On February 1, 1983, Raymond Harris opened his firm as a sole practitioner serving multiple clients with both commercial and residential design. Mr. Harris grew his client base through his efficient design approach, quality documents, and on time project delivery. Raymond Harris & Associates expanded to several employees and established itself as a regional expert in elderly housing and assisted living centers. An economic downturn in 1986 led Raymond to understand that a focus on corporate architecture provided a more sustainable business model for a young firm.
RHA counted among its clients Southwestern Bell, Presbyterian Hospital Systems, several Dallas area developers, and a small discount retailer from Northwest Arkansas, Wal-Mart.
In 1984, a General Contractor asked Raymond to provide construction documents for a sales floor and stockroom expansion for store #158 in Bonham, TX. As a result of servant hearted leadership, impeccable documents and attention to detail, RHA was asked to produce five more projects the following year. Of all the stores Wal-Mart built in 1985, RHA’s were the only projects produced on time, with no change orders. Wal-Mart appreciated RHA’s professional service and invited Raymond to Bentonville in 1986 to discuss the upcoming workload. Raymond left the meeting with 19 projects and a new relationship that would influence the direction of his business moving forward.
RHA’s success in the stockroom program grew to involvement in Walmart’s Expansion Program. Dedication and expertise in these complicated project types led Walmart to entrust RHA with an increasing workload. In 1993, Walmart began a process to revitalize stores worn out by heavy traffic. RHA developed the document standards and specifications to initiate the new Walmart Remodel program.
Larry Craighead moved to Dallas in 1997, after several years working with Walmart at another firm. That same year, Walmart selected RHA to develop and manage the Sam’s Club prototype. RHA has since designed over 90% of the Sam’s Clubs throughout the United States. As the firm grew, Raymond increasingly relied upon leadership within the firm to manage clients and develop staff. Shade O’Quinn joined RHA in 2001, and quickly rose to manage the Walmart Store Planning program.
Through this period of growth, Raymond wisely structured his company very differently from most traditional architecture firms. Raymond continued to hire only licensed architects or interns with architectural degrees on the path to licensure to serve as project managers. This allows skilled professionals to be intimately involved with all aspects of the projects they manage, rather than relying on a pool of draftsmen to implement an architect’s designs. RHA maintains 40% licensed architects in its staff, well above the industry standard.
In 2007, Raymond began to transition ownership to two partners, Shade O’Quinn and Larry Craighead. While this allowed the firm to expand its services, it also ensured that the company Raymond had been entrusted with would succeed well into the future.
RHA remains on the forefront of Walmart design with over 34 years of providing professional architectural services. When challenging projects present themselves, Walmart has consistently relied upon RHA to provide expert service and quality to produce, permit, construct, and open these projects.
Some examples of the difficult projects entrusted to RHA over the years include Expansions, Hypermart Remodels, Auto Center Additions, Schematic Design, Entitlements, Vision Centers, Pharmacies, Photo Labs, Snack Bars and Cafes, Floral Additions, Garden Centers, Takeovers, Prototype Development, Multi-Level stores, Parking Garages, and Fuel Stations. RHA has produced over 8,000 projects in addition to the development and maintenance of prototype architecture.
Patrick Burke and Ty Holcomb became the third generation of ownership beginning in 2015. Both led significant areas of the firm’s business for several years, always aligning the organization of the firm with our client’s business structure. RHA remains uniquely qualified to draw upon its experience to provide a great value for corporate clients.
Success with corporate clients allowed RHA Architects to focus on diversity within Walmart while accepting additional projects that aligned with our strengths. We are focused on developing strong relationships with clients throughout the United States. Above all, we remain committed to our corporate mission; to provide the highest quality professional architectural services to our corporate clients.