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NEWSLETTER ARTICLES From the archives...

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A few weeks ago the KMA team took a step on our journey to reshape our industry and build a better KMA Architecture: a company with a razor sharp focus on value and trust. We launched a survey to help us dig deep into the minds of our clients and colleagues and get your opinions on how KMA does business now and how we might want to do business in the future in order to offer you greater value.

We would like to thank those who offered their time to complete our survey. Your feedback is invaluable as we continually strive to provide high quality design services and add value to your projects and businesses. Your participation in our process is important to us and we wanted to share a few highlights with you. We want you to know that KMA IS LISTENING.

Here are the top three things we learned:

Value: We learned that intimate knowledge of the construction industry, breadth of experience and creativity and innovation top the list of value-added services that our client partners and colleagues tell us they are looking for when it comes to working with an architect.

Recently, we came across an old KMA coffee cup from the 80s in our break room. The tagline: "Quality design. Lasting Value." While the times and faces at the firm may have changed, the commitment to creating enduring design and value has always been, and remains, at the heart of what we do at KMA. Sometimes we have been successful at achieving this vision. Sometimes we have not. But if we have learned (and re-learned!) one thing over 40 years, it's that we need to focus on what is important to our clients and professional collaborators above all else.

Reshaping our industry: We learned that integrated and collaborative teamwork, project teams assembled early in the design process, and open sharing of information are the most important practices identified by our respondents as critical to keeping our industry moving forward effectively into the future.

KMA's “WHAT IF…” campaign is about moving back towards a simpler way of doing business based on personal relationships mutual trust, open communication, and deals done on a proverbial handshake. How can we lead our industry back to that mindset? We’ve learned the answer is a commitment to collaboration and transparent communication. Recently, our team made the decision to take all of our meetings out from behind the closed doors of our formal conference room and hold them at an open table in the middle of our studio as a demonstration of our commitment to our staff, our clients, and our trade partners. We believe this is how strong, decisive project teams are built. If you have other ideas as to how we can build trust and partnership, please let us know. Our doors are ALWAYS open.

Communication: We learned that you like hearing from us, and in many different ways! Based on your feedback we are working to enhance how and when we share our news and perspective, as well as how we can encourage two way communication and better engage the industry in the conversation.

LinkedIn. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Website. E-blasts. Sharing a cup of coffee. There are more channels of communication and volumes of information and opinions available today than ever before. KMA is looking for ways to leverage communications technology advances to increase our productivity, enhance our communications with our clients and partners, and change the way our industry does business in order to deliver more value for less cost. We are so appreciative that survey respondents expressed a desire to learn more about what we are doing and we are working to make our stories more thought-provoking and informative in order to foster information exchange and enhance industry dialogue. We invite you to communicate with us by whatever means you prefer, or (preferably) to give us a call and come by for a free cup of coffee and a chat. We aim to do the same with our clients and colleagues in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

KMA is intent on creating value and reshaping our industry by building strong, long term relationships based on mutual trust.

We can’t change our company or our industry without your help! Thank you again for being a part of our process at KMA, where Design is our Passion, Value is our Goal.

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Heather Mertes, Senior Associate/Architect with KMA, recently opened up about her personal life and career in architecture. She credits five guiding principles with keeping her grounded and inspired. So, what’s on her mind?

Competition fuels creativity. Heather says, “In an industry that has become increasingly competitive in the face of a changing economy, staying ahead of the curve, or sometimes going against the curve, can give a company a strong advantage or unique niche. You constantly have to ask yourself ‘how can you set yourself apart from your peers when there are hundreds of gifted architects out there doing great architecture'.” She continues, “KMA has been extremely successful during the past 40 years in keeping relationships at the heart of its success. I see a strong future for us as we continue to provide excellent client service and value-added design. We have started to think more about like-minded people vs. project types as we move forward. We are confident our work has and will continue to make a positive impact on the development side and in the AEC industry.”

Reinvent! Rethink! She says, “Something that recently inspired me was a church renovation I read about where an architect repurposed an old satellite dish into a dome, and I thought ‘this is genius!’ She continues, “This is the kind of thinking that is essential for changing our industry for the better. It's not really about repurposing found objects, it's about reinventing and rethinking the way we design and build buildings and about looking for ways to save time and money.”

When you understand light, only then do you understand architecture. Heather says, “I am most passionate about designs that capture light and views and employ color simply and honestly. When design solutions are initiated from the idea of capturing and controlling an environment instead of abandoning or disguising it they can make a positive impact on someone’s life. I believe it comes down to understanding the human psyche and how humans respond to and interact with the natural and built environment.”

Do less and make it more meaningful. “I learned this from my husband who is a constant source of inspiration for me” she says. “I try to make this motto part of my personal and professional life as much as possible. Simplicity in thought, action and design keep me really grounded, and I end up being more productive and find inspiration in the end.”

Dance. When asked what she does outside of work, Heather replied “I salsa dance. If I wasn’t an architect, I would probably choose a full time career in dance. It is life changing. The true beauty of salsa dancing emerges when you learn to really connect to the music. It is no longer about one foot in front of the other anymore.” She says, “I think there is way too much talking in the world and not enough dancing! The happiest people that I have ever encountered in the world are the ones who are dancing.”

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