Recession forces A/E/P and environmental consulting firms to adjust strategic plans

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — The economy has compelled architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms to revisit their strategic plans, with some dumping fresh blueprints and changing their focus to fit the "new normal."

Several firm leaders interviewed for an article in the Oct. 11 issue of The Zweig Letter said the recession has sent them back to the drawing board to modify plans that were developed even as the recession hit.

"We had just finished a plan update in the summer of 2008 when the economy tanked," said Glenn Bell, chief executive officer of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. "It's sobering to look at that plan now. Although it anticipated an economic downturn, it was not to the depth, breadth, or length of what has actually transpired."

Some firms are refocusing their near-term plans in order to adapt to changes brought on by the recession, while holding on to their original long-term growth plans.

"First, to help guide us through the recession, we have turned our focus from strategic planning to scenario planning. Scenario planning is an invaluable tool when the future is dynamic and uncertain," Bell said. "Second, we have altered our 2008 strategic plan execution to reflect a two-step reaction to the recession: 1) minimize the firm's vulnerabilities, and 2) capitalize on opportunities that are created by the recession. We are now pursuing step two by looking aggressively at acquisition opportunities and new markets that weren't there before. What we have not allowed ourselves to do is compromise our original growth goals because of the recession."

Other firms are using lessons learned from the recession to adopt new mindsets. For example, KZA Engineering, PA in Manasquan, N.J., is shifting its attitude to adapt to a changing climate.

"In a nutshell, we are planning in a 'new normal' mode but our actions and worth ethics have been shaped and sharpened by our 'Great Recession' experience," said President Richard Kenderian.

For more information, contact Sonya Stout at 479-582-5700 or sstout@zweigwhite.com.


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