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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 7 months ago

Economic Forecast: Damon Romanello, CEO, Studio+

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Studio + gearing up for expected growth in medical and institutional architecture and design
by: Andrew Warfield Lee-Collier Editor

Company: Founded in 2011 by CEO Damon Romanello, Studio+ has grown into an integrated services design firm with 68 employees and offices in Fort Myers, Irvine Calif., and, as of this fall, Sarasota. While its reputation and client base in health care, senior living, acute care and education facilities has grown, so has its offerings. In October, the company added its own line of flooring products and installation services.

“We do architecture and interior design, but we also have the flooring surfaces division and have launched our own private label flooring products,” says Romanello. “That has fueled some of the growth in all our areas except in California, where we don’t do flooring.”

Industry: Studio+ is experiencing growth in all the market sectors it serves, particularly senior living. “We are doing a lot of senior living work,” says Romanello.

“When you look at our geographic area, we have low unemployment and we have population growth. That presents some pros and cons,” Romanello says. “Low unemployment presents problems with skilled labor and quality labor, but it also suggests growth in health care and in schools to build new and renovate existing facilities to accommodate that growth.”

Threats: Like other companies associated with the construction and service industries, Romanello says a tight labor market continues to present the single greatest challenge to businesses. Talented designers, he says, are more available in larger markets such as Tampa. But laborers, such as flooring installers, are difficult to find everywhere.

The labor shortage, he adds, is exacerbated by rising development costs.

“As Lee and Collier continue to grow and costs escalate on the development side, a lot of private developers are trying to factor in these increasing costs to meet their financial projections, and some are finding a problem in doing that,” Romanello says. “That is making some projects unfeasible.”

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