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January 2021

Business Update:  HJM Architects
We first introduced our readers to Richard Hu, AIA, NCARB January 2018.  He was beginning to see the light at the end of a long tunnel of pivoting and boot-strapping upon taking control of HJM Architects when his father abruptly retired at the end of 2014. 
Richard's architecture firm was growing successfully from 2018 through 2019 with a 2020 ranking in revenue in the Kansas City Business Journal Book of Lists Minority-Owned Businesses as #25.  And then COVID-19 hit early in 2020.  
Following are a series of interview questions Richard graciously answered. 
 1.  How has COVID-19 impacted your firm's policy on telecommuting/working remotely?
Our work environment was already moving in a direction to support remote working.  The quarantine pushed us from test mode into work mode in a hurry.  With the addition of morning check-in calls throughout the week, our communications within the firm have strengthened and we have been able to adjust to COVID (and other) issues smoothly.   
2.  Congratulations!  Your firm was ranked
#25 by The Kansas City Business Journal in 2020 for being a successful minority-owned business.  How has this recognition affected the growth of your firm and current professional staff? 
Thanks!  It has been exciting and motivating for our team to see the recognition.  It is confirmation that the dedication and focus to our clients and projects is paying off.  The recognition has not gone unnoticed by the development community.  Soon after the publication of the list we received many congratulatory messages from friends and partners.  And knowing that the recognition was noticed by people we knew, surely it raised awareness with project owners and developers looking for architects. 
3.  What business strategy are you focusing on for 2021? 
My primary focus is to continue nurturing and developing the firm culture. COVID continues to challenge us with physical distancing protocols and inconsistent work locations (home v. office).  The ability to define, maintain, and grow the firm culture is challenging in this environment, especially as we onboard design staff. Our office has a design studio atmosphere that feeds on constant collaboration. 
As we continue to grow, we need to ensure that current and future clients will receive the same level of care and attention.  Concentrating on our core mission of providing excellence in architecture is a proactive approach to continued client and project referrals. 
4.  In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your No. 1 job responsibility?
I'm a motivator in the office and a connector in the community.  In the office I provide guidance to the younger architects and support to my senior architects.  As a connector in the community, I serve on the Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of KC and formerly with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.  My involvement with entrepreneurial networking groups has provided me with opportunities to connect business leaders with non-profit organizations and vice-versa. 
5.  What type of leader do you consider yourself to be?
Calm and systematic. 
Editor's note:  Richard, we want to work with and for you!  As you add new designers, we can halp monitor license renewal dates, freeing up your team's time for training and culture-building. 
Many A/E firms have stepped up crisis planning and re-evaluation throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  Don't forget about licensure and compliance:  The first quarter of 2021 is the ideal timeframe for a complete status review of personal professional credentials and corporate credentials at your firm.  Let LS Credentialing Services/ be a part of your firm's successful practice management.  Schedule a consultation at 913-608-7880, send us a message, or visit to learn how we may assist you. 

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