having had this protection deterred many of these professionals from volunteering their services in times of critical need, which unduly restricted our ability to quickly and effectively provide safety inspections after a large-scale disaster,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We cannot afford to go without such valuable assistance when the next big storm hits.”
“These are professionals who are willing to volunteer their time, expertise and services to help rebuild communities that have been damaged by major natural disasters,” said Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “With the weather expected to become even more severe in the future, it will be wise to have people with expertise who are ready and able to help when the time comes.”
Nearly 400 architects stood ready to use their professional expertise to assist in assessing storm-damaged properties in New York City days after Superstorm Sandy hit, according to a 2013 Crain’s New York Business article. The specter of thousands – if not millions – of dollars in potential lawsuit liability deterred the vast majority from volunteering their assistance, leaving local officials overwhelmed by the scale of the task.
In contrast, Alabama’s Good Samaritan law, enacted in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, was crucial in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes that in April 2011 killed 64 people and caused $2.2 billion in damage. In response to the devastating category EF-4 tornado, over 200 professionals volunteered nearly 1,300 hours in Tuscaloosa alone, inspecting over 7,000 buildings for safety—critical assistance given the municipality’s limited staff resources.
Under the law, licensed architects or professional engineers would remain liable for the full extent of damages caused by their own acts or omissions that are wanton, willful or grossly negligent.

Empowerment by Design Series: Maximize ROI by Maintaining Discipline

Employing a clear “go/no-go” decision-making process will help maintain discipline and lead to greater ROI.

by Steve Whitehorn

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in the Empowerment by Design series by Steve Whitehorn of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., providing A/E professionals with practical tips for a more successful, profitable practice.

During the worst years of the sluggish economy many firms took absolutely any work they could get in order to keep afloat. As the economy improves architects are finally beginning to see the projects flowing in, and again, the temptation is the same — grab up any projects possible in order to grow the firm and increase the bottom line.

So why should a firm resist the temptation– isn’t all work good work? The short and the long answer for firms concerned about their ROI and reputation is no! The principle for both fat and lean times remains the same: maintain discipline.

Exercise a simple go, no-go decision-making process to maintain discipline and adhere to the firm’s objectives.  Go/no-go is a term that comes from the tool and die trade, and refers to a simple gauge tool used to test a workpiece- there are only two outcomes: go or “go/no-go”.  When selecting work for a firm the two most important considerations to test with “go/no-go” strategy are client selection and project selection.  The criteria evaluating clients and projects must be grounded on the firm’s goals. Here are some pointers for maintaining discipline in your practice.

Establishing Goals

Firms should establish clear financial and reputational goals and stick to them. Principals should have a shared design philosophy, and a clear vision of how the firm should present itself in the marketplace.  Determine the firm’s financial goals – make the 1-year and 5-year plans. Be pro-active and creative in meeting financial goals but above all maintain the discipline to stick to the firm’s established standards.

Client Selection

Establish common ground with potential clients – make certain they share the firm’s values and motivation. Does the owner have the money to do project, and realistic expectations? Is the contract reasonable and have timely payment terms? Does the contract make the architect responsible for contractor performance, or design changes? Is the client known to be litigious?

Project Selection 

Project selection should be based on a thorough ROI evaluation based on both financial and reputational goals. Is this a project that fits within our firm’s creative vision? Has the firm done this kind of work before? Do we have the capacity? Can we do a good job and meet our financial goals?

If a firm has established clear goals and maintains the discipline to stick to those goals, making a decision on a project can be as simple as “go/no-go”.

Steve Whitehorn is the author of the upcoming book, Empowerment by Design and creator of The A/E Empowerment Program.® He is also Managing Principal of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., which helps its clients create a more significant legacy and empowers them to achieve greater impact on their projects, relationships, and communities.

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Fall Career Fair at NJIT

NJIT hosting it’s Fall Career Fair on October 1st.

NJ Architectural firms sign up to meet our future architects.  Find out more information from NJIT Career Development.

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USGBC-NJ Hosts Senator Norcross Networking Event

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USGBC NJ Chapter
South Branch Presents
SENATOR DONALD NORCROSS
PRESENTATION & NETWORKING DINNER
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
5:00 – 8:00 PM
Wyndham Philadelphia – Mount Laurel

Come out and enjoy a night of networking and socializing with others in green building & advocacy related fields. Senator Norcross will discuss the topics of economic development, green building, and school construction, particularly in South Jersey.

REGISTER HERE


Senator Donald Norcross (D),
Legislative District 5:
Committees: Law and Public Safety, Chair, Military and Veterans’ Affairs Transportation. Senator Donald Norcross was sworn to the Senate on January 19, 2010. The Senator has been an advocate for the working men and women of New Jersey. He also championed efforts to expand and diversify the workforce through the recruitment and hiring of women and minorities. As a legislator, he is working to reduce the costs of government and to bring property taxes under control. He also promotes reform movements within government spending, ethics, and accountability. He is dedicated to creating public-private partnerships and other initiatives to spur economic development, revitalize neighborhoods, and rejuvenate the downtown business districts within Camden.CLICK HERE for full bio.

THANK YOU TO OUR EVENT SPONSORS:

            

SCHEDULE:
• 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm sign-in, networking & drinks (cash bar)
• 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm buffet dinner and networking
• 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm speaker Senator Norcross (includes Q&A)
COST TO ATTEND:
Members/ Non-members & Students/ Emerging Professionals: $25
(Click here to register)
LOCATION: Wyndham Philadelphia – Mount Laurel
1111 Route 73 North, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

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