Here at HFA, our people are our top priority. With that in mind, we believe that growing and promoting talent from within is vital to our purpose, vision, and values.
Recently, CEO Dave Wilgus announced that three Directors, Bo Ebbrecht, Greg Schluterman, and James Owens, would be promoted to Vice President, effective October 14, 2020.
Part of the reason this support structure change was so important is that these three leaders will use their new positions to strengthen their bond with HFA employees, both in their home office and beyond. But how much do you know about them? We took a few moments to get to know each Vice President a little better so they can explain what this promotion means for them and the studio as a whole. Read on to learn more about Bo Ebbrecht, AIA, NCARB!
Q: Tell me a little more about your background and how long you’ve been with HFA.
Bo: I was born and raised in Fayetteville, AR. I graduated from Fayetteville High School and then studied for two years at the University of Arkansas. At the time, I was an art major studying photography. After those two years, I decided to expand my horizons and moved out to Colorado. I planned to go to school at UC Boulder, but I ended up at a small school in Gunnison, Colorado. I completed my art degree and planned to continue in school in the psychology/psychiatry field. Because I wanted experience before going to med school, I decided to become a paramedic while completing my second degree in clinical & counseling psychology. After spending a lot of time in and around hospitals and finding chemistry very frustrating, I eventually realized that the medical field wasn't for me, so I switched to architecture.
I was drawn to architecture because of how it combined art and computer design, which were passions of mine. I eventually moved from Colorado to Texas to finish my graduate degree in architecture. I got a job in Dallas Fort-Worth, working mainly in the field as a construction administrator building and remodeling elementary and high schools. After being gone from the area for 11 years, I finally returned to Bentonville. Not even a year and a half into working as a drafter at a local firm, I was hired to run the Walmart Special Projects team at HFA. That was more than 15 years ago now.
Q: How will your industry and client experience assist you in your new role as Vice President?
Bo: Being with HFA for 15 years, I’ve worked on many projects, but nine years of that experience was committed to the Walmart program. Working with the world’s largest retailer was an advantage for me because they had strong best practices, which gave me a solid background in project management. When I switched to non-Walmart projects, I was intimidated at first, but ultimately, I learned so much about working with different clients and industry professionals.
Throughout those 15 years, I saw the best and worst practices from many industries. I am lucky that I can take those experiences and help employees grow and learn from them. In the past, I've seen projects run smoothly, and I've seen projects run poorly. I have a unique perspective that I can share with the people I lead because of those experiences. Hopefully, I will be able to impart upon them the sometimes painful and embarrassing lessons I’ve learned in my time as an architect, so hopefully, they don't have to make those mistakes, too.
Q: How will your role further strengthen your bond with the studio?
Bo: I hope this position furthers my exposure to other programs. As executives, we want more exposure, visibility, and more engagement throughout all studios and all levels of staff. By continuing to be engaged with the people we support, we can better help lead them to continued success.
Q: How do you think this support structure change [adding three new Vice Presidents] will benefit the client and HFA employees?
Bo: As executives, we still have to be engaged and stay engaged. This includes still being involved in the day-to-day support of teams and projects. Being executives, we help shape and drive the vision of the company. We'll also maintain the high level of client service that we strive for as a company, thanks to the experience that the three of us have and can pass along to the employees we support.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style? What are the things you feel are most important to emphasize when it comes to leading the studio?
Bo: One of the things I'm most excited about is developing staff and helping drive our mentorship program. How do we raise everyone up, with degrees or not, with or without licenses, and across all disciplines? How do we team up with the rest of the executive team to further develop and mentor our staff?
Philosophically, I let people that I trust do the things they’ve been charged to do. If you trust your people and they possess the resources they need to succeed, they are going to do good work. Will they make mistakes? Probably, but we all do. I prefer giving the direction of where they need to go, but I’m not one to micromanage. I provide them with the destination and trust them to figure out how to reach it, or we'll work together to get there.
Q: What are some of the goals you are looking to implement for Q4 and looking forward to 2021?
Bo: I think James, Greg, and myself are all humbled that the executive team sees us fit to move into these positions, but also for allowing us to start now, rather than waiting until 2021. It's great to be at the table and be a part of the vision and planning for the future.
Personally, I hope to continue my engagement with the Walmart program, helping them continue their success. We have a lot of momentum there, and we can't take our foot off the gas. Furthermore, expanding our services with our existing clients is also a huge goal for us—I believe that finding ways to do more work in more areas for existing clients will be vital to our future success.
To learn more about Bo or to connect with him, reach out to Bo.Ebbrecht@hfa-ae.com
Founded in 1990, HFA is a full-service Architecture and Engineering firm with locations in Bentonville, AR; Franklin, MA; Fort Worth, TX; and Mexico City, MX. Focused on designing for the customer experience, HFA works coast to coast with retail, real estate development, office, industrial, fueling, restaurant/food service, lifestyle, and education clients.