Celebrating 25 Years with Gary Simmons
An interview with Gary Simmons, Principal | Project Director
How did you first get involved with Taylor Design?
I was with HMC working on a new hospital tower at Kaiser Permanente in Downey. Taylor Design – at the time it was Taylor & Associates – they were doing the interior design for the project. During meetings I got to know Linda Taylor and Brad Smith and as time went on – at that time I was living in the City of Orange and commuting to Ontario and I was getting a little tired of that drive – I gave Linda a call and she said “yes, please, come in and talk to me!” And I said, “I don’t have a resume.” And she said, “I don’t care, I know who you are!” I interviewed on a Friday and everyone was wearing shorts and t-shirts and flip flops and running around, and I liked that. I knew I would like this place.
How has the field of architecture changed since you first started working with Taylor Design?
When I first started at Taylor, we had more one-on-one time with clients. Now there are more stakeholders involved which can become a filter between the architect and clients and as a result we lose touch with our client a little bit. We often meet with consultants that the owners have hired to manage their projects for them. So sometimes I feel as though we’re not getting the information that we really want to hear from the users and from the owners on what they’re really expecting. It makes it a little more difficult for us to manage expectations of what the owner wants and make sure we’re designing to their needs. We want to interact directly with our clients to help them manage a project not just within a budget but also to achieve the desired aesthetics and functionality.
Why did you choose to stay at Taylor Design?
It is a very entrepreneurial environment. I started bringing in clients and I think I had 45 to 50 projects going at one time and I just got to run with them. They called me the “silent locomotive” because I would just get work coming in here and I would just get it done and it would keep on coming. They were often small projects, but I feel strongly that we are here to serve the client. If a client needs us to move a door, we are going to be here to move that door. Or if you’re going to have us remodel a whole floor or build you a whole new wing, that’s what we’re here to help you with. There’s a lot of freedom at Taylor Design. We work with the clients and earn respect from them and you start developing friendships with them – clients will keep coming back to you because they trust you. I think that’s an important factor.
What has been your greatest accomplishment during your time here?
I have to be honest with you, I think it’s my wife and I raising our two boys as good citizens and people of the world. Whenever the kids were in sports in high school and I wanted to go watch a game, I just managed my schedule so I could go do it and no one was here telling me, “no you can’t.” It was primarily “get your work done, that’s what we care about.” And that’s what I enjoyed, not feeling the pressure of, “no you have to be here from 8-5.” No, it’s like, it’s 3 o’clock, my son has a game at 4, and I will make up the time later. But just having that flexibility and work-life balance is important.
Name one word that describes what Taylor Design means to you.
Entrepreneurial. It allowed me to have the freedom to chase after my own work, build up clientele, and help build the company in that way.
I’ve seen a lot of changes through 25 years, starting from when Linda was running the business and we had only 23-24 people in the company. We were there in the Newport Beach Back Bay office just working hard and now the growth we’ve been having through the years has been awesome. I really think it’s a great achievement for us to have five offices now. I think just being part of the growth and success of the firm puts a lot of pride in what you do. When you see things not go the right way, it makes you upset because you know how hard you’ve worked to build it and you want to make sure we keep on the straight narrow, keep moving forward. When I retire, I want to make sure that Taylor is still around for a long time. It’s one of those things where I’d like to come back 20 years later after I retire and visit Taylor, and I probably wouldn’t know anybody, but I’d be happy to know that Taylor is still thriving and moving forward.