Sam Armijos

Builder of Custom Architectural Fabric Structures

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Fabric Architect LLC: Custom Fabric Structures for People who want "one of a kind" protection from the Elements.

Business Model

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Fabric Architect LLC specializes in custom tensile fabric structures and architectural umbrellas that enhance your property and protect your outdoor spaces from the elements (rain, wind and snow).

Fabric Architect LLC is owned and operated by Architect Sam Armijos, AIA who has been designing and building fabric structures for over 30 years!

  • We specialize in custom small scale and modular tensile fabric structures.
  • We have a proven process for building complex tensile fabric roofs using a network of independent consultants and manufacturers.
  • Architects, Engineers, Contractors and Business Owners call upon us to provide design assistance, estimates, preliminary loads, fabric samples, specifications, foundation design, fabrication or complete turnkey services.
  • We deal in HDPE, PVC, PTFE and ETFE, just to name a few.
  • We work directly with clients or thru designers, engineers and contractors.

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List the assets you have or will acquire:

  • Home/Office (have)
  • CAD software (Sketchup, Autocad)
  • Warehouse Space (needed for future employees, to gather components, test products, have meetings)

List the human resources you will contribute or hire:

  • Sales, Marketing, Business Development (me)
  • Cad Draftsperson (hire and outsource)
  • Engineer (outsource)
  • Project Manager (hire and outsource)
  • Steel Fabricator (outsource)
  • Fabric Fabricator (outsource)
  • Cable and Hardware Fabricator (outsource)
  • Installer (outsource)

Describe who your customer is and what the customer gets from doing business with you:

My customer are the following:

Architects/Engineers/Designer: These are designers doing projects in which a custom fabric structure is incorporated in the overall project. I am used as a consultant first and then introduced and/or specified by them to the client or contractor to build the structure.

Client (homeowner, commercial building owner, hotel, retail, restaurant, industrial, sports or recreational facility manager, to name a few): These clients purchase one of my pre-engineered structures or contacts us direct to design and build something custom based on their need and budget.

What part of this is hard?

Lead Generation and closing sales. An enormous amount of time is spent educating and encouraging Architects and clients to invest in fabric structures. Many times it is removed from a project because of its cost or it is not considered for lack of understanding 

What part is unique?

This is a unique form of Architecture. It is a very small niche in the industry. There are a few big companies that do big projects and a number of "mom and pop" awning companies that do small traditional structures. The unique part of this company is that we have the ability to make small scale custom projects using a "team" of consultants and domestic manufacturers.

How you're going to repeat it again and again?

The key is to create and offer products that can be sold over and over again. At the same time, do custom projects that will build the brand recognition.

Freelancer vs Entrepreneur

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Fabric Architect will rely on BOTH freelance and entrepreneur work.

As a freelancer:

  • I will market myself as a specialty designer/contractor of custom fabric structures and use both word of mouth and social media to get leads and do projects.
  • I am committed to teach at Schools of Architecture, lecture and give presentations to firms to get my company name out there.
  • The goal is to consistently raise my price as the projects become more complex and my company name becomes more well known.

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As an entrepreneur:

  • My goal is to educate and hire the best and most efficient in the field to get my services and products out in the market to the right people. The future "Fabric Architect" is in school right now.
  • My goal is to get a teaching job and research grants to explore new product designs using new technology that no one else can do and create a working studio where both custom projects and products are being designed and coordinated.
  • Will get clients, new material suppliers and vendors to support my business and help with cash flow. Will also use consulting, royalties, teaching and grant money to support company.

Funding

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The business will be supported by my clients, suppliers and grants. I will be asking for deposits in order to start custom jobs. In some cases, I will approach suppliers and subcontractors to get materials and services provided on a royalty basis.

Profits will be used to buy an asset or for research.

What is the gross margin of what you'll be selling? 30% for custom structures and 40% for products.

I am seeking Royalty investors. I intend to approach specific fabricators and consultants to see if they will do the work or supply the material on a royalty basis until the company gets off the ground.

Hiring

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what your human resources look like.

  • Who are the first employees you need? I need a CAD designer/draftsperson that can draw quickly what I sketch.
  • Where will you find them? There are freelance CAD people and students in my area or industry that I could form an alliance with.
  • Why would they join you? Passion. They need to have a passion for this kind of Architecture. Its not traditional stuff. You have to have a passion for fabric structures. Free Form. Quick turnaround. Details.
  • How will you tell the good ones apart from the convenient ones? Passion. Willing to get involved and understand the design/fabricate/build process.
  • What's your funnel? Schools. I need Architects, Engineers, Industrial Designers, etc.
  • After hiring people, how will you evaluate them? Passion. Willingness to work to make some thing exciting. Fabric Sturctures are about fun, festive, experiences.
  • How long after starting will you give people a formal review?After every job or completion of product. Every custom job needs to be evaulated as well as every product to see how each employee enjoys the experience and how we can turn a custom job into a product.
  • What's your approach for talking about the uncomfortable? Transparency. Anyone willing to go into this field needs to feel like a partner.
  • Are you asking people to do work that's been done before, or to explore the edges of a new universe? Both. Some structures are simple and repetitive in nature. The sky's the limit with custom fabric structures and new technology, material and components are being explored around the world.

Lesson 5: Naming

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The name of my company is Fabric Architect. The name evolved over the years as I am educated and have my license to practice Architecture and I specialize in Fabric Structures. I became known in the my industry as one of the few "Architects" that focuses on fabric structures. Thus the name "Fabric Architect" was born.I have had the domain for some time and used it when I wrote my book "Fabric Architecture" in 2007. I have a competitor with the name Fabric Architecture based out of England and the industry magazine goes by the same name. This some times helps and hurts my business.

Partnership

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Fabric Architect is a LLC. I am presently the only owner. My wife is an accountant and she is handling the books. The key people that I need are all presently outsourced. The people I can see becoming "equity" partners may be fabric suppliers, hardware vendors and most specifically foreign manufacturers wishing to have a USA representative. As the company grows, I can then determine if there will be other partners in the business.

Cash Flow

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Fabric Architect will rely on custom order deposits, grant money and product sales in order to survive.

Positioning and Story telling

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What I have learned over the past 25 years in this industry is you need to have some kind of "bread and butter product", material or other service in order to survive and continue to do the custom work which I find the most interesting. My goal is to have a teaching position and a couple of products which I can represent that does not compete with my own work. The focus is always fabric.

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