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November 1 @ 8:30 am - November 3 @ 1:00 pm

Join 150+ geoprofessional executive level industry leaders for GBA’s 2018 Fall Conference convening November1-3, 2018 at the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel.  This two and a half day conference will offer exceptional education programs, networking, and social events allowing you the opportunity to connect, learn, and collaborate with major stakeholders within the industry.  

Register Now  on-line 

Registration Form

Featured Presenters

Thursday, November 1, 2018

  •  8:00 AM – 1:00 PM – GBA Board of Directors Meeting
  • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Group Liaison Meetings (Technical, Operations, and External Affairs) – Committee and Council Chairs and Vice Chairs meet with GBA Board of Director Coordinators
  • 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Committee and Council Meetings
  • 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – GBA/Terra Insurance Company Joint Board of Directors Meeting (tentative)
  • 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Networking Reception

 Friday, November 2, 2018

  • 7:00 AM – 7:45 AM – Full Registrant’s Continental Break
  • 7:00 AM – 7:45 AM – Council of Fellows Meeting
  • 7:45AM – 12:30PM – Conference Programming
  • 8:00AM – 9:00AM – Spouse/Guest Buffet Breakfast
  • 10:00AM – 2:00PM – Spouse Activity (optional activity – subject to additional fee)
  • 12:30PM – 1:45PM – Luncheon (Networking Luncheon)
  • 12:30PM – 1:45PM – Luncheon (Terra Insurance Company Shareholder Meeting – tentative)
  • 1:45PM – 5:30PM – Conference Programming and Round Table Discussion Sessions
  • 7:00PM – 9:00PM – Networking Reception

 Saturday, November 3, 2018

  • 7:00AM – 7:45AM – Full Registrant’s Continental Break
  • 7:45AM – 12:45PM – Conference Programming
  • 8:00AM – 9:00AM – Spouse/Guest Continental Breakfast
  • 12:45PM – 1:30PM – Networking Luncheon
  • 12:45PM – 2:15PM – Board of Directors and Committee/Council Chairs Meeting
  • 2:15PM – 3:45PM – Board of Directors Meeting


Tentative agenda – subject to change

Pre-Conference Workshops ($300 GBA Member Fee; $400 Non-Member Fee)
8:00AM – 12:00Noon

1) Project Financial Management: Managing Self & Others
Presenter: Lee R. James, CPA, C.M.C., F.GBA

Course Outline: 
Highlights of the Course Include:

  • Project Life Cycle
  • Project Scoping Variations
  • Getting the Project Started
  • Tracking Project Progress
  • Managing Project Changes
  • Project Financial/Operational Reporting of Results

Who Should Attend: Project Managers New and Experienced

Instructor(s) Biography:  Lee James is a CPA, CMC and CBI who has worked with engineers, architects and contractors for the last 25+ years. Training and teaching have been a part of Lee’s career for the past 30+ years.  Lee develops and teaches training courses throughout the U.S.   He is an enthusiastic and energetic trainer who keeps your attention.  Numerous case studies and exercises are used to embed the principles taught.

Expected Outcomes: Participants will walk away with specific tool and techniques that can be used to improve their project management including:

  • Learn how to invest time doing the right things to improve efficiency of others.
  • Communicating to staff and all involved to maximize project success
  • Pricing and budgeting your services to comply with scope or work
  • Exemplify strong project financial management skills
  • Assuring contracting & insurance needs are completed prior to work starting
  • Using financial management systems to communicate and manage projects
  • Managing invoicing and collecting of accounts receivable process
  • Planning & reporting financial/operational results with benchmarking metrics
  • Mentor and teach benefits for clients, employees and all related organizations


2) Jump Start Your Growth
Presenters: William C. Siegel, P.E. and Kevin McMahon

Course Outline: 
Highlights of the Course Include:

  • Review of current market conditions and trends in the industry.
  • The value of having a dedicated strategy for growth.
  • The need to assess a firm’s existing portfolio of work.
  • Tools to assess strategic positioning by services, markets and geography.
  • Techniques to identify potential areas for growth, and how each area is best approached.
  • Case study/practice by using a representative example from the industry.
  • Best practices and tools for hiring and acquiring once a strategy is established including some simple M&A “do’s and don’ts”.

Who Should Attend: Any attendee of GBA’s Fall Conference would benefit from attending this workshop.  However, those with specific managerial and leadership responsibility (from leading a small firm or office to a large firm) would get the most value.

Instructor(s) Biography: Bill Siegel, P.E. is a proven business leader, with a track record of driving profitable growth and expansion.  His experience includes serving as CEO and Chairman of the Board of an approx. $400M revenue science and engineering consulting firm where he developed and executed a successful strategy to diversify and expand globally.  He also sits on numerous Boards of Directors for A/E firms.

Kevin J. McMahon became Group Vice President, Asia in January 2014 following Jacobs’ acquisition of SKM, which Jacobs completed in December 2013. He joined Jacobs in 2007 when Jacobs acquired Edwards and Kelcey, a major North American Engineering Firm where he was Chairman and CEO.

Expected Outcomes: Participants will walk away with specific tool and techniques that can be used to assess their current condition and then drive future growth.  They will also gain best practices for recruiting and M&A efforts associated with the desired growth.

3) Positively Implementing a Culture of Accountability
June R. Jewell, CPA 

Course Outline:

  • Structuring an Accountability Culture
  • ​Why Accountability?
  • Evaluate your firm’s accountability culture
  • Perceived Pros and Cons of Accountability
  • Components of an Effective Performance Management Process
  • Communicating Accountability Across the Organization

Who Should Attend: Anyone working towards improving user adoption of systems, getting employees to follow processes and improve performance across the company including:

  • Business Owners, Principals and other Executives
  • Human Resources Professionals
  • Operations Managers
  • Division / Business Unit Leaders
  • Other geoprofessionals tasked with managing teams & holding them accountable

Instructor(s) Biography: June R. Jewell, CPA, is a business management consultant to the Architecture and Engineering industry and author of the best-selling book, Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering, and Environmental Firms. For over 25 years she ran a successful business and Deltek consulting practice and is now focused on working with A&E firm leaders to help them improve their processes and systems and give them the tools they need to be able to hold their employees and managers accountable to increase profitability.

Expected Outcomes: In this workshop you will evaluate your firm’s current performance management processes and develop a new strategy and specific practices that will motivate your best employees to excel.

The three pre-conference workshops described above will take place immediately prior to the 2018 Fall Conference at the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel.  Each course will start on Thursday, November 1st at 8:00AM and will conclude by 12:00Noon allowing workshop participants to attend the regularly scheduled GBA committee/council meetings that afternoon.

A great value at $300 for GBA Members ($400 for Non-Members) and scheduled so that attendees are only away one additional night.


Board of Directors Meeting
Board of Directors and staff.

Pre-Conference Workshops ($300 GBA Member Fee; $400 Non-Member Fee)

  1. Project Financial Management – Presenter: Lee R. James, CPA, C.M.C., F.GBA
  2. Jump Start Your Growth – Presenters: William C. Siegel, P.E. and Kevin McMahon
  3. Positively Implementing a Culture of Accountability – Presenter: June R. Jewell, CPA 

Noon – 5:00PM
GBA Central
Conference materials, information about unique things to see and do in the Nashville area, and afternoon beverages will be available from 2:00PM-4:00PM for Spouse/Guest Registrants.

1:00PM – 2:00PM
Group Meetings

Technical Group Meeting
Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Constructions Material Engineering and Testing Business Council; Environmental Business Council; and the Geotechnical Business Council will meet with the GBA Board of Director liaison.

Operations Group Meeting
Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Business Practices Committee; Legal Affairs Committee; and Peer Review Committee will meet with the GBA Board of Director liaison.

External Affairs Group Meeting
Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Emerging Issues and Trends Committee; External Relations Committee; and the Council of Fellows will meet with the GBA Board of Director liaison.

2:00PM – 5:00PM
Committee and Council Meetings
We encourage you to attend the meeting of any committee that interests you, except the Legal Affairs Committee which is restricted to attorneys only.

Business Practices Committee Meeting
Chair: Daniel R. “Dan” Cassidy, C.P.G. (SME)
313/922-7000 / [email protected]

Construction Materials Engineering and Testing Business Council (CoMET) Meeting
Chair: Daniel K. “Dan” Schaefer, P.E. (Froehling & Robertson, Inc.)
919/828-3441 / [email protected]

Emerging Issues and Trends Committee Meeting
Chair: Bradley M. “Brad” Melocik, P.E., P.H. (DOWL)
907/562-2000 / [email protected]

Environmental Business Council Meeting
Chair: Victor R.  Barchers, P.E. (Kleinfelder, Inc.)
512/926-6650 / [email protected]

External Relations Committee Meeting
Chair: Victor S. “Vic” Donald, P.E. (Terracon)
912/577-0365 / [email protected]

Geotechnical Business Council Meeting
Chair: Richard D. “Rick” Heckel, P.E., D.GE (Ardent Geotechnical Consultants)
559/497-2880 / [email protected]

Legal Affairs Committee Meeting
Chair: Ji Shi, Esq. (Earth Systems, Inc.)
805/781-0112 / [email protected]

Peer Review Committee Meeting
Chair: Richard E. “Rich” Johnson, P.G., C.E.G., C.H.G. (BSK Associates)
916/853-9293 / [email protected]

6:30PM – 7:00PM
First-Time Attendee Reception
New to GBA? Join us for a special reception where you will meet GBA leadership and staff.

7:00PM – 9:00PM
Welcome Networking Reception
Plan to attend this opening welcome reception kicking-off GBA’s Fall Conference. This event provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with other conference participants, reconnect with old colleagues, and meet new attendees prior to the start of the programming sessions on Friday. This reception is included with a Full Registrant, Sponsor or Full Spouse/Guest Registration Fee.  Individuals or guests not attending the full conference may register a la carte for this event.  A buffet dinner and full open bar is provided.  Admittance to the event is by Badge Only.


7:00AM – 7:45AM
Council of Fellows Meeting and Breakfast
Continental Breakfast and coffee service provided in the meeting room!

7:00AM – 7:45AM
Continental Breakfast

Continental Breakfast and coffee service provided for meeting attendees.

7:45AM – 7:55AM
Opening Remarks and Business Meeting
President Woodward L. “Woody” Vogt, P.E., D.GE., F.ASCE, F.ACI, F.ASTM, (Paradigm Consultants, Inc.) Program Vice-Chair Thomas W. “Tom” Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE (Blackburn Consulting), and Executive Director Joel G. Carson (Geoprofessional Business Association)

7:55AM – 9:05AM
Principles for Building a High-Performance Culture

Brent Gleeson

Former Navy SEAL combat veteran, Brent Gleeson, turned his discipline and battlefield lessons to the world of business and has become an accomplished entrepreneur, bestselling author and acclaimed speaker on topics ranging from leadership and building high-performance teams to culture and organizational transformation.

In this presentation, Gleeson provides actionable principles for leaders and managers to use in leading an organization through change and provides inspirational stories and key insights into how leadership and employee engagement affect productivity and performance. He shares correlations between SEAL culture and high-performance teams in business and how committing to continuous improvement, prioritizing people, culture, and values drive a company to achieve better results.

8:00AM – 4:00PM
GBA Central
For registered guest and spouse registrants.  A Guest Breakfast will be from 8:00AM to 9:00AM; beverages will be available from 2:00PM to 4:00PM.

8:00AM – 9:00AM
Guest Breakfast
This buffet breakfast is for all guests registered as a guest/spouse registrants or guests registered as a la carte for this event.

9:05AM – 9:15AM
GBA Business Meeting: Introduction of Conference Sponsors, Past Presidents, Committee/Council Chairs and First Time Attendees.







9:30AM – 2:30PM
Guest/Spouse Activity – Three Separate Activities. Sign up for the ones that interest you.

  • Nashville City Tour via Old Town Trolley: (9:30AM-12:00PM) – Cost: $52.00
    This 2½ hour guided tour will take you through the streets of Nashville, “The Birthplace of Country Music”, where you will get a close-up view of the sites that make up this world-class city.  You will see the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Parthenon to name a few.  This tour will make two stops (30-minutes each) where you can get off, walk around and take photos.  One stop will be at Centennial Park where the Parthenon and Athena Statue are located. The other stop will be Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.  Visitors can experience the natural wonders of this 19-acre park which include a 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War II Memorial, and a 95-Bell Carillon all within the shadow of the capitol.  The guided tour will end at 12:00PM where the trolley will drop off the group at a restaurant (TBD) near the Ryman Auditorium.  Lunch will be Dutch Treat. After lunch participants are free to explore the city on their own or head back to the hotel via Uber, Lyft, or their own two feet as the hotel should not be too far away.   Individuals who sign up for the Ryman Auditorium guided tour will be able to walk from the nearby restaurant to the Ryman for their tour.
  • Guest/Spouse Lunch: (12:00PM-1:15PM) – Dutch Treat – at a TBD Restaurant


    1. This spouse/guest lunch is optional, but RSVP/Sign-up is required so we can secure a reservation for the appropriate number of ladies. Individuals on the Nashville City Tour will be dropped off after the tour at the entrance to the TBD restaurant. Transportation from the restaurant back to hotel is on your own, though the restaurant likely will be within 10 blocks of the hotel and even closer to the Ryman Auditorium. More details will be coming soon! GBA staff will contact all spouse/guest by via e-mail before October 11th to ask if the spouse/guest plans to participate in this luncheon.
  • Guided Ryman Auditorium Tour: (1:30PM-2:30PM) – Cost $28.00
    The iconic Ryman Auditorium is truly the heart of Music City: a compelling story, a world-class stage, and a vital part of Nashville’s history. One of the most revered venues in the world, this historic landmark is part daytime tourist attraction, part nighttime music venue, and 100 percent authentic Nashville. Built in 1892 and known throughout the world as “The Mother Church of Country Music”, it is one of Nashville’s true icons. After a brief video presentation, a guide will take you backstage through the dressing rooms where everyone from Garth Brooks to Beck prep for their time on the famous stage. Each room is decorated with local art, rare vintage photos and priceless memorabilia to honor the stars of the Ryman’s rich musical past, including Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Minnie Pearl.   Your tour will allow you the opportunity to stand on the very stage where so many have stood under the lights.   (Transportation on own to/from Ryman Auditorium. JW Marriott Nashville Hotel is approximately 7 blocks from Ryman.)


1.  When Good Intentions Go Terribly Wrong – The Michaels Case
Terry Scanlan, Esq. (Skellenger Bender)

The best intentions do indeed sometimes lead to the direst of consequences.  The Michaels case is one such event.  This case study of a long-term consulting and design contract for a governmental entity owner will examine the risks – and consequences – attached to contractual undertakings with an ill-defined scope as well as the results of an engineer doing his best to support his client.  Following a catastrophic failure, litigation implicated contractual duties, the fundamental question of “standard of care” and the very definition of “signed and stamped plans and specifications.”  Even the Design Professional Immunity statute in this jurisdiction was substantially affected and weakened.  This presentation will address an utterly typical and routine project, a standard set of tasks and the serious outcome following an owner-caused failure which lead to a death.

Take-aways from this session include the importance of a well-defined scope of services for the geoprofessional and executing the scope within defined obligations; and awareness of the significance of interactions with clients relative to ad hoc services.

  1. How Digital Disruption and the Evolution of Technology Will Shape the Future of Organizations
    Thomas Cowan, (Center for Technology Management at Columbia University)If you had a crystal ball and could see the future, would you be able to make the right technology decisions to keep your organization relevant? During this session, Thomas Cowan will highlight how technology will change the way companies deliver, manage, and measure their services and why it is imperative for organizations to leverage their IT department in order to compete in an ever-changing global economy.

You will learn best practices for companies to survive during this age of digital transformation. IT leaders will need to be trailblazers when it comes to the survival of organizations as the tech landscape continues to evolve. The only way that they will be able to lead organizations through these changes is if they look beyond their traditional IT roles. They will be the ones responsible for understanding changes in the market, creating dynamic internal processes and having them implemented within the organization.

Mr. Cowan also will address cybersecurity from a senior management and board perspective. What questions should management and the board be asking, and what answers should they expect?

10:15AM – 10:30AM

Networking Break / Visit with Sponsors / Move to Concurrent Sessions


  1. How the Geoprofessional Avoided a Lawsuit and Saved the Owner Six Million Dollars!
    Michael J. Byrne, Esq. (Byrne & O’Neill, LLP)

The Owner/Hospital built a medical office building with floors built over aggregate shale.  The floors cracked due to expansion of the aggregate shale.  The Hospital built a subsequent project, an addition to the Hospital, with foundations resting on undisturbed shale.  Recalling the medical office building project, the Owner called for a second opinion from a new engineer (Owner’s “expert”) who called for a $6 million fix to secure the foundations from the anticipated effects of shale heave.

From prior experience, the original geoprofessional on the project knew that aggregate (chopped) shale will expand with sufficient force to raise a floor but undisturbed shale cannot be expected to heave and, even if it did, it would not expand with sufficient strength to raise or damage a hospital foundation.  The geoprofessional stayed actively involved and challenged the Owner’s “expert” and was able to successfully persuade the Owner that the proposed $6 million fix was unnecessary.  A claim based on the costs of that fix plus the inevitable delay claims was avoided.

  1. Industry Acceptance of New Technology for Soil Density Testing
    Robyn L. Myers (Troxler Electronic Laboratories, Inc.)

The widely accepted method of soil density measurement, nuclear moisture density testing, has been used for over 50 years. This method is fast, non-destructive and nearly eliminates operator error. The industry has sought alternatives to the nuclear method due to licensing restrictions, perceived safety concerns and related fees.  Several non-nuclear methods have been introduced over the last 10 years with minimal acceptance due to unreliable measurement results and complicated procedures.  The latest instrument to be introduced is a density gauge utilizing nuclear technology that is exempt from licensing requirements in the United States due to the low activity radioactive source. Because it is a new device that requires a new ASTM standard, acceptance in the industry is slow. An ASTM standard has been in process for two years.  However, several DOTs, universities and government agencies have purchased it for research and acceptance testing. Many of these agencies have shared excellent results with the industry, including the Army Corps of Engineers. This presentation will discuss this new gauge and the steps taken to achieve industry acceptance.

11:10AM – 11:25AM
Networking Break / Visit with Sponsors / Move to Concurrent Sessions


  1. Working for the Buyer and the Seller – Beware of Being “In the Middle”
    Michael E. Covert, P.G. (Terracon Consultants, Inc.)

Buyers and sellers have different objectives and working for both parties on a transaction with significant problems can put the consultant in a difficult position, “in the middle”.

This case study will evaluate the challenges and lessons learned after providing environmental services to the seller, granting reliance to the buyer, and dealing with a major pipeline release that was subsequently discovered during residential subdivision development by the buyer. In contrast, a case will be presented where the consultant worked exclusively for the buyer, and significant environmental impacts were discovered during development, which the seller knew about and did not disclose.

  1. Real Benefits of Using Technology for Safety Management – A Practical Discussion
    Richard L. “Rick” Ecord, Jr., CIH, CSP (GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.)

In the past several years, the integration of technology and safety as occurred at a pace never seen before.  Technologies of several different types can help provide employees safer places to work and provide companies significantly-improved efficiencies, yet many firms still have not taken advantage of them and continue to manage safety in the same ways they always have.  During this session, Rick will highlight some existing and emerging technologies that can provide real benefits to your company that you can start to use immediately.

12:05PM – 1:15PM – Networking Luncheon sponsored by Agile Frameworks





1:15PM – 2:05PM
Holding the Hand of General Contractors for Fun and Profit
Steve Wendland, P.E., R.G., D.GE (Kleinfelder, Inc.)

General contractors (GC) can be an attractive source of revenue and rewarding client relationships for geoprofessionals. Building those relationships can generate consistent profits and add some variation and interest in the workload for senior consultants. It can even be a way for you to strike back at commoditization of geotechnical services. This can be accomplished by providing peer review and on-call geotechnical support services to GCs.

GCs are often at a disadvantage when geotechnical problems (e.g., unexpected rock excavation) occur because they lack a geoprofessional who fully understands these problems and who is focused on the GC’s interests. Many GCs wait until problems arise before adding a geoprofessional to their team. At that point, it’s too late to ensure that the contractor is fairly represented, or to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. This lack of balanced geotechnical representation can be avoided, and other benefits can be reaped, when the GC utilizes a geotechnical peer review before construction and keeps that geoprofessional on the contractors’ team throughout the project. Providing these services can increase the utilization and job satisfaction for senior geoprofessionals.

Steve will present the value of a geo-engineering peer review for the GC, the risks involved, providing continuing services (e.g., excavation stability, change orders) on an on-call basis throughout construction, and show how these services can be marketed. He’ll provide interesting examples of the over 400 projects where he has provided this support to GCs over the past 12 years.

2:05PM – 2:55PM
Session Title and Speaker Details Coming Soon!

2:55PM – 3:10PM
​Networking Break / Visit with Sponsors /Move to Business Round Table Session

3:10PM – 4:35PM
Business Round Table Discussions (Two back-to-back 40-minute round table sessions)

Always a popular session at the fall conference with 12 or more topicsEach table discussion is centered around the goal of learning from others’ experiences through a facilitated 40-minute conversation.  These round table sessions unleash the expertise of your fellow geoprofessional colleagues where everyone can contribute in a friendly discussion impacting their business with the intent of solving a problem by providing input into strategy development.

4:35PM – 4:45PM
Conclude regular session, announcements and drawings

7:00PM – 9:00PM
Following a full-day of education sessions and round table discussions, relax, unwind, and enjoy cocktails and an array of artfully selected, seamlessly crafted cuisine. The hotel’s world-class culinary team will create a flavorful menu that reflects both local authenticity and inspiration from around the world all to satisfy your senses.  This reception is included in a Full Registrant, Sponsor or Full Spouse/Guest Registrant Fee.  Individuals not attending the full conference may register a la carte for this event.  Admittance to the event is by Badge Only.


7:15AM – 8:00AM
Continental Breakfast

8:00AM – 8:05AM
Welcome Day Two of Conference and other announcements

8:05AM – 8:55AM
Donald Miller (StoryBrand)

When it comes to discussing their businesses, many people are so close to their products or services they do not know where to start. Donald Miller – the CEO of StoryBrand and a New York Times Bestselling author of three books — knows how hard it is to communicate clearly and has helped hundreds of large and small businesses clarify their messaging. With a clarified message, your website starts working for you, your team members are converted into a sales force, and your customers speak a viral message that spreads.

In Donald’s keynote, you will:

  1. Learn a proven communication formula that has been used in thousands of major motion pictures
  2. See how this formula has been used by the world’s top brands in commercial, print ads and web-based marketing.
  3. Discover how this framework can be applied to your company’s messaging.

The human brain is drawn to clarity and away from confusion. If customers are confused about what you offer, they’ll look past you for somebody who can say it clearly. Once you clarify your message, your company will begin to grow. Companies that clarify their messaging win in the marketplace.

8:55AM – 9:05AM
Networking Break / Visit with Sponsors

9:00AM – 10:00AM
Guest /Spouse Activity – Rise and Shine Yoga with CeCe
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned yoga veteran, join CeCe as she guides you through a sequence of moves. You will build strength, increase flexibility, and find focus.

9:00AM – 12:00PM
GBA Central
For registered spouse/guest registrants.  A Continental Breakfast will be available from 10:00AM to 11:00AM; beverages will be available from 9:00AM to 12:00PM.

9:05AM – 9:45AM
Five Things Your Website Should Include

Donald Miller (StoryBrand)

As a rule, people should be able to go to your website and understand what your firm offers within five seconds. If it takes an individual longer than five seconds, you are losing sales. Most companies don’t have millions of dollars to spend on a marketing campaign. These days, you can get serious traction just paying attention to your digital presence.  A great digital presence starts with a clear and effective website.  Your website isn’t the only tool you need to motivate potential customers, but it is usually the one that does the heavy lifting. People may learn about your company via word of mouth or social media, but they definitely will go to your website to learn more. In this session, Donald will share with you five things your website should include so that you can convert browsers into customers.

9:45AM – 10:00AM
Networking Break / Visit with Sponsors / Book Signing with Donald Miller

10:00AM – 10:55AM
Retaining Wall – Case Study
Daniel L. “Dan” Harpstead, P.E., F.GBA (Kleinfelder, Inc.)

Using a major retaining wall failure as the backdrop, this presentation is prepared in the classic GBA Case Study format where key facts about the case are presented and the audience is asked to identify the potential risks.  The second portion of the presentation provides additional information on the problems that occurred and again the audience is asked to re-evaluate the risks.   The presentation concludes with Lessons Learned, including an open discussion with the audience.

The case is first-hand evaluation of a failure of a major commercial retaining wall where the GBA member firm performed the geotechnical evaluation, designed the wall, and provided CoMET services during construction.  Within a week of the box store opening to the public, a portion of the wall collapsed, triggering a multi-million-dollar emergency response and repair.  While technical errors were alleged, better employment of the GBA business management and risk management philosophies could have potentially kept the member firm from participating in the financial loss.  Everyone who participates in this case study will learn something that they can apply to their practice. This will include the Importance of Project Management, Technical Leadership and Management of Client Expectations.

Uncomfortable Truths:  Somebody Needs to Tell Folks What They Don’t Want to Hear, and It Might as Well Be Me…
Edward Wilson, P.E., F.GBA

The presentation will center on several policies, management, functional, and operational changes that member firms can and should adopt to cause their enterprises to be more profitable, more valuable, and more successful competitors in the rapidly changing professional services market.  As a profession, we as engineers are often encumbered by tradition and cultural constraints that cause us to do things by rote when we should be proactively embracing change and focusing on creating opportunity instead of responding to a competitive landscape either real or perceived.  As business leaders we typically concentrate on how to compete more than we do how to win.  We often use culture and tradition as an excuse not to improve our processes or our competitive position and we often fall back on culture and tradition as excuses for poor performance or failure.  This presentation will discuss a few things that firms should stop doing, changes that should be aggressively embraced, and it will discuss how companies can get ahead of the opportunity curve instead of being consistently reactive to a business environment that is situational.  In preparing this presentation the presenter relies on career experience of over 40 years, half of which he served as chief executive of nationally recognized engineering businesses and half of which he spends as an advisor to former competitors, industry consolidators, and other businesses that are committed to growth and profitability.  This presentation will be provocative, entertaining, and it will probably challenge some conventional norms.

11:45AM – 11:55AM
Networking Break / Visit with Sponsors

11:55AM – 12:45PM
Bringing the Geoprofession to Life

Barry Thacker, P.E. (Schnabel Engineering)

Would you like to learn a fun and rewarding way to communicate with a multi-generational and diverse audience?  Try portraying a legend of the geoprofession as a living historian.

This presentation will illustrate how it’s done, including operation of a time machine to bring history to life.  Who knows, maybe it will motivate you to teach aspects of American history in the classroom as living historians Herbert Hoover, Arthur Morgan, John Frank Stevens, or Florence Bascom.

Quit complaining about the quality of education for Gen Zers by getting off your keister and doing something about it.  See how a career as a geoprofessional can be not just a job but an adventure, especially when you venture into today’s classrooms.  In the process, you might learn that decision makers – potential client representatives, elected officials, and government leaders—share your passion for improving the quality of life in your community.


12:45PM – 1:00PM
Business Meeting / Call for Motion to Adjourn
Woodward L. “Woody” Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, F.ACI, F.ASTM (Paradigm Consultants, Inc.) and Thomas W. Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE (Blackburn Consulting)

1:00PM – 1:45PM
Group Luncheon

1:15PM – 2:30PM
Board of Directors and Committee/Council Chairs Lunch Meeting

2:30PM – 3:45PM
Board of Directors Meeting

4:30PM – 5:30PM
Optional Group Activity: Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery Tour
Cost: $20.00 per person

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery Tour will take you through the past, present, and future of this storied distillery. It starts with a journey through the generations of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery history, followed by a walk-through of the production floor, sharing the processes that go into making the products. The tour will conclude with a sample tasting in the Tasting Room.


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2018     ** Special Pre-Conference Workshop Offerings**

8:00AM – 12:00 PM 
1)Project Financial Management – Presenter: Lee R. James, CPA, C.M.C., F.GBA
2) Jump Start Your Growth –
Presenters: William C. Siegel, P.E. and Kevin McMahon
3) Positively Implementing a Culture of Accountability –
Presenter: June R. Jewell, CPA 

Three pre-conference workshops will take place immediately prior to the 2018 Fall Conference at the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel. Each course will start on Thursday, November 1st at 8:00AM and will conclude by12:00Noon allowing workshop participants to attend the regularly scheduled GBA committee/council meetings that afternoon. A great value at $300 for GBA Members ($400 for Non-Members), and scheduled so that attendees are only away one additional night.

Please click on the links for more details about each specific workshop.
PROJECT FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: Managing Self and Others by Lee James, C.P.A., C.M.C., F.GBA







GBA will award Professional Development Hours (PDHs).
Details Coming – July 2018!

JW Marriott Nashville Hotel

 201 8th Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37203

Reservations Phone Line: Coming Soon!

On-line Reservation Link:  Book_JW_Marriott_Nashville_Hotel

Music City’s newest luxury hotel, the sparkling JW Marriott Nashville, embodies the vibrant soul of the city with over 530 perfectly appointed guest rooms and suites, a trio of stylish new restaurants, including award-winning Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina, 50,000 square feet of high-tech event space, a world-class Spa by JW including a sleek fitness center that echoes the hotel’s modern style, with top-of-the-line cardio and weight training equipment, and a collection of contemporary art that pays homage to the city’s musical history.  The JW Marriott Nashville Hotel offers a stylish array of amenities and services catering to visitors and locals.  Located at one of the city’s highest elevation points, the modern, 33-story glass tower offers stunning views from every vantage point and truly makes its mark in the Nashville skyline.

Room Rates: $289 Single/Double Occupancy plus 15.25% tax per night PLUS a $2.50 per room, per night city tax.

 All reservations must be guaranteed by a deposit equal to one-night room and tax with a major credit card that will be secured/processed one week prior to arrival.

A call-in reservation phone number will be provided by late June 2018.

(Link for online reservation available in May 2018!)

A limited number of guest rooms have been blocked for GBA members/attendees between the dates of Wednesday, October 31st through Saturday, November 3rd.  Room rates are $289 single/double occupancy plus 15.25% state tax plus $2.50 city tax per room per night. Secure your room reservation early as once GBA’s block is filled, even if it is before the cut-off date, GBA cannot guarantee availability of additional rooms or the group rate. Call (888) 236-2427 and mention the Geoprofressional Business Association to secure your guest room reservation or visit: GBA 2018 Fall Conference -JW Marriott Nashville Hotel/Reservations

If you have difficulty securing a reservation on-line, please call the hotel’s reservation number listed above. Should the hotel not have rooms available for your entire stay, please secure a room for the nights you can and then e-mail Barb at [email protected] for assistance with any extra nights (pre/post) that you ae unable to secure.

Check-in time:       4:00 PM
Check-out time:   11:00 AM

The hotel will make every effort to accommodate guests arriving before the check-in time.  Late check-out requests must be arranged with the hotel’s Front Desk staff/manager directly.  Late check-outs are subject to a late departure charge.

The hotel will charge the full rate plus tax for any early departures prior to the guest’s original confirmed check-out date. Guests should advise the hotel’s Front Desk staff/manager ASAP should an individual need to depart before their original check-out date.  Any charges are at the discretion of the hotel.

Room availability and rates outside of the blocked dates are subject to availability at the time of reservation. Rates offered are at the discretion of the hotel. Secure your extended reservations early for best rate and availability.

Room reservations must be cancelled by 4:00PM 72-hours prior to day of arrival to avoid cancellation fees equal to one night’s room and tax charges.

Complimentary Basic WiFi is extended to GBA attendees who book within the room block via the online reservation link  GBA 2018 Fall Conference -JW Marriott Nashville Hotel/Reservations


Click any of the links below for information about the many things to see and do while in the Nashville area.

More information coming soon!

Click the link for all sort of interactive and printable maps of the Nashville area. http://www.visitmusiccity.com/Meetings/tripplanning/mapsandtransportation

Nashville International Airport

Airport Information Center: 615-275-1675 or visit flynashville.com

Airport Customer Service: The airport has a customer service attendant stationed curbside on the ground level from 6:30AM to 11:30PM daily to provide assistance with transportation needs.

Nashville’s airport is designed to keep you moving, with an easy flow to and from the terminal’s 45 gates.

The airport code is BNA which stands for Berry Field Nashville

The 820,000-square-foot terminal is home to eight airlines including: Air Canada, American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sunwing, and United.

Flights are available to more than 70 markets, 50 are nonstop, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Toronto, and Washington, DC

Hotel Parking – JW Marriott Nashville Hotel
Valet Parking:  Fees will be posted by July 1st for overnight parking.

There is no Self-Parking at the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel

Individuals wanting to self-park their vehicle may do so at the Music City Center located at 201 5th Avenue South across the street from the hotel.   Visit the Music City Center Parking website for parking fees and other information: https://www.parkitdowntown.com/nashville/music-city-center-garage

Getting There:

Nashville International Airport:

Distance 9 miles / 15 minutes between Nashville airport and JW Marriott Nashville Hotel via Uber, Lyft, r a taxi depending on traffic and time of day.

Estimated taxi fare is $ 25 (each way) not including tip.

The JW Marriott Nashville Hotel does not provide any shuttle service.

Click the link https://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=Nashville-TN for estimated taxi-fare between Nashville International Airport and the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel.

Getting Around Nashville: http://www.visitmusiccity.com/meetings/gettingaround/transportationinfo

Ride Share: Lyft and Uber are both active in Nashville. Download the app and request a ride. A nearby driver will be dispatched to your location within minutes. The Nashville International Airport was the first airport in the country to allow ride-sharing services to operate on the property.

A refund (less $125/per person administrative fee) will be given to individuals whose cancellations are received by 5:00PM Eastern Time, Friday, October 5, 2018.   For cancellations received after that date, but not later than 5:00PM Eastern Time, Friday, October 19, 2018, the cancellation fee will be $250/per person, for administration, food service and related guarantee charges that GBA will have to absorb.  No refund or credit may be given after 5:00PM on Friday, October 19, 2018.

Please note: GBA may charge an individual whatever GBA has to pay the hotel (in attrition fees) if you fail to cancel a room reservation in a timely manner and GBA is unable to assign the room to someone else.  Be sure to notify Barb ([email protected]) or Sara ([email protected]) even if you have to cancel late so that GBA can at least try to mitigate any additional charges.


November 1 @ 8:30 am
November 3 @ 1:00 pm