Member Spotlight by Sam Rosenthal, Project Manager/Project Rockstar
Provide us with a brief summary of your business’ services.
Schooley Caldwell is an architecture firm in downtown Columbus with about 30 employees. We provide architectural and interior design services for government, education, cultural, and other public and private clients. We also help owners applying for State and Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits making more renovation projects possible.
Tell us about your company’s mission and values.
We are problem solvers. We draw from over 70 years of experience to design unique and impactful buildings. Our team of passionate professionals breathe new life into time-honored spaces through preservation, renovation, additions and adaptive use. We measure the success of our work by the legacy of impact it has on our clients and communities. A sincere sense of stewardship and public service to our community drive us, and a commitment to our clients sustains our efforts. We like to say our most important clients have not been born yet – this sensibility guides our core value of doing great work.
What are the services you use the most (or are looking forward to using) from the Columbus Chamber?
We’re most excited about the Chamber’s Calendar of Business Events and Chamber Reports. It’s always great to know about opportunities for networking and continued education. We also plan to start utilizing the Chamber Reports section, as we believe some of the data and statistics could truly help inform certain of our business practices.
How do you stay engaged with trends that you see in your industry?
Honestly, we try not to be trendy. We strive to be genuine, and approach our work with a sense of humility and authenticity. Most buildings take about five years to design, build, and finish. Comparatively, changes in technology, happen almost immediately, and fashion trends shift seasonally. Personnel and personal needs are always evolving, too, so we try to filter out all the noise and stay focused on quality.
Our focus is on remaining relevant. We surpass our continuing education requirements, and the studio maintains open communication while collaborating with subject matter experts to share our collective knowledge. We study industry best practices, and attend trade shows, too. The efficacy of our decisions are measured over the span of many years so we are always keen on doing our research. The bottom line is: we consistently strive to do quality work. But “trendy” is not in our vocabulary.
What is your company culture like?
We are a super nerdy bunch. At any point in the day, someone in the office is probably gushing about corner guards or concealed emergency lights. It goes without saying that, as architects, we love to dig deep into the virtues of different details and systems. We have a wide-open studio and it feels like a family here, which means that sometimes we find ourselves arguing (about something like fire alarm pull stations), but we always come to a consensus on what’s best for a project. The communication is always open and honest, and, like a family, we all support each other. The very small amount of turnover in our office bears testimony to this. People who join us tend to stick around. This has helped preserve our corporate knowledge and made us a comfortable, tightly-knit group.
What does it take to be a successful employee at your company?
Perseverance, adaptability, and open-mindedness. Architecture is a tough business. We put a lot of time and effort into our work and hear “no” a lot. So, we often find ourselves back at the drawing board, scratching our heads. It is the perseverance—the grit—that drives a successful architect to make things right. Also, as architects, we are the common thread between our clients and contractors. We get to do our work in a wide range of environments, from executive board rooms to muddy construction sites (and often both in the same day). So, adaptability is essential. Our project teams extend far beyond our office and includes our clients and consultants. Open-minded, thoughtful, and timely communication keep us on track.
What makes Columbus such a great place to do business?
Columbus is such an open and creative community. The intelligence industry is strong here: Battelle, OSU (Go Bucks!), and Chemical Abstracts represent just a few of the knowledge leaders here. And there is plenty of creativity to go around, too. Companies like the Idea Foundry and L Brands, not to mention our healthy community of smaller independent artists. We love this city; it’s home for every one of us at Schooley Caldwell. So, it’s exciting to be actively involved in so many of the changes that are occurring and to be able to collaborate with our fellow citizens.
What pieces of advice have you found to be the most helpful since starting your career?
Mistakes will be made, probably a lot of them. Remember that mistakes can be corrected but trust is a much harder thing to fix. Always listen and communicate to maintain that trust.
How do you achieve a work/life balance?
It is more of a blend than a balance. Good ideas don’t care about office hours and family gets sick sometimes. Deadlines need to be met no matter what. Sometimes a team member is buried and we pitch in to help each other with the workload
Where is your favorite place to have a meeting outside the office?
I like construction sites, seeing what is happening in the field is why we do this – to make change. When we are earlier in planning stages or considering office issues we try to take advantage of parks and public outdoor spaces in Columbus; it’s one of the best features of this city. We love to take our lunches out by the arch in McFerson Commons or those great swings along the Scioto Mile. Chances are you will see us upstairs at the North Market for an impromptu Hot Chicken lunch meeting.