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John C. Williams of Process Creative Studios

Meet John C. Williams, founder of Process Creative Studios.  
Process Creative Studios was originally founded in 1994 as John C. Williams Architects. The company name changed a few years later to reflect a more interdisciplinary approach to design. The studio’s role and input into clients’ projects has been much broader than traditional architecture services. They have created custom furniture and fixtures, logos, brands and marketing materials for clients.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
When I decided to study architecture and earn my degree, my intent was not to have my own firm. Shortly after finishing the licensing process, I was approached by a potential client to do a residential project. It was large enough that I figured I would be able to sustain myself for a few months. That was nearly 19 years ago. Ultimately, it was the compulsion to do things to my own standards that made me create Process.
What resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We are members of COSE and they were a great resource when I first started my company. I’m a designer; I’m not a businessman. I’m not afraid to ask a seemingly dumb question. I have a great, group of advisors in my bookkeeper, accounting firm and bank. I have also learned a lot from my peers and my clients.
How do you attract and retain employees?
When I started the firm, I set up the infrastructure for a larger firm. I wanted to make sure that I could offer the best benefits package, incentives and culture. This has helped me attract the best staff. I have never had to advertise to hire and I have not had to lay anyone off.
What inspires you?
Art and design. Whenever I feel burnt-out or exhausted from running the company, I will surf the web or pull out a design magazine. It re-energizes me almost immediately. Looking at other great designs, not necessarily architecture, reminds me of why I got into this profession.
I also frequently travel to other cities and absorb the energy, culture and art. New York is my favorite place. I come back totally exhausted from touring galleries and museums, but I am also renewed. I’m an obsessive problem-solver -- that’s what excites me. One of my favorite quotes is from the great 20th-century designer, Harry Bertoia: “The urge for good design is the same as the urge to go on living. The assumption is that somewhere, hidden, is a better way of doing things.”
What projects excite you?
We’re very excited about the work we are doing for Heinen’s. We just designed a brand new store for them in the Chicago market, which is their first venture outside of the Cleveland area.
Another exciting projects we have been working on for the past three years is the Transformer Station in Ohio City. Fred and Laura Bidwell of the Bidwell Foundation engaged us to design a new art space in Cleveland. The Bidwells have an extensive collection of contemporary photo-based art and need a home for the foundation and an exhibit space for their collection.

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