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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Learn What Not To Do

Ron Altoon and Jim Porter both worked in the firm of Frank Gehry who may be the most famous living American architect. This is Jim Porter.  Homepage

Key Question:


Don't be an ego manic and try to pretend that you are the beginning and the end of the company.

Is this just a practical approach or a valid strategy we can all learn from?Small Business School

We think it is both. Frank Gehry is famous. He is the big personality who can attract major high visibility projects. He is making big bucks and there are plenty of people who want to work in his firm.

However, Frank Gehry will only keep people in his firm who can tolerate the fact that they will never be the star. Ron and Jim decided that no one should be such a star that the product takes a back seat.

On day one Altoon+Porter was Altoon+Porter, not Ron Altoon or Jim Porter. Their team approach has helped them bring in quality partners and employees who all share in the public exposure.

Think about it

Do you ever wonder why you can't attract and keep extraordinary people?  Do you tend to think everyone who works for you is slow or lazy?  Does your name and your ego supress the talent of others? 

Clip from: Architects Altoon + Porter

Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Amsterdam : They worked for Frank Gehry and found that it had limits. So, architects Ron Altoon and Jim Porter started their own firm and today they are quite literally changing the world.

They do not try to cultivate "star power" but brain power. The result? This professional practice went global virtually overnight. Brain power translates into  extraordinary product power in any language!

Every customer and every architect is a star. Keep your egos in check.  Focus on customers and  growing your team. The result?  This firm now has ongoing work in 16 countries with more international work on the drawing boards for the future.

Like so many of our businesses that go global, they have proving that the world does want American products and services!

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Altoon Partners

Ron Altoon, Senior Partners

617 W 7th St #400
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Visit our web site:

Office: 2132251900

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1984

Learn What Not To Do

RONALD: Because Frank was interested in breaking the box. And I was always interested in building it. And so I went work with Frank, and in three and a half years there, probably got the equivalent of six years' worth of experience. It was an extraordinary time, with very bright and capable people. And I had met my partner, Jim Porter, in Frank Gehry's office. And Jim had left about a year and a half after we had met to go with a large commercial firm. And he was still there. And at Jim's recommendation, that of a former colleague of mine and a client, I was asked to come and take charge of their design department, and lead design for a 6-office, 115-person firm.

JIM: Ron and I evolved, in that organization, you know, into the management committee, members of the board, stockholders and trusted, you know, leaders of the firm.

HATTIE: What said--what clicked in your brains that said, `We need to do our own thing'?

JIM: It came after a process of actually attempting to acquire the firm. And we went through a long process, with consultants and soul-searching and negotiations and actually evolved into a year of operating the firm. We couldn't get the control, the financial and business control. We couldn't get our arms around that if we were to stay. So we said, `Hey, you know, there's actually more risk to stay here and take on all of this baggage, as opposed to staking out our own ship and going into business for ourselves.' We've never looked back. We--Ron and I and another key person from that firm set up the business, and we just got on a roll.

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