No. 18 – mbi | k2m Architecture, Inc.

mbi | k2m Architecture, Inc. – Scott Maloney, director  

Q: Give us an example of a business challenge the organization faced, as well as how the organization over came it.

Our business model focuses on four core areas – hospitality, residential, commercial, and government. We maintain this balance to offset any potential downturns in one particular segment.  The upside is when all private segments are down, the government traditionally steps in exactly as they have done in 2009. 

We recognized the slowing economy as early as late 2007, so early in 2008 we made significant changes to how our business operates by trimming expenses, operating to a greater efficiency, instituting a hiring freeze, and reducing the compensation of the owners. 

We also focused a great amount of attention towards the public section work. It is this attention that placed our firm in a very strong position to weather the 2009 storm and the reason for our growth. In fact, we were able to hiring two key people, profit in 2009, pay down the majority of our company debt, pay off an acquisition, without a single layoff.  We believe we are one of two architecture firms in the city of Cleveland that can say we grew in 2009. 

Our 2009 year was termed The Year of Fundamentals. We know what it takes to operate a successful business, we are hungry enough to want actively pursue several opportunities, know best how to serve our clients, and continue to gain market share year over year.

Q: In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

Our company culture is one of creativity and innovation as a full service architecture and interior design firm. Our staff are always innovating and creating for our clients and for ourselves constantly seeking improvement week over week, month over month, and year over year. We greatly pride ourselves in our innovative ways to manage our business and support our staff. We were recently recognized as one of the Northcoast 99, the region’s best places to work.

Our innovation comes in our culture, human resource management, leadership effectiveness, inspiration, team spirit, education programs, and general caring for the team. Without our great group of 25 we would never have achieved the success we’ve had. This is very atypical for a design firm but we’ve realized that when our staff is able to perform at their best day in and day out they provide our clients with an overwhelmingly positive level of service.

Q: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?

I have been very fortunate to be a part of the Entrepreneurs Organization which has greatly influenced the company’s business practices and my own self awareness. It is with such great caliber members and friends that I have learned my greatest lessons in business – fiscal, sales, management, culture, service, and confidentiality, and friendship. We started our company with the mission of building relationships based on trust and results. I am proud to say we continue this tradition daily, which has grown our market share and now supports a client base of over 700 patrons, nationwide. The greatest lesson I have learned is the need to have balance in my life. The ability to balance family (my two sons and loving wife), work, and a strong commitment to volunteerism continues to challenge and shape the person I have become.

Q: How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

Beyond the direct impact of our investment in our new office building, we have greatly impacted Ohio City area businesses with our patronage including restaurants, several local bed and breakfasts, the dry cleaner, and food markets. Furthermore, we partnered with a neighboring church and created a shared parking arrangement where mbi | k2m utilizes its parking lot during the day and they utilize ours on the weekend. We also assisted in resurfacing of their lot.

As part of our continued commitment to sustainable design we shared our knowledge with over 25 design professionals and showed them the smart ways to implement sustainable design or “smart design” as we call it. Our firm created a program in conjunction with the Cleveland Green Building Coalition teaching eight classes to area design and construction professionals how to construct a LEED building.

The Ohio City Near West Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that oversees the community development activities in the neighborhood, is focused on identifying areas suited to create/encourage vital office/retail commercial districts in the neighborhood and this project fit perfectly into their plan. 

Throughout the process, mbi | k2m worked closely and received overwhelming support for our office building project from the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio City Near West Development Corporation, the local block club, and area businesses.   

We were recognized earlier this year with the 2009 Renovation of the Year award by the Ohio City Near West Development Corporation

Our corporate commitment has also had a notable impact on the economic conditions and livelihood of our firm. Our green office buildings have not only provided a healthier and more enjoyable working environment for our staff, but our recognized expertise in sustainable design has also lead to more work for our firm. 

We are not shy when it comes to talking about our commitment to sustainability. We believe it is our duty to make an impression on others…to lead by example, and so we promote our views and practices whenever possible. In fact, the signatures on our employees’ emails are always accompanied by the phrase “Finding Innovative Solutions in Sustainable Design.” We have also sponsored, hosted, and lectured on the topic of sustainable design on numerous occasions. 

Through our diligence, collaboration, and optimism we have been able to make a significant impression on potential clients and current clients, which has resulted in increased work for our firm.

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