Worthington chamber gives Small Business Person of the Year honor to Macrae

GARY SEMAN JR.
gseman@thisweeknews.com
Peter Macrae, founder of Macrae ARCHItecture, was named Small Business Person of the Year by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce for 2020. He was honored at a virtual ceremony July 30.

When the Great Recession affected Peter Macrae's last job, he knew he had to reorient his objectives – or pivot, as he likes to say – but he wasn't sure how.

His goal seemed both simple and ambitious.

"I thought it just might be possible to have a full-service national architectural practice with zero fixed overhead," Macrae said.

It turns out, 10 years later, he was right.

The founder of Macrae ARCHitecture has no real office or employees, instead working with a group of 12 or so highly specialized architects and engineers who collaborate on national projects at Macrae's direction.

"For the role I play in my company, this is me," he said, holding his cellphone up to his face.

Macrae can work anywhere, any time, often using simple methods of communication to get large and small jobs accomplished.

He said he leads about 30 national projects at one time, using six teams in six states.

Macrae was honored July 30 as the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Person of the Year.

A Worthington resident and licensed architect, he is happy to spread his message far and wide: there is a virtual-business model that fits millennials looking for a better work-life balance to mid-career professionals, he said.

"So, my clients get 'role fulfillment' – experts on these projects, not just someone on my payroll who I'm trying to keep busy by giving them something to do," he said. "I call them contract collaborators."

Macrae said his model addresses a gender-pay gap by negotiating contracts up front and not allowing the employer to set the salary.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which has forced more people to work remotely, has shown businesses need to be flexible and embrace the future, he said.

He doesn't dismiss the brick-and-mortar paradigm, but is suggesting there is another way of doing things.

"I'm trying to open the eyes of my industry to alternate ways to practice and achieve ways of self-employment," he said.

Kathryn Paugh, president and CEO of the Worthington chamber, said the award, in its 34th year, "demonstrates the chamber's support for small businesses and recognizes members who are succeeding, have shown growth and are involved in the betterment of the community."

"It's fitting that the judges – past honorees – selected Pete Macrae from Macrae ARCHitecture this year," Paugh said. "Businesses everywhere are struggling to pivot and adapt to virtual-business models during the pandemic. But Pete is already there, seamlessly operating a successful business regionally and nationally, because he had the prescience, creativity and innovation a decade ago to redefine his business.

"Pete is passionate about his profession, his community and a variety of nonprofit causes he supports, including our local food pantry, where he chairs the board, and our chamber, where he has been involved in economic-development activities and volunteer support."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary