Meet the Engines Behind the Machine

Dec 19, 2018

“It is an intern’s job to go for coffee for anyone who asks, preferably delivering it scalding hot and cupped in your bare hands! – Kurt Braunohler.


Thankfully, HagerSmith’s expectations of an intern are quite the opposite, though offering a great cup of coffee is always appreciated. Take it from Zach Bonenberger and Trent Baker, both intern architects at HagerSmith for about 3 years now. These two spill the beans about their life at HagerSmith.

Zach, from Indiana met Vice President and Principal Bryan Gibson through Ball State University where Bryan is an Alum. After meeting Bryan and the team, Zach had to turn other opportunities down because with HagerSmith, it just felt right. Trent had a similar experience, where during his interview “it kind of felt like family, they were so inviting.” After interviewing at a few other places, Trent felt like HagerSmith was the place too, and it’s been home ever since.

One thing that the two really enjoy about HagerSmith is the learning environment. “Everybody’s willing and wanting you to learn, and to help you be the best person that you can be and just encourage you to grow into somebody that they feel proud to have on the team,” says Trent. They get more responsibility than what seems to be the norm in the industry. For example, Zach and Trent are heavily involved with projects from inception to management. One of Trent’s favorite projects has been working on Syneos where he has been able to work with Principal and Vice President of Interiors Sarah Troutman very closely on one of the largest projects they’ve worked on sq. footage wise. Trent said he loved how he was able to really sink his teeth into designing spaces and seeing the interior upfit side of things, especially when he had heard most interns and firms get stuck with bathrooms and stairwells.

Zach has also had a big part in designing a nice building in Durham where he was able to lead the design. His favorite type of project is one where he gets to be involved from start to finish. Luckily, the two can get involved in a lot of different things, which makes it a great place to learn, especially when they get to learn from a variety of people.

Plus, it helps when you enjoy who you work with, which seems to be their favorite thing about HagerSmith – the people.  Zach says “the type of work I do can be done at other places, but it’s the people that keep me around, keep me coming back and excited to come to work everyday.” Trent agrees and says “yeah it’s the people.” He continues, “It’s a family atmosphere where everyone gets along, it’s just a great place to work.”

Zach thinks that is also one of the reasons why clients hire HagerSmith because they like the people too. “They see that we are really dependable, we deliver good product, we’re easy to work with, we like to be on time, and be easily accessible, which all ties in to the people. We get a lot of jobs because of the people we have here.”

“From what I’ve seen,” says Trent, “it just seems like companies we work with keep coming back because they know they’ll be treated right and they know they’ll have trustworthy people on the other end which isn’t necessarily hard to find in the architecture world but it’s definitely more rare than not.”

The common theme of the entire spotlight series appears to be extremely satisfied employees who love the people they work with. When you love the people you work with, and enjoy coming in to work every day, it makes for great work. It’s a very hands-on team oriented culture which is one of the clear reasons why they’ve been around for so long.

So when asked what makes HagerSmith unique? It’s a somewhat obvious answer from Zach and Trent, “it’s the people that are here, no one else has them.” As for the next 40 years, to Zach and Trent, the future seems very promising, “we have just barely touched the surface of what we can do.”

See more employee spotlights here.

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