NSPE Gateway to Government January 13, 2009
In This Issue of PEG e-News...

Thriving in an Economic Meltdown

Wayne Kurzen

Wayne Kurzen will be presenting "Thriving in the Economic Meltdown" on January 29, 2009 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Eastern.  To register for this Web event, please visit the NSPE Education Web page.

The current economic conditions have brought a whole new level of “stress” to today’s entrepreneur. Business as usual will probably not work. The following is a list of considerations for surviving and even thriving in a recessionary economy.

1. Cut “financial drag.” Methodically cut unnecessary expenses. Cut your Overhead. Now is a time to look at every item on your profit and loss statement and ask the hard question — can we cut this without hurting our top line? During good times, we get pretty sloppy with our expenses. Involve your team in this line-by-line discussion. Some companies assign every line item to an individual on the team. But don’t cut marketing (see below).

You cannot manage what you do not measure. If your financials — your profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements — are not current, accurate and relevant, now is the time to get your books in order.

Review your financials often. Review your financials at least once per month and cash flow Statement weekly.

2. Get rid of your “C” players. Top performing companies always have an “A” team. In fact, if you carry “C” players on your team, it is unlikely that you will ever rise to the top. The motto in hiring and firing should be “slow to hire and quick to fire.”However, much of the time business owners do the opposite! If you have been hanging on to your marginal performers, now is the time to free them. The question to ask yourself is this: “Would I enthusiastically hire this person today?” If you cannot answer “yes” you probably do not have an “A” player. There are “A” players available because many have been let go or fear their company won’t be around in the future…they are ready to move. Now is the time to create your “A”  team. Leading employee productivity companies, like the Container Store, believe that one“A”  player is worth three “C”  players. The Container Store pays more per hour than the competition, but their overall payroll expense is less.

3. Expand your business. Acquire your competitors or expand your product or service. Perhaps, you need to expand your reach or change your target customer. If you have been involved in residential construction, you may want to expand your target reach into commercial or add more to your service department...one person’s nightmare is another person’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Be on the lookout for struggling businesses that compliment your business…there are some great bargains! And you may not need cash or a loan to get them. NOTE: Buying a distressed business is just like buying distressed property…you can often find a great deal that is a win-win. Perhaps you offer to takeover a struggling business and pay nothing but to offer the owner a job. You get a customer list, their equipment, possible licensing, and someone to run that part of the business for you. The seller escapes struggling and possible bankruptcy. It is a win-win.

Look at not only acquiring competitors, but also look at expanding your product line. For example, if you are an electrical contractor, look at adding other complimentary produces like low-voltage or security systems to your total product offering. Also consider acquiring minority owned businesses, thus increasing your opportunity to bid on government contracts.

4. Expand your “sand box.” Consider increasing the size of your geographic boundaries. This may involve going somewhere where your product is still in demand. For example, if you are a contractor in Florida, you may have to go to another state for awhile.

5. Increase quality of workmanship. Avoid the temptation to cut quality. As you compete for business with less business available, the last thing you want to cut is quality. Think value, value, value.

6. Measure employee productivity. Know your revenue/profit per employee. It is a proven fact that, people perform at a higher level when they know their performance is being measured. Establish a “key performance indicator” for every employee. Measure revenue/profit per employee is one of the easiest metrics to monitor. Consider putting Global Positioning Systems in your vehicles. GPS has become a relatively inexpensive tool, and it has proven to increases productivity…both from a scheduling and individual performance standpoint.

7. Know your “uncommon offering.”  During economic downturns, price does become a bigger factor. But still, do your best to compete on “value” not price. The mastermind behind the initial Southwest Airlines marketing, Bob Bloom, defines “uncommon offering” as the “WHAT” you offer. It represents both the tangible benefit of your product or service and the emotional experience you will deliver to your customer. What is it like doing business with you that makes you better than your competition? Are you more reliable, flexible, responsive, and cutting-edge?

8. Don’t cut marketing. expand it! Six studies conducted by the research firm of Meldrum & Fewsmith showed conclusively that advertising aggressively during recessions not only Increases sales but increases profits. This fact has held true for all post-World War II recessions studied by the American Business Press. Marketing does not have to be expensive. Some of the best marketing is free marketing! You will get more business from referrals, publications, and other unconventional methods with a system and a very low budget. It’s also very important during this time to keep a balanced marketing portfolio. Don’t invest in just one or two strategies.

9. Get on the phone. Get personally involved in calling all of your current customers. Let them know that you are not only still in business, but that you are aggressively seeking their business. Bestselling author and top business guru, Tom Peters says, “Work the damn phones...Keep working the damn phones...Show up…Keep showing up.” There is less business out there, so go after it. Build and reinforce your relationships. Talk about your “uncommon offering.” The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

10. Share the pain. Involve your team, set the example. If everyone needs to take a temporary cut in pay, take one yourself. But do not keep “C” players on the payroll. Remember, you are running a business, not a rehab center.

11. Work on yourself. Bestselling author John Maxwell says a business will never outgrow the owner. Educate yourself…learn, learn, learn. It’s not the one who works the hardest, but the one who works the smartest that ultimately wins. Do what you need to do to “get the edge” in your industry.

12. Hire a Coach. Nearly all of the most successful people in any area have a coach or coaches. Whether it is Tiger Woods or a time-proven and experienced CEO, coaching improves performance by providing insights and ideas, serving as a sounding board, helping define goals with clarity, and providing accountability to execute proven ideas.

Wayne Kurzen is a platinum master business coach with ActionCOACH. He has been selected among 1,000 worldwide action coaches as North America Coach of the Year (in his category). He is also one of 70 gazelles growth coaches worldwide, and qualified to teach the “best practices ” of the leading mid-sized business in the world. He is an affiliate member of IEC and specializes in helping owners of electrical contractors grow profits and have more personal away from the business.

Support the PEG Management Study Fellowship

The fellowship was developed by NPSE/PEG in response to a concern that practicing engineers are being overlooked for promotion to management positions due to the lack of formal credentials.  This fellowship is intended to afford qualified engineers the opportunity to expand their talents to their utmost capabilities. The Professional Engineers in Government funds and administers the PEG Management Study Fellowship.

This fellowship, in the amount of $2,500, is awarded to an engineer pursuing advanced studies in business administration, engineering management, or public administration.  It is available to engineer interns or licensed professional engineers from any discipline.

PEG has provided an endowment for this fellowship, but is seeking donations to make sure that this fellowship is funded well into the future.  Click here to find out how to make a tax deductible-donation.

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Changing the Conversation

January 27, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (Eastern)
Changing the Conversation
Click here to register

Speakers: Kathryn A. Gray, P.E., F.NSPE, President, GrayTech Software, Inc.; Thomas C. Roberts, P.E., Assistant Dean, Engineering, Kansas State University
Description: In July 2008, the National Academy of Engineering released the final report of the NAE Committee on Public Understanding of Engineering Messages:  Changing the Conversation:  Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering.  The report addresses a key concern to the engineering community:  how best to communicate about the engineering profession when interacting with stakeholders.  

Join us for an overview of the Changing the Conversation report as it relates to K-12 outreach. Then learn  what is being done to change the conversation and and how the engineering community can  work together to improve the public understanding of engineering within K-12 (prospective students, parents, educators). 

The Changing the Conversation report may be found here.  [ return to top ]

Nominate Your Fellow Engineers for NSPE Awards

NSPE offers several awards that have upcomming deadlines in 2009. Below are just a few of the award programs NSPE will be conducting this year.

To see the complete list of NSPE awards, please visit the NSPE Awards Web page.

NSPE Award (Deadline: January 31)
The NSPE Award is the highest award given to an individual by the Society. It is presented to an engineer who has made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession, the public welfare, and/or humankind. Nominations should be made in consideration of the high caliber of some of the previous recipients: President Herbert Hoover, Dr. David B. Steinman (founder of NSPE), former Puerto Rico Governor Luis A. Ferre, former NSPE Executive Director Paul H. Robbins, and R. Bruce Taylor, P.E.

PEGASUS (Deadline: March 31)
The Professional Engineers in Government is administering the annual PEGASUS Award program. The Professional Engineer in Government Achievement and Service in the United States Award recognizes the engineer who has made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement and practice of engineering. The PEGASUS award will honor a registered professional engineer employed by a state, regional, county, special district, or municipal government.

Mentor of the Year Award (Deadline: March 31)
The Mentor of the Year Award is given each year to the one member of NSPE who best exemplifies the ideal image of a mentor. The award may be given to an individual who has established a record of consistent outreach toward individuals in the engineering field, including engineering professionals and students, over a number of years. This award can also be received by an individual who has contributed to the support or development of mentoring programs within their company or in the engineering community. The ideal candidate should have a record of achievement in offering guidance to and fostering development among engineering professionals.

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2009 Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest

NSPE's Board of Ethical Review is furnishing you with a real fact situation regarding the ethical obligations of an electrical engineer when a developer decides not to include a protective steel mesh in homes to be built in order to mitigate the occupants' exposure to interior levels of low-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF). Given the facts, you are asked a questionabout the ethics of the engineer. Contestants are encouraged to read and discuss the facts of the case and answer to the question. Then contestants are to develop discussions and conclusions using the format of the NSPE Board of Ethical Review.

All entries must be received by Friday, April 17, 2009. Phone: 703-684-2840

The winning entry will receive an award of $1,000 ($500 to the NSPE state society or NSPE chapter and $500 divided among the authors) provided by NSPE and the NSPE Educational Foundation, a certificate, and recognition in PE magazine, as well as other external media outlets.

For details visit the NSPE Web site.

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NSPE Spring Online Educational Offerings

New in 2009!
NSPE has put together an impressive series of Web seminars that will assist you as a professional engineer searching for PDHs to help you meet state registration board requirements for PE license renewal. Pricing is per site—the more individuals at a site, the lower your per person cost.
Individual session pricing is available for all Web seminars; series pricing is available for Ethics Forum and Green Issues/Sustainability. Contact education@nspe.org for special series pricing for the Career Development, Business Management, or Licensure series or for multiple locations.

Michael Simpson, PEG's Western and Pacific vice chair, will be a speaker on the following two Web seminars.

Shaping the Future of Engineering: Challenges and Opportunities in a Time of Rapid Change (1.0 PDH)
March 31, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Michael Simpson, P.E. Senior Engineer, City of Los Angeles and Paul Horton, Director of Sustainability, David Evans and Associates
Description: Learn how the "green movement" is influencing the engineering world. We are delving into new territory and entering a carbon-constrained world. The guiding principles shaping engineering through 2020 and trends leading to the tipping point towards a low-carbon economy will be discussed. Participants will also learn how Los Angeles is leading the charge toward a prosperous, low-carbon economy. Quiz provided at the end.

A Sustainable Approach to Planning and Design (1.0 PDH)
May 13, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Speakers: Michael Simpson, P.E., Senior Engineer, City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works; Paul Horton, Director of Sustainability, David Evans and Associates Inc.
Description: Have you been wondering how to make your projects more sustainable? Have your clients been asking for more sustainable planning and design? Paul Horton will provide an overview of the critical elements necessary to achieve a higher level of sustainability in projects. While we won't be able to make every project super green, we should nonetheless have a clear strategy (or approach) and a set of tools to allow us to make meaningful sustainable advances or improvements based on the specific situation and the current client conditions. Michael Simpson will discuss how the Los Angeles Unified School District practices integrating sustainability into new school construction. This presentation outlines a logical, sequential "approach" to integrating sustainability into projects. Quiz provided at the end.

Go to the NSPE Web site to register. [ return to top ]

Events Calendar

NSPE Calendar  This calendar lists NSPE and state society education offerings, meetings, award deadlines, etc. 

Non-NSPE events of interest to government engineers

11-15 Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.

19 Federal Engineer of the Year Award Ceremony


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2008-09 PEG Executive Board Contact Information

Tim Madhanagopal, P.E., BCEE, F.NSPE
Plant Manager
Orange County Utilities

Immediate Past Chair
Russell G. Martin, P.E., F.NSPE 
Program Director
Maine Department of Human Services
Division of Health Engineering

Louise Carosi Doyle, P.E., F.NSPE 
Director of Engineering
Westchester Joint Water Work, NY



John Cardarelli II, Ph.D., P.E.
US Environmental Protection Agency US Public Health Service/Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Northeast Region Vice Chair
David Alan Janover, P.E.
Town Engineer
Islipp Terrace, NY

Southeast Region Vice Chair
Sandra Knight, P.E., F.NSPE, M.ASCE
Bradley County Engineer
Cleveland, TN

Central Region Vice Chair

Southwest Region Vice Chair
Todd S. Rastorfer, P.E.
Civil Engineer
US Army Corps of Engineers
New Mexico

Western and Pacific Region Vice Chair
Michael Simpson, P.E.

North Central Region Vice Chair
Gary J. Pendergrass, P.E., RG

Young Engineer Representative
D. Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS
Transportation Engineer Project Delivery Team
Federal Highway Administration
Kentucky Division

Young Engineer Representative 


State Representatives:
Daniel G. Miller, P.E. - KS
Todd Rastorfer, P.E. - NM Richard W. Lenz, P.E.- NY
Robert B. Darby, P.E. - UT
Ali M. Mustapha, P.E. - LA
Diane M. Carlson, P.E. - MI
Richard Grossenbacher, P.E.
Richard H Nettleton P.E.- VA

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