Mar. 4, 2015

GBA's CLAIMS 101 Now Ready for Download
CLAIMS 101: The Fundamentals of Claims Detection and Response is the title of an all-new, 18-page guide prepared by GBA's Legal Affairs Committee, with support from Terra Insurance Company. The guide provides an overview of the claim-resolution process, from initial filing to the final resolution and beyond. Chapter titles are:

According to Michael J. "Mike" Yost, Esq., vice president and general counsel of GBA-Member Firm Terracon and chair of GBA's Legal Affairs Committee, "We wanted to produce a guide that would be particularly instructive for younger geoprofessionals and a solid refresher for some of the 'old hands.' We wanted it to be an easy read, without legalese or Latin, that would take only about 15 minutes to review, and people would come away with an understanding of the process." CLAIMS 101: The Fundamentals of Claims Detection and Response is available to GBA members free of charge. Nonmembers may purchase it for $150 per copy.More

GBA President Steve Thorne Named an ASCE Fellow
Isn't it amazing (NOT!) how people who provide invaluable volunteer service year after year seem to collect ever more letters after their name? Case in point: The man we used to know as GBA President Steven D. "Steve" Thorne, P.E., D.GE (Terracon) is now GBA President Steven D. "Steve" Thorne, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE (Terracon), with the new designation indicating his election to Fellow status in ASCE; a richly deserved honor. A Terracon principal and manager of the company's New Jersey office, Steve has more than 30 years' experience in planning, supervising, and managing upwards of 1,500 projects. A founding trustee and later president of the Academy of Geo-Professionals, Steve spent nine years developing and promoting specialty certification for geotechnical engineers. He was elected GBA president after spending more than 15 years leading committees.More

Corvettes, Sinkholes, Miami
What do sinkholes, irreplaceably classic Chevrolet Corvettes, and Miami, Florida have in common? Well, unless you've been vacationing a tad too long on the dark side of the moon, you know! At 5:38 am, February 12, 2014, security cameras recorded the collapse of the display floor and development of a sizeable sinkhole inside the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. The Museum contacted Hayward Baker and HB sent Michael J. Marasa, P.E. to the rescue. He’ll be addressing us on April 17, at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami hotel, in Miami, FL. He could fill us in on the technical aspects of the assignment, but he won't: Instead, he'll give us some history, share some anecdotes, and tell us what it's like to get a job done while working amidst worldwide attention and media chaos. And that's just one element of a truly great 2015 Spring (Annual) Conference line-up. This will be another GREAT GBA meeting. And don't forget the outstanding food and drink that are hallmarks of GBA get-togethers, and all included in the registration fee. Plan to attend.More

BUSINESS 101: Who's Your CLO?
Harvard Business Review
Every firm needs a chief marketing officer to accomplish the objective of bringing in new clients and maintaining those already "in the fold." But that will get continually harder to do unless the focus of marketing changes to building loyalty, meaning that chief marketing officers need to become chief loyalty officers: CLOs. A principal reason for the change is social media, because it gives past and present client representatives, colleagues, community members, employees, and others a powerful voice that can spread quickly. And my how loyalty pays off! More

2015 Employee Benefits Survey Now Open
GBA's Business Practices Committee is undertaking an update of Practice Alert #17 on employee benefits, so that GBA-Member Firms like yours can learn more about optimizing benefits to recruit and retain employees. Please help us by completing this questionnaire about your firm's employee benefits. If you are not the best person to complete this questionnaire, please ask someone with more employee-benefits knowledge to do so. We plan to report findings in late spring 2015. More

IoT Is Coming and You Better Know about It
The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming to urban design. You need to know about it, because it's going to make a world of difference to your business; e.g., designing streets that are narrower than today's, because self-driving cars won't have to allow for human error. According to Jason Kelly Johnson, cofounder of Future Cities Lab, IoT gives cities the potential for a $3 trillion economic opportunity "and they are taking actions to embrace features that provide greater engagement with citizens….Energy savings can be increased by 30%, water consumption can be cut in half, crime rates can be lowered significantly, and traffic could see a dip of up to 30%." Can you be of service to clients that want IoT? How about those that don't yet know what IoT is and what you could help IoT do for them? Are you going to run yourself ragged trying to catch up to the future, or will you be there waiting for it with open arms? It's your choice. And your future.More

Webinars on Demand: They're Back!
You may have noticed our list of available on-demand webinars shrinking lately; we have been in the process of migrating to a new provider, and now they're all available again. Check out the variety of professional-practice and writing-skills topics that we have available featuring fellow GBA members and the inimitable John Bachner: negotiating, financial analysis, understanding PLI, documentation for risk management, dirty and dangerous words, and much more!More

I Been Workin' on Derailroad
Independent Record
Hundreds of U.S. residents killed. $4.5 billion in property damage. That's what the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts could happen over the next 20 years, caused by the derailment of 207 crude oil- and ethanol-hauling railroad tankers, each one of which can hold 30,000 gallons. If just one of those derailments were to occur in a heavily populated area — some of the trains are a mile long — it could kill more than 200 people and cause about $6 billion in damage. The amount of flammable liquids moving by rail has skyrocketed since 2005, thanks to the oil-shale boom in Montana and North Dakota. This year, DOT predicts, railroads will transport some 900,000-tanker loads of oil and ethanol. Since 2006, at least 21 oil-train accidents and 33 ethanol-train accidents have occurred in the U.S. and Canada. DOT completed the study last July, but chose not to publicize it. Hmmmm....More

Send Us Names of Safety and Other Key Contacts for Your Firm
GBA's Safety Committee wants to know who the top safety person is at your firm so the Committee can reach out about important safety issues. And while we're at it, we'd also love to update our records about the rest of your firm's key contacts. Please send an e-mail to with the names and e-mail addresses of the following people for your firm: Safety Point of Contact, CEO, CFO, CIO, HR Director, and In-House Counsel. If there is more than one person in a role, that's okay. Thank you for helping us reach the right people to bring more value to your firm's membership in GBA! More

HR DEPT.: Say "Thank You" Every Day
HR Morning
According to Globoforce's Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey report, about three of every four employees who are recognized at work feel happier about their jobs. "By saying 'thank you,'" says Derek Irvine, co-author of The Power of Thanks, "you will not only have happier employees, but employees who are more engaged, motivated, and loyal to you as their employer." He goes on to offer ten solid tips "to create a culture of recognition, and make your employees happier in 2015." These range from thanking your employees every day, to prolonging the honeymoon, uniting your team, and giving thank-you gifts. As effective as these techniques can be at creating more engaged, productive, and caring employees, they cost just about nothing to implement, except for the value of the time you take to show folks that you care and want to be a good person to work for.More

Call for Abstracts: Fall Conference in Southern California
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the GBA Fall Conference in Dana Point, CA, October 8-10, 2015? Here's your chance to share it with us: Just download the submission form, complete it, and send it in. The GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The theme of the conference is "Confronting Risk for Our Firms and Our Clients: The ROI of Engagement."More

2014 A/E M&A Activity Sets New U.S. Record
Morrissey Goodale LLC
A/E industry merger and acquisition (M&A) activity hit record levels in 2014, Morrissey Goodale LLC says, "Thanks to greater industry confidence on the part of buyers and investors." Morrissey Goodale tracked a record 203 sales of U.S.-based A/E firms in 2014, a 12.8% increase over the 180 domestic deals recorded in 2013. Although sales of international firms still lagged behind historic levels, they ticked up slightly from 111 deals in 2013 to 114 deals last year. The most active buyers were those with specialties in the general building, transportation, power, and oil and gas/industrial sectors. Firms in greatest demand were those working in the general building, oil and gas/industrial, transportation, and water-supply markets. More

Work on Issues You Care about with GBA
Service on a GBA business council or committee means a chance to focus on geoprofessional issues you care about, not to mention the value of networking with your peers in a highly focused small group. Many of them work remotely, allowing you to participate as much as you can from wherever you are. Check out the list of available business councils and committees and sign up for one today.More

CPIP To Top $1 Trillion in 2015
$1.04 trillion will be the value of construction put in place (CPIP) when 2015 comes to a close. So says engineering-and-construction-industry management-services provider FMI in its 2015 U.S. Markets Construction Overview. A few highlights:


DR. ENGLISH: Dealing with Ambiguity
Ambiguity is the bane of writing that you need to have understood in exactly the way you want it understood. In many cases, the ambiguity arises from the order of the words in a sentence. Consider the phrasing that inspired this column, seen on the label of a package of wood destined for fireplace use:
All wood, including this wood, produces a chemical or chemicals which are known by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm when burning.

Unfortunately, the wording is such that one could think, "Thank you, California. I will not attempt a reproductive act while I'm on fire." How to remove the ambiguity? Easy, and it's something you can do with your own writing: Just rearrange…
When burning, all wood, including this wood, produces a chemical or chemicals which are known by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm.

Of course, because the "all" of "all wood" means no exceptions, "including this wood," is redundant and unnecessary. That gets us to:
When burning, all wood produces a chemical or chemicals which are known by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. More

Sessions from 2014 Fall Conference Now Available Online, On-Demand
Recorded sessions from the 2014 Fall Conference in San Francisco are now online and available for free to members or for purchase by nonmembers ($999 for all, or individual sessions for less). Get the code for free access by members (member log-in required). Download the handouts for all presentations.

GBA helps you and your clients confront risk and optimize performance, and you'll get tons of great tips to do just that from these presentations:

01: Legendary Leadership in Changing Times, Speaker: Nate Booth DDS, MS
02: Confronting International Business Risks, Speaker: Donald J. Anderson, Jr., P.E.
03: Confronting Risk: Emerging Practice Areas and Legal Trends, Speaker: Lisa Dyson Gamblin, Esq.
04: Business Vision: October 2014-April 2015, Speaker: Matthew "Matt" Moler, P.E.
05: Value: The A/E/C Industry’s Biggest Blind Spot?, Speaker: Richard S. "Rich" Friedman
06: Skillful Discussions: Crucial Conversations, Speaker: Joseph D. "Joe" Rei, Ph.D.
07: Resilient Leadership: Key Techniques to Navigate Risk with Less Stress and More Success, Speaker: Valentina H. "Val" Ries, RN, MBA, ACC
08: Water Scarcity: Where Do We Go from Here?, Speakers: Bradley M. "Brad" Melocik, P.E., P.H.; Richard W. Atwater; Keely Brooks; David C. "Dave" Curtis, Ph.D.
09: Great Minds Sharing Great Ideas: Business Round Table Discussion Download, Speakers: Charles L. "Charlie" Head, P.E., P.G., Chris P. Bellusci, and Jason A. Kephart
10: Winning Negotiating Tactics, Speaker: Lee R. James, CPA, CMC, CBI
11: Embracing the Design-Build Model To Improve Your Bottom Line and Your Culture, Speaker: Stewart G. Osgood, P.E.
12: Alcatraz Island Geotechnical Evaluation and Shoreline-Erosion Study, Speaker: William V. "Bill" McCormick, PG, CEGMore

Yahoo Travel
The American Hotel & Lodging Association estimates that theft costs hotels $100 million a year. Most of the stolen items don't carry a big ticket; unused soaps and hair-care products and ballpoint pens, for example. But some folks are more industrious. Their swag includes light bulbs taken from lamps, batteries removed from remotes, room-service bud vases and salt and pepper shakers, cutlery, towels, and DO NOT DISTURB and other signs. Pillows are popular, too; they can cost $80 each. Now, however, hoteliers are ordering linens with implanted trackable microchips. All of which is ho-hum compared to some of the more audacious thefts reported; e.g., a $300,000 Andy Warhol lithograph; a 12-foot model of a Concorde SST (how do you swipe one of those?); a complete suit of armor (try wearing that on your way out of a Red Roof Inn); a grand piano; and, from a hotel in Berlin, taps, toilet seats, and — yes — a sink. More