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Empowering people: Dusty Eaton CEO of A&E Architects (Billings, MT), a firm that believes all disciplines can live together within any given project.
By LIISA ANDREASSEN Correspondent
E aton is a Montana State University alumnus. He has experience in a wide range of architectural disciplines and has had lead roles in many of A&E’s most complicated projects. He was featured as one of the Billings Business “40 under 40” winners. “The founders of our firm learned valuable lessons many years ago about being over-committed to one client or sector when a recession hits,” Eaton says. “We’re fortunate to have our two founders still serving as invaluable mentors to me and our leadership team.” A CONVERSATION WITH DUSTY EATON. The Zweig Letter: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? Dusty Eaton: As the COVID-19 situation was quickly evolving in the beginning, I knew it was critical that we be innovative in how we approached it with our team. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had most of our staff working
remotely and we quickly invested in the resources needed to accommodate that. I’ve continually reminded our team that the way we respond to this collectively will define us going forward. Our leadership team and staff have stepped up and we’re managing this situation successfully, and for the most part, remotely. It’s worked incredibly well and we’re continuing to meet deadlines, manage projects, and present to our clients throughout this challenging time. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” DE: I spend about 60 percent of my time working “in the business” and 40 percent “working on the business.” I find this time split to be an increasing challenge as I seek to remain a designer doing what I love and building client relationships, but also focusing on our practice and setting a vision for the future. Since 2016, we have grown from 32 people to 70, so there’s an increasing need to shift more of my time toward “on the business” work. As part of some recent strategic planning facilitated by Jamie Claire Kiser
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