Small Firm Exchange Seeks to Go Big
Bruce Sekanick, FAIA, OAA, SFx Regional Representative

For some, the AIA is an overwhelming organization with so many parts and pieces, it is impossible to know exactly what AIA does. To others, the AIA is a resource and network that helps them improve practice. For many members, the AIA is a little bit of a combination of both. It is a great resource that can be a little hard to navigate.

The SFx, otherwise known as the Small Firm Exchange, has, in support of the many small firms that make up the association, been trying to make access to information easier for these small or sole proprietor firms. For those not familiar with the SFx, it is one of the many membership groups established within the AIA to better serve a specific member group. Large firms, in a similar way, are represented by the Large Firm Roundtable, which is actually a separate entity of members from within the AIA. Through the Small Firm Exchange, the AIA seeks to support those firms who might not otherwise have the ability, or the resources, to integrate programs or practices within their firm. The AIA defines a small firm as an entity that has approximately ten (10) or fewer employees. Because of the ever-fluctuating size of firms, especially small firms, the definition is not exact, but rather somewhat fluid. Our region has been served most recently by the SFx Regional Representative Christopher Toddy, AIA, who is a past chair of the SFx.

As part of its effort to strengthen the organization, the SFx is concentrating this year on awareness. While member recognition of the group has expanded over recent years, there are still many who do not know of the Small Firm Exchange or understand its needs and mission. Simply put, the organization seeks to provide small firm practitioners the ability to have resources available to them that would be difficult or impossible to research and implement otherwise. Some of these resources include best practices, while others include small firm specific-information and programs offered through other groups within the AIA, such as the AIA Trust. As the organization grows through awareness, so too will the resources that will be able to be made available to those that participate.

Key to the success of the organization is the ability to identify those firms that fall within the definition of the “Small Firm”. The SFx has initiated a program this year that will see the transformation of the current region systems into a board of directors. This board, made up of the current regional representatives, will be supplemented by a new network of state representatives. This network will enable the organization to better identify small firms within each state and chapter, allowing the SFx to share resources and to seek additional member participation. More information will be made available as this transition moves forward. If you are interested in knowing more about the SFx, please reach out and to let us know about your interest in participating in the Small Firm Exchange.