Scammed

Earlier this year, I received a call from my controller asking me to confirm the wire transfer that I requested for $35,000. Surprised, I asked, “what wire transfer?” She had received not only a request but responses from me by email approving the transfer.  Fortunately, she was astute to realize we have never done a wire transfer before and that we don’t send money without approved invoices. So, what did we do? First, we contacted our IT director who commended us on our prudence and said there is nothing you can do, and at that dollar amount, the police or feds won’t care enough to try and catch them. Second, we looked at the email exchange. What became clear was that this was very well calculated and planned; the email, logo signature, and even the language I would normally use was so accurate it was really convincing. It was

Stereotypes

It takes time to develop stereotypes, and with the owner’s representation being a newer niche service in the AEC industry, we have not fully formulated a stigma, but it appears to be in the works. As an architect turned owner's representative fifteen years ago, I have gained a perspective as I guide clients through the design and construction process. I quickly learned that there are owners sometimes buy into widely held beliefs stemming from architecture and construction professionals' stereotypes. Despite consistent efforts to shed our respective stereotypes to owners, they continue to resurface time and time again. Most people form their understanding of the profession of architecture from the cinema or news articles about high profile projects, such as airports or art museums. The prominence of “starchitects” took off in the dot com era of 2003, and some owners we contract with are still reacting to the perceived attitude

Cars and Relationships

My wife’s car was twelve years old and between the paint touch-ups from my guy Benny and the engine that rattles more than an angry snake, it was time to move on. I reached out to my brother and resident deal-hunter for advice. He told me not to be afraid of buying a car out of state if it was the right car. He expanded on the concept by indicating that when you buy a car from a far distance the built-in road trip back to home allows you to form a bond with the car and your travel mate making the new car an experience rather than a purchase. Although I love watching shows about junkyard cars coming back to life, I would not claim that I am a “car guy.”  That said, I do understand the attachment that comes along with major purchases like this, especially

Scary Merger Names Part 2

The A/E/C industry has seen many mergers and acquisitions in the past few years. As a follow up to the original "Scary Merger Name" blog, we gave some thought to a few more that would be fun to see! Zehren & Associates+Zmistowski Design Group+Zone 4 Architects = Zzzz Architects B2sj Design Group +Zone 4 Architects+Yow Architects = BS 4 Yow Group Greenfield Architects + Brown David P + Blueline Architects PC  = Rainbow Color Design Hairabedian ARG Architects + Klipp (now GKK now Cannon) = Hair Klipp Conger Fuller Architects + Shike Design = Fuller Shike Architects Craig Melvin Architects + Hobbs Design Firm = Celvin and Hobbs Architects Vaught Frye Architects + Theodore K Guy Associates = Frye Guy Architects Barker Rinker Seacat and OZ Architects = BROZ Way Architects + Unreal Construction LLC = Way Unreal Design / Build Reynolds + Arapahoe Architects = Reynolds Arap Architects

“Dear Abby, I’ve Been Married 20 Years And ….”

This year my wife, Vicki, and I celebrated 20 years of marriage; and we can both tell you we are grateful, it’s been mostly harmonious. What makes it work? I’m no Dear Abby, but as I reflect on how my wife and I interact, I realize there is an alignment between the actions that help personal relationships succeed and those that bolster client relationships. (1) Put the toilet seat down. OK, not literally, but identify what makes your client insane. People can drive others crazy through their idiosyncrasies. Watch body language as you just may have a habit that is getting under your client’s skin, such as how you greet them, address them, or smack your gum. This isn’t about you; it’s about them and their issues, so don’t take it personally. (2) Tell her she is beautiful. This is easy for me to tell my wife because

Should You Be Using AIA Contract Documents?

In 2011 I wrote a blog comparing the two primary contract platforms in the A/E/C industry, AIA contract documents and ConsensusDOCS, https://wemberinc.com/consensusdocs-vs-aia-construction-forms/.   After a recent training session with a team of legal professionals, I was surprised by their strong support the use of the AIA Contract Documents. The AIA promotes the use of their documents through following statements below, also found on their website: https://www.aiala.com/why-use-aia-documents-2/ AIA documents are fair.  AIA contracts and forms are consensus documents that reflect advice from practicing architects, contractors, engineers as well as owners, surety bond producers, insurers, and attorneys. AIA documents balance the interests of all the parties, so no one interest, including that of the architect, is unfairly represented. AIA documents reflect industry practices, not theory.  Where practices are inconsistent or no guidelines for practice exist, the AIA documents provide a consensus-based model for practitioners to follow. AIA documents reflect changing construction

Damn, I’m 45

“Turns out, 45 years old is just 45 years old. An age that means you are old enough not to feel young anymore, but not old enough to complain about it. It’s like the middle child of ages... no one is impressed or thinks your turning 45 is a big deal but you.”  Huffington Post When Wember turned 10, I was 42 and I wrote this blog, https://wemberinc.com/wember-turns-10/; it’s fun to be 10 after all! Today, I turn 45 and reflect on advice that I have received over the years from those who matter most. Don’t do dumb shit ~ Only a father could give you such words of wisdom Be on path by age 30 ~ If you’re going to be taken seriously, by age thirty you have better know where you're headed. Life’s not fair and then you die ~ Growing up the youngest of six

Who Should Own the Contingency?

A good contingency plan requires continuous thought and planning, whether you are going on vacation to Mexico, climbing Mt. Everest, or tackling a capital improvement project--things go wrong. As a father of three, and a business owner, I find myself commonly swerving through what could go wrong next and how to circumvent potential obstacles and recover from bumps in the road. I am not being pessimistic; I am being a survivalist. When it comes to navigating a project budget, proper management of the contingency is an area that can influence a successful project outcome. Who manages it? Who carries it? And, how do you make sure it doesn’t get inflated to the point of stopping your project? While there are many discussions on the subject of contingency we could hash over, this blog addresses why an owner and general contractor would want to have a portion of the

Myth #1 Busted – We Have Long-standing Relationships With All Clients

Last year I was honored to be selected to serve on a panel of owner’s representatives at the 2016 AIA Symposium. While the discussions that ensued were informative and thought provoking, it was the dialogue that occurred off stage that stuck with me most. I was repeatedly approached by inquiring architects who wanted to know “Why don’t Owner’s Representatives issue better RFPs and guide their clients through a more refined selection process?” While I am not the owner’s representative industry spokesman, I defended myself (and our colleagues) by explaining that owner’s representatives are not always the culprit of these poorly crafted RFPs. Upon returning from the conference, I was curious, what percentage of RFPs do we help owners generate? While it is true that owner’s representatives sometimes have a long-standing relationship with certain clients, we aren’t always involved in the procurement of architects, or even general contractors for

Breaking Into a New Market

I was recently asked by a smaller-sized architecture firm how to win work for a project type with which they had no prior experience. Many of us have faced this quandary. It can be frustrating; but, with tenacity and smart business decisions it can be done. We went on to discuss some options. 1.  Hire for it. At one point, we had no school experience and wanted to break into the market. When we had an opportunity to add staff we didn’t hire our best friend, we looked for a resume that fit our strategic plan. The project manager brought along a deep rolodex (okay, CMS) and the market has been open ever since. 2.  Devise a creative teaming approach that provides a unique strategy or solution; it will almost always garner attention, if not win you a top contender spot. 3.  Start shaking hands.  Although it's not