Location: 415 West Broadway, New York, NY
Number of employees: 25
Number of years in business: 12
What they do: BAM is a creative design studio, offering design solutions for clients in the healthcare, corporate, and research sectors.
Why they are great: In the 12 years they have been in business, BAM Architecture Studio has never lost an employee to another architecture firm in New York City. Although people have left—one employee returned to her home country of Norway, another’s spouse was transferred to California—no one has quit to work for a competitor. “That’s something that shows the fact that we get good people in here, we keep them for a long time, and we develop them,” says Pamela J. Cole, who founded the company along with her husband, Ross Adam Cole, and Brian Spence. BAM Architecture Studio’s clients include companies in the healthcare, corporate, and research sectors, with big names such as NBC.
To get good people through their doors in the first place, BAM Architecture Studio’s hiring process is intensive but fast, taking only about two weeks. Pamela Cole reviews the portfolio submissions that come in, then shortlists about a dozen people and calls them for a casual conversation so she can get an idea of their thinking process, as well as their ability to communicate their ideas.
Based on those phone interviews, Cole calls the top three or four candidates into the office, where they’re interviewed by anywhere from three to five members of all levels of her current team. Her employees report back on what they think of the candidates’ design skills and how they would fit with the company culture. From there, she makes the offer.
And to help keep their employees, BAM Architecture Studio offers a two-fold compensation policy. Employees are paid at the 50th percentile (based on several databases, job level, and location) and then earn bonuses every quarter, calculated by the profitability of the projects they’ve worked on and the employees’ personal commitments to their work. “Bonuses are earned, not promised. But having said that, we’ve given out a bonus every quarter we’ve been in business,” says Cole. When the bonuses are given out, Cole debriefs the team on how the company has done financially. “That allows people to realize that project profitability does impact their compensation,” she says. BAM Architecture Studio’s compensation plan also helps to build a strong team culture and keeps the company stable, financially. “Having a stable work environment is really important so designers and architects are able to focus on doing great design and great architecture, because they are not going to have to worry about whether or not they are going to get paid,” says Cole. “That’s led to the very low turnover in the firm. People that we hired in the very beginning are still with us, 12 years on.”
Michelle Court is the managing editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.