2012 a/e ProNet David W. Lakamp AIA Scholarship
Jake deNeui – Montana State University
Case Topic Response:
The first conversation I would have would discuss looking at cutting any non-profitable employers from all areas including both the design and marketing team. We would begin to take a serious look at the most inefficient aspects of the firm and then either cut staff or reduce hours wherever possible. While the marketing staff would be included in our scrutiny, I would make it clear the importance of marketing and business development and even suggest increasing our efforts in this field since typically the last person to leave a firm is the one bringing work to the table.
The next conversation we would have would be regarding salaries. The first action I would suggest would be cutting wages across the board, anywhere from 10%-30%. The next action I would propose would be a restructuring of the firm’s system of salary allotment. Instead of returning to normal wages once profitability returned, I would suggest a new system of subsidizing salaries with bonuses that respond proportionally to the amount of profitability above break even. In other words, during good economic times, salaries would remain relatively low but bonuses would be relatively high, and during tough economic times the salaries would remain low but probability of layoffs would also remain low.
The final conversation I would have with my partners would be that of creative reallocation of resources that were previously allotted to the larger amount of available work. While there may not be enough design work to keep the whole staff as fully occupied as before, the remaining unused time could be allotted to alternative work such as competitions, design charrettes, or community service projects. These and other possible alternatives would not only provide the firm with potential work, but it would also increase recognition and increase individual development of the firm members.