Q&A with Mike Groth, GROTH Design Group’s Managing Partner
Our founder, Mike Groth, established GROTH Design Group (GDG) 28 years ago in Cedarburg, Wis. Starting out with a primary focus on the religious sector, GDG made a name for itself with a reputable expertise in liturgical design across the state of Wisconsin. We have come a long way since 1994, and the firm has grown to add additional locations in Milwaukee and Appleton, providing architectural, planning, and interior design services across several market sectors well beyond liturgy and the state line.
Mike founded GDG with a clear vision and mission for the firm: LISTEN. LEAD. SERVE. The principles of Listening, Leading and Serving are intricately woven throughout the firm and collectively provide a platform to serve far beyond our bricks and mortar. It is our culture. It is our mission.
Below, we share a Q&A with Mike delving deeper into our mission and culture, and where GDG is headed in the next 28 years.
Q: We want our clients to walk away from every interaction with GDG understanding that our mission of Listening, Leading, and Serving is much more than a simple marketing tagline. We are upholding ourselves to a standard, and it is what we feel differentiates us. Can you go back to the beginning and share how you put a name to this mission and why you believe it has withstood the test of time for the firm?
MG: Listen. Lead. Serve. speaks to humble leadership. At the conception of our firm, I was reading many books on traits of the best leaders and humility really resonated with me. Great leaders have a focus on confidence, but also recognize their own weaknesses. A true leader never believes they are the smartest person in the room. Humility encompassed what I sought for GDG – listening more to understand others and an openness to see opportunities from a new perspective.
Q: How do you see this mission weaved into the firm’s culture?
MG: Employees are the cornerstone of GDG. These same principles of Listening, Leading, and Serving are applied to how we strive to treat our employees. We listen to our staff. They are asked to lead projects with clients, and they are given permission to make mistakes. We know that bringing out the best in our employees will always come with a certain level of learning along the way. But, what we are looking to achieve as a firm is much more than the bricks and mortar we construct. The GDG culture embraces curiosity, uniqueness and compassion. Our designs emulate these characteristics by delivering purposeful spaces that elevate and empower those that utilize these created environments.
Q: We pride ourselves in serving those who serve others. Is there a particular client project or firm accomplishment that stands out as one you’re most proud of?
MG: This is a trick question! Every single one of our projects has given the firm and our employees the opportunity to hone our expertise in a variety of market sectors, our skillset, and to better understand the needs of our clients. We are educated daily by our clients and advancements in architecture and interior design. A strong example of this was a particularly fulfilling project in which we were tasked with bringing together a traditionally White Church and separate traditional Hispanic Church. Our project team was given a comprehensive lesson in Hispanic culture and worship – it was a great honor and experience to be a part of. We were really required to lean into our mission of Listening, Leading, and Serving, acknowledging the many diverse cultures at the table and providing equal opportunities to have a voice. It was a great career highlight for me.
Q: Three simple words encompass our mission. What three words would you use to describe the firm?
MG: Three words is tough, but I do have four ideals I believe we uphold:
- Consensus Builders
- Design Integrity
- Client Focused
- Social Outreach Drivers
Q: We spoke about our mission withstanding the firm’s history and it has seen us through our progressive growth to today. In the last couple of years, we have expanded our office in Milwaukee and opened a location in Appleton. Looking ahead, what do you see as the next big thing for GDG?
MG: When I look to the future, there is a level of myself stepping back. We have an incredible group of young, talented leaders that have an exciting vision for the firm. I believe that the best leaders know when to minimize to maximize for the bigger goal.