October 18th, 2022 12:00am
Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Laubenthal.
Hi Brian, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
At the beginning of 2010, I started ALINE with my good friend and colleague, Brian Krob, right in the middle of the recession. Very little architecture was happening at that time, which was challenging. Adding to that, we didn’t have experience in developing a business. With our experience in developing projects though, we knew that if we reached out to others, they would reach back out to us when needed, giving us the connections we’d need to start building ALINE as a business.
One of our first steps was meeting with our mentors and architects we respected highly in the industry. We asked them all the same question: “What was successful and what failed?” Hearing those responses helped us focus the business on our strengths, helped us build a strong network, and constantly reevaluate our progress and goals.
Leaning on their experience and guidance helped us make educated business choices and continues to lead ALINE’s growth today.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The business started as a rollercoaster, but with the growth, we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned over the years, we’re able to better enjoy the ride. At times, we’re incredibly busy, other times, incredibly slow. At times our projects are successful and enjoyable, yet other times they’re complicated and frustrating. With this, we’ve learned to have patience with the big picture instead of focusing so deeply on issues that arise with each project. We knew going into a business that it’d take time to find ideal clients, find success, and see that reflected financially. Building a successful and sustainable business requires you to constantly refine it, learn from mistakes, and build upon each success.
Thankfully, we’ve been able to see that mirrored in our steady incline of growth and profits each year, which has been even more rewarding having started the business from scratch at a challenging time economically. Learning how to meet a low budget and complete fast projects eventually grew into new clients who appreciated our effort and honesty while seeing the value in the work we produced. This led to higher budgets, better timelines, and more reasonable expectations with each project. Taking those experiences meant we were able to define budgets, timelines, and expectations upfront, allowing us to vet clients and projects more efficiently and professionally. Now, when we meet with clients, we can quickly assemble estimates, and full project schedules, and educate them on the process needed for a successful project.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
ALINE is an architecture firm that is driven by a mission to craft meaningful environments that inspire people and their communities. We’ve been fortunate to work on hundreds of commercial and residential projects throughout the Valley, including more than 150 restaurants. I believe what sets us apart is the value we place on craft, community, and collaboration. We promise all our clients and partners an honest and transparent experience while capturing their vision through creative and practical design.
Architecture is not just our job. It’s our passion. We all have the highest respect for our craft and we strive to hone it each and every day. We believe great architecture is stripped to its essence—that it celebrates raw and local materials while highlighting unique details, not hiding them. We approach our work with a discerning eye for balance in design, on everything from the actual structure down to the landscaping, finishes, and systems. We find fresh ways to honor the architecture’s history by updating materials that are local and sustainable, and those that we know will have a better, longer-standing performance over time.
We want to support locals on every scale; environment, people, products, and materials. We love when our work can contribute to a positive impact within our community, whether that means transforming a building into a new neighborhood hub, donating our time and services to a worthy local cause, or supporting and collaborating with local businesses. Currently, we are working with Rosie’s House, a local nonprofit that gives underserved children the opportunity to learn and play music, by donating our time to remodel their building near Downtown Phoenix. In this project, we are dedicated to working with local artists, tradesmen, manufacturers, material suppliers, and engineers.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve built a strong network of reps, consultants, contractors, and craftspeople who all belief in this same approach. We work closely with them to create holistic spaces that are integrated and cohesive in every way. To respect our craft means that we must respect the craft of others as well. We never claim to do it all and we’re supportive of the incredible people involved.
At the end of the day, it’s all about respect. Our greatest reward is working with clients and professionals who exude just as much passion for the craft, quality, and people of their own industry as we do for architecture.
We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up.
As a kid, I enjoyed being outside and exploring. There was a forest next to our family home in Michigan where I would spend countless hours building forts. My favorite was a half-fallen tree.
We propped up old limbs leaning against one side, dug out the interior, built a stone wall on the other side, and had steps leading down inside. Along with my brothers and friends, we created a space of our own.
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