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Summertime Conference Season is On!

Posted on June 26, 2019

It's officially summer time, and conference season is upon us! SMBH has been busy participating in some of our industry's most important events.

At a recent conference on two paths to A/E/C firm success, given by Brad Wilson of TWO CPAs & Consultants, Inc, our Principals Stephen Metz and Jon Beier learned about how to better invest in our employees and clients. Wilson's talk focused on two paths to success; make your firm attractive to high-quality clients and make your firm attractive to talented employees. Metz said that the biggest take-away for him was the importance of rewarding the firms' top performing employees, so they know how important they are to our success as a business. Metz and Beier are already starting to put some of Wilson's lessons to good use as they update our policies to better align with the importance of employee recognition.

Partner and Director of Marketing & Business Development, Lisa Connelly, attended the SMPS Heartland Regional Conference in Detroit. This conference includes almost every aspect of marketing in the Architecture and Engineering industries and is tailored to professionals there to learn and share marketing and business development best practices and expertise.

This year's theme was "Focus Forward." There was discussion on how the AEC industry is changing, with project delivery increasingly becoming either Design/Build or Construction Management at Risk, and the increasing popularity of prefabrication and modular construction. BIM also continues to evolve as more firms utilize it for 4D and 5D, and BIM Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being talked about more and more. Augmented Reality (AR), automation, and AI are all becoming more common place, because they enhance project communication and eliminate routine tasks. Likewise, autonomous construction equipment like brick-laying robots, self-driving trucks, and construction drones are entering the jobsite.

There was an emphasis on how AEC firms are using thought leadership and content marketing to reach their clients in new ways that are less about selling and more about providing insight and help as experts in their field. In fact, the top sales and marketing approach is fast becoming the Customer Experience. With 80% of business coming from repeat customers, the conference urged us to consider how we can invest more time in our top clients and their experience working with us.

Getting quality talent was also an important topic. As the talent war gets worse, 80% of companies say they can't hire the people they need. So many are modernizing and rethinking their policies and culture to increase recruitment and retention, and to be more attractive to women, as well as Millennials and Gen Z, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025.

Senior Engineer Mike Sugrue has also been busy. He recently attended the annual I.CON Industrial Real Estate conference in Long Beach, California - focused solely on the development, operation, and expansion of industrial real estate. Given the high volume of industrial and manufacturing projects that we're currently working on, the timing could not have been better. The conference highlighted how the industry, end users, and developers are still bullish in the industrial sector, bolstered by the increase in e-commerce. There were also great insights into the future impact on industrial facilities regarding autonomous trucking and last mile delivery, particularly as applied to groceries and perishables.

The thing that strikes us the most is how these three conferences, while about different parts of the AEC industry, all dovetailed with one another well. Together, they give a cohesive vision of the future of the AEC industry in all its facets. Now that we're back from these conferences full of new ideas and enthusiasm, we're ready to push into the future with you!