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BatesForum switches name in merger

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Architecture firm BatesForum LLC, formed last year through a deal with Chicago-based Clayco Inc., is now operating under a different name after a recent merger.

Clayco, an architecture, engineering, construction and real estate firm, announced this week its BatesForum and Lamar Johnson Collaborative subsidiaries are merging, with the latter company’s name surviving. BatesForum was created in 2018 when Springfield-based Bates merged with Clayco’s Forum Studio subsidiary.

Steve Warlick, who previously was president of BatesForum and Bates before that, this morning said he sold his 50% stake in BatesForum to Clayco a couple months ago. Declining to disclose terms, Warlick said he exited the company at that time.

“I’ve got several options, just narrowing down the best path to take advantage of everything I’ve done in my career,” Warlick said of his prospects post-BatesForum, noting he’s lived in St. Louis for the past six years.

Warlick took over as president of Bates after Alan Bates died in 2011 of a stroke.

Shelby Kroeger, associate principal for LJC, referred to Warlick’s exit as a “mutually agreed upon leadership change.”

A news release announcing the merger of BatesForum and LJC pointed to Lamar Johnson as CEO of the combined company. It has five offices, including the downtown Springfield location that previously operated as Bates, that employs more than 240 people. Kroeger said Jim Stearman is now the leader of the 25-employee Springfield office.

“The inefficiency that remains in the traditional design-bid-build construction model needs to change,” Johnson said in the release, referencing a shift to integrated design, an encompassing method that brings together different specialties. “We believe we can leverage our combined firm’s proven capabilities in integrated execution to bring a similar approach to a broader range of projects and clients.”

LJC, according to the release, has a project load with construction values exceeding $4 billion. The company has more than 200 active architecture and design projects in 24 states. Recent local projects designed by BatesForum include Northgate Apartments, Mercy West Republic Family Medicine Clinic and the second phase of Hotel Vandivort.

The Ozarks Technical Community College Board of Trustees voted in April to name Dake Wells Architecture Inc., along with its national partner, Minneapolis-based Perkins & Will Inc., as project architects for the school’s $20 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing. BatesForum previously was awarded the contract, but school officials cited the desire to work with a local firm for calling off the deal with Bates, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

BatesForum ranked No. 1 on SBJ’s 2019 list of the area’s largest architectural firms, published in March. The company reported 10 local architects and 27 employees, as well as a 2018 market value of projects totaling $448 million.

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