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There’s no denying the fact that the country is in an economic downturn that is affecting both small and large businesses. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a staggering 75% of this week’s poll respondents claim to know someone who’s lost their job recently. Ten percent of that were people who are now collecting unemployment themselves. The remaining quarter of our respondents claim not to know anyone who’s recently received a pink slip. Ken Schier, managing partner of IS&L Architecture in Fair Lawn is one of that lucky minority. He talks about how his firm manages to remain successful, even in trying times:

“No, I don’t know anyone who’s lost their job. We read the papers and see that people are losing their jobs, although I don’t know that New Jersey is being hit as hard as other areas. I read an article this morning that talked about how New Jersey was unique in that it doesn’t have a large presence of sectors such as manufacturing and construction, where jobs are being lost nationally. We have employment in other sectors that aren’t experiencing as much loss.

“Regionally, because we’re tied in with New York, I don’t think we’re experiencing the downturn as badly as other areas. If you look at real estate prices as a benchmark for that, New York prices haven’t really come down at all. Regionally, they’ve come down about 9%, but if you look at Miami, they’ve come down about 25% in the last year. That’s indicative of the trend I’m talking about.

“For us, our firm is actually looking to hire people. Despite the scuttlebutt on the street about the economy and the recession and whether we’re in one or going into one, we’re actually finding our economy, our little world is very busy. We’re looking for people.

“We have a formalized program for training intern architects called the IDP. It’s set up and administered through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. In the program, a graduate architect, someone who’s had five or six years of formalized education, comes and work for an architecture firm and is trained in certain areas. It’s good basic training for that intern before they sit for their architect’s registration exam.

“We are unique in that we’re a relatively new firm that resulted from the merger of two other firms. So, we’ve been pushing extra hard on our marketing effort, and we’re now reaping the benefits. There are other architecture firms in our area that have slowed, and we’re still busy and hiring.”

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