Design Collaborative’s Ron Dick is a people person. Whether it’s working with clients, associates or in the community, the architect has no shortage of enthusiasm. A problem seeker and solver by nature, he has resolved to make northeast Indiana a better place to live, work and play.
Q1: What does your company’s mission of improving people’s worlds mean to you?
Architects are generally associated with the product that comes with designing buildings—but there’s so much more to it than that. Our mission speaks to a big picture and intentional approach. At Design Collaborative, we’re trying to improve peoples’ worlds, whether it’s clients or our buildings’ occupants or the community at large, or our associates’ lives. We’re not creating buildings for the sake of it. We’re building for the people who may live, work or play in or outside the walls.
Q2: How does great design enhance the community?
Pride is on the rise here in our area and a lot of efforts are going into that. Some have said we have developed swagger. I think good design is just one of the many elements that contribute to this progress in attitude. Northeast Indiana over the last five to ten years has embraced its expansion, not only in aesthetics, but in the experience of design. We have seen it not only in Fort Wayne, but also in the greater region. We have raised the bar and our community has risen to new heights, as a result. Parkview Field/Harrison Square is just one of the many case studies. That development is an example of what good design can do for a community. There’s also a great deal of excitement surrounding the riverfront development project. From an economic development standpoint, national real estate developers are knocking on our doors, which is no small feat. There’s a lot of positive and creative energy brewing, which is making our region known on a national level.
Q3: To what do you attribute your company’s status as one of the “Best Places to Work
I think our mission speaks for itself—we truly care about each other and we seek out caring people to join our team. We hire people that like to be engaged in the community. Many of our staff have causes they are passionate about, which we are happy to support. Despite our growth, we haven’t lost our sense of self and our core values as a company. We started with three associates 25 years ago and have since grown to a staff of 55 in 25 years. We still start and end each week together with staff meetings. It’s amazing what that does from a culture standpoint. Our jobs are stressful and we work in teams, which isn’t always easy. That’s one of the many reasons it’s important to create a positive work environment and culture for all. I think that’s why we’re one of the best places to work.
Q4: What are some trends in design business owners should be aware of in 2017?
One common thread is that technology drives us all. The way we do our jobs is different than 10 years ago. Technology can unite people, but it can also drive people apart. The key is to unite people with a human touch. For example, the healthcare and higher education markets have embraced high touch elements and consequently high impact, to couple the technology piece with human interaction. Another trend in this region is downtown development. There’s been a trend in growth in northeast Indiana and we’re excited to be part of that momentum.
Q5: What makes you proud to call NEI home?
In the last ten years, especially, there’s been significant growth and an overarching drive to be better and think beyond ourselves. In particular I’m proud of the efforts of agencies like the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Greater Fort Wayne, and the cities and counties of our region, which are all looking to grow our regional community in size, scope and influence. I am also proud of what we have here in terms of natural resources as well, like our lakes and our rivers. There are great sports, art and music just waiting to be discovered. If you’re passionate about something, open your eyes and chances are, it’s right here!