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Downtown Tacoma design firm makes leadership changes — founder resigns; four new owners announced

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on Jan. 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
January 2, 2013 2:22 pm

One of the founders of a Tacoma-based design firm has resigned to make room for younger leadership, the firm announced Wednesday.

Jeff Brown, downtown leader and business founder

Jeff Brown, who founded BCRA in 1989 with Rory Connally and Ken Rowan, resigned Jan. 1. Brown has been a community leader for groups including the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and the American Leadership Forum.

“It’s the beginning of something new for him,” said Connally, who is the firm’s interim president and CFO. “He has several things that he’s looking at. I don’t know what he’ll land on, and I don’t think he’ll land on just one thing.”

Connally and the firm also made official four new shareholders in the company: Stuart Young, Don Mellott, Doug Oberst and Dale Anderson. The four men all have been with BCRA for at least a decade and were named owners a year ago, Connally said.

Details of the ownership structure between the six men still are being finalized, Connally said.

The leadership change has been in the works for several years, though most of the staff was surprised to learn of it Wednesday. Connally vowed that going forward, the firm will be more open with the public about changes.

The firm takes a holistic approach to projects, providing not just architecture but a wide-range of services including customer research and branding. Recent projects include the Clover Park School District’s two new elementary schools at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as well as the YMCA in Gig Harbor.

BCRA also just signed a contract with Taco Time, communications director Derek Lunde said.

The firm employs 120 people, about 80 percent of them in its headquarters in Tacoma. It also has offices in Seattle, Wenatchee, Alexandria, Virg., and Manila, Phillipines. Connally estimated the firm had annual gross revenues of $16 million, and he hopes 2013 is as good as 2012.

“It’s hard to estimate what the economy is really like,” he said. “It’s like being in really choppy water.”

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