Mitch Hoefer is knocking on wood, pinching himself, rechecking the back log – whatever it is that CEOs do when they want to make sure that their luck is holding out. For Hoefer Wysocki, his commercial-architecture firm in Leawood, Kansas, has been humming right through the coronavirus crisis so far and looks as though it will do so until the rest of the economy reaches the other side of the coronavirus abyss.
“We’ve been able to work through the storm pretty well,” Hoefer told Chief Executive. “Deadlines are being met; projects are continuing to work at the same speed in terms of productivity and efficiency and completion of tasks. Clients are involved in all of our meetings through Skype.
“Only a couple of projects – theater projects – have gone on hold; we’re trying to wait that out. Health care, government and commercial work hasn’t slowed down. So we’re amazed at how well it’s going.”
In fact, Hoefer Wysocki has just hired about a half-dozen new employees and interns from among the fresh crop of college graduates and students who have nothing but time on their hands at this point. They’re scheduled to start at the firm within several weeks.
“We’re computer-buddy-shadowing them to get them oriented and efficient in working at home,” Hoefer said.
Hoefer Wysocki also has responded to about 15 requests for proposals in the last two weeks, which Hoefer called “Not much of a pullback” from normal. “Some of our good, strong-credit clients are pushing projects ahead right now because money is a bit cheaper,” he said.
Still, Hoefer isn’t taking anything for granted and is trying to gain from some aspects of the COVID-19 economic pause to ensure that his firm comes out even better than it went in.
For example, he has moved about half of Hoefer Wysocki’s marketing to the online sphere now, up from perhaps one-third of marketing activity before the coronavirus, to capitalize on the fact that digital platforms have captured all the eyeballs these days. This means, for instance, “We are showcasing the expertise of our people online through papers and talks that we are videotaping and putting online,” said the 63-year-old who founded Hoefer Wysocki in 1996. “And we’re utilizing Zoom because we can get multiple people in conversations that way.”
He’s also personally trying to push the boundaries of digital capabilities these days because there’s never been a better time to do it. “I darn near have the ability now to be omnipresent in multiple meetings at the same time in ways that I could never get away with before,” Hoefer said. “I can bow in and out of a meeting without much of a deal. And I can see and be aware of so much more on a daily basis. That’s one reason I have a lot of confidence that things are going well.”