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I have several contractor friends (one a remodeler, one a mid sized GC) that belong to a "Owner per group". These groups are typically comprised of similar sized/type businesses that operate in different areas of the Country. The scattered nature of their base of operations allows for sharing of ideas and normally proprietary information because of a lack of competition. Confidentiality agreements are signed by each member as well.
My friends usually travel from once to several times a year to these meetings which last from 1-3 days. They form lasting friendships and a true bond as they assist each other with business and personnel issues with no fear of losing any competitive advantage they may have in their regional or local marketplace. Financial performance issues are scrutinized and what is successful for one firm is shared with the others. I trust you understand the idea. I have searched on-line unsuccessfully for a similar "Architect Peer Group" for my sized firm of around 6 to 8 total personnel (Including myself) with no luck finding any such thing.
I currently belong to a "CEO group" called TAB (The Alternative Board) which meets monthly to discuss a wide variety of business issues, however, the mix is always different businesses and so there is no sharing of Architecture related professional issues that may be unique to our chosen field.
Therefore, I am asking this "connected community" if anyone is familiar with such an organization or might be interested in starting one. I have been in practice for 40 years and feel like I can always learn successful practice methodologies and certainly have experience to share as well.
Feel free to respond. I'm interested to know your thoughts.
Best to all,
Design that works!
Michael W. Spivey, AIA, NCARB
SPIVEY ARCHITECTS, INC
147 Wappoo Creek Drive Suite 304
Charleston, SC 29412
This is a great idea. I'm a couple of people smaller than you (although that varies from time to time). Probably 'type of work' might be a factor as well; but it's not clear how much. Certainly there are a range of 'running a business' issues that relate more to size and type of operation; but there are another range of issues in relating to customer driven issues, marketing and producing work, that probably differ rather significantly depending on the mix of work.
In any event, I'd have some interest in such a group. Perhaps there might be some 'sorting' that occurs in the responses to your posts that might offer clues to establish what might constitute 'peers' for particular circumstances.
Michael F. Malinowski FAIA
President, Applied Architecture Inc
President Streamline Institute Inc
2016 AIA California President
2012-2014 AIA National Director
2008 President AIA Central Valley
2007 Chair Sacramento Development Oversight Commission
2550 X Street Sacramento CA 95818
Corner of 26th and X
916 456 2656 voice 916 456 1050 fax
38 years of sensitive and sensible architectural solutions
Jim Zack, AIA | principal
156 south park • san francisco, ca • 94107
t. 415.495.7889, ext. 201 • f. 415.495.7869
Charette Venture GroupProfessional Development Resources Inc.The Greenway Group The Coxe GroupPeter Piven Management Consultants
CRAN Peer Groups are an initiative of the Custom Residential Architects Network (aka CRAN), an AIA Knowledge Community. People interested in participating should email me or Luis or email@example.com (which I monitor). We will be collecting names of interested parties for the next month or two. Attached is a 'flyer' that outlines the program.
John DeForest, AIA
Gary, I agree, I believe there is a need for a separate forum for sole practitioners. I worked for many years in a small firm of 4 in a relatively small market. My frustration with the AIA is that it seems to be geared towards the larger firms in the larger cities. As you mention, cash flow, paying for professional liability insurance and carving out time for marketing are real concerns and many times make or break decisions for sole practitioners. Discussions with peers on how they manage these big decisions would be extremely helpful. In my own experience I seek out the principals of local firms when attending local AIA or lunch presentation seminars and corner them with a specific question. I am always surprised at how forthcoming they are with information and suggestions. I call it ambush networking.
Gary Hintermeister, AIA, NCARB
Senior Design Project Manager
Design & Construction
University of Iowa
Mary (and all):i could not agree with you more. This discussion group aside I have always felt the AIA gives little to no support to actual practicing architects. I am a founding principal of a 19 year old firm of 28 people in three states. I would welcome a group that focused on issues important to principals and managing partners; folks who run businesses and are active daily architects. As Mary mentioned, support on managing and growing a firm would be helpful. Being able to discuss methods for sharing of or transitioning of ownership and hiring and growing employees would be incredibly beneficial.Moreover, it would be refreshing to have a peer group focused on practical issues such as inconsistency of codes, liability associated with accessibility, personal liability laws for professionals in some states such as Florida or even what are the true reasons so few interns actually become licensed. The only group I have found thus far that comes even close is the ACEC which is for engineers. However, I have been to many events and seminars they have hosted and they provide professional support and leadership growth that I truly wish the AIA would add to its list of priorities.
I will keep my eye on this discussion for any movement toward the formation of a group or suggestion of a good one for small to mid sized firms (or frankly, one open to all firms would be of most interest. We can all learn from each other's experiences).
This sounds like a great idea. I hope we're able to make something of it.
Steve Davis, AIA
Architecture Planning Interior Design
129 S. President Street
Steve:Thanks for the suggestion. I have gone to the EntreArchitect site and it looks really interesting and certainly worth the small investment. I see you are a contributor and look forward to seeing your master class. I will be joining and plan to explore what the group offers. I will certainly circle back here to give everyone a honest opinion; hopefully this is a group that will benefit all of us architect/entrepreneurs.
Again, thanks for the lead.
There is also a closed Facebook group called The EntreArchitect Community. You can ask to join.
Great conversation!I was talking with a contractor about this 3 months ago. I asked him for recommendations as he has access to many 'peer' groups all over the country.I started a small specialty firm in Nebraska (3-5 employees) 5 years ago. Prior to this I was an Owner and board member of a 100 person E/A firm. While at that firm we had great access to resources. As a small firm, I have really missed the 'sounding board' you have with the diversity available at a larger firm. I think working with several peer firms would be a great resource!If there is enough interest here, I am willing to collect names and begin an email conversation with interested parties to see if we can build a peer group.Let me know if you are interested by emailing me at the office: firstname.lastname@example.orgThanks!