Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Mark and Paul!
Today’s featured Minnesota business owners are Paul Udris and Mark Burgess, founders and partners at U+B Architecture and Design.
Q. Good morning, Mark and Paul! Thanks for joining us on our blog today! We would love to learn a little bit about you guys and about the origin of U + B Architecture & Design. What can you tell us?
A. It’s our pleasure to be here! We started our firm in 2003 out of Paul’s basement actually! Initially we focused more on residential projects but now we work on diverse project types from small residential projects to restaurants and public buildings. Before we began U + B we were friends and we were working together but going into business together really felt like a leap of faith. There has to be a profound level of trust between business partners, just like between spouses. As business partners, we love to collaborate and play devil’s advocate when troubleshooting ideas. Hand picking the projects we tackle is a huge benefit within our partnership. We get to be captains of our own destiny in that sense.
Q. So what kinds of projects are your favorites?
A. Working with entrepreneurial clients is hands-down our favorite. They appreciate the personal service we provide and the day to day involvement with both owners. We love having a collaborative relationship with our clients and most of them end up as repeat customers. We believe in advocating for our clients. Deciding if you want to build and if so, where, are important questions we help walk clients through. We pay close attention to their needs and creatively solve their problems in a way that’s really beautiful. If their project ends with a beautiful simplicity we know we’ve done a good job.
Q. Did you always want to be an architect, Mark?
A. As a kid I was really into making art and building things so in a way I believe I did.
Q. What are some challenges you encounter within your business?
A. We need to have a wide breadth and great depth of knowledge within our field. The cool part is we learn something new every day. Managing the workflow can also be challenging. If we run up against a project that we don’t feel confident tackling we don’t go after it.
Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. The biggest obstacle was surviving two recessions. In the construction industry we are essentially the ‘marines’ of the economy. We’ve learned that making our clients a priority is essential. We’ve also learned the importance of diversification within the work we do.
Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. Right now we are transitioning from a small firm to a medium-sized firm. This involves putting a lot of software and systems into place. I would love to go back in time and institute these systems earlier on.
Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling. How do you stay focused or get refocused?
A. We both have really supportive wives. If things are getting hectic at work they help us to re-focus. We also try to delegate what we can within our company. After all, there is a limit to how much multi-tasking any one person can do and do well. We have a great group of people within our company. People we can trust and count on. Delegating helps to unburden the mind. One thing we both strive to do is leave work at work. Home is family and personal time.
Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money and why?
A. I would give the money to Justin, our business development manager, and ask him to take some important people out to lunch.
Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are your favorite apps or software tools that you use within your business?
A. Definitely Outlook and our drafting programs.
Q. Something fun…If you could open any business today what business would you open?
A. I would lead backpacking trips in the mountains and the desserts. I love Southern Utah, Death Valley and the Canadian Rockies. I love being in the moment and staying active helps keep me balanced.
Q. What is your best advice for someone just starting up their business?
A. Find a good business partner!
Thanks for your time, Mark! Best wishes to you and Paul for continued success in all your design endeavors at U + B Architecture & Design!
If you’d like to learn more about U + B Architecture & Design you can visit them online at: https://www.uplusb.com