M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates

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Type: Employee-Owned Company


Company Profile


M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc., commonly referred to as Gensler, is an American design and architecture firm headquartered in San Francisco headed by three Executive Directors: Andy Cohen, David Gensler, and Diane Hoskins. Gensler is 100% employee-owned and ranked 29 on the chart of of Employee Ownership 100: America’s Largest Majority Employee-Owned Companies in August 2015.

David Gensler's father established the company in 1965 with three staff and a unique focus on interior design for commercial tenants. He believed that "if design doesn't solve problems, it isn't really design", and set out to realize his guiding philosophy of "designing from within for the end user". Although Arthur Gensler then recognized an untapped market of interior design, later on the group expanded its practices to diverse areas (including architecture, urban planning, design and graphic services), markets and locations (in the United States and from abroad, at a proportionate ratio). However, most importantly, Arthur Gensler discovered a formula for success. In our age when big firms distinguish their brands with signature styles and design agendas, Gensler is a rare breed as it chooses to uphold flexibility of innovation as its functioning philosophy, consistently produces design solutions that best serve customers' need, and thereby exponentially increase its social stature and effectively expands businesses.

Over five decades, the group has overcome numerous economic roller-coaster rides and crises in the architecture profession, and grown to be one of the largest design firms in the world with record-breaking revenue and offices in more than 40 cities.

Strategy Analysis

There are many elements responsible for Gensler's long-haul success. Among them most notable is undeniably adherence to the famous "rubber band theory": listening and adapting with each job to the demands of clients, challenging clients without pushing them so far that their trust was compromised. Following this principle, Gensler steadily collected a base roster of large, long-standing clients who would repeat business with it and in turn provide institutional knowledge that could further expand Gensler's client list.

As a business thriving on exceptional relations management, the firm is also big on finding and retaining talent. Gensler's work culture encourages nurturing and educating employees into leaders in the profession, and harvest long-term loyalty in return. Becoming an employee-owned company might as well be listed as one of Gensler's most powerful strategies to reinforce its policy of transparency (everyone gets to see the financials).

Gensler also greatly values education. In addition to funding research programs that boast strict timeline, staffing strategy, and projected outcomes that have immediate market value, Gensler resolves to mobilize and globalize the firmed's people. Gensler Exchange and Global Intern are two of many educational programs that show Gensler's deep appreciation for diverse, transnational, transcontinental perspectives.

Gensler determines to not grow by acquisitions and mergers, but to develop by gaining expertise and taking advantage of clients' markets. Gensler's conviction is "In order to become global, it must first become local" and has worked to carve its impact in the profession. It also has the tendency to employ native professionals to work on projects in their own home country.