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2017 40 Under 40 Honoree: Nathan Rapp, 39

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When most architects his age were managing projects for other people’s firms, Nathan Rapp was starting his own and becoming the architect of record for companies like Bass Pro Shops and Hobby Lobby. While he’s led huge projects like Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee, he’s also provided pro bono services to several charitable organizations such as the Nixa American Legion, Habitat for Humanity and Least Of These food pantry. He’s coached youth sports and is involved in the Nixa community as a member of the economic development committee. Rapp lives by the Robert Greenleaf quote: “Good leaders must first become good servants.”  

What was your first job? I worked on my parent’s farm until I graduated high school. We had livestock, beef cattle and pigs, as well as crops like corn, soybeans and wheat.

What about your job would shock clients? A lot of people tell me they would have been an architect, but they couldn’t handle the math. The reality is that I don’t do a lot of difficult math. It’s much more important for me to be able to visualize 3-D space than to calculate derivatives. Our team of engineers handles the calculus.

What did you learn the hard way? I learned that the economy has the ultimate bearing on our business. During the recession years, it did not make a difference if a person was a stellar employee. If there is no work, there are no jobs – and that is not necessarily the fault of the employer.

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