Quattrocchi Kwok Architects Becomes Majority Employee-Owned Through Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Categorized as Firm News, Press Release

Largest North Bay Area Architecture Firm Embarks on Comprehensive Strategic Growth Initiative to Benefit Employee-Owners and Clients

Santa Rosa/Pleasanton, Calif., Feb. 3, 2020 – Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA), a leading planning and design firm serving Northern California’s education industry, formed an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), becoming a majority employee-owned company on Jan. 1. Creating the ESOP was part of a Strategic Plan that also includes reorganizing QKA’s project teams into five dedicated “Studios,” promoting two key employees and making one strategic hire.

Each of the five studios is led by a studio leader and made up of 8–12 team members in various technical positions. The structure allows for the same dedicated team member to manage simultaneous projects by region, providing consistency for clients and more formal training and mentorship for team members. Studios are supported by QKA’s five principals and three directors — of design, practice and construction administration.

In unveiling the Strategic Plan to the firm’s 61-person staff, QKA founders Mark Quattrocchi and Steve Kwok explained that the employee ownership stake is intended to strengthen the firm’s culture, collaboration and growth.

“Transferring ownership to our valued employees is a natural progression for us as we have experienced tremendous growth over our more than 30 years in business,” said QKA Founding Principal Mark Quattrocchi. “The ESOP allows us to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to employees and set a clear direction for the future. We all now share a stake in the firm’s success and in our mission of supporting and enhancing education. It’s a signal to clients, employees and prospective employees alike.”

“As we continue to expand our work with school districts across the North, East and South Bay Areas, we realize the immense benefit to our clients and employees of building relationships with dedicated teams,” said QKA Founding Principal Steve Kwok. “In strategic planning sessions over the past year we’ve really taken a hard look at what our teams need to be successful, including accessible in-house resources.”

Two Promotions, One Hire
As part of the reorganization, Rob Filary has been promoted to director of design and Debra McGuire to director of practice. Brooke Knight has been hired as interior designer.

In his more-than-20-year career, Director of Design Rob Filary has designed a variety of building types, including retail, hospitality and residential as well as education.

Director of Practice Debra McGuire brings to her new position four decades of experience, including extensive knowledge of building code compliance and Division of State Architect (DSA) requirements.

Interior designer Brooke Knight joins QKA from MEI Architects and brings 13 years of design experience in a range of industries including health care.

“The ability to offer enhanced design services, such as interiors and furniture selection, adds enormous value to the services we offer, so as we reorganized our structure it made sense to look for a great hire who would enable us to do this,” continued Kwok.

Based in Santa Rosa and with an office in Pleasanton, QKA has been repeatedly recognized as a “Best Place to Work” by the North Bay Business Journal. Employee ownership is a growing trend in many industries, and companies that adopt ESOPs — in effect, qualified ownership and retirement plans based on the company’s performance — are increasingly known for employee satisfaction, engagement and culture.