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Joining Progressive AE – A Conversation with Wes Jones and Kim Marks
Following their merger with Progressive AE in 2016, ai Design Group will officially switch their name to Progressive AE on November 1, 2017. We sat down with aiDG founders Wes Jones and Kim Marks to discuss the firm’s history and what they’re looking forward to in their new partnership with Progressive AE.
When was aiDG founded and why did you want to create your own firm?
Kim: We started the firm in 2003. For me, creating the firm was about coming back together with a group of people I had worked with earlier in my career, and who I enjoyed working with.
Wes: We started ai Design Group with a focused vision: to create a firm where serving clients was paramount, while also providing a vibrant and rewarding place to work for the core team who established the firm along with us.
What are some exciting moments or projects that have come to define aiDG?
Wes: Our early successes included new headquarters for Time Warner Cable and SPX. In 2006 we completed Ballantyne Village, a mixed-use retail complex. Throughout the 2000’s we garnered national recognition for our work with Speedway Motorsports, Inc., completing unique projects across the country that have helped define the race fan experience.
Kim: Surviving the recent recession as well as we did demonstrated the strength of our firm, and of our relationships with clients. Babson Capital is a great example of that. We’ve been working with them for years and have seen them grow from a small investment firm to their current position with Barings, a global firm with thousands of employees. We’re currently designing their new headquarters in Charlotte’s center city.
What were you most looking forward to in merging with Progressive AE?
Kim: Providing a better foundation for our employees means the most to me. Moving into new market sectors is part of that; we’re able to give our designers the opportunity to work on a diversity of project types.
Wes: I would agree with Kim. The merger offers all our employees the potential for professional growth through shared expertise and access to expanded market sectors. We felt from the beginning that the similarities in our cultures made us a natural fit and would allow us to build on each other’s best practices.
Tell us a little about where you work – both geographically and market sectors.
Wes: Our work takes us all over the country, primarily through our projects within the automotive and motorsports markets. Our newest partner, Ryan Doherty, has built a strong retail practice serving numerous AAA centers along the Eastern Seaboard while delivering signature retail and mixed-use projects regionally. Kim leads our interior design team which provides a wide range of services throughout the region and supports all of our architectural efforts.
What do you love most about being based in Charlotte?
Kim: I love being right in the middle of the community. We are in the literal center of the city and the region. There’s a lot of energy that comes with that.
Wes: Since we began working together in Charlotte in the mid-nineties, we have seen extraordinary growth in the region. Charlotte is a vibrant city that is attracting Millennials in great numbers. Kim and I are very involved in a wide range of professional and civic organizations and love the access our “uptown” location provides us. It’s easy to understand why Progressive AE’s search led them to our front door and we couldn’t be more excited about the potential for success our combined future holds.
Read more about the merger here.