The year 2020 has meant a lot of things for a lot of people, but this year truly has been a year of growth for HFA. We’ve learned what we’re made of in times of struggle, how important and valued our employees are to us, and what truly matters in life and in business. One of the many things we’re fortunate to celebrate this year is the 30th anniversary of HFA.
Back in 1990, Harrison French embarked on a journey to bring a fully integrated and multi-disciplined architectural and engineering firm to Northwest Arkansas. Since that day, HFA has continued to expand from a singular studio in Bentonville, AR, to studios in Franklin, MA, Fort Worth, TX and Mexico City, MX.
Many things have changed for HFA in the past 30 years, but one thing that remains the same is the commitment to leading our clients with excellence.
Throughout the years, HFA employees have collected stories that remind them of some of their favorite memories from their time with us. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of HFA, we wanted to share a few with you. Enjoy!
Meghan Vincent, AIA, NCARB
Team Lead / Architect
“My story has to do with when our former company, Allevato Architects, merged with HFA. I can remember Lou making the announcement to our office and letting us know that Harrison, Larry, and Chris would be coming to Franklin to meet all of us. Lou asked Corinna (a former HFA employee) and me to pull together a video presentation to illustrate who we were at Allevato. We liked to have a little fun with these types of things, as we had for our holiday party the previous year, so we decided that this should be no different. We did a Wizard-of-Oz-themed video, with each of the characters in the movie being played by an HFA executive (thank you, Photoshop!). I can remember thinking this was such a great idea at the time, and by the time we watched the final cut, we were pretty proud of ourselves. But, after hearing the HFA company history presentation, I started to think that the HFA team MIGHT not be as into this as we were. As our movie started, I can remember spiraling down a psychological rabbit hole that ended in me getting publicly fired in disgrace before the merger paperwork could even be signed. Eyeing the HFA faces to gauge their reactions; however, I was quickly relieved to see it was all smiles. The moral of the story: know your audience before taking liberties with their faces!”
“For my first several years working at HFA, I had the pleasure of scoping Sam’s Club locations. I did enjoy it and always had a fun time with the engineers who accompanied me. I got used to leaving on the earliest flights out, still half-asleep. XNA is such a small airport; I never had any hiccups. Until one morning, when I arrived later than I normally did. Typically, I would get there before the engineers, and we would board the plane together. On this morning, the plane had already begun boarding, and I assumed the engineers were already on since I didn’t see them hanging around anywhere. There were a lot of people on the plane, and our seats were in the back. I waited as the aisle cleared and slowly made my way to the back of the plane to see that my teammates were not there. I was immediately alarmed and completely awakened from my groggy, early-morning state. I asked a man standing near, “Where is this flight headed?” He answered, “Charlotte.” I panicked – we were not going to Charlotte. I had gotten on the wrong plane! How had I gotten on the wrong plane??
I spun around to see the aisle full of people still boarding. I started pushing my way to the front, stating that I was on the wrong plane, being met with very confused looks. I couldn't understand how this had happened, and now I was going to miss my actual flight! As I reached the front of the plane, I spotted my three teammates who had just boarded. Ty, who was in the lead, looked at me like I was crazy and said, "What are you doing?" All I could say was, "I don't know." I had to turn around and walk back down the aisle past all the people who had witnessed my embarrassing display. "Right plane after all?” one man joked. Of course, we were going to Charlotte to meet our connecting flight. From then on, I tried to be a little more awake and alert for early-morning departures.”
Talent Recruitment Lead
“I had been at my new job two weeks in 2004 and was required to attend a Planning Commission Hearing on behalf of our client in a township in Pennsylvania. This required overnight travel, and arrangements were made. Our client's request wasn't very controversial, but they were high profile, and their projects could receive lots of scrutiny. Even with a staff report that recommended approval. Have you been there?
I was prepared, and after presenting the case and addressing questions from the panel, the project was approved by the Planning Commission. My task was completed, and in the early twilight, I began exploring this town, a region of the country I've never experienced before flying back home the next morning. All of a sudden, I get a surprise phone call from the CEO of HFA. Harrison French was calling and wanted to know how the hearing went and had a genuine interest and concern for me as a new employee. I did not directly report to him.
I had been doing these types of public hearings in my previous job for many years, and it was old hat to me. But I'll never forget that he called. All these years later, it's still heartfelt. Harrison built HFA to what it is now over 30 years. He's passed the leadership role to others. Thanks, Harrison. Happy Anniversary!”
“At the start of 2019, I decided to leave my hometown, my network, and my family for a new position with HFA in Fort Worth. This left me feeling anxious and nervous about the significant change ahead. However, the team who interviewed me had made me feel so comfortable and excited about the new opportunity that I had no doubts I was making the right decision.
On August 3, 2019, my hometown of El Paso, Texas, experienced a shooting that affected everyone who lived and had lived in that amazing community. I spent that day glued to the TV for updates and frantically reaching out to everyone I knew to confirm they were all safe. Thankfully my family and friends were not directly affected, but I was devastated. In the next 24 hours, I received calls, messages, and emails from the same HFA team who had interviewed me. Each of them wanted to make sure I was okay and offered words of encouragement.
That day is hard for me to remember, but I often reflect on how special it is for me to work with a company with leaders and associates who genuinely care about my well-being.
Here's to 30 years of HFA and many more!
PS—I also turned 30 this year; it seems like 1990 was an excellent start for many!”
“My story is about how I got to work for HFA. In July 2017, I applied for an open position in HFA's Mexico City office, I wanted to move from an Engineering firm to an Architecture one, and I got in contact with Steve Frank, but it turned out that it was not the time for me to join. Three weeks later, I found I was expecting my second child, so it was not the time! A year later, in July 2018, I saw on LinkedIn that Steve Frank was having his work anniversary, with a big number on it! So, I felt the need to say, "Congratulations!" And who would have thought that would lead me to get a place in this great company!”
Cheers to 30 years, HFA!
We are a fully integrated design firm that believes in empowering everyone around us to think passionately about architecture, engineering, and interior design. Over 30 years, we have built partnerships with clients across the United States by understanding the needs of their customers and leading the design process for their spaces.
Contact: Daryl Whitmer, Director of Marketing and Business Development, (479) 273−7780 ext. 274 or daryl.whitmer@hfa−ae.com