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2014 Men of the Year Honoree: Brad Erwin

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Four years ago, Brad Erwin was one of two people at Springfield’s newly formed Paragon Architecture Inc.

Now he’s one of 10.

“My proudest professional accomplishment is leading our team from a fledgling collective of two people taking just about any project we could get to a 10-person firm focusing on specific, targeted markets in just four years,” says Erwin, president and principal architect.

The Chicago-area native, who has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, moved to Springfield in 2003 and joined Creative Ink Architects.

Erwin started Paragon following the merger of his former employer with another firm. Within the first quarter of business operation, Paragon had doubled its staff.

The upward trajectory continued. Firm revenues increased 67 percent in 2013 and 137 percent in 2012. Paragon was a Springfield Business Journal Choice Employer last year, and in May, the firm was recognized with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce W. Curtis Strube Small Business Award.

 “We’ve been very fortunate, but our team has also worked excruciatingly hard since 2010 to establish ourselves as one of the region’s up-and-coming firms,” says Erwin.

As principal architect, he is responsible for project management of Paragon’s public sector work, and says collaboration produces the best results.

“I firmly believe by empowering someone else with encouragement, the tools and the platform, they will succeed,” Erwin says.

Believing in the power of teamwork to produce superior design and technical excellence was seeded early in his career and is an especially important part of business now that he’s in charge.

“As firm president and principal architect ... empowerment and encouragement is even more deliberate and pronounced,” Erwin says. “In most firms, design starts with the firm principal ... (who) has the most direct correspondence with the client and directs all decisions related to the project.

“At Paragon Architecture, each project is a true collaborative process where, in almost all instances, the design is not originated by me but by the project team.”

Providing opportunity for less experienced staff is important.

“Junior staff members are involved in all project communication, client meetings and in every phase of the project, not just drafting,” Erwin says. “Our team members are empowered to make critical decisions on each project.”

Erwin’s work extends far beyond Paragon’s walls.

“My dedication to making a personal and professional difference is the foundation of my determination to positively impact the Springfield community,” he says.

Erwin’s main focus is creating more opportunities for young professionals to engage in the community, an effort he hopes will benefit his children when they grow up and begin careers. He’s especially proud of his chairmanship of the Springfield chamber’s The Network, a group for professionals age 21 to 39, during which he helped attract new members while providing enhanced opportunities for existing members.

Erwin’s volunteer time also is spent on the board of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks and on the executive committee of the Partnership for Sustainability. He also is on the advisory council for Care to Learn and the advisory board for the Salvation Army in Joplin.[[In-content Ad]]


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