25 years doesn’t seem too long of a time. However, in terms of a small business, 25 years is a lifetime….and a major accomplishment. To outlast so many that tried. To start during on recession then to survive two more. To still hold the same values. To still love what you are doing. That’s a major accomplishment. That’s what it is all about.
Yes – CIDA started out on April Fool’s Day in 1991. The very fact that David Welsh started a company on April Fool’s day tells you a little something about CIDA. We’re not the first to embrace April 1st to start a company. Apple celebrates 40 years today. And just as Apple shunned pocket protectors and ties of the tech world for turtlenecks and jeans, CIDA strives to do things a little differently in the architecture world. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We laugh and joke with each other and our clients.
So how did CIDA come about? In simplest terms it was about creating a firm with freedom. The freedom to pursue a goal that works for the individual seemed to be most appropriate way for people to succeed. According to David “CIDA was created to be a firm that took an approach that allows one creative genius to reach success whether it was the way I would do it or not.”
In his original business plan for CIDA, David highlighted “fun” as an important part of business. Having worked in places that were not fun, that didn’t appreciate people, their talents and who they are, hindered the creative process. If you’re not having fun at what you are doing, if you are not being creative you need to find another way… thus CIDA was born. It was a sort of experiment in business, at least to David, to see if he could create an environment that met the fun criteria. It’s fair to say that most of the time that goal has been met.
CIDA’s initial focus was on industrial, food processing and general commercial design. Those industries needed the expertise of a design professional that understood their real needs as a process, not as an architectural statement. They needed an architect that listened to the industrial client’s productive needs and focused on those productive needs to create a successful plan – not a drawing, but a plan on how the whole thing works. How many architects get involved with the scientific process of making French fries?
The industrial and general commercial focus was primarily due to the fact that David had found himself becoming an office building architect and at the time it wasn’t what he was looking for. Looking back on the past 20 plus years it’s amazing how many great office buildings CIDA has been a part of. The success of those office buildings is based in our industrial roots. As David put it “The most cost sensitive group I have had the privilege to work with is the food processors and industrial clients. Those industries teach you about cost, time, and functional awareness like no others and it became a core value.”
An office building is no different than an industrial building….it’s a machine that needs to function well, present a good face to the public and be cost effective. When approached that way, buildings are created that are aesthetically pleasing, innovative, productive and profitable for our clients. The same is true now of our non-profit, residential, and medical portfolios…CIDA has focused on how things work first then create a responsive envelope that provides the client with an excellent image but more importantly an efficient, functional and profitable space.
CIDA was established with the mentality that success isn’t measured with awards and articles – although they are nice. We measure success in return clients, recommendations, manufacturing plants that need to expand, in non-profit spaces that lower cost of maintenance, in office buildings with low vacancies, and in partnerships and friendships that are created through the act of listening to understand then implementing the plan.
Today CIDA celebrates 25 years of being trusted to create simple, innovative and profitable design solutions for people. We thank everyone along the way that was part of this journey and we look forward to many more celebrations.