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Headed East: Public & Private Experts Present an Update on Development Along Hwy 130

Tuesday, June 12
11:30am - 1:00pm

UT Club: President's Room

Bringing Balance Back Into Your Life to Maximize Your BD Efforts

Tuesday, June 19
8:30am - 9:30am

The Beck Group

June Happy Hour
Featuring Tequila!


Thursday, June 21
5:30pm - 7:30pm


The 2017-2018 Board of Directors hosted a happy hour to honor the Past Presidents and recognize their service and leadership to SMPS Austin.  We enjoyed food and beverages at The Bonneville and celebrated their continued commitment to our organization. 

Click the image above to see more photos of our fun! 
Photos courtesy of Leah Kenney, IE2 Construction


May Luncheon

Riding the Economic Development Wave: What's Next for the Greater Austin Region

Written by: Heather Nixon, Circle Line Marketing & Design

On Tuesday, May 8th, SMPS luncheon attendees were treated to a lively and educational discussion with Gary Farmer, Chairman of Opportunity Austin (aka the Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation). The discussion was moderated by Chuck Lipscomb, Board Member of Opportunity Austin and VP of Business Development for JE Dunn’s Central Texas Market. Gary went over the successes of their corporate recruitment programs to-date and the overarching goals of the next iteration of Opportunity 4.0 for 2019-2023. 
Gary posed the question: What is the one thing all economic development needs?  Answer: job growth.  The Central Texas region is attractive to companies for a lot of reasons, but their not coming to Keep Austin Weird or drink margaritas.  The main driver for corporate expansions and relocations is the educated workforce.  With this talent pool, Opportunity Austin has had incredible success over the last 15 years.  Their recruitment efforts have produced 382,800 new jobs and 524 business relocations to the area. Gary pointed out that they’ve only used incentives 18 times in the past 14 years, describing their “miserly” approach as necessary to accomplish their goals.
The following locations are where a majority of the companies are relocation from:

  1. California
  2. Inside Texas
  3. International

Gary outlined their largest focus for Opportunity 4.0 will be to recruit more international companies with the intent to create an economy that is vibrant and robust, and he predicted that life sciences market would see the largest growth over the next 10 years. Geographically speaking, Gary said his main concern is developing different areas of Austin so that their growth isn’t only centered in downtown or the Domain, but creates balances and accessible pockets for communities to thrive throughout the area.  They are also mindful of the growing corridor between Austin and San Antonio, and are looking for ways to leverage the similarities and differences of Austin, San Marcos, and San Antonio. 

Please click HERE to view the presentation and HERE to watch a video on Opportunity 4.0



Half Day Workshop

Business Development and the Brain: Outsmart and Outsell your Competition Using Neuroscience

Written by: Erin Bettison Rapp, CPSM, The Beck Group, & Lacey Proffitt, CPSM, EEA Consulting Engineers

Did you know that the brain is attracted to one primary thing when making a decision? Fear.
At our recent Half-Day Workshop, we heard from marketing expert and consultant Bryan Gray on the science behind the way brain makes decisions and how we can use that knowledge to be more effective in our business development and marketing efforts. Bryan started the workshop with ideas around why this approach is needed, including some of the following challenges we all face today:

  • We move in a fast-changing world. People’s attention spans are shorter than ever and you have to get your message across quickly and with impact.
  • It is harder than ever to make your firm really stand out. Unless it’s your goal to become a commodity you have to communicate differently.
  • What it takes to get in the room isn’t what it takes to win the room. Those things are what get other people in the room too.
We work on project pursuits that in most cases are driven by consensus decision making. There used to be 1-2 decision makers for AEC projects, but now it is more common than not to have selection committees make up of 6-8 or even more people. More decision makers can lead to more time making a decision. Time kills deals. Want to combat this? Start talking straight to the brain!
The brain is a three pound organ that you are trying to persuade to choose your firm. Bryan focused on the limbic brain, as it’s the part of the brain that tunes in during presentations, though not for very long. The brain is actually a lazy organ and looks for opportunities to space out. But even though it’s lazy, it thinks quickly, meaning your message needs to be short and to the point. The limbic part of the brain falls for a good story every time. It is programmed to avoid pain, which in the case of decision making, refers to social pains like embarrassment, worry or humiliation that could result from a poor decision. The limbic brain thinks quickly to eliminate pain, threats and fears, and the brain will consistently choose to eliminate a threat rather than to gain something. Therefore, threats become prioritized. Most people present and don’t bring any threat into the game at all, but adopting this approach can improve your presentations and client meetings.
For the last part of the workshop, attendees worked through an exercise that took a traditional firm’s executive summary and repositioned its key points into a question format that could induce more of a response in an interview or selling situation. Examples of attention grabbers and starts to these  fear or threat-provoking questions include:
  1. Imagine if….
  2. Have you ever wondered why….?
  3. What if….?

You can use questions and statements like this to show that you have researched your client AND to communicate the unique advantages of your firm. And of course, visual graphics always help support these advantages. Remember, the brain is lazy, so make it easy for your clients and future clients to choose you!




500 West 2nd Street

Owner: Trammel Crow Company
Architect: Gensler
Civil Engineer: Jones & Carter
Structural Engineer: Cardno
MEP Engineer: Blum Consulting Engineers
General Contractor: The Beck Group
Landscape Architect: Coleman TBG
Photographer: Chad Mellon
Project Size: 500,500 SF

Project Description: The 500 West 2nd Street office tower is a 29-level, 500,500 square foot Class A office building that sits at the corner of Second and San Antonio Streets. In the heart of Austin’s Central Business District, it is one of a four-block redevelopment of the former Thomas Green Water Treatment Plant. The ground floor features the office lobby and approximately 10,763 square feet of retail space. Office space is on levels 14-29, while the garage consists of three levels of subgrade parking and 12 levels of above grade parking, located directly beneath the lobby and office floors. The office building and garage are a cast in place concrete structure with a full curtain wall facade. The 14th floor houses a tenant amenity center with conference space and an outdoor terrace. The mezzanine level includes an expansive, state-of-the-art fitness center.



The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Written by: Kelly Maxwell, Sabre Commercial

“The Devil in the White City” is an engrossing narrative non-fiction that blends the creation of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with the story of one of the country’s first known serial killers.

Larson gets you well acquainted with a cast of characters each more intelligent and engrossing than the last. The creation of the World’s Fair is told through the experiences of the architects including Daniel Burnham, the fair’s chief architect, and Fredrick Law Olmstead, the fair’s landscape architect and the designer New York City’s Central Park. The story takes you through the struggles of planning and construction of the fair, a decadent project that was full of European classical style of architecture.

Opposite of the white city, Larson tells the darker story of H.H. Holmes and the victims that he claimed. Interested in a building design but for a darker purpose, the book details the hotel that he built to create his own murder fortress.

While the book is written about history, it reads much more like fiction. You will be engrossed quickly as you empathize with the architects, engineers and contractors struggling to bring their vision to life while keeping you morbidly curious as you learn of the horrors just three miles west.

This book is a must read for any lover of architecture and true crime.




Presence vs. Presenting 

Written by: Amanda Greenfield, Walker Consultants

At the 2018 Southern Regional Conference, Jeff Wilkie hosted a session entitled “Presence vs. Presenting.” The session focused on techniques for improving your presence in public speaking and insuring positive interactions with the audience.

Jeff discussed the following tips/tricks to overcoming public speaking anxiety and making your message the strongest it can be:

  • Greet people at the door before the presentation begins. This alleviates pressure, because then the audience does not feel like a collection of strangers.
  • Be aware that people are filtering your message and what they hear through their own experiences.
  • Know your audience.
  • Exercise emotional intelligence by being self-aware and socially aware.
  • If the presentation uses video conferencing, look directly at the camera, and try to engage the audience just like they were in the room with you.
  • Perhaps most importantly, be comfortable with who you are. When presenting, try to remain centered and be genuine. People want to work with other people, so relating to your audience is important. This can even manifest itself in the way you dress (i.e. you may dress differently for different speaking situations). Authenticity goes a long way in having people trust and relate to you. Also, understand what draws people to you, and use that.

Regarding visual aids/PowerPoint presentations, Jeff offered the following advice:

  • Do not print and distribute a slide deck, because the PowerPoint is not the message. YOU are the message.
  • Speak to the slide; do not read the slide.
  • Use the “5 Rule”: No more than five lines per slide, and no more than five words per line.

Public speaking is number one on the list of human fears, ranking above heights, bugs, death, and loneliness. It is common to feel uncomfortable when giving a presentation; however, using some of the tips Jeff offers above will hopefully help relieve some of the anxiety




Abbie Bejrowski

Firm: Mint Engineering
Role: COO

Describe your role: I am a Co-Founder and COO at a local MEP engineering firm, Mint Engineering. My husband, Michael, and I started the firm in 2017. I manage operations and he manages the engineering team. We provide MEP design, consulting, energy analysis and commissioning services.

Where are you originally from? I'm from Houston, TX. I obtained my Psychology degree at UT Austin and my MBA at Texas State.

What do you like doing in your free time? What are your hobbies? I spend most of my free time hanging out with my kiddos. I have a 5 year old daughter, Hailey, and a 16 month old, Cameron. I love taking them on adventures, doing crafts, etc. For fun, I like to read, travel and garden.

What prompted you to join? I am responsible for marketing and business development, and am looking forward to meeting other marketing professionals in the A/E/C industry. I am eager to learn more about the role of marketing and business development in this industry and how I can add the most add value.


Dominic Padilla

Firm: White Construction Company
Role: Director of Client Relations

Describe your role: I'm proud to work alongside White Construction Company as Director of Relationship Management. When Charles N. White founded White Construction Company in 1971, he understood that the best way to achieve his clients’ goals was by sharing their vision of success, not just in the terms of the final product, but at every single stage of the process. 

Where are you originally from? I am from El Paso, TX and was born to a family of home builders. I graduated from Texas A&M University's Construction Science Program and continued my education by earning a Master in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso.

What do you like doing in your free time? What are your hobbies? When not pursuing my career ambitions, I spend time outdoors, fly fishing, backpacking and flying with my wife.

What prompted you to join? I have had the fortune of participating in SMPS Austin events and attending two SMPS SRCs. The people I've met within SMPS are the reason I've joined. They've been extremely helpful and selfless; I'm looking to pay that forward.


Sarah Ferreira

Firm: GSC Architects
Role: Marketing Director

Describe your role: I'm the new Marketing Director at GSC Architects in Austin. GSC Architects (GSC) was formed in 1978, and has been a leading design firm serving our clients, our profession and the communities in which we practice. 

Where are you originally from? My hometown is Fort Collins, Colorado. I received my undergraduate degree, BS, from Tulane University in New Orleans and my MFA from Academy of Art in San Francisco.

What do you like doing in your free time? What are your hobbies? I dance, paint, cook, and entertain. I love to workout, and try all sorts of new sports and then mix up a mean hipster cocktail afterwards. I'm pretty new to Austin, so still enjoying getting out and about making new friends and exploring all the amazing things my new home town has to offer.

What prompted you to join? I took on a marketing role with a awesome company in a new town, so it only makes sense to get involved with the top marketing society to get more involved with the Austin AEC community.



Traci Babetski

Firm: Walter P Moore
Role: Associate

Traci Babetski was promoted to Associate at Walter P Moore, where she's been for over four years serving the business development department.  She's also been a member of SMPS since 2015 and active in the Communications and Membership committees as well as the Mentor/Protégé program in 2016. 


Jessica Bazán

Firm: Spire Consulting Group
Role: Senior Proposal Coordinator

Jessica Bazán has joined Spire as the Senior Proposal Coordinator and will drive the strategy and development of key client proposals and will be engaged in all pursuits.  She  has been a member of SMPS Austin for over two years and is on the Communications Committee as well as Sponsorship Chair for the SMPS Southern Regional Conference Planning Committee.


Adam Kohler

Firm: Structure Tone
Role: Director of Operations

Adam Kohler moved into the role of Director of Operations for Structure Tone Southwest after nearly five years as the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Sabre Commercial. He currently serves on the SMPS Austin board as the Past President and has been a part of the Austin construction industry for 15 years.


Lauren Bastiaans

Sales & Marketing Administrator  |  Miller Imaging & Digital Solutions

Grace Myers, MA

Special Projects Coordinator  |  Miller Imaging & Digital Solutions

Shannon Thomas

Senior Proposal Coordinator  |   Surveying & Mapping, Inc.

Megan Grandors

Account Manager/ Member of Diversity & Inclusion Board  |  Aerotek

Jena Naylor

Marketing Assistant  |  Perkins + Will

Nissa Guerra

Account Manager  |  Aerotek

Marla Hoyt

Marketing Coordinator  |  Alliance Transportation Group, Inc.

Dominic Padilla, LEED AP

Relationship Management Director  |  White Construction Company

Sam Swinton

Business Development  |  square one consultants

Shuronda Robinson

President/CEO  |  Adisa Communications


We have a correction to the April newsletter: Jack Evans, P.E., President/Principal of JEAcoustics, celebrated his 34 year anniversary with SMPS!  



Jena Venero
Marketing Coordinator  I  H.W. Lochner


Lionel Felix
President  I  Felix Media Solutions

Katherine Strurich
Marketing Coordinator  I  BSA LifeStructures


Joanna Butera
Marketing Coordinator  I  DPR Construction

Erin Athas
Senior Marketing Coordinator  I  Kimley-Horn & Associates

Jamie Crawley
Director of Architecture  I  HA Architecture

Britt Dougherty
Production  I  AECOM


Robin Flynn
 Marketing Manager  I  Walker Partners

Amy Hageman
 Business Coordinator  I  Texas Tiny Pools


Jesse Reyes
Director, Marketing and Business Development  I  CNG Engineering PLLC

Lindsey Jones
 Senior Marketing Coordinator  I  CP&Y, Inc.


Devin Williams
Associate, Director of Business Development  I  Raba Kistner, Inc.


Want to get more involved in SMPS?  Join a Committee!
We can put your talents and interests to good use. Whether your talent is producing newsletters or programs, contacting members, taking photos of meetings, introducing speakers or just coming up with good ideas, we can use you!

Click HERE to visit our website and contact the director of the committee in which you are interested.


Halff Associates
Marketing Coordinator >

Freese and Nichols
CRM System Manager >

Alamo Architects
Marketing Director >

Marketing Coordinator >

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Architectural Photography
for the Fine Arts

SMPS Austin is partnering with Precision Camera for a photography class that focuses on our industry.

Tuesday, June 12th
Class portion: 9AM-11AM at a location TBD.

Photography portion: 1PM-4PM at UT’s campus.

Click HERE to read the full class description and sign up today! 
Questions?  Email: Kelly Maxwell

Copyright © 2018 SMPS Austin Chapter, All rights reserved.

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