Frank Dittenhafer co-founded Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects more than 30 years ago. Now he’s the sole owner and president.
But in meetings, he often tells people that Beth Reed, Associate Principal and Director of Operations/Firm Administrator, is the one who really runs the business.
“That’s not an exaggeration,” Frank says.
About 20 Architects work in Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects’ two locations in York and Baltimore.
But it’s the three people who make up the administrative support team who steer the firm and keep it moving forward.
“They’re behind the scenes to some degree, but these aren’t hidden faces,” Frank says. “They are front and center in a lot of what we’re doing.”
Rachel Krodel, Kristen Nickey, and Beth Reed make up that administrative team. They serve different roles within the firm, each a vital part of the M&D team’s success.
Rachel Krodel: The façade of the company
Building relationships is critical to the success of Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects. When you call or visit their York office, Rachel is the first line in building and maintaining that relationship.
“We want there to be a smiling face and a voice on the other end of the telephone line,” Frank says. “Rachel will take care of you.”
Her official title is Administrative Assistant, but that encompasses a lot, she says.
“It’s really nice because I’m an administrative assistant, but they’re really intent on using me for all of my abilities,” Rachel says.
She organizes schedules and sets meetings, but she also writes press releases and helps to edit and compile proposals for projects and draft contracts.
“I’m often not so much a middle man,” Rachel says, “more of the grease that keeps the wheels turning.”
The dynamic Kristen Nickey
Kristen started out in Rachel’s current position in 2012. As her strengths developed, she grew with the company and is now the Marketing and Operations Coordinator.
It’s a critical role focused on business development and marketing, Frank says.
She searches for requests for proposals, compiles overviews, and helps find and retain projects for the firm. It’s creative and exciting work, Kristen says, especially when she lands a big project.
On any given day, there might be 15 to 20 projects with various deadlines and needs. Kristen is the one who keeps them all on track.
“She’s really developed a high-skilled process dealing with individuals and state agencies,” Frank says.
Beth Reed: Succeeding at scale
If organization were an Olympic sport, Beth would win gold.
Officially, she’s in charge of operations, finances, and marketing. Unofficially, she handles everything.
“There’s nothing that she doesn’t do,” Kristen says.
Having a hand in everything means Beth has to be a creative problem solver. No matter what the need or deadline, she figures out a way to get things done.
“She’s a highly skilled and vital person,” Franks says. “She has been really significantly responsible for a lot of our success.”
It’s the team that’s allowed her to be so successful.
Without Kristen and Rachel pitching in to do whatever was asked, Beth says, there’s no way she could get everything done.
A blueprint of collaboration
Non-architects in an architectural firm could be overlooked, but that’s not how it works at Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects.
“Our view is that this group is as important or more than the architectural and interior design group,” Frank says.
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The architects and designers collaborate with the administrative team, often deferring to their expertise and experience.
“We have a culture of mutual respect,” Beth says. “No one thinks they’re better than anyone else. We’re all just here working toward a common goal.”
Clients want the architects at M&D to design a great building that fits their needs, Beth says, but they also just want to know they’ll be taken care of. That’s often where her team comes in – coordinating, organizing, and solving problems so the clients don’t have to.
“These people are absolutely critical, vital participants in our firm and what we do,” Frank says. “They really are the engine that keeps us pumping on all cylinders.”