Joe DeScipio’s architectural design firm provides commercial architectural design services to a wide variety of clients across the mid-Atlantic region. From his company office in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania, the services his firm offers range from code reviews to building design, as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering. Founded in the Fall of 1991, Joe uses the upcoming celebrations of his company’s 25th anniversary in October as a chance to reflect upon his work up until this point.
“Since we started,” he begins, “the size and complexity of our projects has been the main cause of our growth over the years. The actual size of the company has not increased by very much – we actually decreased our staff recently – but the types and sizes of our projects have continually expanded in scope.
“Our services have also typically included construction management, in which we became the general contractor for the project; we also team up with other contractors to offer design-build services, which is somewhat unique for architects. Over the years, we have also provided expert testimony on construction claims –another little niche for us. What really sets us apart from our competition, however, is the fact that we tailor the service to meet the clients’ needs.
“Our approach to ensuring a good outcome begins with first finding if we are a good fit for the client. Not all inquiries result in projects for us, due to the simple fact that we focus on our areas of expertise and not all inquiries match up. Really, it is a matter of pre-qualifying the client, to see what their goals and objectives are, and to determine if we are in a position to meet those needs.”
“If we see ourselves as being a good fit for the client after the pre-qualifying stage, only then will we take on the contract. After this point, we are intimately involved in the project – we regularly meet with the client at every stage, to ensure that they are getting what they want. I would say that what separates us in the wider market is the level to which we engage in direct interaction with our clients.”
Joe has a number of past projects that he can happily point towards as hallmarks of these business principles. One of DeScipio and Associates’ most successful projects, as he relates, was the headquarters for the Northeast Pennsylvania Centre for Independent Living, which was started in 2009 and completed in 2012.
“We not only submitted the designs for this project, but we were also the project managers, and the owner’s representative. We were involved very early on, and over the three-year period, we delivered an all-inclusive service: assisting the client in selecting the property, fully renovating it, and then overseeing the post-construction phase of monitoring the performance of the building from an energy perspective.”
“This is one of the projects that we feature on our Facebook page, and for good reason,” Joe boasts. “That project got an EPA Energy Star rating, and is one of only a select few in the region to have done so.”
“It earned this rating because of its utility bills – the energy performance of that building is verified for up to one year after occupancy.” This energy performance is testimony to DeScipio’s employing of scientific building enclosure detailing, combined with advanced mechanical and electrical systems.
Joe recognises that an increasing number of industries these days are finding ways to accomplish more with less. “We need to match this by being cost-effective, and strive to deliver exceptional services at reasonable prices,” he says boldly. “This is a challenge that all industries face, but what we hope to do is to become more efficient in the way that we operate, so that we simply do not fall behind the curve.
This ambition is certainly not untenable. Thanks to the advent of a digital age of business, in which social media has enabled closer contact with prospective clients and enthusiastic followers, Joe has been able to achieve a greater level of exposure for his business.
“The way in which we expand our client base is predominantly through word of mouth, through our clients. We have also enjoyed some good responses via social media – we post a lot of interesting photos, including some of our ongoing projects, which our 1,000 Facebook followers seem to really enjoy. Being able to get that kind of audience feedback gives us the ability to continually adjust to the clients’ interests, and that has been really beneficial to us.”
Technology has had a notable effect upon the way that Joe manages his firm; because he and his consultants take advantage of the ability to conduct business online. In this sense, technology has acted as an effective counterpoint to the mounting number of projects in which DeScipio and Associates are becoming involved in. This signals a clear direction for the future of the firm.
“The Internet has introduced us to new frontiers through which to communicate and collaborate,” he explains. “Our model is one based around the hiring of consultants to fit the needs of the project, and through the Internet, we have discovered that we work better as a ‘virtual office’ – we might have ten or twelve consultants on any one project, without requiring any of them to be in one location in order to fulfil their roles.
Currently, his firm is involved in a multi-million-dollar industrial additional project, for which they have teamed with a contractor to provide a Design-Build solution. This has signalled a new and exciting shift for the company, because moving towards Design-Build is certainly an area in which Joe thinks that he and his team can and should make a big impact.
Company: DeScipio & Associates, Inc.
Web Address: http://www.descipio.com/
Address: DeScipio & Associates, Inc. Architecture, PO Box 104, Elmhurst, PA 18416