Summer ’23 Industry Event Recap

At Thomas Construction Group, we prioritize creating avenues for our team to delve into emerging trends and technologies by sponsoring their participation in industry events. Continuing education and using events to stay up-to-date play a pivotal role in Thomas’ endeavor to make each department the best in class. These events aren’t merely educational pit-stops; they challenge our team to re-envision their roles, arming them with insights to refine their methods. The enthusiasm with which they return and share their knowledge speaks volumes.

This cyclical process of learning and teaching fosters a strong culture of accountability. The mantra is simple: “I learn, I apply, I teach.” Following this, team members like Jill Sullivan and Hunter Cain recently illuminated this principle. After attending industry conferences tailored to their specialties this summer, both returned invigorated, eager to integrate and share their newfound ideas.

Following in the newfound tradition started by Mike Pritt and Derrick Nobles after attending the Advancing Preconstruction Conference, Jill and Hunter have both recapped their experiences for the rest of the Thomas team to enjoy.

Jill at a industry marketing conference
Jill Sullivan / Project Development Manager

SMPS AMPLIFY A/E/C (Society of Marketing Professional Services Annual Conference)

Why did you attend this particular conference?

In recent months, our marketing team has met with several marketing professionals in our industry under various circumstances. The name ‘SMPS’ frequently surfaced throughout these meetings, creating interest in how membership would benefit Thomas. For those unfamiliar, SMPS stands for the Society of Marketing Professional Services. It’s a nationwide community dedicated to serving marketing and business development professionals within the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C) sector. Through local chapters, this group provides networking, educational enrichment, and industry research for marketing specialists and business developers.

Recognizing SMPS’s potential value for Thomas, I suggested we attend their annual meeting before committing to our local chapter in Raleigh. The timing was perfect for their upcoming event in Austin. Their 50th-anniversary celebration was a great opportunity to learn about the Society’s history, mission, offerings, and leadership.

What did you gain and/or learn?

The conference was a whirlwind of insight, spanning a wide range of topics from workforce dynamics – such as generational challenges and diversity – to the modern applications of Artificial Intelligence, journalism, and digital media.

One of the most intriguing keynote speakers was a 25-year A/E/C veteran named Jen who shared an event in her life that challenged her both personally and professionally. Ironically, Jen and I share a very similar story, so I listened intently. Jen’s message was focused on resiliency.  When companies (or individuals) experience disruption, there is a choice: freeze and fail or innovate, advance, and thrive. 

“This calls for leaders to build organizational resilience to ensure long-term viability by fostering a change-ready culture to lead through disruption.” – Jen Newman, FSMPS, CPSM 

Breakout sessions continued throughout the span of three days. While I took away nuggets on enhancing brand presence, crafting powerful messages, and strategic marketing, it was the discourse on AI that stood out. A controversial topic and opinions are divided, some are quick to embrace it, and others are taking a cautious approach. However, the consensus was clear: AI is already a significant force in our industry, and its influence will only grow.

How can you use that knowledge in your current position?

Fresh from the insights of the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership luncheon and the subsequent SMPS annual conference, I returned to Thomas with renewed confidence. There was a tangible sense of community and empowerment. It accentuated the undeniable truth: relationships matter. Surrounded by nearly a thousand A/E/C professionals, I was grateful for the opportunity to tap into the wisdom of others and make connections with peers who share my role. With over three decades in this industry, it’s clear to me that the world of A/E/C is ever-evolving. To thrive, we must embody resilience, staying agile and receptive to change.

At its core, marketing revolves around storytelling, and our stories mold perceptions of the Thomas brand. Striving for premier status is a daily challenge, one that cannot be taken lightly. In the end, we have to embrace and learn from our failures and, always celebrate success.


Hunter Cain / Healthcare Development

NCHEA Annual Conference (North Carolina Healthcare Engineers Association)

Why did you decide to attend this particular conference?

As a new member of the Thomas team, it has been essential to immerse myself in opportunities that would advance my understanding of the healthcare engineering and construction landscape in North Carolina. The NCHEA conference provided a dynamic platform for knowledge exchange, heightening Thomas’s profile, and fostering connections with industry leaders. Given the rapid shifts in healthcare, affiliation with forward-thinking entities like NCHEA is crucial.

Established in 1952, NCHEA champions the healthcare engineering domain, focusing on professional development and meaningful collaborations. Their alliance with national organizations and commitment to top-tier programs underlines their dedication to the progressive evolution of healthcare facilities management.

What did you gain and/or learn?

Interacting with industry leaders during the conference deepened my understanding of the evolving landscape of healthcare construction. A standout session, “This is Not Your Grandfather’s MOB”, underscored the latest design and engineering trends in medical office building (“MOB”) construction, as patient care continues to rapidly migrate away from traditional hospital settings and into communities. 

From a design standpoint, providers have a growing need for flexible space, enhanced perimeter circulation, multi-specialty buildouts, and in some cases modular construction. An insightful takeaway was the ongoing patient-centric shift in healthcare, which sees patients not just as care recipients, but as central figures in healthcare strategies. The emphasis now is on proactive care, like investing in preventive maintenance rather than extensive overhauls.

In summary, the panel underscored the latest strategies and trends with the same two goals in mind:  delivering a high-quality medical facility that meets the evolving needs of patients and providers and managing high construction costs in an inflationary environment.

How can you use that knowledge in your current position?

Gaining insights into current design and construction trends is vital, but equally important is fostering relationships with healthcare providers and partners who ultimately utilize the space.  As hospitals and healthcare facilities continue their outpatient migration and patient-centric approach, staying connected and attuned to their shifting needs is imperative. This ensures we can adjust and align with the evolving priorities of our hospital partners and refine our construction and design strategies accordingly.  A forward-thinking approach ensures we’re not only reacting to the present but proactively helping to shape the future of healthcare construction and patient care delivery.

The process of attending an industry event is quite simple. Identify and justify Why it’s valuable to attend, let your team know What you learned from your experience, and then figure out How you’ll implement this newfound knowledge. 

At Thomas Construction, the value of industry events is crystal clear. Through the experiences of team members like Jill and Hunter, we see firsthand the positive impact on our collective knowledge and growth. This commitment to professional development sets us apart. We’re not merely constructing buildings but cultivating a culture of continuous learning and progress. Here, we don’t just create structures; we shape skilled professionals and foster a community of proactive minds that guide us all to greater achievements.

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