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Meet Alyse Makarewicz of AMB Architects in Galleria

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alyse Makarewicz.

With a passion for both art and business, architecture was a natural choice for Alyse, AIA, owner and President of Houston’s AMB Architects. She likes the balance of the creative and analytical aspects of architecture. “I love what I do. It allows me to be a creative problem solver every day.”

She founded AMB Architects with colleague and now business partner Michael Boykin in 2005. She wanted to create a firm that had a culture that allows the employees to balance creating architecture and to have an engaged family life. Too often in the architectural industry, long hours and working on the weekends is the norm.

Alyse – please tell us more about you and your story.
Our mission is to create positive change through design for our clients and their customers and our employees and their families. We realize that more than 1/3 of our work day is spent in either our place of business, or someone else’s and believes that environment can have an impact on the productivity, success, and happiness of your business and employees.

We are grateful to have client’s that are landlords, major corporations, small business owners, franchisors, retail businesses, doctors, and property managers. AMB Architects works closely with the client to implement a design solution that best represents the company and their culture.

We are a Women Owned Business in Houston, Texas. Our talented team of design professionals has been successfully helping our clients bring their vision to reality for more than a decade.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The first few years were great, and we grew. Then came the 2008 down turn. I was pregnant with my first child at the time. I was already in the process of putting more systems in place in my business to minimize the responsibilities that only I could do.

Just in case something happened. The downturn in the economy did not immediately affect my company. I was able to have my daughter, take care of her and run my company for about six months before I had to start looking at survival options when our project load started to significantly decrease. I didn’t know how long the downturn would last. I had a great team of employees and didn’t want to choose between them.

After working through our financials and looking for every way I could cut expenses, I had to look at my salary costs. We did need to reduce hours. I was creative and laid off as few employees as possible, and then everyone else had their hours reduced and received Friday’s off. This kept most of the team together, and we weathered the storm.

We are currently in another downturn, and I am grateful that I have been working on financial efficiencies and marketing strategies in my company that is helping us weather another storm. I have learned that there will always be slow times in business and you always need to work to stay lean because you never know exactly when the time will come.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with AMB Architects – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in Commercial Interior Architecture. We are a consulting and design firm. We are grateful to have client’s that are landlords, major corporations, small business owners, franchisors, retail businesses, doctors, and property managers. AMB Architects works closely with the client to implement a design solution that best represents the company and their culture.

At AMB Architects, our core belief is to create Positive Change Through Design for our clients. Our designers and staff approach each project as an opportunity to enhance or change the environment our clients interact with daily.

What makes us unique is that we pull from the firm’s collected experience. When we are hired, the client doesn’t just get the point of contact project manager’s experience for their project they get all of AMB’s knowledge as it is needed for the project can be as successful as possible.

I’m most proud of our company culture. We have ranked in the HBJs Best Places to Work for the last four years in the Small Business Category. Last year we placed first.

Architecture traditionally is a very difficult profession for work life balance. It is standard to work nights and weekend. When I started my company, I was determined to be profitable and create work-life balance not only for myself but my employees. I wanted to create an environment where the choice of being an engaged parent or practicing architect didn’t have to be made. I also didn’t want my company to have a negative impact on my health. This is the basic vision I started from. It has guided my decision making process from the beginning. I look at culture not as something you change, but something you build. I use the idea of a layer cake. The bottom layer is your initial vision for your culture. My bottom layer included a flexible schedule and part time positions.

I gave a talk on my company culture last November to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Alumni which I am a member of. The video of that presentation is on AMB Architects YouTube channel.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have launched the AMB Marketplace.

I realized there was a gap in the design market when it comes to selecting a finish palette package. You either have the time and budget to hire an Architect or Interior Designer, or you don’t.

When you don’t you are on their own to get the finishes selected.

This can seem like a daunting task with all the options available, cost variations, discontinued products, lead times and code compliance requirements.

We created Commercial Interior Finish Palette packages that can be purchased and downloaded online. We have started out with a few color options and will add new ones on a regular basis.

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