As told to Jason Del Rey
Industry Leader: Construction
Three-Year Growth: 8,353.1%
He's in Southern California, where the housing market has claimed many victims, but Amir Amirfar has kept his architectural and engineering firm on track. The key: designs that are buildable and on budget.
Mother's occupation: Doctor
Father's occupation: Worked in engine development for Volkswagen (OTC:VLKAY)
Previous jobs: Partner in four other engineering and architectural firms
Its origins: I bought into my first engineering and architectural firm when I was a freshman in college and have been a partner in several others since then. But in the late '90s, I had a falling out with my last partner and wanted a fresh start. This is it.
Why it's growing: We're very focused on plans that are building-friendly. It's not about ego; if you have an award-winning design, but a builder can't build it, what use is it? We also offer a diverse portfolio of services, so when the residential housing market began to slump, we were able to ramp up our other studios quickly.
How I Work
Where I get my inspiration: Most of it just comes from watching the company do what it set out to do.
What I lose sleep over: I don't sleep much, but if I lose sleep over anything,
it's the fear of failure. And with the current market, the fear of the unknown.
The best part of my job: Being able to produce a product that is so permanent
The worst part of my job: Sometimes the business side of things can get pretty mundane. Like having to call on bill collections. That's just not my style; if I live up to my end of the deal, I expect you to do the same. I'm very big on using my energy properly, so those types of things get to me.
I'm big into branding, so this year, we dropped my name from the logo, and we are going to be pushing that strongly. I want the logo to be recognizable on its own, like the Nike (NYSE:NKE) swoosh. I'm also looking at more steady growth. I don't like spikes. Now that we have established ourselves, I'm looking for 6 percent to 12 percent growth. And I have always had a thing about retiring by 40, so I hope to semiretire by then, have my brother take over, and I will just be the eccentric owner with crazy ideas who causes havoc.