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Tecton, Du Bose Join Forces

By Brad Kane

February 14, 2011

One of Hartford’s largest architectural firms and one of its most historic will merge this week, creating a 58-employee firm with verticals ranging from health care to higher education and noteworthy projects including Constitution Plaza and the Aetna Tech Center.

Tecton Architects and Du Bose Associates will announce their merger of equals Monday morning, the first merger in the Tecton’s 32 years and the end of the Du Bose name that first came to Hartford in 1958. The new company will be called Tecton Architects.

“Du Bose is an extremely well-known, highly regarded firm,” said Ann Melite, Tecton principal. “We saw a great opportunity with this merger.”

Du Bose, one of the five oldest architectural firms in Hartford, gained notoriety after forming 53 years ago to design Constitution Plaza, one of downtown’s most well-known and visited places. Tecton is better known for its wide variety of verticals and advanced use of technology.

“I personally think it is going to be a great combination,” said Craig Saunders, former Du Bose chairman and now Tecton associate principal. “We will have a stronger presence in the market.”

For its variety of design specialties — health care, senior living, advanced technology, corporate, public safety and retail — Tecton wanted more expertise in school design, something Du Bose has in spades. Du Bose does 70 percent of its business in school architecture, designing magnet schools, private schools and university buildings.

Du Bose is the smaller firm, bringing 12 architects, interior designers and technical specialists to Tecton, which has 46 employees. The new company becomes the second largest architectural firm in Hartford behind JCJ Architecture and the third largest in the state behind the S/L/A/M Collaborative in Glastonbury.

With the new addition, Tecton expects its $7.5 million in revenues from 2010 to grow 27 percent to $9.5 million in 2011.

Because of its diverse verticals, Tecton emerged from the economic recession growing both in size and revenue, even before the merger, Melite said. Adding Du Bose adds a new line of business and a more diverse customer base.

“Our clients have been loyal enough to supply us with ongoing work,” Melite said.

The new Tecton will have two offices — Hartford and Westerly, R.I. Most of the Du Bose people will move to Tecton’s office in Hartford.

However, Du Bose will keep its office in Westerly which came out of its merger with the company of architect Max Urbahn, best known for designing the NASA vehicle assembly building at Cape Kennedy, Fla. The branch office originally was in Mystic, but moved to Westerly after Du Bose started getting a lot of work at the University of Rhode Island.

Saunders first proposed the merger over lunch with senior Tecton principals more than three months ago, because he saw the merger as a way for him to get away from the business side of the firm and move back into architecture and marketing. Saunders said he is approaching retirement age, likes the transition plan Tecton has in place and grasped the chance for his employees to keep on working past his retirement

“This was an opportunity to bring my people along and keep on doing the quality work we want to do,” Saunders said.

Tecton principal David Foster and Saunders were friends since their first year at the Rhode Island School of Design, so the transition into the merger was very amenable and smooth.

The two firms complement each other well, as before the merger they didn’t compete and weren’t fighting over the same clients, Saunders said. The Du Bose expertise fits in Tecton’s environment where the two will create a synergy and increase the quality on both sides.

For example, Tecton’s technological capabilities will help Du Bose push the envelope further in its architecture, particularly as the industry is moving forward with more digital modeling and advanced use of designs to fit new environmental, aesthetic and functional purposes

“One of the advantages of Tecton is that they are very, very technologically advanced,” Saunders said. “Their resources are very, very strong.”

At a time where new construction is down across the board — unemployment in the Connecticut construction industry is above 25 percent — the companies feel this move solidifies their viability now and many years down the road.

“It signals a step into the future, and we feel very energized,” Melite said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Business Journal. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Business Journal Archives at http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/archives.php.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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