Dave McVeigh Achieves 30 Years

Mar 13, 2017

A testament to a company’s success is determined not only by the quality of work it provides to its clients, but also by the people who are a part of the organization. Good leaders are invaluable to a company. Leadership is a key factor that directly affects the talent a company attracts. During the early startup stages of the firm, Larry Cash hired a young Alaskan architect fresh out of college to join his team. Fast forward to over three decades later, that bright young architect, David McVeigh, AIA NCARB LEED AP, is now President of RIM. Dave credits his 30-year history of professional growth and success to the positive mentorship of Larry Cash. This relationship has opened many doors of leadership opportunities which has served as the foundation for the firm’s unique culture of honesty, integrity and high values; a reputation that has been consistent throughout RIM’s history. To get to the heart of Dave’s incredible journey, we sat down with him to get the latest scoop of key milestone events throughout his professional career that brought him to where he is today.

Why did you choose RIM?

I had worked for a few firms while I was in college and I received my degree from Texas Tech University in 1985, about the worst time to be looking for a job in Alaska.  We were in one of the roughest recessions in history and no one was hiring.  Most responses were, ‘Hey kid if you find a job, can you call me? Maybe I can apply too.’  So I took to finding small jobs on a contract by contract basis, while I waited tables at a local restaurant as my “day job”.  Through years of working during school, I had built up a network of engineering and architect friends.  They knew I was looking for a job and they told me about a new firm starting up that might be hiring.  I applied, got interviewed and was hired.  I’ve stayed this long because of the mentoring and leadership opportunities that our founder, Larry Cash, has provided.  He has been steadfast in providing a culture of honesty, integrity and high values.  This reputation has been consistent throughout our history. I’ve always wanted to be a part of something where I could grow and be flexible with the market; and I’ve found that here in RIM.

What inspired you to get into hospitality design?

My passion for hotel and resort design started early on. I wrote my thesis on resort design in college. I have a passion for people and places. It’s exciting to build a sense of place by absorbing the natural and cultural environments to create unique experiences for people. I spent my whole career on it designing in Guam, Taiwan, and China. Designing a Resort in Taiwan that truly represented a design process with meaning.  We had access to University archeologists that helped us understand the culture and area, as it was in an area where a new indigenous tribe was officially recognized by the government.  We captured this and other fascinating challenges in our design.

What is your greatest achievement at RIM?

I like to think there are many:

Being a driving force for expanding new offices and market regions; 

Finding and working on our first international projects;

Building businesses in unfamiliar locations with diverse cultures.

I spent a great amount of time in Guam with Eric Nelson and the Guam team to setup shop. Soon there was a big opportunity for RIM to expand operations in Hawaii and I was ready to take it on. The team took Guam to a neat place designing projects for DFS and the Federal government. With those great successes, we saw Hawaii as an opportunity to setup a regional center to have greater access to our clients. At the time, Hawaii was just coming out of a recession. But even so, there was so much activity in Hawaii and work opportunities looked so promising. I felt like a kid in a candy store! I was so excited to be able to do work in Hawaii because the climate is so favorable we could do much more there than in other places. It was challenging at first being the outsider and not knowing many people. In some ways Guam is similar to Hawaii, but they both have unique cultural settings which I had to get used to.

Over the years, how has RIM evolved?

Thirty years gives you the opportunity to see a lot of changes.  We started as a couple of Alaska boys in an economy and work environment that was so unstable, I didn’t know if I would have a job after I finished the next project.  We are now a company that has diversification and sophistication through its services and unique locations and can buffer those uncertain economic times. We started doing small renovations and are now designing resorts, airport terminals, and high rise office buildings in the Mainland US, the Pacific and Asia.

What do you love most about RIM?

I love that we created a multinational company with international work from a small place like Anchorage, Alaska.  We did it backwards because many firms start in larger cities and branch out.  I love our story!

I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best people in the industry.  I have been blessed with some of the greatest partners a business person could have.  In this day and age, finding people who are likeminded, patient, and willing to take risks to build a business together is a rare find.

I love that our company is always trying to find better ways to do things and its focus on high quality design. I love that I was given the opportunity to grow and develop long term relationships with clients who have become friends.

Any parting words of wisdom for anyone looking to get into design?

Follow your passion and constantly strive for excellence. When I first started, I did things people didn’t want to do. The business part wasn’t something I liked to do, but it was what the firm needed. Design and architecture continues to evolve and the industry is always changing. Be open minded and flexible. When you get up every day, know that this is what you want to do. Be patient, disciplined, and constantly feed your drive to keep moving forward. There’s a saying that architecture is an old man’s profession because it takes a long time to master. Know that at times it will be hard. But stick with it and make it a point to be a part of something where you can grow.