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Building success Featured

6:58am EDT June 29, 2006
Paul Westlake Jr. is a builder.

He’s trained as an architect and is the managing principal and lead designer of Westlake Reed Leskosky, but he’s built the firm from a local presence into a national player.

He transitioned the firm through three key initiatives:

  • Practice specialization. By developing nationally recognized expertise in specific building types, the firm would become a specialist rather than a generalist for premier clients and commissions. For example, the firm specializes in the design of cultural facilities.

 

  • Geographic diversification. By creating a national presence, the firm would be less dependent on the relatively weak Cleveland market and would position itself in markets with faster growth. It would also be positioned to spread its risk across market cycles. For instance, government opportunities in Washington, D.C., versus private sector growth in California or urban revitalization in older urban areas.

 

  • Discipline diversification to expand and internalize key design services. The firm added engineering, audio-visual, tax and new markets credits consultation and other services to differentiate itself as a service provider.

“As a service business, our key asset is our people,” Westlake says. “We have an extraordinarily high retention rate of our core staff, which is key to our success. There are several tactics that assist this objective: compensation and benefit programs that exceed the competition; workplace culture and environment; opportunities for individual growth and development parallel with business growth and development; quality of projects and clients and the design product developed by the firm.

“Continuity of staff is critical to our success.”

The firm has an incentive compensation and 401(k) program that returns 25 percent of its net profits to the staff, which has resulted in them investing energy and intellect into the firm.

How to reach: Westlake Reed Leskosky, (216) 522-1350 or www.wrldesign.com