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Longtime West Orange resident Gilbert Seltzer, an architect, recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Seltzer, who was born in Toronto in 1914, is the owner of Gilbert L. Seltzer Associates in West Orange. He still drives himself to work every day and has no plans on slowing down.
AIA New Jersey congratulates Gilbert on this milestone and wishes him many more years in the architecture profession.
Click on the links below to see some of the articles that have been published online and in local newspapers:
Members and leaders from around the six sections that make up AIA New Jersey attended the 2014 Leadership Conference on Saturday, November 15th. The day was spent looking at the current organization and how it can be improved to serve its members and the profession of architecture better.
The topic of the day was Effective Practices of Successful Boards lead by Glenn Tekker of Tekker International, LLC. Attendees said the session was very informative and gave all bullet items to take back to their local groups to help further the discussion. Throughout the afternoon break-out groups started the task of identifying areas where AIA-NJ can focus to improve it’s core mission of member value and enhancing the architecture profession in NJ. Each break-out group generated pages of information that is being organized now for the next working session to be held in upcoming months. What for more on this in 2015.
See more images: Leadership Conference pictures
by Steve Whitehorn
Editor’s Note: This is the third article in the Empowerment by Design series by Steve Whitehorn of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., providing A/E professionals with practical tips for a more successful, profitable practice.
The design industry has seen substantial change in business models over the past 15 years. The financial crisis and slow recovery coupled with the rising popularity of design/build have created pressure to reduce fees and lead to fierce competition. As a result, architectural firms are falling into the commoditization trap.
Commoditization occurs when clients don’t understand the difference between goods and services. The ever-increasing availability of computer-aided design and the myriad of delivery options available for design services in today’s marketplace have led to the misguided notion that design is a good rather than a service. Project decisions are increasingly being made based on price and ease of delivery, rather than design expertise or lasting value.
Many firms are struggling against commoditization by trying to be all things to all clients. Others are becoming bloated and unfocused by taking on any and all projects just to bring in revenue. These reactionary tactics can lead to a race for survival among competing firms.
How can you avoid commoditization? The first step is to define your value proposition. A value proposition is a succinct statement that explains why a client should choose your firm over the competition. Your value proposition needs to communicate exactly what services your firm is offering, and what differentiates your firm from the others. It should also clearly convey the value your service can bring to a given project.
One of the best ways to define your value proposition is to perform a “Dangers, Opportunities, Strengths” (D.O.S) analysis.
Begin by making an honest self-assessment of your firm. Assemble your firm’s leadership and key-stakeholders to discuss your firm’s dangers, opportunities, and strengths. Ask questions such as: What do we do best? What is our current specialization – healthcare, hospitality, cultural facilities, etc.? Who are our preferred clients? Who are our competitors? What differentiates our firm from our competition?
Next, ask your clients for their perspective. Talk to your top 20 or so clients and ask questions about dangers, opportunities and strengths. The following are some example questions that can help you formulate your client-facing D.O.S. analysis:
Dangers: What do your clients see as obstacles to their projects – project financing, divergent interests of stakeholders, community pressures? What are they most concerned about during the construction process (issues arising from delays, changes to the plans, etc.)?
Opportunities: What do they see as the prime opportunities for their projects, for example: building a legacy, visible impact, community improvement, etc.?
Strengths: What influenced their decision to work with your firm? What does your client see as your firm’s advantages and differentiators?
Review your clients’ responses and compile their common top three answers on dangers, opportunities, and strengths into one list. When you have that list, compare it against the list of answers from your internal review. Are you on the same page as your clients? Do they see your D.O.S. the same way you do? Are you adequately addressing their concerns? Do you understand your clients’ aspirations in the opportunities column? Does your client see your firms’ strengths the same way you do? Identify the gaps between your clients’ answers and your firm’s answers and determine a strategy to bridge those gaps.
Now you are ready to define your value proposition. Go back to the questions you first asked yourself: What do we do best? What is our specialization? Who are our competitors? What differentiates our firm from the competition? Use your D.O.S. analysis and the input from your clients to refine your answers. Make a pro-active plan to mitigate the dangers, take advantage of your opportunities, and refine and reinforce your strengths.
Your value proposition needs to be simple and direct. Explain how your firm can meet your clients’ needs, the specific benefits your firm can deliver, and why the client should choose your firm over the competition. Above all, keep an eye out for changes in the market. Revisit your D.O.S. analysis as necessary to identify how your value proposition can fulfill a unique niche in the current market.
Knowing who you are, what you can deliver, and understanding your value proposition will help you break free from the commoditization trap.
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Steve Whitehorn is the author of the upcoming book, Ensuring Your Firm’s Legacy, and Managing Principal of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., and is the creator of The A/E Empowerment Program®, a three-step process that helps firms create a more significant legacy and empowers them to achieve greater impact on their projects, relationships, and communities.
The public voting portion of the 2014 AIA West Jersey Photography Competition is now open.
Many great images were submitted to this years competition. A panel of four jurors narrowed all the entries to the finalists that are in the public voting portion. The jurors and public votes will decide the top three images that received cash awards and the coveted cover spot on a printed 2015 calendar.
Many Thanks to our 2014 jurors:
– Ronald Bertone, FAIA
– Kurt Kalafsky, AIA
– Jason Lutz, AIA
– Michael Soriano, AIA
Voting ends midnight November 20th, so go cast your vote TODAY.
2014 has been an exciting year for AIA New Jersey and our work is not done yet. In June the national delegation voted to move forward with the National repositioning effort. Many of the changes will be transparent to the average AIA member as they should be. Others will hopefully be more noticeable making our organization proactive on the national and regional stage putting the architect in the spotlight as a leader in our communities and giving more relevance to our profession. But this can’t just happen without our help. We all need to get involved and make architects noticed. Whether it is in your religious institutions, community organizations, your local AIA section or the state chapter, we all have a great deal of valuable experience to offer in support and leadership. I encourage all of our members to get out and make a difference in any way you can,
I have had the opportunity to visit with all of the sections at their monthly meetings and continuing education events. Each visit has been encouraging and uplifting to see so many new faces getting involved to help advance our profession. The next generation is our future and we need to continue to encourage and support them as they take on more leadership positions in the AIA.
Just as AIA National did, we are taking a close look at how we are operating at the state level. We have asked ourselves some hard questions. What do we do well? What do we not do well? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? We still have a great deal of soul searching to do. Without constant self-evaluation we will quickly loose relevance.
On the legislative front, we finally got the Good Samaritan legislation passed so the Architects can volunteer their services in their local communities without the fear of litigation. Keep your eyes open for upcoming training sessions to see how you can help when the next disaster strikes. I was my honor to personally than the bill’s sponsors in the house and senate as well as the Governor on the behalf of our 1900+ members.
Speak up, be heard, after all, we are Architects!
Kurt M Kalafsky AIA
For the fourth consecutive year, Livingston Mall is hosting CANstruction, a food drive program held in conjunction with The New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA-NJ) and their local AIA Newark and Suburban section. The exhibit was on display in the mall through November 2. An Awards Dinner will be held on November 6th at The Wilshire Hotel in West Orange, see Newark & Suburban website for more information.
Now in its 16th year, CANstruction’s design competition will help fight hunger and benefit local food banks. Architects and designers teamed up for an eight-hour “Build Day” to create structures made entirely from canned foods which are on display through November 2. With Halloween approaching, the theme for this year’s event is “Trick-CAN-Treat”.
After the event, the cans will be donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CFBNJ) where they will be distributed to different community food programs. CFBNJ, a charitable organization, distributes 40 million pounds of food and groceries each year, providing food for more than 1,000 nonprofit programs. The combined effort of these nonprofit programs serves more than 900,000 people in 18 New Jersey counties.
The New Jersey Revit Users Group is pleased to announce the creation of NJ-RUG and would like to extend an open invitation to our monthly meetings. Our mission and purpose is to create the right conditions for NJ AEC Professionals to learn about Revit / BIM and increase the adoption of BIM across our industry.
The NJ-RUG meetings will focus on the holistic lifecycle of the BIM process; from pre-construction all the way through facility management. Discussions will focus on user training and development, new technology, and applications as they relate to Revit and interoperable programs.
Come to our next event and meet with local AEC professionals to collaborate and discuss the use and implementation of Revit / BIM. All Revit user levels are welcome and we also want to encourage attendance and participation from senior architects and project managers.
The Auditorium at DLB Associates, 265 Industrial Way Eatontown, NJ 07724
- November 20, 2014 @ 6:00pm
- December 18, 2014 @ 6:00pm
- BIM 360 Field+Glue, presented by Autodesk
- The Current State of Reality Capture, presented by Microdesk
View our Calendar Online: http://www.meetup.com/NJ-RUG
Direct Contact: Lee Kopsaftis - LKopsaftis@DLBAssociates.com