2016 Top 100 Giants Research: Growth
The U.S. is where the action is for most firms, with 57 earning 90 percent or more of their fees from domestic work. However, 22 percent of projects were elsewhere, same as last time. And the number of firms working exclusively domestic is down, from 27 to 18.
There were 13 firms that earned half or more of fees outside the U.S. A few years ago, 85 percent of firms doing overseas work did it in Asia and the Pacific Rim. That number has been dropping, and today it’s 73 percent. China’s economy is a big concern here. The percentage of firms expecting that country to provide growth is at an all-time low of 30 after being in the mid-40 range for years. Keep an eye on Mexico, however. Two surveys ago, only 19 percent of firms did work there. Today? It’s 33 percent.
All Giants expect the best growth from the U.S. and Canada. The Northeast, South, and West should be strongest. In addition, a nice bump is expected below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Hard data tells us a lot, of course, but anecdotal evidence reveals some trends that result from the numbers. One theme seems to be diversification—of client base, the type of work firms want to do, and geographic locations. This makes sense, as prosperity allows for expansion. Says one employee from Perkins Eastman, “We see the future as a combination of the best sourcing expertise and the utilization of a regional workforce to implement great design solutions. Keeping the money flowing within the local economy only improves conditions for all.” An HDR employee tells a similar story: “Our understanding of architecture on both global and local scales gives us an unusual ability to cross-pollinate not only public and private sectors but also disciplines. Bringing together multidisciplinary design experts gives us the firepower to implement best practices from around the world.”
The Giants should have plenty of opportunities to implement their strategies, as optimism remains high across the board. A total of 72 of the 100 firms grew this past survey period, 92 percent of firms expect the economy to continue to be good for business, and only nine firms suspect earnings might drop. Upcoming months will tell the tale, but the story has been getting better and better along the way.
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