ACEC's Chair-Elect of the Coalition Leaders Steering Committee discusses the importance of coalitions through ACEC membership.
And welcome to another edition of Engineering influence with ACEC. Very happy to have a repeat guest to the podcast. Matt Morello is the Chair-Elect of the Coalition Leaders Steering Committee.
Matt Murello: (00:50)
Thanks for having me, Jeff.
Yes, thank you for coming in. I know you're a busy man. You have a lot of hats that you wear. Not only being president of your firm Lewis Goodfriend and Associates out of New Jersey. And Mayor as well. And then also of course Chair-Elect of the coalitions and then also taking on the tax and regulatory committee. So there's a lot going on. But today really focusing in on coalitions. You were just a couple of minutes ago in our large conference room talking to the staff together about the importance of coalitions. Um, take a moment and kind of describe what the coalitions at ACEC do, why are they important? And really what are you trying to get across coming in as the chairman of the coalitions committee.
Matt Murello: (01:40)
Thanks. Um, so the coalitions for people that aren't aware, are groups within ACEC, many of which are practice centered, uh, whether it's land development or professional surveyors, mechanical electrical engineers or structural engineers, that provide additional information and resources to those practice centered firms. The other of those two are based upon the, the size of the firms who have small firms in the DPC, the larger firms, the small firms counsel that I got involved with as chair in 2012. And the value of the coalitions is, as we were just explaining to staff of ACEC is to provide a pool of information and resources, whether it's peer to peer, I have a question about something I want to do or, or tried to do, or it's just the ability to have access to documents.
Matt Murello: (02:35)
Right now, the number of documents that any coalition member would have access to if they were to purchase them all would be over $5,000. And that's a, that's a significant investment to affirm. If a firm is starting or growing or merging or adding onto the ability to go and tap into those resources of, um, just the documents or being able to talk, um, in a peer to peer environment and say, look, I want to open a new business or I want to open a new office or I want to develop my next generation of leaders, or how valuable is my firm? Um, at some point somebody's already done it. And within the coalitions you're gonna find that person, probably one that's done it right and one that hasn't. The ability to tap into the information is going to make your firm better off in the end because you have the ability to say, okay, does this, is this method of growing my next generation of leaders?
Matt Murello: (03:36)
Is it going to work for me or is it not? When we all started to get together in 2011 and 2012 where the different chairs got together and said, okay, each one of our groups, instead of trying to be all things to all members concentrated on what did we do best? And at the Small Firm Council, we decided we were gonna try to be the best at helping you run your business. How can we make you more profitable, grow or maintain your client base, diverse your client your client base while the other coalitions we're making you better surveyors or better land development or better structural engineers or better mechanical electrical engineers, engineering firms. And when we did that, when we got together and said, okay, let's each one of us coalitions do the best we can at what we want to provide our members, that's when the membership of the coalitions in general started to grow rapidly.
Matt Murello: (04:33)
I've always believed that if we can get anybody who automatically joins ACEC for whatever reasons they do, if you want to be engaged and you want to get the most you can out of ACEC, the advocacy side and the coalition side, although they are completely opposite in terms of what you need to put into them, um, they're going to make your firm stronger, make you a better leader and help you grow your business and develop those next generation of leaders.
And it's really a little barrier to entry.
Matt Murello: (05:02)
It really is. I mean, uh, obviously there's a, a significant monetary expense to join ACEC, but to join a coalition is only $250. And if you're a member of the insurance trust they reimburse you part of that. And then if you're a member of a coalition, you want to join another coalition, it's even less expensive. So the cost to join a coalition versus what you get out of it, if nothing else, just the documents themselves is an order of magnitude over what you pay.
But like you said, it's that information sharing. It's that best practices. Having a center for excellence for firms to learn how best to, I guess grow or change their management structure or whatever they want to do to be more successful in their industry. Not so much professionally, but in their specialization. Even though there's information about that available it's more how can you grow your firm, get it ready to go into M&A if you want to do that or if it's going to be just, you know, a training the next generation coming up, that's really where you can learn.
Matt Murello: (06:07)
Yeah, you're right. And to be honest with you, Jeff I've been going to the Small Firm Counsel round tables for almost 20 years now. Um, and one of the questions I got asked by staff was, you know, what are the typical topics you discuss on at these approximately two and a half hours of sitting in a room. Um, and what you had mentioned with, uh, with mergers and acquisitions and growing leadership development and from valuation and benchmark performance metrics. Um, we talk about over and over and over again and we're always finding new ways to try to come up with what works best for my firm. I have a very small firm in New Jersey, in the New York City area. Uh, we've, uh, been between five people and 12 people in the 17 years I've owned the business. But the coalitions have always helped me when I want to figure out whether I'm doing well or not doing well.
Matt Murello: (06:59)
Is this a good time to open a new office? How do I quantify whether it's a good time and whether it's performing well or not. All of that information is readily accessible because people have done it. Um, and there's nothing easier than asking somebody who's done it and not done well at it. Okay. What do, what pitfalls do I avoid so that I can concentrate on being the best acoustical engineer I can offer in this area? Um, and at the same time, because I'm a small firm, I don't have a CFO and HR director. How do I get around or how do I deal with those topics? In my business, which will come up. Um, and what's the best way to deal with it. And I think that that pool of information, that pool of resources is something that's invaluable.
And something else that was mentioned during your, during your talk was the fact that at the conferences that ACEC holds, it's an open door policy that if you're an ACEC member and you want to just test out a coalition or see if it's something that you're interested in, you can come in and sit in see if it's right for you.
Matt Murello: (07:57)
Right. The, the, the round tables that exist on the Sunday of the national meetings are where we get, um, it's an open door. Uh, people come in. And I've always found that if someone joins a one of the round tables and find some value in innovation if it's one topic we discussed that it makes their lives easier, um, that's a perspective member that we more often than not can get to join a coalition.
So Matt, really, what's your elevator pitch for membership coming in and you have some, you know, you're talking to a bunch of new ACEC members and they don't know about coalitions, you know, what's, what's your, what's your pitch to them?
Matt Murello: (08:34)
I think any firm that decides to be involved with ACEC has already made the decision for the expense of joining and they've determined whatever their need is. If that firm really wants to be actively involved in the industry, have a say, or at least be in the know and to what's changing in our industry from a tax and regulatory standpoint, infrastructure, what bills are coming or not coming, ACEC is the place to be. If you're gonna make that jump into, be actively involved with the organization, losing out on the opportunity for a very small investment in a coalitions of $250 to be involved and get access to that pool of information to grow your business, to manage your business effectively, to grow the next generation of leaders and to become a better engineering firm and a principal is really something that you need to take. And taken into consideration. Otherwise it's an opportunity lost. Um, we all spend most of our time of being responsive as business owners. And if you have an opportunity to tap into information to make you a better leader, to make your firm stronger, more resilient in downturn times as you are in growth. I think it's a resource that everyone should take advantage of. Coalitions is the place to get that.
Well, that's fantastic. And Matt, thank you for coming down to Washington. Thank you for speaking to our group and I know you have a busy schedule, so I'm not going to hold you up, but thank you so much again, check out our coalitions on www.acec.org Um, and uh, thanks again for coming on.
Matt Murello: (10:06)
Thanks Jeff. As always.
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