Q & A with Vice President John Heiman


This month we sat down with John Heiman, Vice President of SGA, and talked life skills, movies and more. John is a member of the AIA, is NCARB certified, and is a licensed architect in multiple states across the U.S.

In the context of retail design and architecture, where does planning intersect with creating value for clients?

 Retail clients are consistently changing and modifying strategies.  Knowing what’s important to them and delivering is where value is created.  While that may sound obvious, it isn’t always that easy.  Sometimes clients may not be ready to implement or even consider a proposed strategy, and understanding that is important.  The architect has a responsibility to consult and inform their clients of possibilities.  Some architects have the tendency to believe they know what is best for their clients business regardless, however, that’s not us.  Closely listening to your client is the best and quickest way to understand their pain.


In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of business planning for a retail architecture firm?

 Set goals for your firm and attach deadlines to them.  Goals aren’t a bunch of “action items” to eventually accomplish; rather they are carefully constructed plans that achieve relevant results and there is a big difference between the two.  This is true for any type of business or personal betterment, not just retail architecture.     


What makes business planning for retail architecture firms unique?

 The rapidly changing marketplace in the retail sector predominantly driven by technology doesn’t allow firms much of a choice but to address it.  The shopping experience is an event and always has been.  The retail industry as a whole is currently going through a shift in how they are finding their customers and providing those customers a new and exciting experience which needs to be “frictionless”.  Knowing the strategy retail clients are implementing into their business goes a long way towards understanding the type of staff needed in order to help them accomplish those goals.


What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

 I have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least once every year at Christmas since I was in college.  I don’t watch it over and over necessarily, but the story never gets old to me.  On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I would have to say “Silence of the Lambs”.


What life skills are rarely taught but extremely useful?

In keeping with the “planning” theme, according to a recent Gallop poll, a vast majority of Americans do not keep or adhere to a budget.  Most people have never been taught how to budget or how to use credit and revolving credit cards to their advantage, only their detriment.  Knowing this early can vastly improve one’s journey for the long term.