Gone are the days when the successful architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firm focused on a single market. Today, markets shift with little warning, requiring companies to quickly revisit and adjust their best laid plans. Without alternatives and business agility, an AEC firm could quickly lose its footing and struggle to rebound, potentially impacting active projects and clients. Westwood strives to be the thriving firm our clients seek; one that can weather economic storms and mitigate risk on their projects.

Westwood’s business model is an advantage in our present economy. Diversification in land, renewables, power delivery, and oil and gas provides a level of stability we would not have if we still operated under the single-market business model of land development. During the recent recession, much of our work in residential and commercial development stalled while opportunities in wind and solar energy took off. At that time, it was just as critical that we concentrate on the emerging renewables industry as it was to maintain our established relationships in less active markets. Since our core services are the same within each market we serve, we were equipped to shift internal resources and provide balance to our business. This enabled us to retain critical staff and ensure all of our clients received consistent service.

The unanticipated freefall in crude oil prices in recent months provides an even greater example of the need for business agility. With the cost per barrel at roughly $45 at this writing, drilling and pipeline development has slowed. Though this stall impacts Westwood’s oil and gas business, our diversification and core services enables us, once again, to leverage our skills in our markets providing the greatest opportunity, ultimately offering balance through economic ebbs and flows.

Business agility is vital to a thriving company. In its simplest form, it means being flexible, ready, and responsive to change. Westwood constantly assesses market conditions, our priorities, and progress. We do this to ensure we are scalable – able to quickly capitalize on opportunities, reduce costs, or increase revenue streams. Like everyone else, we cannot foresee the future, but we strive to understand our industries so that we can offset the effects of a stalling market with the upswing of another.

But to be truly agile takes a dedicated team that is aligned and headed toward a clear vision. It also means making tough decisions and taking calculated risks in order to be ready on the inside for change on the outside. Doing so, will not provide all of the answers, but it is sure to make any firm better equipped to respond when its best laid plans suddenly become obsolete. It is what keeps Westwood aligned with our clients' business, providing consistency and added value through the highs and lows.

Paul Greenhagen, PS