Small Business Spotlight – August 2022: Paragon Architecture
Company Name: Paragon Architecture
Person in Charge (and title): Brad Erwin, President & Principal Architect
Year founded: 2010
Tell us about the history of your business: Paragon Architecture is a limited liability company that got its humble start in 2010 and has been in business for 12 years now. We planted roots here in Springfield with two employees and have since then grown into a team of 28 passionate architects, interior designers, and administrative staff, that span three locations. We established our Joplin Office in 2012 and our St. Louis office in 2017. Since our start in 2010, we have completed over 600 projects throughout the state of Missouri and surrounding areas.
Describe the services your organization provides and what makes you unique: Paragon Architecture provides architectural services for municipal governments, counties, healthcare providers, school districts, higher education institutions, park boards, and corporate clients throughout Missouri. We have experience with new buildings as well as renovations. The Paragon Approach™ brings the whole team to the drafting table, fusing our client’s needs with our architectural knowledge and our consultant’s wisdom, which guides each client from project planning and programming at the beginning, throughout the design and construction process, and beyond.
Tell us something people might not know about your organization: Individuals probably hear us talk about how we refer to the “Sherpa” mentality, but probably aren’t sure what that means. A Sherpa is a person who helps others climb seemingly impossible mountains. They are highly skilled and experienced climbers, paid to prepare the route for other climbers to follow, fix ropes in place, check oxygen levels and carry the necessary climbing kit up the mountain. More than that, they fully understand the challenges ahead and humbly work alongside their climbers to ensure a successful journey. We feel that Sherpa work is a great model for how we work in our office and with our clients, from project start beyond completion.
Our mountains are our projects, our climbers are our clients, and we are the Sherpa. Our motto, “Be The Sherpa,” reminds us to think and serve selflessly, to keep our client’s goals in mind and, ultimately, that it’s not our mountain — it’s theirs. We coordinate oxygen checks throughout projects. We teach clients about effective programming and empower them to make decisions that make sense for their stakeholders. We help our client’s reach their architectural summit and guide them safely back down again. It’s our job to make sure our client’s projects are as successful and enjoyable as possible.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organization now, and how are you working to overcome that challenge? One challenge – or opportunity – that we are presented with is how to best meet the needs of our clients given the ever-changing market conditions. The industry has been rapidly changing and evolving due to its own challenges and we are in a position (now more than ever) to be reactionary rather than proactive in our approach to these challenges – but this approach goes against our typical processes. We pride ourselves on being proactive and looking ahead to forecast the potential challenges within projects. We can still do that, but in today’s climate, we are asking our clients to be a little more flexible in that process because we are in a world of new precedents.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given? Some of the best business / life advice ever received revolves around learning to be adaptable. Learn to bend without breaking and reframe challenges as opportunities. Focus on the long-term impact of the decisions that you are making today rather than just putting out the fire for tomorrow.