It is a struggle to start a business in a new (small) town. I have been in Harrisonburg since July 2008, when we moved from Lake Monticello so my wife could take her dream job at Eastern Mennonite School. I love being surrounded by the mountains again having grown up in Roanoke and being used to 360 mountain views, Charlottesville never really felt like home. However, we timed it just right to hit the worst financial downturn in my lifetime. So we faced some challenges getting our branch office to be productive in Harrisonburg. I am still busy with Charlottesville work and continue to look for more work in Central Virginia, but I want our Valley office to stand alone as well. I was worried coming into a more conservative town (compared to Charlottesville) that my strong focus in Sustainable Design might be a hard thing to sell, but I have found tremendous support for going green in Harrisonburg Architecture. I have had some setbacks along the way, losing a LEED job to an architect with no LEED experience (we have 8 projects registered or certified in the LEED rating system) , learning to compete with unlicensed designers (that does not seem to exist in Charlottesville), and struggling to find my place in the community. However, I have had more successes: building strong relationships with community leaders and green builders, finding that there is a whole community that wants sustainable design in Harrisonburg, and finding clients willing to take a chance on a new (to Harrisonburg) architect. Our firm has existed in Central Virginia for 25 years and we have a strong reputation for doing quality work at an affordable price, but being the new kid in town, it seems to start over. When you say “I have a second office in Charlottesville” many believe you will be too expensive without question. You have to build new bridges, meet new people, overcome preconceived notions, and work with new standards. I had a great day yesterday, delivering schematic design on a residential project and getting rave reviews from the client and getting an endorsement from another client that I was not expecting. I know the economy is thawing out based on the number of new jobs I have on my desk – many here in the Valley, I know I am building a solid reputation in Harrisonburg for my sustainable work, and I hope to build more relationships over the coming years as we continue to offer sustainable architectural design to the Valley. I do still struggle to accept being overlooked or passed by because of still being considered new or assumed that I will charge too much because of our other office location, but I know I offer a valuable unique architectural service in the valley and I will gain my share of support from the community over time. It has been a great week and I hope it continues!