November 2018 Print

Project Spotlight

Written by: Marisa Jarmon, American Constructors

Owner: Austin Community College District
Architect: Pfluger Architects in Association with SmithGroupJJR
Civil Engineer: KimleyHorn
Structural Engineer: Structures
MEP Engineer: Shah Smith & Associates, Inc.
General Contractor: American Constructors
Landscape Architect: MWM Design Group
Acoustical Design Consultant: JEAcoustics
Photographer: Brian Mihealsick Photography

Project Description: The San Gabriel Campus serves the City of Leander area–one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. The three-story campus offers transferable general education courses and career training, and will initially accommodate up to 2,500 students. It features a 150-seat ACCelerator learning lab integrated with a library and tutoring areas, multipurpose rooms for community use, and open spaces for studying and gathering, including a 3,900-square-foot rooftop terrace. The first major addition to Leander’s Transit Oriented Development District, the campus is expected to anchor future development and serve as a hub for community engagement. Sustainability was a priority for the client, and the project incorporates numerous sustainable features, which will culminate in a LEED Gold certification.

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Luncheon Recap

Written by: Jena Naylor, Perkins+Will

Terry Worcester, COO of Round Rock ISD, and Eduardo Ramos, COO of Pflugerville ISD, shared details on their upcoming November bond elections totaling over $800 million in much needed new and renovated projects across their fast growing school districts. Both district plans restructure income to maintain current tax rates while providing funds to improve and expand facilities across the greater Austin area.

Round Rock ISD voters are considering a $508.4M bond proposition.
This bond is addressing critical needs and is divided between: capital renewal projects that focus on improvements and repairs of existing facility infrastructure ($127.18M); growth projects that focus on facility needs to address growth and overcrowding ($275.41M); instructional technology projects that include the implementation of new systems districtwide ($76.05M); and safety and security projects to focus on districtwide safety equipment and systems ($29.8M).

Pflugerville ISD voters are considering a $332M bond proposition.
This bond is planning for expansion and is divided between: growth projects that focus on needs to address growth and overcrowding ($163.15M); aging conditions projects that focus on capital improvement projects ($85.78M); evolving expectations to allow for the purchase of a fleet of school buses, improvement of technology, safety, and fine arts and career and technical education ($78.62M); and bond fees and contingency ($4M).

This will be decided by the 2018 general election to be held on Tuesday, November 6. Early voting opened Monday, October 22 and will be available until Friday, Nov. 2.

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BD Roundtable Recap

Written by: Janki DePalma, CPSM, DCI Engineers

Allie Horne, CPSM, from Meeks Marketing led us through a step-by-step overview of the hows and whys of public relations (PR). PR relates to the favorable non-paid publicity your firm receives from publications. Just like a Yelp review, published mentions of your firm act like a third party endorsement. Using a baseball analogy, Allie walked us through the basics of a good PR Plan.
The highlights include having a simple objective, identifying the projects that can be used, identifying your audience, establishing your PR goals, and setting up priorities.

Create an objective that is clear and understood. For example, your objective could be to establish your firm as a leader in a specific industry or system.
Identify which projects help highlight those objectives.
Find the audience that you hope to reach and determine which publications they will read.
Set a goal. For newbies, the goal could be providing a set number of press releases. For more advanced plans, it could be to have an exclusively pitched article in a specific publication.
Find your priorities. This will help you ensure that PR doesn’t get put on the backburner!

When contacting the press, you must first identify the significance of your pitch by providing the difference/hook/angle of your story. Dig deep and show them why your project is significant. Is it the first of its kind? Is it the largest? Will your project attain a special certification? You can look deeper by identifying trends and showing how your project fits into that picture. Internally work with your team to clearly identify your message, build content, and get approval. With that said, be sure you get approval in writing from those involved internally and externally to ensure that all project members are on board with receiving publicity.

Finally, the best way to get more press is by building relationships with reporters. Reach out to the local reporters and ask them what type of news they are interested in hearing and how they want to receive information from you. When you leverage yourself as a resource, reporters will start trusting you and good things will follow. If you are a consultant hoping to receive press, Allie recommended reaching out to the architect proactively offering to work together to get press jointly.

PR may seem daunting, but with a few simple strategies, it’s as simple as pitch and catch.

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Board Member on the Move Spotlight

Lacey Proffitt

Firm: Full Tank Coaching
Role: Owner | Coach
Board Role: Director of Logistics

Brief description of your firm: Full Tank Coaching provides career and professional growth coaching to A/E/C marketers as well as general life coaching to the broader public. I help people find their direction, fill up their tanks for the journey, and then stick with them as they head out to reach their goals.

Where are you originally from? I am originally from the Austin area. Born and raised down the road in Elgin, Texas. Yes, in these parts I am a rare breed, called Native Texan - might even be considered a Native Austinite by some.

What is your perfect weekend? I absolutely love volunteering my time with my favorite not-for-profit called Earth Repair Corps. I am acting director of operations of the organization which means many weekends I am running volunteer meetings, participating in our planning meetings, coordinating volunteers for the big "permablitz" projects we conduct (volunteer weekends where we help urban and rural folks install permaculture gardens or other sustainable/regenerative projects such as rainwater collection, building chicken coops, broadcasting cover crops for rotational grazing systems, etc.), or being a part of our Permaculture Design Certificate course which we offer a couple times a year.

What the best vacation you have been on? That is a tie between several snowboarding trips to Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada and snorkeling with a school of whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Very different environments but both really awesome.

I also had one of the best stay-cations a year ago where I spent a large amount of time in a hammock resting and harvesting herbs and leaves from plants around the house to make homemade medicines, teas, and salves (like bruise healing salve and no-itch salve for bug bites). I laugh a little as I write that because that sounds so "Little House on the Prairie" but it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I grew those plants that were now going to help me out.

What are your hobbies? ...working, toiling, laboring? Haha!
Lately I'm keeping myself busy with a lot of farming, ranching and gardening activities. We just installed a 130'x75' garden at the family ranch in Marble Falls which will require some love. It will be a food and medicinal garden for the extended family with annual and perennial vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs. My growing brood of free-ranging chickens (26 and counting) keeps me busy as well. I am also about to start a training program to become a certified educator of Holistic Management which focuses on regenerative land management practices. My goal is to pay it forward and do my part to partner with and educate land owners and land managers on sustainable and regenerative land management techniques through permaculture and holistic management.

And my guilty pleasure hobbies are watching the TV Series Supernatural and the old 1980s show Scarecrow and Mrs. King. I'm looking forward to the next seasons of Game of Thrones and Stranger Things as well.

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New Member Spotlight

Presley Benzinger

Firm: Spire Consulting Group
Role: Senior Marketing Coordinator

Describe your role and company: I am the senior marketing coordinator at Spire Consulting Group, a multi-disciplined construction consulting and project management firm in downtown Austin. Spire has advised more than $54 billion in projects over the last 10 years.

Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. I attended the University of Cincinnati (go Bearcats!), where I obtained my bachelors and masters degrees.

What do you like doing in your free time? In my free time, I'm usually planning my next big trip or going on a hike. I also really enjoy watching movies and make a point to watch all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees every year.

What prompted you to join? Some of my coworkers at Spire have been involved with SMPS Austin for quite a while and only have great things to say about the organization. Also having just moved to Austin, it seems like a great way to network with others within my industry and make a few friends while doing so. 

Stephen Delgado, P.E.

Firm: Texas Engineering Solutions
Role: Principal, Owner, and Founder

Describe your role: I am the principal, owner, and founder of Texas Engineering Solutions, an Austin-based professional consulting firm specializing in civil engineering, land development, municipal engineering, and construction phase services. We offer comprehensive, concept to completion, planning and design services for commercial and residential properties throughout Central Texas.

Where are you originally from? My hometown is Portland, Texas and I graduated from Gregory-Portland High School. A proud recipient of The Terry Foundation scholarship, I attended the University of Texas at Austin and received my B.S. in Architectural Engineering. I returned to the University of Texas at Austin and received my MBA, with a focus on Finance, from the Texas Evening MBA program. Yes, I bleed orange.

What do you like doing in your free time? Outside of the office, I can be found coaching my children's football, baseball, and soccer games. I am also at all Longhorn games - Hook'em!

What prompted you to join? I always recommend that you meet as many people as you can and establish a good relationship with them. SMPS Austin provides the perfect networking outlet for our industry.

Mackenzie Herron

Firm: S. Watts Group
Role: Business Development & Marketing

Describe your role: I work in Business Development & Marketing for S. Watts Group, Inc., a commercial general contractor based in Austin, Texas.

Where are you originally from? I am from Dripping Springs, Texas and went to school at Texas State University.

What do you like doing in your free time? I love to read any book I can get my hands on, spend time with my family and travel as often as I can!

What prompted you to join? The opportunity to connect and learn from like-minded professionals in the A/E/C world

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Welcome New Members

Brad Fanta
Business Development Manager | StudioSIX5

Kia Morris
Marketing Coordinator | True North Consulting Group

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Member Anniversaries


Daniella Parker
Coordinator / Marketing I Pravo Construction

Dena Foster
Proposal Coordinator I EEA Consulting Engineers

Juan Lujan
International Marketing I ECM International, Inc.

Chance Forman
CMO I Ames Mirror and Glass


Valerie Kelly
Director of Business Development & Marketing I Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects

Curt Hendley
Proposal Coordinator I Baer Engineering and Environmental Consulting


Lesley Gillaspie
Marketing Coordinator I Austin Commercial


Martha Quinton Jr.
Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist I Senior Adult Specialty Healthcare


Heidi Cisneros
Principal I Structures


Amy Jones
President I O'Connell Robertson


Karen Ward, CPSM
Client Development Manager I Terracon Consultants Inc.


Bernie Siben, CPSM
Director of Marketing & Business Development I Chaparral Professional Land Surveying, Inc.

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Thank You to Our Sponsors

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