How do you find a partner or other firm to merge with?


Figure I might as well ask here to get some ideas bouncing around.  How do you find a business partner or another firm to merge with?

Seriously… I’ve got no idea.  What I know is my partner, my sister btw, just isn’t into running the business side of our practice which includes marketing (my weak side). Essentially I got the “I love you, but not in love with you” speech from my business partner. 

It’s been ongoing for several years, so now we’re in crisis because no one is marketing (my weak point) and hasn’t in several years (her side).  So, things just sort of dried up, my partner is content just running invoices, but no one is taking an active role in marketing.  My strong point has always been the technical side of architecture and I maintained relationships with past clients…. The problem is they have slowly over the years retired or closed their doors.  The replacements, have their own experts and architects they like working with.  So it’s dry out there for me and I need to develop new relationships.  Been trying for the last year since my sister wasn’t, but quite frankly I’m not good at that cold call stuff and rather introverted in groups like mixers.  I just don’t people in our field unless they’ve worked for me.

Kind of ironic.  Those of you who went through layoffs, bounced around from firm to firm, etc., got to meet a lot of others.  Me, who’s been nice and stable for 23 years and who did great at employee retention, only know a handful of other architects; and they are in two clumps now.  One clump started their own firms and are doing fine.  The other are looking at retirement or left this region.  It means I’m not networked into the ‘cool kids’ to know the up and comers who could do great things if given the resources.

So how do you find that entrepreneur who wants to start his/her own firm or has, but struggles with a tiny portfolio and company history to rely upon?  That’s sort of what I can offer… A real office building, equipment, and a project list of over 1200 buildings and 24 years of this company.  I just desperately need someone who can sell, network, and motivate.  How do I find that counterpart on fairly short notice who’d look at the opportunity and potential versus a paycheck (which can’t happen without the work first…)  Argh…

Oct 15, 14 1:01 pm

sort notice might be hard - you want somebody that challenges you and that you can challenge comfortably (you don't want somebody that's going to bleed you dry wining and dining potential clients after all); that means having a relationship that is more than just pure business.  It always seems like most partnerships were friends/classmates/colleagues at one point.

It seems like you're best off trying to hire a senior level person who can bring work with them and show their business/marketing acumen through their past experience.  You might be able to find someone that has the desire to go out on their own and buy into an ownership.  

Finding them may be local business events (not just AIA), maybe ask a vendor or consultant discreetly, especially one that has a lot of connections with local firms as they may know people that may be itching to move.

Oct 15, 14 1:31 pm  · 

Mightyaa, BIG subject but I’ll start with suggesting not looking for a registered architect at all, but somebody/anybody who can sell. You need a “Rain-Maker” and they come from all walks of life. All Rain-Makers in big firms are sales people not architects – find one, bring them in on a base salary with commission with promise to make partner if it works. Find a head-hunter - you’ll be shocked at the potential. 

Oct 15, 14 2:00 pm  · 

^ Agreed. Creative types are generally poor salesmen. Be very very careful with partnerships, they can eat you alive. Don't assume that the trust you have with your sister will be achievable with anyone else. Ever.

Oct 15, 14 3:53 pm  · 
wurdan freo

I think it would also depend on the markets you are in. While "sales" person will fit the bill, going after hospital work versus hospitality will require different networks. Does this person already have established networks or are they starting from scratch?

Oct 15, 14 3:55 pm  · 

It sounds like you don't need a partner so much as a marking agent. There are many out there, and they can drum up some work for you.

Also where is your office? What type of work do you do?

Oct 16, 14 6:05 pm  · 

Cold calls almost never work and I agree "mixers" don't work either, especially when everyone sticks to what and who they already know. Getting on a board or advisory committee (or a few of them) IS a good way to get out and meet more people, I recommend it for (us) introverts. 

Oct 17, 14 8:58 am  · 

Why don't you advertise job offers on the net? You just need to put forward all your requests. I think he (maybe he is looking for someone to participate, just the same to you) will contact you automatically, then just get along, observe, finally choose.

Nov 13, 14 8:31 pm  · 

@Bary: Part of why I don't advertise....  it sounds like the worst job ever to try to put it out in a short paragraph as far as trying to find a partner.  Commission based, you need to pay me (stock ain't free and this is an established business unlike starting at scratch), long hours, I can dissolve your position if it doesn't work out, etc.   I can't figure out how to word it right where it doesn't seem like I'm a egotistical jackass.  Most just have no idea what they are getting into or the realities of ownership.  They think they'll just pop on board, impress, rake in money and be equal partners... if only it was so easy.

Merger handles a lot of that money stuff easier because you can swap stock instead of cash exchange; So they aren't coming into the deal without something a value can be set on.  Your stock has value, my stock has value, then just set up a s schedule.  Also, depending on circumstance, I'm fine being a minority stock holder in a merger situation if their firm has better growth potential.  I'm also open to a flat out acquisition with certain assurances.

In a lot of ways, this is like a marriage.  How do you advertise for a wife when it has more to do with how well you sync together and your visions of the future than a list of skills or character traits?  Yet you both need to bring out the best in each other... 

Most partnerships I've known start out as co-workers, then friends, then go into business together.  The only ones I know people I could talk to about it that didn't go that way were more 'investment' type business where they build a business then sell it.  Usually that's a retail, bar, or restaurant.  I might pick their brains who they used to find a buyer, though it's usually best to sell when the business is doing good and on the way up. 

My Dad's firm did a acquisition of another architecture firm; Didn't work out so hot because once he and his partner got the other two involved, they swayed his partner into removing my father within five years (then failed a few years later); So I've also seen how a business divorce happens. 

Nov 14, 14 11:39 am  · 
x intern

From what I've seen on successful mergers they are based on a firm wanting a new market segment so they bring in a firm/architect with extensive experience, portfolio and contacts in the segment. I worked in a firm that took in two small firms one with extensive federal government experience one with medical and gave the partners of those firms partnership in the existing firm. They appear to still be doing well but it created a 40 man firm with 9 partners so it seemed way to top heavy in my opinion, but again they are doing well so it must have worked.  

Sounds like you need to be looking for a firm that is mid sized, successful but in a market that is slowing (if any are right now) and you have the portfolio and experience in a market that is growing that you would allow them to tap into immediately.  A mid sized firm that has been successful already has a rain maker so bringing you on would just give him the leverage to get work in a new market.  

Nov 14, 14 12:31 pm  · 

Yep.  I'm looking for one of those small startup firms who have hit that wall and could value greatly with my portfolio. Either a solo practice with employee's or a partnership in the 3-10 person range that made it at least 3 years so I know they at least have a clue about how to run a firm.  Basically, a lot of your younger firms get stuck in residential, small storefront stuff, and tiny projects for years before anyone trust them with a big project.  My portfolio and network would allow them to skip that phase.

I'm now looking at 5 projects equating close to $20-30mil on the boards IF the money guys decide to pull the trigger.  I'm interviewing for a $4.6 mil one in a couple weeks where the board chair is an old client (tough competition on that though but at least limited to just two other firms).  So I'm no longer looking at starving because only one is all it takes.

I've gone from just my Dad and I, to mid-sized, to nearly solo and it looks like I'll be ramping up again; But still need to look to the future and finding those people who have that drive, but lack the portfolio and history to nail those clients they want.  It's what I'm struggling with; Do I really want to grow again?  I just know I don't want to do it alone... it's lonely at the top.

My value is also in what I got.  Having been a mid-sized firm, I'm set up that way.  So it's a building ready to go that can accommodate a staff of 30 and has all the chairs, tables, etc. you'd otherwise have to buy yourself.  We're talking $750k spent years ago that is all paid for the next 8 years and there's still two pre-negotiated rate 5 year lease extensions after that; Government owned property in a long lease agreement of a historic building in the middle of a park.  Rent alone hauls in $3k a month and I haven't rented the whole thing.  So I can accommodate rapid growth without the growing pains of all those cost.  Basically, what I offer is a way to leap frog firm growth.

Just need to find the right fit and have no idea how to find that.  Since writing this, I have approached two firms.  Only one slight nibble.  I've been researching other immediately local firms to see who's out there.  So many residential guys; which is not a fit or a direction I want to go.  Seriously contemplating placing an ad in the AIA, just have no idea how to write it up much less sort out the pipe dreamers.  Also contemplating a headhunter or one of those "sell your business" places.

Nov 14, 14 2:30 pm  · 
wurdan freo

Maybe this was already discussed, but why not approach a firm to buy you out? You get a payday and become a principal. A couple of friends of mine have done this and its worked out well for them. What markets are you in?

Nov 14, 14 3:00 pm  · 
Saint in the City

What are firm values like where you're at, MightyAA?  Have they recovered?

Where I'm at, most firms seem to have a decent amount of work, so in that sense things are better.  However I know of several retirement age partners at several different firms who have basically had to continue to work -- the payoffs they were each expecting from successors have yet to happen -- all due to various reasons stemming from the general devaluation of architecture firms.

Nov 14, 14 5:05 pm  · 

You still haven't clarified what you want to do. Seems like all sort of options including leveraging the real estate and there are lots of ways to do that including satellite office for a multinational, etc. Maybe that's confusing you? 

Nov 14, 14 6:34 pm  · 

I'm your huckleberry, when do we start?

Nov 14, 14 9:46 pm  · 

mightyaa, I just went through a similar thing.  It took me about three years to find the right partner, but  I was successful, and it is working out well.   

One thing to keep in mind, do not expect to get a lot for your company if you re not profitable.  Most buy outs, mergers etc, work based on the profits of the company being used to fund the buyout, so the purchase price is going to be based on your profits, averaged over the last three years or so.  IF you are not profitable, don't expect to get much more than the depreciated value of your assets. 

I do NOT recommend hiring one of the mergers and acquisitions people. I  did, and what a waste of time and money.  

Here is what worked- networking.  I know you don't like it, but you are going to have to hang our with other architects, and get to know them.   Ask for referrals from contractors and consultants. Get the word out that you are looking for a partner- no harm in letting people know.  Join a committee with your local AIA.  Join some business groups.  Ask people who know professionals, like attorneys, bankers, financial advisers.  There will be TONS of people who are interested, but take your time and find the right one. You will spend many dinner meetings getting to know the prospective partners to see if you click.  It is kind of like a marriage.  It is not easy to find an architect that does marketing and lead generation, but they do exist.  

Nov 17, 14 3:23 pm  · 

“Grief walks upon the heels of pleasure;
     married in haste, we repent at leisure.”

William Congreve, 1693

Nov 17, 14 5:44 pm  · 

Thanks octo... I am aware of the valuation stuff.  Right now is a good time for someone; it is before I sign these new contracts and have been in a rut.  It's probably one thing that would help me find a partner and/or merger with a younger firm because it'd be 'cheap' now.  Once it starts rolling, it becomes harder for them to buy in. 

I have been putting out the word in the business world that I'm looking for a partner or a firm to merge with.  Haven't yet posted it on my LinkedIn since I'm worried how a couple of clients I'm in predesign with might view it. 

I am meeting another architect tomorrow.  Still a bit up in the air about exactly the direction.  They are looking for a PM, I approached with a possible merger.  They seem to be approaching it like a normal interview, I've stuck with the merger idea.  And they keep taking it to the next round like I've made their shortlist of applicants.  Weird, but it won't hurt to talk and who knows, maybe they'll throw mad money I can't refuse my way.

Miles is kind of nailing it; I really don't know what I want and can unfortunately argue all sides.  The only real strong feeling; I do not think I'm up for going at it alone anymore. 

Nov 17, 14 7:09 pm  · 

Time for a holiday. Travel, do a personal project, change your daily routine for a couple of weeks. Maybe that will clear your head. Meditation works too.

Nov 17, 14 7:30 pm  · 

mightyaa, have you come to any conclusions on which path you will take?

Jan 13, 15 3:25 pm  · 

Lol, not really....  haven't really tried very hard or even stepped up networking peers. 

I did talk with another firm about merging.  They seemed to brush it aside and were more interested in hiring me for their staff.  Then didn't make that offer.  Was a weird experience.  Liked them, but they sort of misrepresent themselves like their webpage makes them sound as though they do public architecture and high end stuff; Found out they do grocery store chains mostly.  So I haven't really pushed the merger stuff any more with them.

And the work keeps coming in.  I'm up to one legal case I rushed out over the holidays (expert stuff), 2 ground up car dealerships, 1 major car dealership remodel, 1 parking lot/rezoning, 2 carriage houses (one really since it's twins), and a prototyping sort of take out restaurant concept (prefabricated.. I'm thinking cargo containers).  Oh, and now have a investigation on a subdivision with water issues; got that call while typing this.  And the usual various in and out stuff like tiny TI, adding a door here and there, and repairs; sort of those 6 hour bull jobs to help out a GC or ex-client get the permit.   

Sort of sucks doing it by yourself.  Also too cash poor atm to hire; Most of the real billing potential is in in predesign and I'm finding it hard as hell to get anything out as I bounce around from meeting to meeting so I've also been holding on some of the billings because I can't seem to produce something that justify the bill.. 

Oh, and for extra joy January is nasty with expenses; So whatever I did bill out last month is already gobbled up and I'll be lucky to get a paycheck.  My expensive company car also started making expensive noises under the hood.  Autodesk is telling me if I don't upgrade, I'll have to buy new licenses when I do so I'm basically losing my 6 seats; so much for 30 years with them counting for anything... And my partner (sister) is in only a couple hours a week now, so I'm also handling the stupid stuff like ordering paper for the printer, mail, answering phones, etc. further distracting me. Marriage is also 'shaky'. Sort of my lot in life; Incredibly blessed and cursed at the same time.

In a fit of feeling overloaded, I sent out some resumes last week; the idea of being a employee is still alluring.   And on that front, there's also been some 'courting' sort of stuff from an engineering firm I normally compete with in the legal stuff.  Should also mention my ex-PM of 15 years is there and I know she's a big fan of what I am really capable of even though I have less experience than her; She was always floored I knew how to do this or that.  Their main architect left them a few months ago and I know my PM isn't cut out to do the deposition and trial stuff.  I just don't particularly like that kind of legal work and the repairs. If an offer comes, the only reason I'd consider it is I know it'd be a six figure salary again and I look damn good in a suit.

I believe that legal stuff played it's own part in my lack of motivation which seems to be my main brain damage at the moment.  Not quite sure how to rekindle that spark again, but being in the legal world where its argumentative and you just see the worst of the worst of our entire industry is hardly acting as inspiration.

And that's basically where I am now.  Just splashing around and trying not to drown.

Jan 14, 15 11:11 am  · 

Ugh.. Update:

Had 3 projects (same client) walk; the big ones.  No explanation on two, but they've done it several times before and it's always the money isn't where they want it to be... could also be that they couldn't purchase the site, but only long term lease it.  One of those three, they lost the site; I took the blame on that one by being unable to run through the pre-planning reviews quickly before another couple companies put offers on the lot.  Basically the money guys want assurances prior to making an offer, so you run it through planning and I failed to get it submitted before others made those offers.  Got chewed out and do take partial blame; I was slow.  Depression settling in again like a familiar cozy blanket... (ya, I'll be fine...)

Was also approached by the City who wants my building back...  Basically I own the lease for another 6 years plus two 5 year options after that.  It will be a nice chunk of change.  On the high valuation end, I could go on sabbatical for a few years instead of working. Temptation dangled.  It's kind of one the profit generators I have left since I rent space and long ago paid off the construction loans.

But without an office and a place to hang my shingle... it became a soul searching exercise.  I can't work at home (I'd be too tempted to goof off) or want rent bleeding me more without a stable workload.  So to lose the building means it's shutting it down.

As part of that soul searching, and given the yet again rapid change to financial futures outlooks, I just don't really want to go back to rebuilding, dealing with it all, etc.  I don't have that drive anymore and it isn't 'fun'. It can be with staff and people, I just know and remember what it takes to get it back to the point where I have a few staff and unfortunately don't look forward to that level of effort.  It was cool when I was hovering around 30 going out, rubbing elbows, doing volunteer stuff, joining groups and clubs, etc.  But now?  I just sort of want to go home at the end of the day and relax, enjoy family and friends.

Oh and sort of odd, but different when you've owned a firm.  Contracts I still have will generate about $250k over the next 18 months.  But I know how that goes and what is left after expenses and consultants..  That really means I walk with $80k in my pocket; It's no better than having a job that pays less than $60k annually and not enough to keep me busy meaning hectic rushes, then long lulls, then rush, then a few hours a week...  It's awful riding the ups and downs of a small firm.  I do better in that chaos than those lulls.

So actively searching for employment again. Tired, just so tired of dealing with these ups and downs as well as my own mental instability getting tossed around.. 

Anyone know who might hire a PM sort with 19 years of licensed experience in the Denver area who can haul in projects too?  Those that advertise are looking for someone with half my experience...

Jan 27, 15 1:56 pm  · 

I wish you the best, I hope that kind of expertise could leverage you a nearly principle-level job. Especially with the client base you bring along.

Jan 27, 15 2:04 pm  · 
x intern


any updates?  as a newish architect starting out on my own your story scares the $hit out of me a little but I find any stories of architects who are on their own interesting and helpful.    

Feb 3, 15 6:07 pm  · 

26% of architects are sole practitioners like the OP. While it’s a dream of most of us to run our own shop few are innately qualified to do so. Been listening to the OP and while he seems to be a good guy, it is obvious that he does not posses all the attributes necessary to succeed at private practice. While there are obviously thousands of exceptions, what makes people gravitate to architecture is the art and not the business. While I’m a big critic of schools that don’t teach the business of architecture I’ve learned that most cannot learn it or lack the interest to learn it. It's just not a part of our markup; thankfully there are plenty of other places for us to fit into.

Feb 3, 15 7:14 pm  · 

Ouch Carrera... But true professionally. So I post the following as maybe a warning to the younger up and comers out there.  You can be awesome at work, but if your shit isn't together on the personal front... well......

What is missing from this thread; Personal traumas stacking up where it is difficult for me to be where I need to be mentally to run a firm properly.  Basically, I was doing great, growing, networking and things were really happening.  I was appointed to a government commission, active in the AIA even guest speaking, and branching out, landing great jobs with great clients. Great house, cheerleader wife, growing family, growing company, and name recognition as I tackled my 30's.  Hell, I was even on the side doing amateur autoracing and bringing home regional championships.  Everything was coming along nicely. Then my personal world got shredded. 

First, City Council dropped a turd on my Board; non-consensual historic designation of a district without doing the education or buy-in program we were pushing. The public got out their pitchforks and crucified me personally and professionally as a government 'taker'.  Basically, 6 months of standing in front of a crowd while they threw stones and acted with incomprehensible stupidity that mobs tend to get.  I lost faith in reason/common-sense being triumphant.  At the end of that, Council threw me under a bus to distance from the mess they made.  I quit in anger.  

Second.  My 3 year old girl's speech wasn't developing properly.  A series of test identified she was deaf in the entire upper range.  But no physical ear deformity could be identified.  Scary stuff as a parent because that means there is probably a brain issue (which creates a world of developmental issues down the line).  Lots of test eventually found the causation which is physical.  Months of out of pocket testing so we knew what we were facing including sign language classes, trying to find the right schools and specialist and focused on what we need to do as parents.  And my wife was starting to lose it blaming herself for things like painting our new house when pregnant, etc.

Third.  Same time we discovered the deafness, my 7 year old son was sexually molested at his daycare (run my wife's best friend).  Total mess, investigations, and my wife feeling like she was a complete failure as a mother.  She really lost it mentally.  Hard to explain, but I have seen someone go crazy and get committed (ex-roommate); My wife got like that where her personality was replaced with a bitter, angry person looking to take out that frustration and anger on someone: I happened to paint a target on my forehead by suggesting she needed mental help. 

Add to it was a particularly nasty client came along.  One of those long term jobs you know you will never satisfy that client.  I handled that for a couple years because my PM's couldn't deal with the non-stop bullying.  And one project, where it is work I'm proud of, the owner turned on me by placing his faith on his owner provided pm who was essentially a village idiot and thought we architects should pay for everything including testing regardless of contract.  So, couple those two projects with the expert witness stuff, and my entire professional life was nothing but conflict and arguments for these years.  Welcome to being the boss...

And last... My wife was a regional manager in the sub-prime mortgage stuff making mad money.  Lost her job as the kick off to the recession; had to start over.  We had to foreclose on our second house and start liquidating to keep our primary.  That job loss and starting over finally broke her and she went really far off the deep end.  Binge drinking, partying, extreme behaviors..  She became a serial adulterer destroying what was left turning from one of my biggest supporters to someone repeatedly trying to hurt me and tell me how worthless I was.  I found myself with a mental spouse and three kids, two with special needs and just me holding it all together as best as I could.  Work and home were not 'happy places'.

That was just the final straw for me mentally; I could no longer handle it all and my entire world crumbled down.  I shut down and withdrew into escaping via computer gaming; Where I actually got good enough to be part of a team interviewed by 60 minutes (never aired though), generating income, and even flown around by sponsors for competitions, lans, marketing, etc.   I avoided "living in reality" and just sort of got lost online being that clutch player and hero on the team.  Even had fans... lol.  It was about getting recognized for being really good without people arguing about how bad you suck or having to watch your world being destroyed from within.

But I had to quit that too because reality doesn't go away.  So the next few years were counseling, getting the family adjusted, and just trying to hold everything together.  That's the last 7 years.

During all of this, the firm suffered greatly without a leader focused on the firm; My sister (partner) had a child and wanted to stay at home.  I begged her to stay part time.  We skated by on all the past achievements, but really no development or attention at all towards growth or marketing.  I had a nice expert witness staple to keep generating income.  But as a firm? it withered with no one running it.

So yes... I have that drive it takes Carrera; But it isn't focused on work anymore.  It crops up in weird areas like that gaming, racing, and eventually convincing a mental person to seek out professional help and recover.  If this crap hadn't of happened and stacked on top of each other, who knows where I'd be now? 

Feb 4, 15 12:32 pm  · 

Wow, mightyaa, that' super, super rough. And super generous of you to share it so openly (even anonymously).

I'm approaching 50 and jeez to look around at the way life has been working out for so many people I know, and for myself just never know what will happen in life that will change things, dramatically.

I can't say anything helpful except that i do think, even approaching age 50, that I've still got at least one more significant career change in me, maybe even two!  I mean I'll always be an architect and doing architecture-related work, but the shifts we can achieve in this profession, like your expert testimony work, can be substantial and gratifying, too.

Feb 4, 15 3:18 pm  · 
x intern

Somethings are more important than your job and stories like yours drive that home to us who could all to easy miss life with our head stuck in a computer.  Thanks for sharing, stay strong and take care of your family.  My vote sale your building take a long ass vacation til the money runs out then figure it out when you get back.  You only get one go..  

Feb 4, 15 4:11 pm  · 
null pointer

I can't say anything helpful except that i do think, even approaching age 50, that I've still got at least one more significant career change in me, maybe even two!


As I approach a pretty big one. One that just derailed me from starting my own firm, but in a most positive manner (since it means I don't have to set flames to my current work relationships), your post makes me smile.

Feb 4, 15 4:49 pm  · 

I saw the Band-Aid but not the wound….allow me to amend by saying that you do not presently have what it takes. Wonder too if all of your family responsibilities make being committed to an employer or partner even feasible….may be better to limp it along so you have time flexibility to keep your family together and attend to its demands.

Feel sad for your situation, it’s impossible to predict life’s events ….in some ways being in private practice is a good place to be when things go south in your personal life.

Good luck to you & your family.

Feb 4, 15 5:02 pm  · 

Want to add to the train wreck?  Remember this is family business.  Try failing your father who has done this three times (created successful architecture firms out of thin air).  He is worried for me though, as a father.  Yet, we are also arguing a lot now the second business is brought up.  We regularly exchange verbal blows. 

Hell, the company logo, and business plan was designed sitting around my parent's dining room table.  My little sister, also an architect, opted out.  This firm was a choice made by a family to do this.  That's how it began.  Us kids were home from college on summer break, Dad's firm just blew apart, and he was basically where I am now: Do I find a job or start up a firm?  So we talked about it all as a family and made a choice slowly developing the how and bits throughout that summer.  All done at that table. So, even after closing the doors here, I've got to walk past that table every time I go to their house. 

What fun eh!? 

As far as working somewhere else, it will be an absolute relief. I actually enjoy people, particularly when we share an interest. I'm going stir crazy here at an empty office. So, with co-workers, I am very confident just the bouncing around of ideas, designs, and theory will stimulate that passion in me again.  It's also NOT FAMILY.  That is a different perception simply because you don't have that other relationship stuff going on, and I'm not their boss (which tends to lead to agreement instead of challenging my ideas).  I think it will be fun.  I've always loved architecture and buildings and most of those in this industry. 

I really don't need another escape. I've sat on my arse long enough...

Feb 4, 15 5:58 pm  · 
Saint in the City

The age milestone stories always remind of what I've read of Adrian Smith, formerly of SOM.   The guy spent 40 years there, and then decided that the retirement track was not for him.  So, he started a new firm -- at age 62.  Apparently his original goal in '07 or '08 was to work another 15 years, in other words until he'd be almost 80.

So, Donna, you are too way too shortsighted :-)  .........and Null, get on it.

Mightyaa you're down but not out.  It's the comebacks that count.

Feb 4, 15 6:01 pm  · 

Ya... and I'm only 47.  Lots of years left to decide what I want to do when I grow up.  Plus I heard chicks dig scars.... :P

Feb 4, 15 6:05 pm  · 

Have you thought about starting a non-profit? Becoming a professor?

Feb 4, 15 6:23 pm  · 

mightyaa, thats a rough story.   Appreciate you sharing it.   You would be surprised how much sharing personal stories can help others.  Best of luck bouncing back!  

Feb 4, 15 6:34 pm  · 

I'm not into that non-profit stuff; I'm already broke.  Professor.. no thanks.  My brother in-law is a architecture professor, and I don't have that kind of insanity (or a master's or ivy league education).  Alternates I've applied for: Chief Building Official, Senior Plan Reviewer, Owner's Rep, Expediter (submittals) for a developer, Corporate Imager (rebranding/remarking/prototyping corporate image buildings)... :P

Been sending out to every single PM position I see listed, even if I'm overqualified.  One particular firm that I've admired for decades had a lower architect position.. I applied for it more than willing to take a pay hit.  Got shot down on a dream one already; Denver Zoo architect... thought that'd be fun as hell. 

Also half tempted to start building custom cars and tuners.  I really want to make a EV rat rod and have been studying the technology and various grants.  Doesn't look like the money is there yet. 

Feb 4, 15 8:12 pm  · 

Dude, you've spent a lot of time in the trenches, have some fun. The rat rod sounds cool.

Feb 4, 15 8:30 pm  · 
null pointer

I know a guy that buils custom cars and motorcycles.

Tours half the year on his weird electro-rock-goth band, then builds from a queue the rest of the year. You're right in that the money isn't there, especially if you're used to the revenue that a firm can generate during an up-year (god, cycles suck).

Feb 4, 15 8:32 pm  · 

Hello everyone.

I'm pretty new to reddit.. I'm also looking for ideas and collaborators for new business opportunities. I currently own a rendering machine with 40 cores multithreaded for rendering purposes.

I'm looking to collaborate with someone that can come up with the projects (clients). We could work together on the modelling, texturing and the rendering will on my side.

Please propose me a few ideas if anyone is interested..

Nov 30, 15 12:31 am  · 

Since null didn’t know I closed shop, thought I should do an update.

I talked myself into a ‘contract trial basis’ senior QAQC type floater PM position with a largish design firm here in Denver who’s work I’ve always respected; FAIA, awards, etc.. Mentioned above; i just replied to a lower position ad and spent a month negotiating. That was last April.  Basically haven’t left even though those projects mentioned previously and a couple others started coming for my old firm.  I just found those projects new homes.  That was actually the hardest part; Saying ‘no’ to old clients and large (by my old firm standard) projects.

This new firm does a lot of those ‘dream job’ type architectural projects including some largish national ones; the $30m-$300mil sorts of budgets.  Basically a lot of fun stuff and a far cry from my litigation ‘worst of the worst our industry puts out’ and corporate branding stuff.  Being on the technical side of high design has been ‘stimulating’ mentally.   It’s also helping a lot with my outlook on our profession being surrounded by talent and passion again.  Anyway, that’s where I am and what I’m up to now.  

The old firm btw lingers on as a property management (I owned the leasing rights to my firm's building).  So I'm supplementing my income with rental income.  

Dec 10, 15 7:42 pm  · 

Nice!  Sounds like a great place to be.


Dec 10, 15 8:19 pm  · 

Sounds like you're getting back on your feet. 

Congrats on the new job mate.

Dec 11, 15 4:05 am  · 

Great, congratulations! I was actually wondering recently how things worked out for you. Working at a firm with good morale is a huge boost, makes the whole field seem more interesting. 

Dec 11, 15 8:28 am  · 

mighty, glad to hear that you sound happy with your new gig. Congrats!

Dec 11, 15 9:19 am  · 

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