“It’s always exciting to be recognized, and I think it’s a recognition of the team effort,” said Managing Principal Tim Hoeft. “As our team continues to grow and build relationships with clients and partners on projects, that experience just continues to feed on itself — to take the next project to the next level.”

Straughn Trout Architects has built everything from parking garages and student development centers to credit unions and schools, a diversified portfolio. Its collaborative focus means the architects finish on time and on budget, something clients mention over and over.

Those are just some of the reasons the Lakeland firm has been named to the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50 list, placing 31st on the list with growth of 112% over the past three years.

The Business Journal’s Fast 50 awards recognize the fastest-growing companies in the Tampa Bay area. Companies self nominate and must be private, for-profit firms with revenues exceeding $1 million in 2016 or $5 million in 2018.

“In the past year, we have been fortunate to partner with both existing and new clients on several exciting projects,” Hoeft said. “These opportunities have allowed us to strengthen our portfolio in both project depth and diversity. Our firm continues to be recognized for our attention to detail and clarity in design. Our hands-on approach to every project and always-available attitude is valued by all our clients and has driven business with both new and repeat clients.”

Another Polk County firm — Patel, Greene and Associates, a transportation engineering firm in Bartow — was named to the Fast 50 list for the third year in a row.

Building on Tradition

At 63 years old, Straughn Trout Architects offers a variety of services, from architectural, engineering and interior design to planning and visioning facilitation. Some of their structures have been recognized nationally, such as the Magnify Credit Union on SR 540A in Lakeland, which was written up in The New York Times for being the first net-zero building in Florida (meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes).

Florida Polytechnic University’s Student Development Center allowed the firm to showcase its creativity, Hoeft said. “From start to finish, we were challenged to capture the essence and unique character of the newly established and innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) community.”

The company is working on the Chain of Lakes Fieldhouse and Conference Center in Winter Haven, which will host a variety of events as well as large sporting competitions.

“The renovations portion of the project will also facilitate growth and expansion for the vibrant cultural arts components that currently operate in the adjacent existing building,” Hoeft said. Working on a project that “builds community, promotes growth and provides a backdrop for memorable experiences” is important, he said.

Recognized Elsewhere

Last year, Hoeft was named as one of the Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 business leaders to watch. It also received recognition from the University of Florida , landing No. 15 on its Gator 100 list.

In 2010, it received the Lakeland Historical Preservation Board’s Neighborhood Preservation Award for the McKay Archives Building on the Florida Southern College Campus; a year earlier that building earned it the Design of Merit Award from the Tampa Bay chapter of the American Institute of Architects. That same group named Straughn Trout Firm of the Year in 2012.

Continued Expansion

The company continues to grow, recently adding Jon Kirk as a principal. Kirk had been an intern, associate architect and then principal architect at Kirk Curtis Mundy Hunnicutt (KCMH) Associates Architects Inc. for 21 years.

Kirk said he is excited about the new opportunity and a chance to contribute to change.
“Tim and I were both UF graduates, so we have similar training and background from an architectural standpoint,” he said. “When you work closely, you have to be in step. The way we approach work is very similar, but we’re different enough that there was that attraction there.”

Hoeft said Kirk “brings brings additional depth in both knowledge and experience to our growing team,” Hoeft said.

One thing Hoeft found interesting about those on the FAST 50 list: Most were advertising, marketing and IT companies, some that weren’t even around five or 10 years ago. He thinks Straughn Trout was the only design firm on the list, joining some engineering and construction companies. “The group was so diverse. It shows how our region is growing with so many different industries.”

Looking Forward

Hoeft said Straughn Trout looks forward to growing its portfolio, building new relationships and using new technology in projects.

“The recent addition of virtual reality technology into our design workflow has really changed the game on how we communicate our design ideas to both our clients, consultants and construction partners,” he said.

The firm stays involved in the community, from supporting the Central Florida Development Council and Lakeland and Winter Haven chambers of commerce to the Imperial Symphony Orchestra and Polk Museum of Art, among others.