The romantic view is that you want to be an architect from an early age. That wasn’t the case with me. I was always creative growing up, but my senior year in high school, when people started talking about what they wanted to do in college, I decided to give architecture a shot. I ended up being fairly good at it and enjoyed it.
Stan DeMille: Career Highlights
1993: Receives a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas–Arlington and begins working as an intern architect for Petrelli Associates
1995: Becomes an intern architect at HH Architects
2000: Accepts a job as a studio leader at architecture firm Hodges & Associates, PLLC, managing projects from start to finish
2004: Begins working as a project manager of design and construction for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, which operates TGI Friday’s
2007: Becomes the director of construction, design, and site development for Boston’s the Gourmet Pizza
2010: Starts work as a senior construction manager and property developer for Consolidated Development Services, which serves the casual restaurant market
2011: Lands current position as a director of restaurant projects and development for Bar Louie
I worked in architecture for 11 years. The part that I loved about architecture the most was the detailing, figuring out how to draw something so someone could build it. Will it look good? Will it look terrible? But as you progress in the profession, you do less and less of that. You end up in a management role, where it’s all about budgets and schedules. One day, I looked around and thought, “I’ve been doing this architectural project for six months, and I haven’t drawn more than two or three details.”
I thought, “If I’m going to be in management, I’d rather do it in a field with better hours.” Architects work a lot, and I figured I could find a managerial role in a field that’s less demanding. One day I was having lunch with a friend, another architect who had come to the same conclusion and gone to work for TGI Friday’s. He suggested I join him. We talked about the role, and I thought, why not?
Networking got me my current position. When I was at TGI Friday’s, I created a big network within the industry. A few years later, when I was working at a property-development company, I came into contact with my old manager at TGI Friday’s, who was working for Bar Louie restaurants, and one thing led to another.
The change I made wasn’t huge. I switched places at the table; I went from being a consultant to controlling the consultants. Whatever size change you’re making, though, you have to commit to it. Otherwise you could end up with buyer’s remorse. You get to the other side and think, “Did I do the right thing? Did I make a mistake?” and eventually you end up back where you were.
There’s a creative aspect to the job. There’s always a problem to figure out. It’s not always design. I schedule projects, I do architecture—not the drawings, but design and layout with our corporate architect—I handle purchasing, I manage vendors—not contractors, but manufacturers of everything else, from kitchen equipment to furniture. I also do some special projects: investigation of new products, remodels, that sort of thing. But what I really like about my current position is the people. Over the years, I’ve found that if you don’t like who you work for and with, you could have the greatest job in the world, but you’ll end up hating it.
It’s not an easy industry. Whether you work in architecture or development at a corporate entity, there are a million moving parts. You have a lot of responsibility. And the financial payoff probably isn’t there, relative to how much work you do. But, at the end of the day, the satisfaction I get out of it is that I can see something tangible. Thousands of people go into a building and enjoy the space I helped create. ABQ