You might call it fate that Mike Hager and Jim Smith wound up in each other’s path during one of the worst recessions in the 70s. They admit it was not an immediate kinship but respect was certainly there, and according to Mike, it was required. Jim was Mike’s first employee of his initial partnership and several years later the two joined to form HagerSmith, which is now entering its 40th year.
Eventually, the two found themselves moving to downtown Raleigh during a time when downtown was not so popular. However, Jim says moving downtown was purposeful, they wanted to make it better. They were one of the first businesses to make something out of the warehouse district, and consider themselves one of the pioneers of the up and coming downtown Raleigh neighborhood.
One of the first buildings that Mike and Jim created together, which soon became a trend they conducted all throughout the southeast, was the brick building on 2500 Blue Ridge Parkway. Jim said they wanted to have an integrated focus on how the building and site are designed together, rather than an architect designing a building, and a landscape architect coming in and doing something else later. Jim said they always thought it was important to look at the whole site, not just the building. By working alongside landscape architects, and interior designers you are able to create a piece that is conclusive and aligned with the same vision.
Today HagerSmith Design PA is an award-winning multi-disciplinary firm which is a big part of their success. Offering multiple disciplines (architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design) makes for much better work when you can work collaboratively with a team and present a project that is consistent throughout the exterior and interior. And as Jim likes to say, teamwork is the number one thing.
Another thing that Mike and Jim admit to their success was really listening to their clients. It has always been about the client and providing them not just a building, but something that will fulfill their needs and more. They also place very high importance on the happiness of their employees. A generous vacation policy was always a must, and hiring people that would get along was certainly important. It seems to have paid off considering a frequent word that is said by the HagerSmith crew to describe the culture is family.
The foundation that HagerSmith’s founders created is a strong one and continues to shine through with the leaders today. Meet some more of the team!
Also, check out our 40th Year Anniversary Page with more employee spotlights and our story!