kd2 Architects

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In the spring of 2009, with the recession in full swing and his job hours cut, architect Kevin Dowell started working independently as kd2 Architects. He initially pursued design/build contracts with large commercial general contractors, but the downturn in new construction resulted in only occasional small projects for his fledgling company. To survive, he needed to identify alternative markets for kd2 Architects' services.

With no enterpreneurial experience, Dowell approached the Temple University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) seeking guidance on developing a strategic business plan. The SBDC gave Dowell a guide that outlined the key components of a business plan. Dowell used this to draft a business plan that identified issues pertinent to the company's development. Dowell then met with an SBDC consultant to review these plans and further refine the concept. Together, they developed a marketing strategy that targeted specific market segments.

One such segment proved to be auto dealership showrooms. Dealership closings and decreased sales of automobiles during the recession resulted in the remaining dealerships expanding and updating showrooms. kd2 established a reputation throughout the Delaware Valley for expertise in this market. Following several successful projects for a number of area dealership groups, Fiat selected kd2 to design several showrooms for the Italian company's re-entry into the U.S. car market.

This increase in projects has allowed Dowell not only to become full-time at kd2, but to also hire two full-time architects and one part-time interior designer. Within one year, the company moved from its home-based office to leased offices, with space for staff and a conference room for project reviews and client presentations.

Now established and generating a pipeline of design contracts, the firm plans to expand its operations into additional markets with hopes to add additional staff in the coming year. Dowell continues to work with the Temple University SBDC to grow the company; currently, he and his SBDC consultant are developing an employee manual to support ongoing hiring and personnel management.

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