Reblog from Connected in Central Florida

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Nationally recognized firm Cuhaci & Peterson, architects for such well-known brands as Wawa, Winn-Dixie, Best Buy, LL Bean, Target, and more, spoke with the Connected in Central Florida group at the June lunch event.

Casey Duranczyk, Manager of Business Development, addressed an interesting topic right up front:  “We know that you may not need architectural services and that you may not be going out and building a new grocery store; but, you may know someone.” For Cuhaci & Peterson, empowering employees to be active and be engaged is a core principle in their firm. Casey says, “We empower our employees to get out and get to know people. We get involved in a variety of industry groups at all kinds of levels. From local groups like Connected in Central Florida to the International Council of Shopping Centers, being involved is key to the C-P team”.

Continuing, she related how “It’s the meaningful connections that will take us through.” The firm’s success in maintaining its network and high levels of client satisfaction are evident as over 85% of their average revenue comes from repeat clients. Generating repeat business at those levels can only happen when companies can deliver tremendous value.

It is easy to see their value, and they clearly state their value proposition. “We believe we can make a difference… For our clients one project at a time, for our employees by fostering their passion and purpose, for our industry and community by giving back every way we can.” Keith Harwell, Principal, summarizes by saying, “The five-cent version is that it’s all about relationships at every level.”

Developing and maintaining a client’s business can be difficult over a span of many years and even decades for some companies – but it’s an established tradition for this firm. Keith told the story of Winn-Dixie, who was the firm’s very first client nearly 40 years ago, and how they are still doing work for them today. In fact, as the years have gone by, some of their facilities, and those of other clients, have gone through multiple remodels just to keep their images fresh, vibrant, and relative to clients. With over 1600 grocery stores designed throughout the US, the odds are good that you have seen their work firsthand by being in their stores.

Of course, it’s not just networking. Bill Tomala, Manager of Government Relations, explains, “We have had to evolve to meet the ever-changing technology needs and wants of our clients. Ultimately, those expectations have evolved on both the deliverables and the receivables. For example, we have to consider not just the design of the building or landscape, but think about:

  • What is this place going to look like at night?
  • What about when there’s lots of traffic?
  • How will this fit in with the rest of the community?
  • How does this project fit with the long term strategic plan of a community such as Downtown Orlando?

Those questions, and others, have become increasingly important for both clients and the government authorities having jurisdiction.”

For a team of nearly 300 spread across four office locations, success comes from executing on core principles. Their firm’s goal is to create places that people experience and remember crafted by a team that exemplifies passion, purpose and integrity in everything they put their name on. In closing, Bill Tomala gave the line of the day when he stated, “It’s not about what you know or about who you know, it’s about who knows you. Even if you say you know the Pope, it doesn’t matter unless the Pope knows you.”