Small Business of the Year Regional Finalist: Larsen Dye Associates Architects
This is the second in a series profiling the seven regional finalists for 2013 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award. The winner will be announced on April 30 at America's Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.
Southwest & South Central: Larsen Dye Associates Architects
Larsen Dye Associates Architects is a commercial architecture design firm in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area dedicated to three building blocks: clients, commitment, and competence. Partners Richard Larsen and Phillip Dye have created a flexible work environment that allows employees to bring their children or pets to work, adjust their work hours if needed, or work from home if necessary.
FreeEnterprise.com: Why and how did you start your business?
Phillip: We started our business in 1995. We were working for a major hospital group in Dallas, where we had done more than 600 projects. Rick was the director of design, and I was a consultant, so we started this incredible journey over the course of two weeks: First, we left our jobs. Second, Rick went in and negotiated to buy lock, stock, and barrel the entire firm from the hospital. Third, we talked to the other employees to find out which ones would go with us on our journey. Fourth, we took all the projects or continuing contracts and converted them to our new firm. Next thing we knew, we were in business.
FreeEnterprise.com: How do you attract new customers?
Rick: It’s the nature of the business. Sometimes you only do one building, so you’re constantly replacing your clients and having to go out and find new ones. One of the best ways to get clients in architecture is through referrals.
Phillip: One of the first things we did was join the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce. It strategically gave us an alliance with a group that has an impact on a lot of businesses out there. Our alliance with the chamber and all the services it provides helped us meet a lot of new clients and really advanced our business.
FreeEnterprise.com: Where do you see your company 10 years from now?
Rick: We’re never going to do the cities in China. We’re a small company. But we do complicated projects, and I see us continuing to do that.
Phillip: Our profession moves so fast that it’s hard to determine what’s going to happen in 2 years, let alone in 5 or 10. But in our market, there are two areas we’re concentrating on that we think will bring us business. One is all the mandated energy requirements that are out there, and the other is technology in communications to make the whole process more transparent for the client.