GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 31-35

GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 31-35

GBA Case Histories are being used by our members for loss prevention discussions in support of professional development and mentoring.  They are also being used in universities to bring “real-world” lessons into the classroom.  Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeating mistakes of the past which is why GBA case histories are so valuable, and why GBA is updating them all, while adding new ones, too. Five more case histories have been issued.

CASE HISTORY NO. 31 (download)                  

An architect requested a proposal from the geotechnical-engineering firm whose office was next door to the site of a proposed newspaper plant. The architect selected another firm because it offered a lower fee, but the firm was far less experienced. The owner ultimately paid a $40,000 construction cost premium in order to save $600 in engineering fees.

CASE HISTORY NO. 32 (download)      

A civil engineer failed to follow a geotechnical engineer’s recommendation in order to save several hundred dollars. The geotechnical engineer took appropriate defensive measures as a result of the corner-cutting, and thus did not have to contribute to the $125,000 cost overrun that ultimately had to be paid by the civil engineer.

CASE HISTORY NO. 33 (download)      

The pressure of business forced a Member Firm to assign a somewhat new field representative to observe construction being performed by a tricky, problem-prone contractor. After initial problems evaporated, the project proceeded without a hitch. The Member Firm later learned that the field representative had been bribed.

CASE HISTORY NO. 34 (download)                  

The owner’s desire to save a relatively few dollars on a fast-track project resulted in innumerable problems and cost overruns. The Member Firm learned that it is sometimes necessary either to force proper procedures on others or to pay the consequences.

CASE HISTORY NO. 35 (download)                  

A $4,000, 17-day project was performed well, but the warning in the report could have been stated more strongly, especially so because follow-up contact was not maintained. The result: The Member Firm had to pay an $20,000 legal bill to prove it should not have been sued in the first place.

Access all GBA’s Case Histories HERE




National Practice Guideline Geotechnical Engineer of Record Updated

National Practice Guideline

Geotechnical Engineer of Record Updated

The Geotechnical Business Council of GBA has updated the guide to help identify the roles and responsibilities of the geotechnical engineer of record, client, and owner involved with the geotechnical-engineering aspects of a conventional design/bid/build construction project.

The guideline addresses the range and nature of services that should be included in the geotechnical engineer’s scope of service if the geotechnical engineer is to sign and seal instruments of professional service, and accept the geotechnical engineer of record designation.

The updated guideline delineates responsibilities of the geotechnical engineer of record, the range and nature of basic services that should be included in the geotechnical engineer of record’s scope of service, and additional services that may apply. Obligations of the client and the owner are outlined and various terms are defined.

This important document was first published in March 1993 by then Practice Environment Committee and revised by the Professional Practice Committee in 2008.  This update was a collaborative effort of GBA’s Geotechnical Business Council Chair, Rick Heckel, P.E. and Council members Woody Vogt, D.GE, F. ASCE, F. ACI, F. ASTM, Michael Marasa, P.E., and Blake Cotton. P.E., LEED AP.


GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 26-30

GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 26-30

Refreshed GBA Case Histories have been downloaded over 2,000 times since May 1, 2017 and they are being used by GBA members for loss prevention discussions in support of professional development and mentoring.  Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeating mistakes of the past which is why GBA case histories are so valuable, and why GBA is updating them all, while adding new ones, too. Five more case histories have been issued.

CASE HISTORY NO. 26 (download)                   PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The Client

A multi-disciplinary consulting-engineering firm retained by an electric utility

The Project

A 12,000kW, fast-tracked, power-generating facility comprising a 110-foot-high rockfill dam, powerhouse, transmission line, and associated structures

Assignment of the GBA-Member Firm

Perform 6,000 feet of seismic-refraction transverses in the dam, penstock, dike, and powerhouse areas; reduce and interpret geophysical data obtained

CASE HISTORY NO. 27(download)                    PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The Client

A state-government agency

The Project

A 150-by-80-foot, single-story addition to a 100,000-square-foot educational building

Assignment of the GBA-Member Firm

Perform a geotechnical-engineering study and provide a report of findings and recommendations.

CASE HISTORY NO. 28(download)                    PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The Client

During the design phase, a municipality constructing a new library. During the construction phase, the project’s constructor-in-charge.

The Project

A small municipal library

Assignment of the GBA-Member Firm

Perform a geotechnical-engineering study for the owner and perform constructor quality control for the constructor, per owner requirements.

 CASE HISTORY NO. 29(download)                    PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The Client

A manufacturer of corrugated metal pipe (CMP)

The Project

Installation of a flexible CMP culvert in a drainage ditch designed to bypass surface water around a power-plant-construction project.

 Assignment of the GBA-Member Firm

Observe and test the compaction of fill beneath and on the sides of the CMP installation.

CASE HISTORY NO. 30(download)                    PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The Client

The owner of a food-storage warehouse

The Project

An addition to the existing warehouse

Assignment of the GBA-Member Firm

Perform a geotechnical-engineering study and submit a report including confirmation-dependent foundation recommendations, settlement analysis and estimates, earthwork recommendations, and a detailed description of construction-phase observation and documentation services.

 Access all GBA’s Case Histories HERE


New Best Practices – Effective Presentations


New Best Practices – Effective Presentations

You’ve been tasked with preparing a presentation for an upcoming event, but not quite sure where to start? There is an abundance of information and resources available out there to help you prepare and deliver an exceptional presentation. No doubt about it, presenting effectively takes time, effort, and practice, but it is also very rewarding.

To assist GBA member-firm representatives with this task, the Business Practices Committee has prepared guidelines and suggestions for developing audio-visual aids and presenting content. This is the same information provided to individuals planning to speak at GBA conferences!


Vogt, Hoffmann, Johnston Lead GBA’s 2018-19 Board of Directors Slate

GBA’s Nominating Committee has announced its slate of officers and directors for the May 1, 2018-April 30, 2019 fiscal year.

GBA President-Elect Woodward L. “Woody” Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM (Paradigm Consultants, Inc.) will become President and Chair of the GBA Board of Directors.

Those nominated for the other two officer positions are, for President-Elect and Board Chair-Elect, Arthur G. “Art” Hoffmann, P.E., D.GE (Gannett Fleming, Inc.) and, Kenneth R. “Ken” Johnston (GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.) for Secretary-Treasurer.

Those nominated to serve as Directors-at-Large are: Saiid Behboodi, P.E., P.G. (PBS Engineering and Environmental); Thomas W. “Tom” Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE (Blackburn Consulting);  Chuck A. Gregory, P.E. (Terracon); Christopher Matthew “Matt” Moler, P.E. (S&ME, Inc.); and Leo Titus, Jr., P.E.(ECS, Ltd.)

GBA’s Current Board of Directors


Important Legal Resources Updated

Two Important Legal Resources Updated for GBA Members

The Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) has published new editions of two important legal references, both prepared for design professionals without use of “legalese”; both available free of charge.

Limitation-of-Liability Case Index and Economic-Loss-Doctrine Case Index were prepared for GBA’s Legal Affairs Committee by Seattle (WA) law firm Skellenger Bender, P.S.

GBA introduced the 400-year-old limitation-of-liability (LOL) concept to the design and environmental professions in 1969. By applying the concept, now upheld in most states, a client agrees to limit a design professional’s liability to a given amount, most commonly $50,000 or the fee, whichever is higher. The Index describes each case in terms of its background and the points or holdings involved, and – to support additional research – identifies the case by name, jurisdiction, and citation. The cases span the period 1956 to 2017.

The economic loss doctrine (ELD), another important protection for design professionals, bars use of tort claims (e.g., professional-negligence and negligent-misrepresentation claims) to recover purely economic losses, such as those stemming from property damage or construction delays. In states that uphold the ELD in full, claimants against design professionals may recover purely economic damages only via breach-of-contract suits, limiting claimants to design professionals’ clients. In other states, third parties, like constructors, can sue design professionals directly. Economic-Loss-Doctrine Case Index provides a state-by-state status report on the economic-loss doctrine, describing the cases involved and providing the additional information required for more research.

Download Limitation-of-Liability Case Index

Download Economic-Loss-Doctrine Case Index


Join the Conversation – The Puzzle of Motivation



JOIN THE CONVERSATION – The Puzzle of Motivation


GBA has a rich history of uniting to tackle tough problems, collaborating on common issues, and working together to elevate our profession.


GBA is sponsoring a program to promote growth and collaboration, interested GBA Members will independently watch the TED Talk “The Puzzle of Motivation” then gathering together to discuss the contents in on a webinar in a facilitated “book club” format.  Together we will learn, share, and grow.


Friday: January 5, 2018

Time:  2:00 PM Eastern, 1:00 PM Central, Noon Mountain, 11:00 AM Pacific

Duration: 1 hour

Facilitated by: Joel Carson

Space is limited: Sign Up Here


The Puzzle of Motivation by Dan Pink

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.


Watch Here



What are your Peers Reading?

GBA’s Most Downloaded Resources in 2017

GBA provides hundreds of highly effective resources developed to satisfy the unique needs of geoprofessionals, giving members essential tools for achieving success. However, we also know that it can be overwhelming to sort through them all. So, to help, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 GBA resources by numbers ordered in 2017. This is a great place to start your exploration of GBA’s resources, or to get acquainted with a publication loved by your peers and “new to you”.

GBA’s CASE HISTORIES were very popular downloads with over 1,100 downloads of updated Case Histories during the year.

The list below is the top 10 GBA resources, in order by popularity, with the most ordered resource at the top. Topics cover a wide range of geoprofessional business issues, so we are certain that you will find something on this list that could help your business succeed. Select a title to learn more and download it today.

The top downloads are:



Click on any title to order your copy today.  All reference documents are free for members.

Ethics and Professional Conduct Training Program Available


GBA’s Business Practice Committee has compiled information from several GBA Member Firms to develop a complete Ethics and Professional Conduct Training.  The materials have been developed for GBA member firms so that they can perform comprehensive ethics training for all employees in small, manageable parts that will enhance discussion and retention.  The four-part PowerPoint presentation and support information consist of the following:

Part 1 – Introduction to Ethics

Part 2 – Codes of Ethics

Part 3 – Ethical Decision-Making Guidelines

Part 4 – Business Conduct

This training is recommended to be facilitated by a Senior Leader within your firm, and can be performed in a lunchtime learning environment or in small group settings.

Download Ethics & Professional Conduct Training

GBA Provides Members with Workplace Harassment Training

We have all seen the headlines and our attention on workplace harassment is elevated.  GBA Member-Firms have a unique opportunity to promote proven business practices to educate our employees about workplace harassment.

GBA’s Business Practices Committee has taken the opportunity to refresh and update a lunch and learn titled Workplace Harassment.  Those taking the training will learn:

  • Each is personally responsible for their workplace behavior
  • We all have a role in maintaining a harassment-free work environment
  • We need to support an environment of respect and value of individuals
  • Skills to set boundaries and confront harassment

The process is simple.  Download the Lunch & Learn instructions and PowerPoint.  Review the contents and modify as you see fit for your firm.

GBA’s Education Committee developed the Lunch & Learn seminar series to help GBA-Member Firms conduct high-quality, to-the-point seminars for staff members and, possibly, others, including client representatives and colleagues.   Each Lunch & Learn seminar outlines key points to be made, and includes note-taking forms participants can use to help reinforce key lessons learned, as well as a PowerPoint presentation. Each seminar uses GBA materials that members can obtain free of charge, in unlimited quantity. Many of these also are available to nonmembers, for a fee.

Download:  Workplace Harassment Training – Lunch & Learn


Join the Conversation:Leading with Greatness

The next GBA TED Talk group will be discussing How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek. Together we will learn, share, and grow. Please join us!

Friday: December 1, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern, 1:00 PM Central, Noon Mountain, 11:00 AM Pacific
Duration: 1 hour
Facilitated by: Joel Carson
Space is limited: Sign Up Here

From the Archives



From the Archives – GBA 20 Years Ago

As we start planning for the kick-off of GBA’s 50th anniversary in May 2019, we are dusting off files, opening storage boxes, and reviewing our archives.  One of the most interesting finds are the boxes of historic NEWSLOGs (currently titled NEWSlog).  This discovery prompted us to see what was happening 20-years ago in our association.

NEWSLOG Volume 27, No. 3 from September/October 1997, included discussions on:

  • fiduciary liability claims,
  • ASTM Standards,
  • contract guides, and
  • writing right.

We were also warning members about El Nino and we were battling with the Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California (CELSOC) against a California ballot initiative sponsored by the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) that would exclude private companies from winning state and local contracts in California.

Many of the issues discussed in the 1997 issue of NEWSLOG were items on which GBA built a foundation.  They are also issues which still require our unified support so we can continue be the preferred source of business-educational resources, specifically risk management and business performance optimization, for geoprofessional firms.

Throughout our almost 50-years, GBA has helped its members and their clients confront risk and optimize business performance by delivering unique professional resources, programs, and services that make them stronger, smarter and more successful.

To read NEWSLOG from September/October 1997 – READ HERE


Join the Team – GBA Team Gear Available for Order

GBA has teamed up with Champion System to create top of the line team athletic wear which is now available to all GBA members!  You can order from a catalog of biking and running apparel (i.e. shorts, tights, singlets, jerseys, vests, and jackets) for winter or summer sporting events.

Order now by contacting Sara Menase in the GBA Office.  She will send you images of the apparel options and a price sheet.  We will be submitting a GBA group order on December 1, 2017.

BONUS:  When you order your GBA Team Gear, you will be given a coupon to support your next walk/run/bike registration fee.


Call for Abstracts “Optimizing Performance by Leading from the Heart”



“Optimizing Performance by Leading from the Heart” 

2018 Spring Conference – April 5-7, 2018
Westin Chicago River North Hotel – Chicago, IL


 Are you a dynamic, engaging, inspiring speaker with something valuable to teach industry leaders involved in the Geoprofessional Business Association? If so, we’d love to receive an abstract submission from you for our upcoming conference in Chicago, IL. There, 150+ senior leaders of GBA-Member geoprofessional firms will gather to network, share best practices, and improve their business performance and elevate their industry.

 The Conference Theme: 

Optimizing Performance by Leading from the Heart 

As GBA convenes in Chicago, IL for our 2018 Spring Conference, we will focus on helping those in attendance to recognize that exceptional leadership requires we lead from our hearts.

Business owners who genuinely lead with their heart — not just their head — are also more equipped to connect with the emotional needs of employees. They understand that people have the need to be valued, respected, listened to and involved. By acknowledging and honoring the human element, heart-centered leaders possess the wisdom and capacity to positively transform any organization and run extremely successful and profitable businesses.

Our Conference will include presentations on subjects that will help our members to embrace a heart-centered approach to business and recognize true power means listening to and from the heart and having a commitment to humility.

 How You Will Benefit

For almost half a century, GBA’s twice-a-year conferences have been the place to engage senior business leaders of the geoprofessional industry. You will gain visibility and credibility; create important new relationships; and generate valuable awareness of your expertise in our industry.





Geoprofessional Business Association Midyear Report


President Charles “Charlie” Head, P.E., P.G. (Sandborn, Head & Associates)

GBA Members,

GBA is a great organization, with great people, and a great legacy.

For the entirety of GBA’s almost 50-year history, it has thrived under the tenets of openness and sharing so that all may understand the risks that face our businesses and learn from others how to mitigate them.  The founders of GBA worked to build a kind of “professional capital” that did not previously exist and has benefited the geoprofession greatly to this day.  Those that followed have added a tremendous amount to this foundation.

Now, almost 50 years later, GBA is a thriving organization with an incredibly bright future.

As we now turn to that future, the challenges that face our businesses are as great, if not greater, than those we have faced in the past.  The need for an organization that helps member firms confront risk and optimize performance, especially in a world of accelerating and disruptive technology, is more vital than ever.  The foundation we have built is strong, but there is a lot more to do.

This year we will adopt a new Strategic Plan to propel us forward to 2020.  Our Plan can be simply distilled to the following:

Strengthen Our Brand         Celebrate Success              Turbocharge Member Experience

First – Strengthen our Brand.  Our opportunity is to enhance delivery on our value proposition by doubling our efforts to focus on matters of business risk and performance.  We will strengthen our brand through impactful messaging in all that we do and with an abundance of warmth and friendliness so we can learn from each other in what really, at its heart, is a relationship organization.

Second – Celebrate Success.  Sharing our collective experiences is really at the core of GBA’s culture.  What better way to share these experiences than to celebrate member accomplishments that exemplify our values, purpose and strategy, and which continue to elevate our profession and foster pride.  In that regard, we have a great opportunity to deliver on GBA’s 50th anniversary in FY 2019-2020 to connect with our past and create a powerful platform for a bright future.

Third – Turbocharge Member Experience.  Developing a unique member experience to further drive value and connection is paramount to our success.  We believe the member experience starts first and foremost with our conferences.  As a premier value driver for our members, we will continue to enhance the conference experience to deliver unique value to us all.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The unique member experience must also be infused in our educational materials and development programs, and be fostered by the diverse thinking of GBA’s Board. Overall, we must stay truly connected to our members, including multiple generations within member firms.

Thank you to our members for your support and collegiality, and for the work that you do to help make GBA strong and vital.  If you are a member and not yet immersed in the GBA experience, I encourage you to attend one of our conferences and consider active participation through one of our committees and councils; I believe you will find that you get a lot more in return.  Finally, if you are not yet a member, I invite and encourage you to consider joining us on our road to a bright future.

Thank you.


Charles “Charlie” Head, P.E., P.G.

President 2017-18