Small Business Success Story: Cole Architects

President and Managing Partner Matt Huffield talks about the importance of sustainable business practices, solving coronavirus-related design challenges and fostering a positive work-from-home environment.

Nicola McIntosh Jul 20, 2020

From Zions Bank’s Linder and Chinden branch in Meridian to the Ketchum Fire Station in the Wood River Valley, Cole Architects’ award-winning designs can be seen in a variety of projects around the Gem State.

As the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed how businesses operate, Cole Architects is well-positioned to help navigate the shifts in layout and design.

President and Managing Partner Matt Huffield discusses what makes the firm stand out from its competitors and offers tips for businesses facing challenges.

three men around a table at work
Matt Huffield, Stan Cole and Erik Hagen.

What do you want people to know about your company?

We are excited to be celebrating 25 years in business. Always based in Boise and focusing on local and regional work, we love being part of this community. 

fun room with bright colors
Ronald McDonald House in Boise.

We are not specialized in one type of architecture, rather our portfolio showcases an assortment of project types: government, education, office, light industrial, medical, retail, hospitality, adaptive reuse, and mixed-use developments.

We recently completed the new Ronald McDonald House in Boise which was a great collaborative project between all the members of the design and construction teams and the community at large. 

We occasionally provide services pro bono, but mostly work to provide a discount for clients in need. In this case, we reduced our fee to help The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho meet its fundraising goals.

What separates you from your competitors?

As a mid-size architecture firm, we are just the right size to provide personal contact and excellent attention to detail. Seven of our 10 team members are licensed architects, which is a high ratio compared to other firms.

Each of them truly cares about the impact our architecture has in our community and the world at large and we are always looking to apply the best sustainable building practices, no matter the size of the project.

How can people help support your small business?

Keep planning for the future. Contact us to see how we can help you on your next project. And follow us on social media: Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

What tips do you have for other small businesses facing hardship/challenges?

Keep going, make good choices and treat others fairly. 

How have you pivoted/adjusted your business or business model in light of coronavirus?

We are lucky to be in an industry that is very adaptable to remote work, so we were able to quickly shift to an entirely remote work arrangement with online meetings with both our internal and external teams.

During the stay-at-home order, we had a large project deadline moved up by two months and were able to maintain normal working relationships and complete the project successfully.

Our biggest challenge has been continuing to build team camaraderie without face-to-face interaction. To offset this, we conduct online staff and team meetings regularly throughout the week.

mosaic of people working from home
Cole Architects team working from home.

What trends are you seeing in design in the age of coronavirus?

We see several shifts in design/layout coming, and many of these changes will be permanent. Some examples include:

  • Additional queuing space
  • Larger kitchens to allow staff adequate work room
  • Larger outdoor seating areas in restaurants
  • Adapted layouts for retail
  • Higher cubicle walls and/or more individual offices
  • Larger meeting rooms 

Working from home will become the norm in many industries as employers realize it is viable and ultimately reduce the amount of office space required.

What was your experience working with your banker and Zions Bank on your Paycheck Protection Program loan and how did it help your business?

The process with the PPP loan was seamless and our relationship manager stepped up quickly to help us with the application process.

Receiving this loan has helped us keep our team going through this challenging time so that we are able to still produce great work no matter the circumstances.  

As the top 7(a) SBA lender[cite::8031::cite] for 26 years in Utah and for 18 years in Idaho, Zions Bank’s team of relationship managers can help you find the right SBA loan[cite::8030::cite] for your business. Apply for a business loan online anytime or visit a local Zions Bank branch to learn more.

Nicola McIntosh is Social Media manager for Zions Bank.

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