At Larson Design Group, we believe that our employees are our greatest asset. This spotlight is on Phoenix-based Alex Ramon, CDP LEED AP BD+C, Director in our Retail Design Group.
What is your position here at Larson Design Group and when did you join LDG?
My position at LDG is Director of Retail Design and Phoenix Office Leader, and I joined LDG in April 2020.
Describe a typical day in your role:
A typical day for me is reading and staying up to date on what’s happening in the retail world. That includes news on all commercial activity from soft goods to restaurants and development going on. In today’s environment, it’s important to know how the retailers are adjusting so that we can better serve and understand their needs. I also meet with our leadership team, my peer directors, project managers, and the Vice President of Retail Design on a daily basis. We discuss project workload and opportunities to serve the client, problem-solve, and put our heads together to pursue any opportunities that are on the horizon. I also spend a good amount of my day marketing by reaching out to new and potential clients, especially clients that we want to do business with. As my kids would say, “Dad, you are on the phone all day!”
What attracted you to join Larson Design Group originally?
When I was originally approached by LDG, I was not looking for a new opportunity. Over time, however, I became attracted to them as I really got to know them. Every time I interacted with the group leaders including Directors Dave Balzer and David Drouhard, along with Rob Gehr, VP of Retail Design, they helped me uncover different reasons why I would be a good fit at LDG. I thought it was a unique recruiting approach in that both directors were recruiting me to be a peer in the southwest. I was unknown to them and through our conversations they both saw the leadership and opportunities within me. As I got to know them, they wanted me to be part of their team because they liked what I could bring to the table. That meant the world to me. Their commitment to LDG demonstrated through “finding the right person” said a lot about the people I would be working with. Another reason is the communication transparency at all levels. Employees at LDG have the information they need to be successful. Leadership here really fosters an open book policy, and this helps tremendously with project execution. Finally, the “everyone is an owner” (ESOP program) at LDG is amazing! I could see how that effects everyday decisions the minute I came to LDG and has helped me with my thinking.
How has Larson Design Group helped you in your career development?
Witnessing the project managers and project execution team, the group of individuals working on projects at LDG, is the BEST I have ever seen in my 26-year career. I wish I could name them all just to let them know that they are the best in the industry! It’s really refreshing and uncommon to know that my commitments to clients are being taken care of. This has freed me up from the day-to-day project workload to focus on other aspects of growing our business. I am a big fan of all our project managers and the support staff they have. They have taught me how a truly selfless architecture and engineering firm operates. I have already learned a lot from them! LDG has helped me to think more “big picture.” They are in all aspects, such a patient company. I have been able to take the time I need to develop and understand company initiatives and look for best ways to approach.
What is your proudest moment at Larson Design Group?
I was sitting in a Retail Design leaders meeting and Rob Gehr asked me my opinion. He said, “Alex, you have been quiet. Do you want to add anything to this?” Up to that point, in other meetings, I was already really vocal and felt like I was contributing, but in this case it was a meeting in which I had little client history or background knowledge. Knowing that my opinion mattered, and the leadership wanted me to participate in all conversations reassured that I was in the right place in my career.
If you could switch places with anyone else at Larson Design Group for a day, who would it be and why?
Probably Keith Kuzio. He just transitioned on to our Board of Directors after a very successful career as President & CEO of LDG. In my conversations with him, he seems like a guy that I could learn a lot from in his seat. I think I would want to change positions for more than a day, I believe a week would be a better timeline.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I love coaching youth sports and helping people grow. Coaching started for me when there were no volunteers for my son’s team, and I was appointed to help with a t-ball team. I’ve now been a coach for going on 11 years and have coached football and baseball. It’s interesting the parallels that coaching and business have including dealing with kids of all ages, getting the best out of people, and celebrating and building a team together. Winning a big contract and winning a tournament feels a lot alike! I also really enjoy photography, particularly landscapes and cityscapes. I enter competitions on an annual basis and have sold a few photos. Lastly, I have restored a 1967 Ford Mustang. It was a project car when I got it and now is drivable and my wife and I enjoy going out to get coffee on the weekends escaping our 3 kids that we have at home.
What advice do you have for a prospective candidate considering Larson Design Group?
Number one, I always tell people that ask for my advice during a job transition to reconcile any uneasy conversation where they are currently employed and make sure they talk through with their existing company the reasons why they are considering leaving. I have found with most people they don’t express how they feel until it’s too late and the opportunity comes up when they give notice. I encourage people to leave on good terms. As for LDG, I have already given this advice to our first Phoenix team hire: at LDG, we are going to invest in you and have a plan for your development and set goals. We will revisit those goals almost on a daily basis and you are going to gain so much industry knowledge on how an A+ architecture and engineering firm operates. LDG has vision for their people and wants to accelerate your growth.