Call for Proposals

If you are interested in speaking at the 2018 Growth & Ownership Strategies Conference, please contact Ashley Cristman at acristman@rog-partners.com. Enclose a title and brief description of your session and why it would appeal to senior level executives in the A/E Industry.

 2017 PROGRAM  *As of 10/19/2017
 Wednesday, November 8
12:30 p.m. ROG+ Golf Outing | Sponsored by DiCicco Gulman & Company
Tiburón Golf Club next to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pre-Conference Ownership Transition and Merger & Acquisition Workshop
Led by Michael O’Brien and Steve Gido, Principals, Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners
This intensive four-hour workshop will cover the various internal and external options for transitioning ownership in an A/E or environmental consulting firm. It will cover: 1.) The pros and cons of the various transition options; 2.) How a firm’s valuation will differ under different transition scenarios; 3.) Basic elements of an internal transition plan; 4.) How ESOPs can augment an internal transition; 5.) The basics of merging with or selling your firm to an outside entity.
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Welcome Reception | Sponsored by Ames & Gough
Tiburón Golf Club next to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort
 Thursday, November 9
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Registration and Networking Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. Welcome & Sponsor Introductions
8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Program Overview for Day 1
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Let the Good Times Roll – The State of the A/E Industry
Ian Rusk, Managing Principal, Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners
With the current decade often associated with stagnant growth and uneven results for many A/E firms, the industry now appears to have turned a corner towards sustained performance. Higher executive and small business confidence, tight labor markets, pent-up infrastructure and building demand, and large-scale M&A activity offer evidence of an industry roaring back again. But where does it go from here? Ian Rusk breaks down the latest financial metrics and trends and offers his insights as to what’s driving the success of A/E and environmental firms today.
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Keynote Session
rendall-book-rightThe Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness
David Rendall, Executive Coach, The Freak Factory
What’s your problem? I’m serious. What do you wish you could change about yourself? What is the complaint that you hear the most from those closest to you, your friends, co-workers, and family members? Are you too loud or too quiet, too hyperactive or too sedentary, too organized or too messy? You get the idea. So, what should you do? Most people think that they should find and fix their weaknesses. Unfortunately, this just leads to frustration and failure. Your weaknesses are actually the best clue to your strengths. Furthermore, building your strengths, not fixing your weaknesses, is your best strategy for success. This presentation will encourage you to become more of who you are, not to turn you into someone else.
10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Networking Break | Sponsored by Planifi
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Keynote Session
ubl-book-rightWhen Generations Connect – Communicating Across Generational Divides
Hannah Ubl, Research Director, Bridgeworks
Four distinct generations are working together shoulder to shoulder, each with a unique set of attitudes, values and work styles. It used to be that older workers were bosses and younger ones took orders. Now, roles are all over the board and rules are being rewritten. Organizations are feeling the pain of generations as they struggle to manage productivity and morale while maintaining high standards of quality and service in a competitive economy. Hannah’s keynote demonstrates not only why it’s important to understand what shaped the generations, but why they behave the way they do. Find out how generation gaps hit the bottom line. Learn what to do about the approaching talent gap; grasp the keys to retaining the generations you need most and discover how to convert this form of diversity from an obstacle into an opportunity.
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch | Sponsored by SAGlobal
Court of Palms
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Keynote Session
Change is Coming – Understanding Relevant Emerging Technologies and Trends
Simon J. Anderson, Chief Futurist, Venture Foresight, LLC
Emerging and converging technologies are reshaping our world faster than ever! Join futurist Simon J. Anderson for an entertaining and thought-provoking look into the near future. Simon will discuss important trends and technologies including recent advancements in artificial intelligence and automation, how augmented and virtual reality can improve your operations, and disruptive new technologies such as the blockchain.
2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Networking Break  | Sponsored by Clearview Software
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. First Breakout Sessions
Breakout Session 1
Understanding Tax Opportunities for the A/E/C Firm
David M. Sullivan, Jr, CPA, Partner, DGC (DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP)
Change is everywhere you look. Although we haven’t seen real tax reform this year, we are starting to hear some proposals that will impact future tax planning strategies. We will provide an overview and discuss the impact to your firm, and what planning opportunities you should be considering. We will also cover popular tax strategies such as tax incentives and credits, S- Corp / LLC vs C-Corp decisions and implications, and the impact of a stock vs asset sale structure when selling your firm. Lastly, we will discuss how to use deferred compensation strategies to minimize the tax implications of an internal transition, while making it more affordable for the next generation of buyers.
Breakout Session 2
Talent War Again! What Have We Learned From Previous Wars?
Barbara Irwin, President, HR Advisors Group, LLC
Hiring talent continues to be one of the most challenging initiatives for the A/E industry today. Once you identify and hire the talent, the mission changes to keeping the employees engaged, productive and satisfied. This session will focus on various topics including:
– What’s working in talent acquisition?
– How does the search for talent today differ from previous years?
– What are some best practices for recruitment and selection?
– What trends are we seeing related to generational issues and recruiting talent?
– Now, that we found the talent – how do firms keep employees engaged; some tips and techniques for employee engagement
Breakout Session 3
Managing Legal Risks to Maximize Firm Profitability
R Jason Herndon, Partner, Parker Poe
First-class design work is not enough to be a profitable firm. Why? Because fee disputes, malpractice claims, and bad contracts all work to siphon profit out of your projects. In this session, attorney Jason Herndon will use “lessons learned” from real-life projects and claims to explore how A/E firms can manage legal risks throughout a project’s life cycle. Topics will include client selection, key contract provisions, insurance considerations, and best practices for project management.
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Second Breakout Sessions
Breakout Session 4
Incentive Compensation Plans that Attract, Motivate and Retain Employees
Hannah DeLuca, Attorney, Polsinelli
Attorney Hannah DeLuca will help unravel the secrets of successful compensation structures including designing total compensation plans that are aligned with company goals, the use of incentive and performance clauses, goal-oriented executive employment contracts, equity compensation arrangements and non-equity alternatives, tax efficiencies and more. Hannah is also an expert on employee benefit matters during all stages of a Company, and compensation tax issues.
Breakout Session 5
Looking Ahead and Staying Ahead: The Top Issues Your 2018 Strategic Plan Must Address
Ray Kogan, AIA, President, Kogan & Company
What makes for a successful strategic plan? In this session, Ray will cover a framework for how to create and implement a strategic plan. He will also discuss the top issues that your plan must address to stay ahead, including: key internal trends (target markets, workforce/engagement/culture, succession, project delivery, technology) and key external trends (demographics, politics/legislation, infrastructure, workforce, competition).
Breakout Session 6
How to Improve Shareholder Liquidity and Reduce Taxes Without an ESOP
Michael O’Brien, Principal, Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners
Learn about an ownership plan that mitigates taxes, makes it affordable for employees to buy shares, and delivers a value that is fair to the sellers. This session will show you how to use common and synthetic equity that gives you tax benefits similar to firms that sponsor ESOPs. Discover how firms employing this ownership model are able to improve the liquidity of common shares in a closely-held company by improving short-term returns.  
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Program Break: Check in with the home front, stretch your legs, enjoy a workout at the fitness center
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. ROG+ Reception with hors d’oeurves and carving stations | Sponsored by Newforma
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Poolside
 Friday, November 10
7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Networking Breakfast | Sponsored by alliantgroup
8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Welcome to Day Two
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Panel Discussion
M&A Panel – From Courtship to Closing (and Happily Ever After?)
Moderated by Steve Gido, Principal, Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners
Panelists: Rich Schoenthaler, Executive Vice President/CFO, Ayres Associates; Gordie Beittenmiller, CEO, Arc North; Dan Holte, Vice President, Braun Intertec; and John Carrato, President & CEO, Benesch
2017 has been another active year for industry consolidation between A/E firms of all shapes and sizes. Our panelists will share their diverse perspectives on the M&A process, from initiating discussions through transaction closing as well as post-merger integration philosophies. Additional topics will include discussing the motivations of buyers and sellers today, the “buy vs. build option” for growth, assessing cultural fit, valuation and structure options, and key takeaways on managing expectations with integrating operations, clients and staff.
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Keynote Session
Markets, He Wrote: Looking for Clues into the Economy’s Direction
Anirban Basu, Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, Inc.
Anirban Basu is an economist who provides insight and counsel to leaders in the business, non-profit, and public sectors.  In 2015, Maryland Governor selected him to chair the Maryland Economic Development Commission.  Mr. Basu also serves as the chief economist to a number of organizations, including the Construction Financial Management Association.  Mr. Basu has been quoted in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.  His presentation will provide an update on global, national and regional economic performance.  He will primarily focus on energy, financial, labor and real estate markets.
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Program Closing – Final Conclusions and Sentiments
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Third Breakout Sessions
Breakout Session 7
Don’t Throw Them to the Wolves: Instead Be Intentional About Developing Your Seller-Doers
Jim Rogers, Co-Founder, Seller-Doer Academy
Buy them a book about sales. Send them to a business development boot camp. Throw them to the wolves and pray they figure out how to sell on the job. These haphazard, ineffective sales training approaches limit your profits. . . and can hinder your succession planning. If you currently rely too much on the same few rainmakers to bring in business, you shouldn’t have to. Instead, be intentional about developing your seller-doers and you will have multiple tiers of employees who can make a little—or a lot—of rain.
Breakout Session 8
Personal Reputation Management
Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM, Vice President and CMO, JDB Engineering
A technical professional is only as good as his or her reputation, and an important component of any marketing program is gaining name recognition for a company’s key staff by building brands around those people.  These personal brands are powerful tools for developing new business, providing thought leadership, and directly impacting the communities in which these professionals operate.  People do business with people, and every technical professional must develop a positive image that makes clients want to work them.  Through examples of increasingly stringent proposal requirements, case studies, and a series of tools, presenter Scott Butcher (author of Reputation Design+Build: Creating Winning Personal Brands for Engineering, Design, and Construction Professionals) will outline a game plan for elevating your personal reputation to become sought-after by clients and help land new commissions for your firm.
Breakout Session 9
Tax Breaks for Engineers & Architects
Brian Aumueller, Managing Director, alliantgroup
Join alliantgroup for an educational session on the latest updates to powerful tax credits, incentives and deductions for engineering and architectural firms. Hear from alliantgroup’s Managing Director Brian Aumueller as he walks you through the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit and how it’s rewarding businesses like yours; the latest changes to the tax code from the IRS; and how you can qualify for these credits and incentives. To date, alliantgroup has helped architectural and engineering firms uncover more than $670 million dollars in credits and incentives.
Breakout Session 10
Why Digital Transformation is a Strategic Imperative in Your A/E/C Firm
Michael D’Alesio, Strategic Account Manager, SAGlobal
In the hyper-competitive A/E/C space, staying ahead of your competition is the key to survival in the new digital-first world. Today’s most innovative A/E/C firms are leveraging digital transformation strategies to find new ways to bring together people, data, and processes to create unique value for their clients and maintain a competitive advantage. Come learn about the undertaking of digital transformation as we explore some disruptive technologies enabling the transformation and identify the key business areas your firm can target for transformation through real-life scenarios.
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ROG + Grand Slam Fishing Tournament
Port-o-Call Marina