A greater value: Dan Rowe

Jun 09, 2024


President of TreanorHL (Lawrence, KS), a full-service architectural firm with a purpose of creating places and experiences that make people’s lives better.

By Liisa Andreassen

Rowe gives a good deal of indirect credit to his mother for leading him down the architecture career path. His interest was first piqued when he was around 12 and she taught him to scale drawings from books or magazines and how to then transfer them to sewing patterns. He drew everything from T-shirt decals to yearbook photos and sold them to his classmates.

“I made a good living for a sixth grader in the ‘70s,” he jokes. “The point is, my drawing skills and aptitude for math made it clear that architecture was the right fit for me.”

It was that initial experience that set him up with the philosophy that architecture is much more than building design. It’s about understanding people, mapping things out, and sculpting clay into structure.

“The individuals who use a building and the clients who pay for it often have different needs and interests,” he says. “Creating a place that meets all of their expectations is a wonderfully challenging puzzle and I still can’t believe I get paid to do it.”

Points of pride. Having been president since 2009, Rowe says he’s very proud of the architecture work the company has accomplished that out-kicked their coverage for a firm their size – including the $350 million restoration of the Kansas Capital Building to 12 LEED Platinum buildings for student housing in Qatar.

He’s also pleased to have assembled teams from diverse backgrounds across the country to function as one firm, and proud of the firm’s growth from a small company to a nationwide one of more than 150 people.

In 2024, leadership is focused on achieving organic growth of about 10 percent by year end. They’re also studying some modest acquisitions to increase this number strategically in a couple geographies.

“We’ve had very good luck with both areas over the years – including single-digit voluntary turnover and recruiting in key hires and new grads,” Rowe says.

He adds that the energy of new graduates has always been the foundation of excitement and renewal of the overall profession and for their firm.

“Young architects striving to change the world are a very powerful force,” he says.

Rewarding retention. TreanorHL leaders know how important it is to not only recruit, but more importantly to retain great professionals. To meet that end, they offer competitive benefits such as student loan repayment contributions and family and daycare cost contributions. There’s also the Michael L. Treanor “Life Happens Fund,” named after the firm’s founder, which provides special financial support to any employee experiencing unexpected financial expenses from medical bills to auto issues.

The company also provides flexible and hybrid work environments and supports employee performance within welcoming and inclusive office environments, as well as remote work that expands the talent footprint of this national firm.

“We try to paint the expectation of being present and the value for doing so, while respecting the individual situations of each,” he says.

And, professional development dollars are a valued benefit too. This is where every employee is provided with annual reimbursements on individual career-focused continuing education programs.

TreanorHL leadership encourages education at all levels and it understands that people leave managers – not companies. That’s why there’s mentorship opportunities across all levels.

“Learning goes both ways, so we grow managers by giving them real experience teaching and leading others, as well as learning and receiving feedback from others with diverse experience levels,” he shares.

The company also prioritizes advancement opportunities. They have an internal committee dedicated to growing firm leadership. They determine opportunities for meaningful position advancements that give employees the opportunity to grow within. And, training programs are provided that are tailored to individuals who express interest in leadership opportunities.

“Professional development is culturally encouraged and financially supported by the firm – including gathering with all employees and their ‘plus ones’ every year, in person, to share, connect, and celebrate.”

Staff-generated “lessons learned” are shared and the company fosters an internal program giving employees a platform to share knowledge across the firm, asking for input, and solving problems together. There’s a safe space provided for constructive feedback via annual company-wide meetings where staff present to each other on various topics too.

“We live by our core values which emphasize the importance of a people-focused work ethic that prioritizes being humble and laughing together – a reminder that we are all human and working toward a common goal,” Rowe says. “My main concerns have always been about the commoditization of our industry and ensuring clients see and receive a greater value than the fees paid.” 

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.