Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Anson Stuart, Founder and Principal of Stuart Architecture, moved with his mother and sister to Broward County in 1982. During his junior year of high school, a graduate student from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) spoke to his drafting class about Architecture. According to Stuart, that’s when the light bulb went off.
“I took a drafting class in high school and really enjoyed it,” he said. “When the grad student spoke to our class, I knew that’s what I wanted to do”
After earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Architecture from FAMU, Stuart returned to South Florida where he worked for a small architectural firm. He worked his way up to Project Architect and managed a team of five employees. From 1996 through 2011, Stuart worked for a total of four different companies, gaining valuable architecture and construction experience along the way. With duties that included initial client contact, space planning, project development, review of drawings, supervision of construction projects, scheduling inspections, managing daily office operations, supervising all potential RFQs and RFPs and interviewing new hires, he was well prepared for the next step in his career.
“After the Principal of Judson Architecture passed away, I accepted a position as Project Manager for the Public Works Department of the Cayman Islands,” he said. “It was a bit daunting to move to another country, but the experience was invaluable. I was responsible for the management of various capital improvement projects – with over CI$25 Million – from planning through final occupancy. After four years, because of how the laws work in the Cayman Islands, my position was given to an eligible citizen. That’s when I moved back to South Florida.”
After one year with a local construction firm, Stuart felt and responded to an ‘entrepreneurial calling’ to go off on his own.
“At that point, I was as ready as I was going to be,” he said. “Throughout my career, I’ve learned to take chances. I’ve also learned that you’ll never be as ready as you want to be. At some point, you just have to jump.”
Stuart officially made the “jump” on September 1st 2016. Working through a handful of challenges that included, learning how and where to network and how to run a business, he grew his firm by utilizing connections through his professional fraternity and other architecture organizations he belongs to. Stuart was candid that the first year in business was tough. He drove Uber on the side to supplement his income, but never once thought about giving up. Today, thanks to an unwavering work ethic and cross-discipline experience, Stuart Architecture is highly sought after for its professional approach and exceptional results.
“As an architect with a construction background, I can speak both languages,” Stuart said. “I’m able to easily communicate with other architects and contractors. It’s definitely an advantage.”
Stuart shared his thoughts on why being an architect and an entrepreneur is so rewarding.
“The creative aspect is what I enjoy most,” he said. “Taking an abstract concept and making it real is extremely rewarding. Also, there’s just something about construction sites that I’m attracted to. I even remember, as a child, loving the smell of wood at the construction site of my grandmother's home in the Bahamas that she built from the ground up.”
Looking ahead, Stuart is excited and optimistic about the future of his business.
“For the first three years in business, I had a home office,” he said. “This January I leased a space and this past month, I upgraded to a larger office and hired my first full-time employee. I can foresee bringing on someone else by January 2021. My goal is to have no more than 10 projects for each Project Architect to manage. I’d also like to do more commercial, municipal and educational projects, such as school additions.”
What advice does Stuart have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Start your business while you still have a day job,” he said. “It takes time to build it up. I had a year of saved income to live on. Take that leap of faith and you’ll learn as you go. Ask questions of people doing what you want to do. When I started asking questions, it became clearer. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know. Also, utilize resources around you. I went through the Jim Moran Business Institute and learned a lot about running a business.”