Rise & Fall of LA Firms: Did Company Greed Kill Our Jobs?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Rise & Fall of LA Firms: Did Company Greed Kill Our Jobs?

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 32 total)
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  • #160936
    Tosh K
    Participant

    We were taught to be billing 3x or 4x while in school; I’ve been at 10x before so 2x seems generous.

    #160935
    Tosh K
    Participant

    Interesting thread to compare against the one on archinect about some firms building staff (by as much as 70), while others go belly up.  I do wonder if some firms will adapt the “staff up for projects, then down size after they end” model some firms seem to love.

    #160934
    mauiBob
    Participant

    10x? That’s just pure greed. Unless they paid you at $12 or less an hour. No wonder so many LA firms laid off staff. In Hawaii, from what I’ve seen and heard, only the principals bill at over $100 bucks. Its also the reason why many firms were able to retain their staff.

    #160933
    mauiBob
    Participant

    Government reports had it at 33% and I don’t know how current the stat, but its the last one I saw. LAs also had the highest percentage of self employment from all the A&E professions.

    What impresses me most about this Maui LA is that he is getting by without Cad and all those softwares “we” other LAs think are so important. His freehand drawing skills are well above average, so it helps. And he doesn’t work at home. He has an office and owns the building. His tenant below is a law firm, while keeping the second floor or loft as his space.

    What keeps him going and many other Hawaii based LA firms is that “greed” is not in our vocabulary. Its simply not the Hawaiian way.

    #160932
    mauiBob
    Participant

    How bad is the Economy?

     

    The economy is so bad that I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
    CEO’s are now playing miniature golf.
    Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.
    Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America.
    Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.
    A picture is now only worth 200 words.
    They renamed Wall Street ‘Wal-Mart Street’.
    Finally, I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call center in Pakistan and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck!

     

    #160931
    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    Staffing up and staffing down is a reaction to work load in any service business. I would think that those who get picked up in the up staffing will be happier that they are working even if it is just for a little while. I would expect that the firms that staff up are hoping to have the work to maintain their staffing, but if they can’t, what are they supposed to do?

     

    So many worry so much about big engineering and/or architecture firms doing “our work”, but if we want to spit on LA firms who staff up when they can get the big jobs, it really makes no sense.

     

    I really think so many of us are getting to be so programmed to be negative that it is in danger of becoming the culture of our profession.

     

    Why don’t they elect Eyeore for CEO of ASLA for crying out loud … literally. 

     

    Does a car dealership need fanct buildings, coffee lounges, and wifi to sell cars? Most businesses can be run out of fairly primitive buildings, but most are as plush as reasonably affordable for many reasons. Often it is to help sell their goods and services, but it also can be for the comfort and pride of the people that work their. I definitely liked moving up into an office with nicer furniture and equipment when my moves put me there and did not like it so much to move to lesser amenities when that happened. It is not simply about greed.

     

     

    #160930
    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    Its one of the top 5 rules of business. People tend to do business with places that don’t look like they need it. Looking successful instills a sense of confidence with clients, especially deep pocketed ones, that you know what you are doing…because you look sucessful, you probably are. I know I wouldn’t trust an architect that had a crappy office design for themselves. What does that say about their work that they cannot design a nice or functional space for themselves? It is a bit different with LA. Sole proprieters or residential designers can obviously do with a lot less, usually run it out of their homes. But with commercial LAs, the need for both an office, and a nice one at that, is imperative. You need the conference space, you need studio space, and it needs to be clean and organized. You won’t be taken seriously otherwise. Besides..that fancy office can oft be written off, saving the firm money in the long run.

     

    It is about pride in the work, and the workplace. Nice offices improve productivity, it is a happier place…everybody wants a nice place to work (I refused a job at one time because of the office space was so nasty and depressing). It is about advertising your firm to clients and subs who come in to meetings. Dress for success…same goes for your office.  

    #160929
    Cara McConnell
    Participant

    The size of your office isn’t as important as the size of your paycheck.

    I cannot believe what I’m reading from some of you. A bunch of pansies! No wonder American corporations are exporting U.S. jobs overseas due to all your office demands. For me, just give me a desk, adequate space, nice computer and projects to work on. You know, projects that pay my salary. Some of you sound as if you also need starbucks coffee every morning, spa treatments every month, fresh plants and flowers on your desk once a week, manicure and pedicure every month, free daycare, paid to use public transportation, free lunch and snacks, 22″ or larger computer monitor, nice office wall color, mandatory power naps every afternoon…etc., etc. I suggest many of you read the book “The greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw. The workers who build America in the early century did tough labor and didn’t constantly complain as I read now. I can’t even imagine today’s workers trying to build the network of roads and bridges that the older generation completed for us. Today’s population wants everything easy and handed down to them without requiring much personal effort.

    Comparison of two distinctly different LA firms. A firm I worked for in Seattle had the fancy office and furniture. The smaller office in Las Vegas I worked for had simple, but practical furnitures without all the bling. Guess which office actually paid me more? The LV firm. Substantially paid more!  And experience had very little to do with it. Unfortunately, the housing crisis hit and found myself laid-off in Spring of 2009. I then decided to return to school and supported myself by working at various part-time jobs as a graphic designer and cocktail server at two different casinos. But rather than complain and blame others or hope the next firm I worked for had nice furniture, I made a personal decision to leave the profession to pursue another career. The journey ends next May when I receive my Master’s in Accounting from UNLV.

     

    #160928
    Cara McConnell
    Participant

    Well, I’m not the one who turned down a job offer because I thought the office space was filthy or complain about RLAs for not giving an opportunity to the entry level grads to work under their wings as an intern. I think you are the one missing the point, mister. Did you read the other responses. No? Generation Y wants to constantly talk on their cellphone, play video games and don’t have any idea what is hard work. It’s always someone else fault, never taking any personal responsibility.

     

    Come on man, wake up!

    #160927
    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    Does anyone have a statistic on how many firms have closed? Has the profession lost big numbers of firms, whether one person or large, or has it only lost big numbers in staffing?

     

    I’m not seeing or hearing of any firms closing down in Massachusetts. There have definitely been a lot of people laid off, though.

    #160926
    Jon Quackenbush
    Participant

    #160925
    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    I don’t think those statistics are being tracked nationally. There are lots of vital statistics that are not being tracked. I know a few LA firms who have all but thrown in the towel (none of them large), but I know a number of architecture and engineering firms that have closed. Around my region, there has been lots of consolidation and buyouts of LA firms, though. Would be interesting to see the stats on that.

    #160924
    mauiBob
    Participant

    I agree with you, Cara! I’m on your side and can be your personal bodyguard if your in need of ninja protection. These guys are missing your point of view and I question if they read all of the posted comments. That’s our society today, to blame it on the other person.

    #160923
    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    Good point with the sole proprieters ot being part of the statistics. Those people also do not show up in the government’s unemployment numbers.

     

    With regards to staff on websites, many firms do not house the site or maintain it on site, so it costs money to change things. Usually, only the core management staff is listed to keep the changes to a minimum. With larger firms (in good times), there is a lot of turnover, as that is an accepted means of promotion (you move from firm to firm chasing titles a salaries). So, with such turn-over, it can be hard to keep the website up to date. With the HUGE firms, there are simply too many people!

     

    Great points though.

    #160922
    mark foster
    Participant

    Back to the question: “Did company greed kill our jobs?”  No.   When times were good, those firms looked like geniuses. Now, not so much. I don’t think anything done in our profession had anything to do with our current suffering–the “big overhead” firms were just the first to fall (for obvious reasons)  

    The bigger questions are “what are the smart moves going forward?”, and “what will the firm of the future look like”, because I don’t believe the salad days of the last decade will return anytime soon, if ever.  My intuition is that Landscape Architecture will be a much smaller profession for a long, long time, and the traditional firm will be a smaller percentage of that.  

    But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity to thrive, if you can rid yourself of preconceptions.  Several years ago, I was pretty unconscious and lazy about business because I could afford to be.  With that luxury gone, the style and form of our firm–beyond what which the work requires–is irrelevant.

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