BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Tracey Schnick

Tracey Schnick, Principal of AG Architecture
Company address: 1414 Underwood Ave. #301, Wauwatosa, WI 53213
Company website:
Industry: Architecture
Number of Employees: 35
Family: Married with two children: Danny, 18, and Ashley, 15.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
“AG is taking the time to think about the future–the direction we want to take the company over the next few years and a plan to achieve these goals. One of those steps has been identifying leaders, and naming new principals and senior associates. We are examining every level of the company, and developing a business plan that will integrate and take advantage of the best skills each team member has to offer. We are also evaluating what shape the company will take as we move forward, as this recession hopefully comes to an end.”

What’s new at your company?
“The new economy has brought on many changes; we have had the opportunity to become more involved with local work, which is always exciting. New clients outside of the senior living realm, which is a large part of our work, have brought interesting opportunities to the table. This, along with developing our current employees, has been a lot of fun for us. We also re-launched our website to celebrate our 20th anniversary, which is a response to the change in today’s economic conditions, technological expectations, and the way current and future clients work.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

“We do hope to expand our staff again, but we will do so cautiously. The existing employees have stepped up to the plate throughout this recession, and have grown professionally. We also plan to utilize BIM technology for some projects in the near future. While many firms have already made this transition, our typical project type has not had the need that more complex projects do, such as hospitals or museums.” 

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“The biggest challenge will be continuing to shape the company relative to the new economic conditions. The majority of our work over the years has been large-scale senior living campuses. The way you provide services to smaller multi-family developments, independent assisted living buildings or household focused memory care facilities cannot be the same.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“Relative to senior living, the biggest trends are resident-centered care and aging-in-place. It’s great to see the focus in senior living be on real quality of life and lifestyle issues. Outside of senior living, the multi-family business is really taking off as a result of the recession; there are more renters than there have been in a long time. These are unfortunate times for many. We as an industry have to respond to the needs of the community.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“Provide good service. Providing good service leads to happy clients, a good working environment and successful projects. It’s that simple. Good service means listening and providing good design that works for the client and then backing it up with quality service all the way through construction.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“Several people have influenced my professional career. I would have to say that I look up to my predecessors in the firm, as AG has made it thru difficult economic conditions several times. But I also look up to many of our clients; the innovative ideas and commitment they have for the future of senior care and their forward thinking approach–thinking more about the end-user’s needs. I also admire some local developers that really embrace the advancement of the city, look to improve access to lifestyle alternatives in the city, and are dedicated to finding a financial means by which to do so in today’s economic climate.”

“What was the best advice you ever received?

It would definitely have to be to apply for a job with SLA, predecessor to AG Architecture. A co-worker and former SLA employee at my prior firm told me it was a great place to work. They were right.”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?

“I locked myself in a unit while doing a final punch list. It turned out the door lever didn’t work. Back then cell service wasn’t as good as it is today, but I did manage to call the contractor. Or you could call this funny — following an interview we heard back that the interviewers thought that my skirt was too short because it was just above the knee. You really need to know your audience.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“My free time is really focused on family. I have two great teenagers, one in high school and one in his first year of college. My husband and I encourage and assist them in their chosen paths as much as possible; from coaching volleyball for several years to traveling to watch volleyball and wrestling tournaments wherever they take us. When they aren’t dragging us around the Midwest, we participate in your typical Wisconsin activity- going to our place Up North.”

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