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Out-of-state architects far outnumber local ones.

Out-Of-State Architects Far Outnumber Local Ones

Some 1,431 architects are licensed to practice in the state of Arkansas. But only 418, or about one-third, are residents of this state. Architects from peripheral states began registering in Arkansas in large numbers a few years ago when the price of oil dropped.

"These are architects in surrounding states where the economy dried up before it did here, and so they ventured into our market to a degree they had never done before," says George Wildgen, head of the state Board of Architects.

Several Arkansas architects are returning the compliment and exporting their talents to other states.

John Mott of Fort Smith says his firm finds opportunities in the renovation of historic buildings in Denver.

"We are finding ourselves being contacted to be a consultant, and work with them on other projects," says Mott, of the 12-member Mott Mobley McGowan & Griffin firm.

Blass Chilcote Carter Gaskin Bogart & Norcross reports that 43 percent of its fee income is derived from out-of-state work. The firm currently has 115 active projects originating in its Little Rock office and 28 in its Springfield, Mo., office.

Cromwell Architects Engineers does 70 to 80 percent of its work outside of Arkansas, says Eugene Levy, chairman of the board, "Because unfortunately, there is not enough work in Arkansas to sustain a firm our size."

Whether based in or out of state, architects will pay more to register in the state come July 1. That's when registration fees rise from $50 to $250 per year.

At the same time, annual renewal fees will rise from $25 to $50. But none of this is done to discourage outsiders, says Wildgen. "It's just that we haven't had a fee increase in 13 years."

Ask an Arkansas architect how to rank and compare firms in his or her profession and you'll get some good, strong opinions on what criteria to choose.

Who's The Biggest?

Here is a sampling of the architects' point, counter-point on ranking their members.

* METHOD: We would like to be ranked on annual billings.

* OBJECTIONS: Annual billings don't tell that much about a firm because one may be charging 4 percent and another 8 percent.

* Annual billings are significant only when factored by the number of employees to measure how productive a firm is.

* A firm with a small staff might actually be producing more revenue per employee than a large one.

* What you bill and what you receive are two different things. Sometimes a developer goes broke in the middle of the job and architects don't get paid for what they billed.

* METHOD: Rank us on total annual dollar value of construction projects.

* OBJECTIONS: Some architects work on the same project for two years and still count it in its total dollar value of construction projects.

* Firms that have engineers are not pure architectural firms. Be sure you show that some of the staff are engineers.

* METHOD: Count the number of projects we work on annually.

* OBJECTION: The number of projects that a firm works on doesn't mean much because some of the projects are so small.

So which is the largest architectural firm in Arkansas?

Well, the firm with the largest staff is Cromwell Architects Engineers, with 76 professionals on staff. That firm had 65 active projects in various phases in several states.

"We're the biggest," says Eugene Levy, CEO of Cromwell. "At this time we're stable in our employment. The entire construction industry has downsized but we have remained stable."
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business Rankings
Author:Gibson, Carolyn
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 22, 1991
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