How has JHAI, as an architectural servicing firm, stayed in business for over 35 years?
I have been researching business practices, Stoic lifestyles, leadership issues, and attempting new business models. As architects, we mostly learn as we go. I have always planned for the future of the company years ahead of time. I hire and do my very best to maintain my employees. I have seen 5 recessions in my career to date. I have stayed busy with large and small staff sizes throughout the last 4 recessions. I worked for others before that. I have never had a boring week, and have advanced my abilities continuously over the entire span of my career.
So, what did I do to achieve this consistency, name recognition, positive view from the community, clients, and staff? How did JHAI get national, and local recognition?
First and foremost I have always planned ahead. I am a very pro-active leader. From my education and experiences in architecture, business, and community each activity expanded my reach. From my original few contacts, mostly family businesses, I reached out in my friendly manner to introduce myself to the community at large. With these contacts from family, friends, neighbors, referrals, and my extended introductions to everyone I met or researched, JHAI’s client base expanded. Keeping expeditious services in mind at all times, providing the services each client would wish for, communicating, and following up, clients appreciate and continue to request ongoing services. All this feeds into my wish for custom designed projects. Each project is served to meet our client’s goals while adding to the JHAI opportunities.
Our staffing, one of the most important aspects of any company has always been a challenge due to recessions. As the need to reduce costs come up at most recessions, the staff has to be reduced. The learning curve and the consistency of office continual educations have to start at the beginning of employment. JHAI has employed some of the same staff for over 26 years continuously. Our semi-horizontal management style has allowed for transitions in project management as a continuous process throughout each recession. This flexibility is the key. Also, the wide range of project types is critical. Doing tough projects, infill projects, and consultation has added to this opportunity.
Treating our employees with respect; development opportunity in design and management, if they pushed for it; project type and client variety greatly expands one's opportunity in life. Getting employees’ thoughts on many issues factor into the appropriate balance a firm needs. Our mix of staff histories and their interactions advance staff interactions, communication, and innovation. I am always thinking about the macro and micro patterns and how they will affect where I am leading the company from our collective wisdom. I continually attempt to redirect energies away from antiquated habits. Through our training in design, we are forced to explore different management solutions, even when we usually end up following our original paths. Renewal, innovation, and positive motivation are always underway. We keep up to date IT systems, management, and design paths current. I love thinking out of the box, on all issues. Switching paths, interchanging ideas, and mixing things up to keep it all fresh. Focusing on different issues at different times keeps us on our feet. I always push for opportunities whether now or far into the future. I just love the opportunity to design something fresh, exciting, humanizing, and sustainable for our planet. We balance freedom and long-term innovation in all our practices. These activities act as our catalyst for our art form. These developed paths have provided an endless flow of opportunity.
With flexibility and consistency, steered by our strategic direction of the JHAI Mission, we steer through all the changing environments.