Louis D. Astorino and Louis P. Astorino solve problems within their business differently, but that makes them a good father and son team. Astorino, an architecture and engineering firm, has survived the down economy and found ways to expand its business by finding solutions to the problems.
“The last two years have been a challenge because of the economic crisis,” says Louis D. Astorino, chairman and CEO. “Overcoming that and trying to keep the organization together has been extremely challenging.”
Despite the economic roadblock, Astorino has continued to be recognized as one of the best firms in the area.
“We learned to work smarter and more efficiently with less staff even though we’re continuing to grow,” says Louis P. Astorino, senior principal. With more than 100 employees and revenue in excess of $33 million in 2010, Astorino keeps looking for opportunities to grow.
Smart Business spoke to the Astorinos about how they expand their business.
Look for growth.
Louis P. — You need to go where the growth areas are. You also need to have key people in those areas. It’s important that you find the right growth market and have a leader there that you can depend on and trust in their abilities to help you grow that market. You have to be cautious when you are expanding in terms of where you are looking to expand and who you are bringing on staff.
Louis D. — You’ve got to make sure your opportunities are solid, especially when you are moving out of your local area, and you’ve got to be cautious. Secondly, internally you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right culture. You need people behind you who are looking to help you grow and to make your company a better company. One of the things you have to do is look at the risks and make sure your risks are as minimal as can be. And if you are taking a risk, make sure it’s for a long-term advantage.
It takes a lot of strategic thinking to find all the business opportunities that are available. You have to have a mentality to take a good look at everything because it could be a good business possibility.
Know your clients.
Louis P. — You have to find clients that want a good service and want the best value that can help their business. If you can find a way to help their business and your goals are aligned, that’s the best way to deliver the best product.
Louis D. — You’ve got to sit down and have extensive discussions with your clients. You’ve got to find out what’s on their minds. Find out what’s important to them rather than what’s important to us. Don’t use intuition. Find out what’s important and then solve that problem. We use something called the blue door theory. A client will have ideas for a building and say, ‘Do this, this and this.’ But the designer will be thinking in the back of his mind, ‘That’s not going to work. So I’m not going to draw that, I’m going to draw what I think works.’ If you go back to a client without his idea drawn and say, ‘Here are some other ideas.’ You’re basically slapping him in the face saying, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Our expression is if a client wants a blue door, you better sure as hell draw a blue door. That’s the only way of showing him that the red door, the yellow door, or the green door is better.
Louis D. — Some periods of time schools are strong. Some periods of time housing is strong. Some periods of time sports are strong, but then it dies off. The way we deal with it is by participating in all of those market segments. You have to remain flexible. There’s more than one way to do something and you have to be flexible in your thinking.
Louis P. — You have to also be aware of trends in the marketplace. Be prepared to respond when new opportunities present themselves. You have to do enough research to know where the market is going and where the money is going to be spent. As the markets fluctuate you have to be able to react to that specific market segment.
HOW TO REACH: Astorino, (412) 765-1700 or www.astorino.com