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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Great Jobs Project: Pursuing dream, architect moved to Florida and lost his job - The Story of John Pierzchala

I want to thank Randy Deutsch for sending me the article below since it's in my back yard. Being in Florida, I can tell you first hand of the devastation I've seen to the architectural community over the last 4 years, so this is just another story of an architect struggling to find a job.  

I'm not sure why this story made me spring into action, but perhaps it was from something that happened right after I read the story.  My company gives free training to out of work architects and I've even hired two architects for my Autodesk dealership.  I wanted to reach out to John and try to help him.  

But first, there was the problem of finding him.  With a name like Pierzchala, you'd think I'd be able to track him down in seconds.  Well, Google turned up nothing.  Nothing on LinkedIn either.  I tried searching via his old firms and nada.  It's as if he didn't even exist.  You'd think that with an article written about you searching for work, you'd have some sort of presence to help the world find you.  You should all Google your own name right now and see what comes up.  

Since anyone searching for him would come up with nothing, I've written this blog post as something fresh that people can find and contact him through me.  I went ahead and emailed the author of the article, explained who I was and what I did and she immediately sent me John's phone number.  I've left him a message and will offer him free Revit training and hopefully some leads via this post.  

As a side note, this technology stuff is really important.  As architects, salespeople (yes, every time you meet a potential client, you're in sales too), networker, employed or unemployed, and all around just being humans on the planet, you want to be searchable so you can have people find you and hire you and your firms.  It's easy enough to get a domain name and a web presence in about 30 minutes.  (I still do that part time, so let me know and I can help you with that.)  

There's one line in the article below that I'm curious about.  John says "he's learning the latest architectural programs".  I certainly hope it's Revit that's he's been studying.  

I'll keep you posted on his story.  I hope there's a happy ending to it.  It'd certainly be nice to make a difference in the world through the blog.


BY FRANCESCA DONLAN • fdonlan@news-press.com• January 16, 2011

John Pierzchala took a risk moving to Fort Myers nine years ago to pursue his dreams.

But those dreams rose and fell for the 45-year-old architect after he lost his job in October 2009.

Pierzchala owned his own architectural firm designing high-end homes and golf courses around Phoenix.

But after 23 years of living in the desert, he moved to Fort Myers Beach in 2002 to work as an architect and fulfill his dream of living on a 30-foot sailboat.

He worked as a project manager at Tisch & Associates Architects in Fort Myers for three years before taking a job as a project manager at R.J. McCormack Architect Inc. Fort Myers.

"I was here during the boom when everyone was really happy and everything was really good," he said.

But the losses in the construction industry and the embattled economy caught up with his profession. R.J. McCormack Architect Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

"I was the last employee," Pierzchala said. "I was at the front door when we locked and closed the business."

He knew his prospects for immediate employment didn't look good.

"When you see a major architectural firm go down, you know things are really bad," Pierzchala said.

He's been looking for employment ever since.

"The hardest thing is making cold calls to anarchitectural office," he said. "I've never gotten a phone call back. They are just not hiring anyone."

Fortunately, he had savings. But that cushion is almost gone.

He has $500 in the bank and gets weekly unemployment checks of $275.

Since Hurricane Charley in 2004, he sold his boat and has chosen to live on land.

His home on San Carlos Island costs $2,000 a month for mortgage, insurance and taxes, he said.

Meanwhile, he's learning the latest architectural programs and is pursuing all kinds of jobs.

"When you look at construction jobs and see the unemployment rates in Lee County, you come to the conclusion that you should try something else," he said.

So Pierzchala is doing what he can.

He's a non-paid apprentice on a tour boat at Marina Village at Snug Harbor in Fort Myers Beach.

He put in an application at the Key West Express.

He's also applied as an apprentice technician for Home-Tech in Fort Myers.

"I need to find anything right about now," he said.

To clear his head, he works on a 20-foot sailboat he may move into if he can't find work.


"I haven't lost hope yet," he said.

"This is just what life handed me. Maybe it will bring
different opportunities," he said. "You never know."

John Pierzchala, 45, is an unemployed architect. He
has been looking for a job for a year. He is now
working on a tour boat off Fort Myers Beach.(Marc


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