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Small Firm Panel Discussion
April 20, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pmFree - $5
“Seventy-nine percent of member-owned firms are small firms (under 10 employees).”
Running a small business, whether it’s an architecture firm, moving company or consultant practice, is difficult. Difficult is a severe understatement. Join this diverse panel of speakers from around our community for an open dialogue about the unique challenges small practices face when seeking, growing and sustaining business.
The panel will be moderated by Kevin Wilkins, Founder and Managing Director of Trepwise. Panelists include Tracie Ashe, Partner of studioWTA, Courtney Davis-Herbert, CEO of Bart’s Office, Inc., Terri Hogan Dreyer, Owner/Partner of NANO LLC and David Merlin, Principal of One to One Design LLC.
Our intent is to increase knowledge among attendees, through assistance from peers on issues that may have come up recently, through lessons learned and Q&A, and through exposure to different types of firms and ways of doing business.
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Since moving to New Orleans, Kevin served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and COO during The Idea Village’s 2012 and 2013- Entrepreneur Seasons, working with over 300 entrepreneurs in New Orleans.
Kevin has built a strong team of entrepreneurial specialists who have worked with over 500 entrepreneurs and startups collectively in New Orleans, our headquarters and the number one city for start-ups per capita in the United States.
Kevin sits on several non-profit boards including City Year New Orleans, Collegiate Academies, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana Children’s Museum, Pelican Bomb, Propeller: A Force For Social Innovation, The Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education, and Tulane Hillel.
Tracie joined studioWTA the Thursday before Mardi Gras in 2003, after graduating from Tulane University’s School of Architecture and spending the summer as a teaching assistant for incoming graduate students. During her time at TSA, she explored the juncture where art and design meet by participating in study programs in Russia, Spain, and Portugal. In addition to architecture, Tracie studied photography, screen printing, lithography, woodcutting, and…Medieval literature. She spent her fourth year abroad at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow, Scotland, which remains one of her favorite cities in the world.
Tracie has since been an adjunct lecturer for several core design studios at TSA, and is a frequent invited critic on design reviews. She’s passionate about design and graphics, film, photography, travel, and creative collaboration, recognizing that she is continuously learning and strengthening her ability to serve studioWTA’s clients to highest level, working closely with Wayne and other team members to bring creative and innovative solutions to design problems.
During her time at the firm, Tracie has worked on projects of all sizes, including conversion of Anne Rice’s former orphanage, St Elizabeth’s, to high-end residences, renovation of a historic commercial space to accommodate a sister space for Arthur Roger Gallery, and a full restoration of a city community center following Hurricane Katrina. Tracie was made a partner of the firm at the beginning of 2016.
Outside of the studio, Tracie serves on the Executive Board of the New Orleans Film Society and has been a jury screener for the festival for more than ten years.
A second-generation entrepreneur and seasoned business owner, Courtney Thibodeaux Davis is the Chief Executive Officer of Bart’s Office Moving. Since joining the company in 2010, Courtney has lead the company’s business development and marketing efforts while also spearheading capacity augmentation and corporate growth initiatives for the firm.
Prior to joining Bart’s, Courtney served as the general manager for Planet Beach in Lakeview where, under her leadership, salon revenues doubled and the location won numerous awards for customer service and employee satisfaction. Courtney later earned distinction as Planet Beach’s youngest franchisee when she purchased the organization’s Metairie Road location where her efforts continued to achieve similar results: annual revenues increased by over 80% and the facility was consistently recognized for excellence in both customer service and store operations. She even won Planet Beach’s prestigious “Franchisee on the Planet” award. After the successful sale of her franchise following Hurricane Katrina, Courtney returned to her family’s business as its Chief Executive. She has a strong sales background, increasing revenues for businesses over the past 10+ years. She is responsible for developing the business, which includes marketing, operations, safety, employee relations, and customer relations.
Upon graduation from Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 small business cohort as valedictorian of her class, Courtney was given the honor of introducing Mayor Mitch Landrieu at the program’s commencement ceremony. An advocate for women in business, Courtney is also recent graduate of the Tuck School of Business/Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBEC) exchange program. Additionally, she was a 2014 recipient of WBEC South’s Champion award for her dedication to women-owned businesses in the Gulf South, and the SBA Family Owned Business Champion for 2015.
Courtney is an active member of the New Orleans community and serves on the advisory board for Nunez College. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her daughter Kaylie, her husband Pat, and her two cats, Chloe and Cayden.
Terri Hogan Dreyer has over 30 years of design experience nationally and internationally. Graduating as Salutatorian from Tulane University with a Master in Architecture from Tulane University, she received the Outstanding Thesis Award, and was treasurer of the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Fraternity. Terri attended Parsons School of Design in New York and received a Bachelor of Interior Design with a minor in art and architecture history from Louisiana State University.
Terri, in partnership with her husband, Ian, are the founders and owners of NANO LLC, a design firm that provides comprehensive architectural, interior design, and custom furniture services. Terri is the Majority Managing Partner with responsibilities that include, but are not limited to overall design strategies, business management and development.
Terri’s comprehensive design experience incorporates projects of many magnitudes including the GNO Inc. offices, Weinstein’s, Il Mercato, GlaxoSmithKlein, the Houma-Heyman building, 2513 Metairie Road and many high-end residences and several historic preservation projects. Being true to NANO’s design mission of “Detail at Every Scale,” the firm’s focus is all encompassing, to not only the most removed, observable viewpoint, but also the most detailed. No scale is deemed superior and they must all work together to structure the overall design concept.
Terri was an adjunct professor at Tulane for three years and was a second year studio professor for two of those years. She was a full professor at Louisiana State University where she headed third year studio, taught construction documents, and the concerns of the profession class.
Under Terri and Ian’s leadership, NANO has attained professional awards that include AIA Honor Awards, Louisiana Landmarks Society Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles Best of Home Award, and a New Orleans City Business Top 40 Under 40 Award. Terri has also received the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) Award while working abroad in London for HOK Inc.
On the business front, Terri is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and the Tuck School of Business/Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBEC) exchange program. NANO is currently a registered WBENC member and a DBE with the Sewage and Water Board.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity and is heavily involved in the Parkview Neighborhood Association and the Metairie Park Country Day School Parents’ Association.
David Merlin is a registered architect who received his Master of Architecture from Tulane University and a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University with Cum Laude distinction in Economics. David’s interests span between professional practice and academic research as he is a principalof of One to One Design, a full service architecture firm that also consults for artists, facade designers, and other design firms, and holds an appointment at Tulane School of Architecture.
At One to One Design, David leads projects through all phases of design, contributes to business development and strategic planning efforts, administers business operations, and heads the computation design unit. One to One Design has a diverse portfolio of work including education, cultural, healthcare, office, residential, and retail projects. The firm offers a range of services including full service design, design consulting, technology consulting, façade consulting and constructability analysis.
Academically, David’s research focuses on the relationship between design technology, information, and fabrication. Applications of this research include building information modeling, parametric modeling, geometry rationalization, and digital fabrication. Prior to starting a practice and joining the faculty at Tulane, David held the position of Project Designer at Trahan Architects where he co-lead the implementation of digital production processes while working on the Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame, renovations and enhancements to the Louisiana Superdome, and the Ownesboro-Daviess County Convention Center.