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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Go After a Variety of Markets

Goshow has a portfolio that includes the fanciful like this children's museum.

Key Question:


Go after different types of work to protect yourself against cyclical and seasonal gaps.

Nancy and Eric started in business by doing residential work. While they will still take a residential project if they feel it is right for them, they primarily do commercial work today. In the late 80s the country experienced an economic downturn which caused them to think differently about their future.

Q: How and when does a family-owned business break out of the Mom and Pop mentality?

A: Family-owned businesses have unique dynamics. When they are very small, the owners tend to treat their employees like their children. This isn’t necessarily bad, there’s a lot to be said for nurturing employees and benefiting from that nurturing with increased employee productivity and retention. But the Mom and Pop mentality only works for very small businesses, where Mom and Pop have a lot of contact with their employees on a daily basis.

You’ll know it’s time when growth is stymied. One or two people, no matter how talented, are still limited by the number of hours in the day. Growing a business means growing your team, whether you sell a product or a service, all businesses are “people businesses”. New people mean orientation and training initially, and providing the team with a sound organizational infrastructure on an ongoing basis. To do this requires getting a lot of what’s in your head, down on paper. It means recognizing the importance of the “3 P’s”: policy, process, and procedures. Adopting a corporate culture will be yet another challenge, but as small business owners, we are used to challenges.

Growing a business also means delegating. It means that employees will be vested with the authority to make decisions that only the owners made in the past. To maximize the probability that the decisions made are the ones you would make, there has to be a clear understanding of “this is how we do business here” among all your employees. Communicating throughout an organization is time consuming but necessary to support the business. Mom and Pop will have to spend some time working on the business, not just in the business.

Employee compensation is a good example of an area that changes significantly as the size of the business expands. In Mom and Pop shops, employees approach the owners and ask for a raise. Mom and Pop agree or not, based on how well the employee does his or her job, how long the employee has worked for the company, when the employee was last given a raise, and how the employee’s compensation compares to others in the business and in the industry. These are the same factors that are considered as your company grows, but under a more formal review process. Employees are evaluated annually and their compensation adjusted based on that evaluation. Goals are set for the coming year, and the next year’s evaluation includes comparing actual performance to the previous year’s goals.

Q: What are Eric and Nancy doing now that they probably would never have considered doing when they launched their firm?

A: They are doing government work. This idea came to Nancy because she was nervous about cash flow during slow times. She wanted to keep employees happy and paid through thick and through thin.

They set their minds to the task of winning public contracts and it didn't take long for them to be hired to build Pier 34. This was the first new pier built into the Hudson River since the 70s.

The mix of private and public sector work has helped to stabilize the business. They are now a certified Women Owned Business and they are both very active within several public administration associations for schools and public buildings. They are cultivating that work; and by proving that they can do the small jobs, they are moving up the ladder.

The Federal Government is now mandated by Congress to use small businesses for 23% of all contracts within many parts of the budget. If we perform, the numbers of departments that will be mandated to the 23% rule will increase.

Think about it

Are you ready to move to the next level? Would you want to go after government contracts? If not, why not?

Clip from: Goshow Architects

New York City: Meet  Nancy & Eric Goshow of Goshow Architects. A major part of their work comes out of the $60± billion in annual small business contracts set aside by the US federal government.   At least 23% of all federal contracts are mandated to go to small business, but you've got to be certified!  Priority is given to those with diversity and with women in leadership roles. This set-aside  doesn't stop there.

The federal and state governments look carefully at all the big business contracts and are more favorable when they see big business award 23% of their sub-contracts to small business. Now, the Goshow's field, architecture-and-design, is one small segment of these contracts and sub-contracts.

Virtually every very creative, small business can have a role in lowering the cost of government while improving services.

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Goshow Architects

Nancy Goshow, CEO and co-founder

36 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

Visit our web site:


Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1978

Go After a Variety of Markets

ERIC: We had a small office in the 80's over on 27th street. Nancy taught in the interior design department at the FIT - - Fashion Institute of Design – which was right across the street. And we were able to operate I guess between 5 and 10 – or maybe 12 in those days, was the largest we ever were. And we were doing mostly residential projects, Nancy was teaching. And I was more prominent in the design aspects and the running of the firm in those early years.

And we saw something happening toward the end of the 80's -- we were making a decent amount of money at that level.

But toward the end of the 80's, of course there was that problem of 87, the so-called crash of 87. Nancy foresaw that really – it was really she who put her finger on what was happening before it really happened. And we decided that we had to diversify. And we asked ourselves, “Who has money and who will continue to have money if the economy slows down?” And it was always the public sector. That is to say – federal, state, city governments – agencies.

HATTIE: Focusing on the public sector paid off for Eric and Nancy with projects like Pier 34, the 1st new pier built into the Hudson River in over 30 years.

ERIC: Nancy is excellent at the overall management of the firm and she was and is the managing partner. By stopping her teaching affairs and getting full blast in the company, around 87 – 88, I think that was really the basis for the change when she really took over the management. I would be good at saying, “Nancy, we have got to computerize.

We have to do everything on CAD. We can't present ourselves properly if we are doing hand drawings anymore.” Which is my personal talent, I draw very well. She had the great ability to make us computer literate, CAD literate, bring in the right people to support that – make our pitches to the people in the public sector.

So, our first really big public client was the United States Postal Service in 1990. We renovated post offices in the whole metropolitan area. We had another big contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and for the New York State Facilities Development Corporation, and for the United States Department of Labor and another one with the United States Department of Energy, and the New York City School Construction Authority. Under which we have renovated, I think, it is now 44 different school buildings out of the 1,100 they have in New York City. It is an enormous program, so it is a big client for us.

HATTIE: (voiceover) Nancy showed me George Westinghouse Vocational High School in downtown Brooklyn. “So what is that tile underneath?”

NANCY: "That's terrazzo ..."

ERIC: That all came out of that effort to – first of all – grow and present ourselves as a WBE --Women Business Enterprise. And be willing to invest in the infrastructure in space technology that we could be credible against a lot of the firms we were competing against.

HATTIE: Not every project is for the public sector -- this new building is going up at 660 12th Avenue and will be home to a Fed Ex Delivery Center and eventually Internet servers and switching equipment.


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