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Designer Takes Advantage of Lay Off, Builds Business

Those involved in crunching numbers and providing industry projections seem to be cautiously optimistic that it’s slowly recovering. Andrew Cosgrove, AIBD, president and owner of Cosgrove Residential Design in Cincinnati echoes those sentiments.

“The market is turning around. I’ve seen a steady increase in referrals. The key word is slowly. Nothing is going to change miraculously or fast,” Cosgrove says.

Cosgrove managed the design center in Builders FirstSource until he was laid off in June 2009 when the company closed the design center and eventually stopped operating completely. “I had a staff of eight people – six designers, myself and one part-time blueprint guy,” Cosgrove says. “I was slowly forced to lay off people. I went from eight, to six, to four, to two and then just myself.”

Cosgrove took advantage of the lay off by teaching himself how to learn a new 3-D software. After years of using 2-D software at Builders FirstSource, he had always wanted to move into 3-D design. “I purchased a new software package and trained myself,” he says. Cosgrove now uses SoftPlan.

Cosgrove also took time to re-establish relationships with former clients he worked with at Builders FirstSource. This allowed him to stay busy and now he has enough business that he is opening his own design office within the next month.

He offers advice to other design professionals who were laid off or looking for work: learn, network and rely on industry associations. “Use the opportunity to learn. I spent six months working six hours a day training myself on a new software package. But I could do that because I didn’t have a lot of work,” he says. “A lot of people are too busy with work to learn a new software package.”

Attend seminars for education and networking, he says. “I went to a seminar because it was being held where I knew people who were employed there. I ran into eight people I knew and it has produced work for me.

“And maintain relationships with professional associations,” he adds. “There’s a cost but it’s worth it and keeps you involved in the industry. So many people have given up and done something else during the collapse.”

After running the design center for Builders FirstSource for 30 years, he is well equipped to start his own business. “I basically ran my own business for 30 years since I managed the design center,” he says. “I enjoyed my time there but I’m looking forward to running my own business.”

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