Pasadena or bust: Q&A with Bob Winter, Director of Hospitality and Client Executive
IMEG Principal and Director of Hospitality, Bob Winter, PE, recently relocated to California to serve as client executive for the firm’s Pasadena-based MEP team. He talks about the move, his team, and client philosophy in the following Q&A.
Q. Why did you choose to relocate and what are your team’s goals/focus for 2021?
A. After I became the firm’s Director of Hospitality, I began working on growing our outreach in SoCal – where I was also looking to establish an MEP team that would grow to be the third hospitality studio in the firm – joining Chicago and Denver as the other two offices.
In 2020, IMEG began to look at a transition plan for Pasadena leadership, with the expectation that the process would take more than a year. While we were a bit ahead of the planned schedule for this change, the opportunities for me to relocate, develop new markets for the firm, and step into the leadership role were aligned well enough so that previous plans advanced and I made the move with my family during a pandemic – and arriving when the region was on fire. It makes for an interesting story!
The team’s goals for 2021 are to establish ourselves in new markets, including hospitality and multifamily residential with a focus on high–rise buildings, in addition to developing our staff into stronger consultants.
Q. What changes have been made with IMEG’s Pasadena-based team that clients should know – and that you are most excited about?
A. We have a strong commitment to improving our capabilities as consultants and as experts in the industry. I have implemented changes to the team with the goal of making us more efficient and improving the quality of our work product. There will be no divergence from our commitment to provide our clients with consulting services that are of the highest standards.
I’m very excited about developing our staff, hiring new talent, and expanding into new markets. Involving other IMEG offices into this process is very rewarding as there is tremendous support throughout the company to assist in numerous aspects including specialized training, participation in quality reviews, and collaboration on projects.
Q. What do you think is key to developing a new client’s trust?
A. Getting an opportunity with a new client is difficult in this business. Sometimes, the opportunity presents itself based on the direction of an owner or developer who instructs an architect to use a certain firm they have experience with. Other times, the opportunity is a result of the failure of a competitor. “You’re only as good as your last job” certainly doesn’t apply to a successful relationship between firms that have a solid history, but it really does have meaning in many situations that are less developed and more fragile. The lesson is to know your business, know how to provide a high level of service that will provide value, and know that your product is not just lines on paper, but an experience that extends over weeks/months/years in working on a project together as a team. We have to perform; we have to demonstrate our expertise and quality; and we have to have integrity in everything we do. We also need to stand behind our work and fix mistakes that sometimes occur. And while we want to avoid mistakes in the first place, how we fix them can also differentiate us.
Q. What is one of your most memorable projects?
A. The Chicago Athletic Association hotel project stands out for many reasons, not only because it was our team’s first major hospitality project and our first experience with a new client, but also because ever since my arrival to Chicago in 2000 I had admired this building, constructed in 1893 for the World’s Fair. Its history and its architecture are unique and original. The commitment of our entire team led to the incredible success of the project and helped to solidify our relationship with our architect partners, the project management firm, and the ownership group – something that not only endures to this day but that also led to other successful opportunities from the relationships, expertise, and credentials we gained by being involved in this once-in-a-career project. Look at the images online. It is a spectacular space!
Q. How do you relax and unwind?
A. I exercise daily – including timed walking routes and hikes that ideally include some of the amazing hills and mountains in the region – and I do my “COVID workout“ of calisthenics, core exercises, etc. I play tennis with my wife; being outdoors in winter is amazing! I cook with my daughter as we drink a California cab, and I play piano in a basement storage room in our apartment building because it didn’t fit in the living room – a lesson learned to share with those looking to rent virtually without the benefit of a floor plan! But it all worked out.
Have a question for Bob? Email him at Robert.A.Winter@imegcorp.com.