When Brad Garmann and Bruce Miller came together in 1993 to create a new design firm, the two architects did so with a purpose in mind.
“Our goal was to treat our clients in a better fashion than what we felt others were doing at the time,” Bruce said. “It was all about providing a higher level of service.”
Fast forward 30 years, and the core values established by our founders still remain as GM celebrates its three-decade milestone in 2023. Evolution and change have always been at the forefront of Garmann Miller’s blueprint for sustained success. From a two-man operation in Minster, Ohio, to the three-city, multi-service firm it is today, GM continues to build on its legacy of redefining what’s possible through its client-first approach.
Recently retired and serving as advisors to the GM board of directors, Brad and Bruce sat down to share what was important to them and how the firm was able to grow in a competitive marketplace.
What was the foundation for starting a new design firm?
Brad: Really it was listening to clients. This is what we saw that wasn’t happening. And the other thing was treating others with respect including our contractors and suppliers. You’ve got to provide the service; we knew that people wanted someone to listen to them.
Bruce: We also made a strong effort to be involved in a lot of organizations in and outside of Minster. It was important to us to give back, to have a sense of belonging and be a part of the communities that we were serving.
What do you feel has contributed to Garmann Miller’s growth?
Brad: I think it’s our integrity. I think we’ve always been honest with people and never tried to hide anything … people respect that.
Bruce: Our documents are done at a very high quality, and I think our communication and ownership with our clients has always been strong. I think they feel like we’re on their side and we’re protecting them. As things came up, we found ways to resolve it with them to their satisfaction. If we made a mistake, we’ve always stood behind it and fixed it.
What should always be a part of the culture you built?
Bruce: For me it’s understanding the impact we have on the communities with our designs. Our buildings are there for a long time, especially schools. I feel really strongly that it’s important that our staff today understands the impact that every design has on someone; we shouldn’t take it lightly.
Brad: It’s the client that comes first. We can’t forget our core purpose:
• Produce quality design
• Provide exceptional service
• Always do what’s right