IRVINE, CA—Locally based design firm Ware Malcomb‘s recent merger with Connell Design Group in Seattle, on which GlobeSt.com reported last week, was the company’s third acquisition, Larry Armstrong, Ware Malcomb’s CEO, tells GlobeSt.com. We caught up with Armstrong to discuss the significance of the Seattle market, the locally based firm’s growth strategy in new markets and design trends he’s noticing.
GlobeSt.com: Why is the Pacific Northwest market so important to your firm?
Armstrong: The Seattle market has been a target market of ours for some time. We have many clients who have a presence in the Seattle area, and we were looking for an opportunity to establish an office there.
GlobeSt.com: Is it typical for you to merge with an existing firm vs. opening a new office in a new market?
Armstrong: Over our history, we have grown organically to open new offices, and we have promoted from within to open an office in a new market. This is our third acquisition. We just evaluate opportunities as they come to us. In this case, we were working with the Connell Design Group people, and it was a really good fit for us, so we decided to pursue this opportunity.
GlobeSt.com: Do you expect to merge with more firms either in this market or others to increase your presence there?
Armstrong: We do have other target markets around the country, and I would expect that some of them would end up being mergers/acquisitions.
GlobeSt.com: What design trends are you noticing?
Armstrong: A couple of things are very strongly showing themselves in some markets. Creative office is emerging for several projects in SoCal, L.A. and OC. It’s a little different in terms of how we’re designing office space for creative types and the Millennial workforce. Also, we’re working on many large fulfillment centers for some corporate clients, which are much bigger distribution facilities—all well over 1 million square feet. Our firm specializes in buildings having to do with commercial real estate and most strongly in industrial and office.