Building Your Business: An Ownership Transition Case Study, Part 2

Nadel Architects founder Herb Nadel, center, flanked by his new partners. Photo courtesy Nadel Architects.

Yesterday we profiled Herb Nadel, the founder, and until just a month or so ago, the sole owner of Nadel Architects. He discussed the genesis of the firm’s ownership transition. Today, we speak to two of his new partners, Patrick Winters and Greg Lyon about the firm’s future. From the sounds of it, it couldn’t be brighter.

For the new partners at Nadel Architects, the timing of their ownership transition couldn’t have come at a better time. “Future generations will look back and see a paradigm shift,” says Patrick Winters, one of the freshly minted owners of Nadel Architects. “In Los Angeles, we’ve moved from postwar suburban sprawl to urban densification. There’s residential mixed with retail, high rise residential, live/work housing.”

Nadel Architects and its ownership team are primed to take its place among the leaders in this new reality. In fact, Winters points out, the now-growing development economy in Los Angeles provided the impetus to get the transition done. “In many ways,” he says, “the future of the firm will be significantly different than the one Herb founded in 1973.”

Building on the core competencies Herb Nadel established—specifically experience with executive office buildings—the firm expanded its portfolio to include retail and residential practices.  That expertise will now position it now as it seeks to serve the city of Los Angeles as developments increasingly fall into multiple categories.

“Serving the business architecture market will be the firm’s bread and butter,” explains Winters. “There will be some foreign work, because we don’t want all of our eggs in one basket. Operating an architecture firm these days is like operating an investment fund. Ideally you want to have 345 things that can rise and fall at different times.”

Critical to taking advantage of this marked uptick in development will be the ability to find and retain top talent. “In our field,” says Greg Lyon, “a lot of people hit a ceiling, and the opportunities aren’t there. This is a wonderful thing to offer. We’re creating chances for future generations.”

In turn, having additional owners, with more in the pipeline, has a substantial upside for their existing clients. “They like to work with owners,” says Lyon, “and have really embraced the new transition.” Developers, too, one of the firm’s core constituencies, are energized by the new set up. “They’re entrepreneurial by nature and they understand that this means growth.”

Above all, for Lyon and the rest of the team, he says “it’s exciting to steer the ship. With the strong recovery continuing, we can expand on the great organization Herb built.” 

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