Client Q+A: What Happened in Vegas? JCJ Architecture Has the Answers.
It was the space that didn’t take a lot of heart-wrenching analysis because we had thought about a lot of different variables and we had complete confidence that it was right space for us.
McKinney recently helped JCJ Architecture find their newest leased facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. We took some time to catch up with one of JCJ’s Project Directors, Mike Larson, to discuss everything from what they looked for in their newest location, to their client service focused culture. They’re a fantastic example of how we enjoy working with and learning from like-minded clients.
Tyler: Why did JCJ decide to move to Las Vegas?
Mike: JCJ has been in practice for quite a long time – over 80 years. During that time, we’ve developed a very substantial portfolio of gaming and hospitality work. One area that we’ve naturally always wanted to tackle has been the gaming industry here in Las Vegas. So, while JCJ does a lot of gaming work across the country, Las Vegas was always the large market that we hadn’t tapped into yet. We’ve been eyeing it for quite a while as a large opportunity to focus our expertise and passion for gaming and hospitality.
Tyler: Why did JCJ select the area of Las Vegas that you did?
Mike: It’s a combination of things. The area that we’re in is the southwest. It was all about proximity to everything, whether for our team, our consultants, or our clients. It’s easy to get to for employees coming from both ends of town whether you’re in Summerlin or Henderson. It’s central to everybody in the Valley. It’s near the airport, has good access to freeways, and good access to the Strip at any time where we service our clients.
Tyler: What other markets does JCJ serve?
Mike: We have nine offices across the country. We have our corporate headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut, and on the east coast, we also have an office in Boston, New York City, and Atlanta. In the middle of the country, we have a new office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On the west coast, San Diego is our hub of operations and we also have offices in Phoenix, Los Angeles, and now Las Vegas. In addition to gaming and hospitality, JCJ services clients across a diverse range of project types including civic & community, k12, higher education, arts, and culture.
Tyler: What features did you look for in the site selection process?
Mike: It was all about having a great space that would be a great place to work. We don’t have a specific look necessarily in terms of our type of office, although we do have some common themes that run through the interior spaces of our offices in terms of how we work and collaborate – so we needed a space that would be able to facilitate that. But in terms of site selection, the primary driver was accessibility to the office as well as surrounding amenities. No matter what JCJ office you’re in, we make a conscious effort to make sure people have a good working environment and amenities around them to make it convenient and pleasant for them to come to work every day.
Tyler: What is your vision for Las Vegas office and what was the number one thing your office needed to make that vision a reality?
Mike: My vision for the office is for it to be energetic, exciting, and collaborative. We are working on a number of projects not only in Las Vegas but around the country. The office needs to be able to fit nicely within the bigger JCJ structure, as an ESPO we have a practice that brings all our offices together. We have a model that deploys talent and expertise both locally and nationally, so I want Las Vegas to plug into that model very effectively. I think the Las Vegas office will be a great place to work – it’s an exciting office within an exciting market at an exciting time – there’s a lot going on in Las Vegas right now and we’re excited to be here for it. My vision is to have an office that is as dynamic as the market we serve.
Tyler: What advice can you offer business owners when it comes to selecting their ideal site?
Mike: First and foremost, get started early. The process will take longer than you anticipate because it’s such an important decision. The more you think about it, the more options you have, and the more variables enter into the equation, and the process will get harder rather than easier. But in the end, considering all the factors should lead you to something you’re very satisfied with and that you’re going to be able to live with comfortably for a long time. Talk to as many people as you can both inside and outside your organization; be ready for all the challenges that come because you won’t know exactly what they’re going to be.
Tyler: What is your ideal client?
Mike: My ideal client appreciates the hard work, effort and creative talent that our team brings to the table. There’s obviously the financial aspect, but I also value clients that we can work well with and develop a collaborative relationship with that’s going to span many projects over many years. Those are the best clients – the ones with whom we have a longstanding partnership. It’s also important that we have a lot of mutual trust between the two parties. They are the clients we really get to know so that when things come up, whether they’re opportunities or challenges, we can turn to each other and collectively explore solutions.
Tyler: What is JCJ’s philosophy on client service?
Mike: We pride ourselves on delivering great projects. So, our philosophy is that we come to the table at the beginning with a lot to offer and then really deliver on it. We also pride ourselves on great design and creating things that look beautiful, but as important, if not more important, is our delivery of that product throughout the entire process. It’s not just about pretty pictures, we design to build. It’s about following through for the lifespan of the project and beyond. It’s this type of practice that allows for building our relationships that last a long time, and it’s evident in JCJ being around for as long as we have that this philosophy has been successful.
Tyler: What was your favorite experience about finding your location/space?
Mike: The feeling when we found our space. The light bulb went off and we just thought “this is it, this is the one.” It was the space that didn’t take a lot of heart-wrenching analysis because we had thought about a lot of different variables and we had complete confidence that it was right space for us.
Tyler: What is your anticipated project timeline?
Mike: We are just about start construction and we’re looking at a move-in date sometime in late August. We’re excited about it – it can’t come soon enough!
Tyler: Did McKinney meet your expectations and fulfill your needs?
Mike: McKinney was a good partner in that we needed somebody to help us, you know, “drink from the fire hose.” My comments before about getting started early was also about considering all the options available as well as all the things that we didn’t know. McKinney was key in helping us see the entire landscape and narrowing that down into what was ultimately the right choice.
Want to keep up with JCJ’s journey? We’ll be in touch with them as they build out their new space and will share progress photos along with a status update once they move in. Stay tuned!
JCJ Architecture is a full-service architectural and planning firm with a focus on the hospitality/gaming institutional industries that has offices and clients across the country. They pride themselves on strong design, strong project delivery, and longstanding relationships with great clients.