Royal Oak, MI
Like many corporate inceptions, the urge to build the proverbial better mousetrap motivated the formation of G.H.Forbes Associates Architects. It was a good year, that first year, 1967; Lyndon Johnson was President, gasoline was 28 cents a gallon and companies were expanding. Before year end, new projects allowed the office staff to double in size, to consist of Gale Forbes and his former U of M college roommate.
Branch banking had just begun in Michigan a year earlier and an innovative design for a branch bank attracted other financial institutions to beat a modest path to the company offices. GHFAA went on to pioneer the use of remote drive-up windows, ATM banking as well as many of the security features now found in virtually all branch banks. By the end of the decade, the office complement of 10 architects was designing banks in four states and would go on to complete over 200 bank projects.
The next big break was acknowledgement of work done well by the State of Michigan as GHFAA was accepted as a qualified professional services contractor. The first projects received from the Michigan Department of Mental Health in the early 1970’s eventually lead to multiple commissions with the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Department of Corrections, the Michigan Department of Social Services and the Michigan State Fair Authority. GHFAA eventually authored the Michigan State Police Master Plan for the deployment of police facilities as well as the plan for the breakup of the world’s largest prison at Jackson Michigan.
During this same period, the office also provided services on car dealerships for Chrysler Corp., stores for Ziebart International, acute care facilities for various hospitals in addition to working with many other private corporations.
As one good relationship begat another, the company was selected in 1995 by the United States General Services Administration as the preferred A/E for the Michigan region. The partnership with the GSA has been exceptional and GHFAA is currently enjoying an unprecedented run of contract renewals and extensions.
In 1997 two fortuitous events occurred: GHFAA was selected as the A/E for the Michigan Memorial companies and the office hired a young intern, Scott Goodsell, then a student at U of M. The Michigan Memorial work provided an entry into the death-care industry, still a core industry of GHFAA; Scott Goodsell would go on to become the sole owner of the practice in 2004.
History shows that innovated thinking, attention to the customer’s needs and a prompt, accurate, reality-based response will be the secrets to the next successful forty years.