One Year Later: How We’ve Grown Our Phoenix Office

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in News | 2 Comments

What to Expect When Opening a New Office

My Own Office

In the past year, I went from working in cubicles alongside 40+ structural engineers in our Cincinnati office, to a much quieter, temporary executive office in Phoenix, to our new open concept office. When I moved to Phoenix and had my own space, I thought I was living the life, but quickly I started feeling like I was on an island by myself. After about eight months, we hired another Phoenix employee and are now up to a team of three. There’s always someone to help out, someone to celebrate with and to rely on. Three people have made it feel like a real office. I’m excited to continue to bring on more; we have room for five more here. 

My New Role

I’ve been a doer my whole career, but have transitioned to a seller-doer role in the past year. What I didn’t pay attention to at the beginning of this dual role, and what ended up leading to a seller-doer mini-breakdown, was that I was trying to be a full-time doer and a full-time seller thinking that if I just worked more hours, then I could succeed in both areas. It turned into a daily battle of where to spend my time, being burnt out, and feeling like I was one wrong move from screwing up. Then, at a training session, it clicked that I couldn’t do it all, and I prioritized my duties to set myself up for long term success. It took time to figure out the word “balance”, but becoming a seller-doer has been one of the coolest parts of opening a new office, and has been an opportunity that I wouldn’t have taken advantage of in our Cincinnati office.

I wear a lot of new hats I never thought I would as a structural engineer. I’ve experienced more personal growth in the first year of opening a new office than I have in any other year of my career. When your two options are sink or swim, what I once swore I would never do because I was too shy and afraid has become what that I do on a regular basis. I went from being a project manager with some additional overhead responsibilities to touching every aspect of the business including attending networking events full of strangers, turning strangers into contacts, turning contacts into potential clients, winning projects, designing projects, delegating work, and collaborating with our marketing, HR and accounting teams.

What We’ve Accomplished


It’s exciting to open a new office with room for a production staff of eight. We’re committed to this community. I can’t wait for all of the desks to be full, to be in a similar situation as we’ve been in lately, deciding our next step. It will be a great problem to have.

Each new team member we’ve added has changed our “family” dynamic; this is an idea carried over from our other offices. We’re finding the best ways to work together and continue a strong culture.


Becoming active in the local A/E/C community has helped me feel like I’m a part of it. I’ve developed relationships quickly by not only joining an organization, but also joining a committee within the organization right away. Regular interaction within the smaller committee helped me to develop a core group that I could then expand from. I’m a member of SMPS Arizona and Urban Land Institute.

I’ve learned that when entering a new environment, getting involved is key to developing relationships. I’m an active person; before leaving Ohio, I was on a basketball team, volleyball team, flag football team, boxed, lifted weights, and ran. Moving to Phoenix and knowing no one, I needed to find something to stay active and meet people. I selected Krav Maga because it had aspects of boxing and other martial arts, and had a community vibe. It has paid off for me; I’ve stayed physically active and made some friends, too.

What’s to Come

I’m excited for the future based on the progress we’ve made. The conversations and strategy at the beginning of Year One are different than the conversations and strategy at the beginning of Year Two. Year One was about brand awareness and becoming a part of the community. Year Two will be much more strategic, partnering with firms with similar values to deliver incredible structures. I can’t wait to see what’s to come.


  1. Debbie Parkins
    April 6, 2017

    Enjoyed the post!

    • Schaefer
      April 10, 2017

      Great – thanks!


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