Company Name: Torrado Architects
Year Founded: 1996
Location: Providence, RI
One of Rhode Island’s leading full service Architectural Firms, providing services which include: feasibility studies, program development, master planning, conceptual design, schematic design for project approvals, design development, construction documents, and construction administration.
What opportunity did you perceive in the marketplace that motivated you to start your business?
There was legislation passed in the mid 1990s that required public projects to include fee proposals as part of the architectural selection criteria. I knew that I could submit competitive bid fees and that having an objective selection criteria would offset the traditional method of the awarding of public projects.
What realities did you face in the marketplace?
The challenge is always getting the jobs, having sufficient staff to meet deadlines, and getting paid on a timely basis.
What are you sources of inspiration on a daily, frequent basis?
God is my strength.
What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I was told by a mentor that the hardest thing about starting a business is deciding to do it. When I started my office, I did not have any projects and my wife and I were expecting our fourth child. It was a difficult decision, but one that I never regretted. My advice is to make the decision, prepare yourself to succeed and have faith.
What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
I am fortunate to have two sons who are in the process of completing their architectural education. I look forward to them becoming an integral part of Torrado Architects.
What information do you recommend entrepreneurs, in general, to integrate into their thinking? Do you have specific books or articles that you would recommend?
I recommend that entrepreneurs network with professional groups and develop relationships with state, city and community resources. There are specific publications for each business type. A good general source of information is the Providence Business news.
My biggest challenge was receiving our first commission. When I started the business, I had to balance the financial commitment of buying equipment and hiring staff without having a definitive project. I understood that a client, particularly in the public sector, would be reluctant to hire a firm that did not have adequate staffing, equipment and insurance to perform a sizable project. It is difficult for a public building committee to award a contract to a firm for whom this is their first project. It would be impossible for them to justify the award unless the firm showed that they had the capacity to perform all the required aspects of the project. I knew that if I wanted to be considered for large public projects, I had to make the financial investment prior to obtaining any contracts, as risky as I knew that was.
We committed all of my family savings and resources on establishing an office, buying computer equipment, and hiring staff. The architectural field is very competitive; there are numerous established firms with whom I was able to compete against after having made this commitment.
Uncovering Best Practices
Although I believe that the “American Dream” is still possible, I recognize that sometimes it is not a level playing field for minorities. I feel the best antidote to combat discrimination is excellence. A culture of performing beyond the client’s expectations is always our goal.
My work has received awards from the American Institute of Architects, The Providence Preservation Society, The Rhode Island Historic and Heritage Commission. My work has been published in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine and American Schools and Universities. We received the award for Best Minority Enterprise from Governor Lincoln Almond and Best Small Minority Business Enterprise from SBA and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
My biggest achievement is having successfully practiced architecture as Torrado Architects for the past 19 years.