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The weather is getting cooler, football has begun, and my year as SMPS Austin Chapter president has just started. It feels like yesterday that I was asked to serve as president elect, but then again, it feels like just yesterday I sat down to my first SMPS luncheon in San Antonio. It was February 2007 and I can’t remember the topic, but I can name five people I met there who I still talk to, confide in, and get leads from today. And with that, my connection to SMPS led me to becoming president. I want SMPS Austin to help get you where you want to go as well. 

SMPS has meant a lot to me in my growth as a business developer, both in San Antonio and Austin. You will hear that an organization is what you put into it; SMPS Austin is no different. New voices and new ideas bring forth a new wave of creative ideas for our chapter. My goals are to help SMPS Austin be that growth for your professional career. I would like the information you learn from SMPS, whether project or personal growth related, to be a major factor for your company’s productivity in the upcoming year. I want you, as a member, and your company to see the benefits received by investing in your SMPS participation.

I believe each year our SMPS Austin board is strong, and this year is no exception. Our programs committee, led by Mike Wong with Tom Green and Company Engineers, has sold out the last two luncheon programs! The sponsorship committee, led by Jennifer Finch of Kiewit Building Group, sold out the luncheon programs on the sponsorship side as well! We reached record membership numbers last year, led again this year by Marisa Jarmon of American Constructors and the membership committee. Rounding out the new SMPS Austin board is past president, Joe Reyes of MEP Engineering; president elect, Adam Kohler of Sabre Commercial; secretary and education programming, Amy Hageman of Big Red Dog; treasurer, Kristin Clark of BURY; communications chair, Beth Sims of dwg. landscape architecture; and director at large, Nalini Chandron of KPFF Consulting Engineers. 

We will have more specific goals in the near future. If you have ideas or want to be part of SMPS Austin Chapter board in the future, please join a committee. You need to be part of an SMPS committee for one year to be eligible for the board. Please ask me or any board member if you are interested or have questions. Together we can keep up the level of excellence into Austin’s future.

Devin Williamson, Associate
Raba Kistner, Inc.
SMPS Austin Chapter President

2015 SMPS Annual Kickoff Party, September 30

Join SMPS Austin on September 30 for a happy hour to kickoff our new fiscal year!

Wednesday, September 30
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Rattle Inn



SMPS Austin is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Mentor/Protégé program! The 9-month program is a unique professional development opportunity that is offered to Austin chapter members only. Participants (protégés) are paired with experienced AEC marketing and business development professionals in mutually beneficial mentoring relationships. This program is an excellent way to deepen your understanding of the industry and learn from a colleague.

Applications are due September 25!

For more information or to find out more about becoming a mentor or protege, CLICK HERE.

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Hospitality Takeover!

Hotels are popping up like crazy around Austin right now. We have highlighted three of the newest hospitality projects to come online. 

Sonesta Hotel and Resort

Sonesta Hotel & Resort  brings world class hospitality to the Texas Hill Country. The hotel has five floors with approximately 200 guest rooms. It is part of the Hill Country Galleria development, which includes a diverse range of retail clients, entertainment, and the Bee Cave City Hall.

The hotel includes an resort-style pool, ballroom and meeting rooms, and rooftop lounge.

Architect: Gensler
Structural Engineer: DCI Engineers
Contractor: Zapalac Reed
Civil Engineer: 360 Professional Services, Inc.
MEP Engineer: Bay & Associates, Inc.
Landscape Architect: TBG Partners

Hotel Van Zandt

Hotel Van Zandt, slated to open this fall, is a Kimpton boutique hotel located in the Rainey Street District. The hotel's theme endeavors to capture a classy embodiment of Austin's laid back culture and is named after famous Texas musician, Townes Van Zandt. The 16-story, 322-key hotel includes a luxury amenity pool deck, 12,000 square feet of meeting space across 11 rooms, a fitness center, a fine dining restaurant, a cafe, and a bar. The hotel will offer live music for guests 365 days a year.

Hotelier: Kimpton
Developer: JMI Realty
Architect: WDG Architects
Landscape Architect: dwg. landscape architecture
Civil Engineer: BIG RED DOG
Structural: Cardno Haynes Whaley
MEP: Blum Consulting Engineers
Lighting Design: Ohm Lighting
Interior Design: Mark Zeff Design
General Contractor: Tribble & Stephens

South Congress Hotel

The newly opened South Congress “SoCo” Hotel is located at 1603 South Congress Avenue and is being developed by CSE Realty Partners, in conjunction with the Trammell Crow Company. The project includes an 83-room hotel with private decks and rooftop gardens. In addition to several restaurant and retail spaces, there is a two-story underground parking garage. The hotel is also is home to a new NYC-based nail salon and Cali-inspired café and coffee shop.

Owner: SOCO ATX Investments, LLC
Developer: CSE Realty Partners
Architect: Dick Clark Architecture  
Design Consultant: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
Landscape Architect: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
Civil Engineer: BIG RED DOG
Structural: MJ Structures
MEP: Bay & Associates
General Contractor: Manhattan Construction

MEET THE BOARD - Joe Reyes, Past President

Joe Reyes, PE, LEED AP
Director of Operations
MEP Engineering, Inc.

MEP Engineering, Inc. is a full service consulting engineering firm operating with offices in Austin and San Antonio  since 1995.  MEP offers a unique approach to project delivery, providing innovative, collaborative, and sustainable design solutions developed by a talented team of friendly, client-centered engineering professionals.  

How many years have you been an SMPS member:
5 years

What do you think is the most interesting thing about our industry?
The old engineering joke was that if you ended up in the A/E/C industry, obviously something had gone horribly wrong with your career path. But that’s certainly not the case for me; I can honestly say that after 20+ years as a practicing engineer, I sincerely enjoy what I do. If I had to pick the one most interesting thing about our industry, it’s working on a challenging project with a great team of architects, engineers, and contractors and delivering a project that none of us (sometimes even the client) initially thought would be possible.      

What’s your favorite restaurant?
Hyde Park Bar & Grill (the original house on Duval). Sure it’s an old Austin standard, and there are probably better places to eat these days, but my wife and I had our first date there in ‘97, and I’ve had so many great times with friends and family over the years. The HP fries are still fabulous; although, I was bummed when the roasted carrots finally rolled off the menu for good.  Seriously, who doesn’t like burned carrots?        

What is your perfect weekend?
In addition to spending time with the family, my perfect weekend is spent tinkering in the garage, playing acoustic guitar and singing Beatles tunes with friends, and relaxing on the back patio with a Fireman’s #4 (summer) or Shiner Bock (winter). I’m a pretty simple man that way.

If your friends and family had to describe you in just 3 words, what would they be?
What a goofball.



At the sold-out September luncheon, Dave Dixon, executive director of program management at The University of Texas System, provided attendees with an overview of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and Hybrid Project Delivery Initiative.

With the change in the CIP to include projects greater than $10 million by OFPC, this drops $128 million in projects to be institutionally managed. Dixon also discussed the funding sources as well as the OFPC organizational changes. A huge bonus for many attendees was the list of projects, organized by campus, to be funded by tuition revenue bonds. The list also included the anticipated start and completion dates for each project.

The University of Texas System is also working on a hybrid project delivery process that follows commercial contract standards. Some of the changes include consequential damages and liquidated damages to have a more collaborative work environment with the project team.

Dave Dixon continues to bring valuable information to SMPS through each luncheon he attends.

To see all of the photos from the event, CLICK HERE


Take This Job and Leverage It
Written by Lyndsay Woods, Harvey Cleary

During the 2015 SMPS Build Business Conference, Terri Langhans, CSP, discussed methods for how marketing and business development professionals can become strategic consultants rather than just one more employee to manage. She interviewed people in leadership roles to gain insight into their perceptions of what marketing employees do. She also explored how these leaders would like to see marketing become more involved in their company.

Based on her research, marketing professionals should focus more on these three things:

  1. Get better with numbers: Give a rationale behind insight. For example: If the firm doesn’t make money on a certain type of project, make sure to provide statistics as evidence.
  2. Ask more questions: Don’t be afraid to ask your leaders questions, but be ready to back it up. For example: Would you be willing to explore this? Have we thought about this?
  3. Connect the dots. Pay attention to what’s going on, then help the leadership connect the dots.

Terri also shared with us the AIDA principle as a way to influence leadership (or any target audience):

  • Attention: Get their attention.
  • Interest: Develop Interest (evidence is extremely valuable at this step).
  • Desire: Create desire (with benefits).
  • Action: Take action!

This session provided some concrete examples for marketers and business developers to approach our positions and be perceived as strategic thinkers. It also provided an easy format to organize our influence over our firm’s owners and leaders in order to further benefit the firm.


Traci Babetski, Walter P. Moore

Thomas Ruschkewicz, Surveying and Mapping, LLC

Calen Shearer, Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc

Darrell Vickers, The Wallace Group, Inc.


Tamara Savinas, marketing manager at Spire Consulting Group (formerly with Kiewit)


Darrell Vickers works with The Wallace Group, Inc.: a CP&Y Company. He is a project manager in the architectural division. The Wallace Group provides engineering services to transportation, water/wastewater, and aviation sectors, primarily, but can also manage the design-build/CMR construction process. Growing up in a military family, Darrell has travelled around the world. He was a member of the last graduating class of the Tehran American School in Tehran, Iran. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, specifically focusing on landscape, architecture, and travel. When he’s not working on his photography, you’ll find Darrell reading or playing golf.