September 12, 2023
McKinley Architecture and Engineering Earns National Recognition
WHEELING — While the work of McKinley Architecture and Engineering is recognized locally in its design of buildings such as the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center, the firm has now received national recognition by earning the Professional Services Management Journal Resource’s 2023 Circle of Excellence award and their 2023 A/E/C Employer of Choice Award.
Chairman David H. McKinley explained that receiving these two awards is an “amazing coalescence” of recognition, as the Circle of Excellence award reflects their “efficiency in operations” while the A/E/C Employer of Choice Award demonstrates that they “invest significantly” in their workforce.
“These kinds of recognitions suggest that we’re on the right track,” said McKinley. “I think many companies will find themselves on one side or the other, with great business results but terrible relationships with their employees, but we’re able to strike the balance and handle both.”
McKinley describes the various projects that have acquired McKinley Architecture and Engineering recognition as spreading “all over the state of West Virginia” throughout the 40 years the firm has been in operation.
McKinley Architecture and Engineering assists clients in designing various types of buildings, primarily schools, but also office buildings and municipal buildings. McKinley added that the firm also helps clients “decide what they want to achieve” with their building through plans, designs, budgets and overseeing construction.
With so many different aspects to consider when measuring the success of a project, McKinley explained that the PSMJ serves as a “data aggregator” in the industry to determine the “best-managed firms.”
“They are our industry observer looking for the best of the best,” added McKinley. “And we have found ourselves on their radar screen.”
The firm has found itself on PSMJ’s radar before, as they have previously been designated in its 2022 Circle of Excellence. McKinley was particularly taken with being named an A/E/C Employer of Choice this year, as the company had never received the award.
“The Employer of Choice Award covers a wide variety of things relating to the collegial nature of the workforce, professional opportunities for professional development and engagement of employees,” explained McKinley. “To be among the top 10 firms in the country for employees was impressive.”
McKinley believes the company’s focus on “investing significantly” in employees for the “duration of their career” is what put them on PSMJ’s radar. He added that in a “tight, tight” labor market, not only employee retention but also “employee development” was very important for the company.
“It’s a great recognition to receive because it reflects that it’s not any one person that creates our success,” said McKinley. “Everyone on our management team shares this desire to make sure we are one of the top firms in the country, not only for clients, but employees as well.”
To give a “peek behind the curtain” of the success of the business, McKinley explained that the firm operates on a “90-day business cycle.” Every 90 days, the management takes a “step back from the business,” according to McKinley, to spend an afternoon thinking about “what the company wants to achieve.”
“Leading up to those management conversations, we have similar smaller group conversations among the architects, engineers, project management and business administrative groups,” added McKinley. “We’re really listening to these individual and more specialized groups because they are the people at the front lines and have the best intelligence.”
By focusing on “the front lines” of businesses, McKinley explained that what they are doing “is not rocket science,” but simply giving everyone at their firm the opportunity to share their insights and recommendations.
Beyond meeting with employees to ensure projects run smoothly, the firm also takes the time to conference with employees to make sure they are satisfied within the company.
“We have a practice of conducting monthly one-on-ones asking employees, ‘Are there things you want to achieve in your career, and how do we create those opportunities for you?’” said McKinley. “I think this makes our employees realize they don’t need to graduate from our company for more success and that we can move people along in their career while they are still with us.”
By keeping employees close, McKinley explained that the benefit then spreads to clients as every McKinley employee interacts with clients “in one way or another.”
All the one-on-one work management does with employees and clients is “not rocket science,” emphasized McKinley, but instead a “thoughtful approach” to business.
Through the conscious efforts the company takes to satisfy both employees and clients, McKinley noted the company has aggregated a backlog of work that will keep the company busy for “a year and a half.”
On a personal note, McKinley added that the recognition is significant for him because of his family’s history in engineering and architecture. He explained that the success of McKinley Architecture and Engineering has allowed him to carry on his father and grandfather’s legacy of “nearly 70 years of architecture and engineering work” in the upper Ohio Valley.
“I’m really proud to be sharing in that legacy and carrying it forward,” said McKinley. “I think if my grandfather were still here, he would be really proud of me, and I know my father is.”