Now in his 11th year at HagerSmith, Nick Troutman has built his career as a jack of all trades. Whether he wears the hat of CAD Technician, project manager, and or graphic and rendering designer, Nick almost always is involved in each project before it goes out the door. In the day-to-day aspects of his job, he’s reviewing the development of each stage of the firm’s design projects. “I usually come in everyday and usually open up a model of whatever building I’m working on. I’ll do details, I’ll do a little bit of design, I’ll check shop drawings, talk to clients and review the different stages that the design project is on.”
Of all the different aspects of his job, project renderings and drafting seem to excite Nick the most. He points out that being able to see a project transition from the sketch phase to full picture or rendering, allows the client to see progress on the project and allows him to compare the completed project’s accuracy to the renderings he created.
The ability to see the development of each project has been made easier due to the changes of technology, especially in the architecture field. In the beginning, HagerSmith only had the technology to create 2-D drawings but as times changed, technology changed along with it. The change and scope of technology has allowed him to create 3-D models. “There’s no longer a need to build physical models, it’s all digital and you can have full view of each part of the design,” says Nick.
With the advance in technology, there is a small sense of nostalgia from Nick as he talks about his love of drafting. “I really like drafting. It’s funny to me how much drafting is a little of bit of a lost art. There’s nothing like the feel of a pencil in your hand and seeing the finished product.”
Speaking of nostalgia, Nick is a NC State grad, and a proud part of the Wolfpack; in fact, he was in his junior year at NC State when he took a class that would shift the trajectory of his future career path. As a junior, with one more year left until graduation, Nick took a class that sparked his interest in architecture; “I had no idea what I wanted to do. I took a class my junior year and decided that I wanted to go into architecture, but I was already so far into school and didn’t want to start all over.” So, instead, he decided to enroll in Wake Tech’s Drafting Program. Before enrolling in the program, he had started work at a civil engineering firm as a land surveyor but as luck would have it, his dad knew a guy…Mike Hager. “My dad told me, ‘Hey, I have a client that’s an architect, maybe you can come talk to him’…that client was Mike Hager.” While he was completing his program at Wake Tech, Nick called HagerSmith asking about summer employment opportunities and, well, the rest is history.
In his time at HagerSmith, Nick has flourished and grown with the company, meeting his wife Sarah, Vice President of HagerSmith and head of the Interiors group, as well as grow a large portfolio of design projects. When talking about HagerSmith, he, like the many others we’ve spoken to talks about the family culture and dynamic of the firm.
“I come in every day, and I laugh. It’s a really great place in terms of the family environment. It’s very relaxed, there’s just so many inside jokes we have with each other. It just makes coming here not a chore; it doesn’t just feel like a job because you just enjoy working with the people here.” The entire office attended Nick and Sarah’s wedding and Tony visited them both in the hospital after their first and second child was born, providing a glimpse into the interconnectedness of each person on the team.
It’s this dynamic that really shows among the team and with clients. Working with the architecture group means their team not only develops a group and collaborative process with each other but with their clients as well. Nick points out that he believes that it’s the sense of family the team radiates that attracts clients to HagerSmith; “We all get along with each other and that gives clients means to trust us in the process.”
When reflecting on the next 40 years, Nick pauses for a moment to think. “I’d like to see HagerSmith continue to play a large role in the Triangle […] I think we are definitely capable of branching off a few things that our client’s come to us for. We’re good designers and I think in the next 40 years, we’ll definitely get the opportunity to showcase that for some larger clients around the Triangle, and that’s very exciting.”