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2017 Small Business Persons of the Year – Kansas City District SBA Office

Architect One, a Topeka Woman-owned Firm, Wins SBA Kansas City District Small Business Person of the Year Award for 2017

SBA’s On-Line Learning Center helped Cassandra Taylor advance her knowledge of accounting and the understanding successful business models when she was considering buying in to a Topeka, Kansas based company called Architect One.  And, she introduced her co-owner to the SBA Online Learning Center, which has continued to help them through obstacles and growth ever since. Now, the Kansas City District SBA is honoring she and co-ownes with its 2017 Small Business of the Year award.

Michael Wilson opened Architect One twenty-nine years ago as a single person architectural firm.  Scott Gales joined him as a partner in 1993, Andrew Weichen in 2005, and Cassandra came aboard in 2007.  In 2015, Andrew and Cassandra became the full 50% co-owners of Architect One. 

In 2008 when the real-estate market crashed, architecture was one of the hardest-hit industries.   The company was forced to lay off 20% of their employees, but kept 80% of them by reducing their hours to 90% and decreasing their overhead and costs.  While the downturn was hard on everyone, this response saved the company from having to retrain and rehire.

Finding lower cost office space also helped the company survive and prosper. The firm believed in the Downtown Topeka Revitalization Project and was one of the first to move to a 220 square foot office space downtown in 2013 when half of the buildings were for sale.   By the end of 2016 there was no longer a building left for sale in the downtown and they had found a home.

Now successful, Architect One has rebounded back to 10 full time employees and last year opened a second office in Manhattan, Kansas. Their idea that a small firm can compete with larger firms by using technology and providing a closer working relationship with their clients and consultants has proven beneficial to their growth, as has the availability of learning at their fingertips through the SBA Learning portal. 

Besides the SBA award, Andrew and Cassandra were honored as one of Topeka’s Top 20 under 40 small businesses in both 2012 and 2014.  The award is given to young professionals for their involvement and leadership within the community.  

Supporting the community and industry is part of the SBA Small Business Person of the Year Award’s criteria.  Cassandra  and Scott both provide support to local councils, boards and clubs and have participated in or are members of Shawnee County Parks & Recreation, American Institute of Architects, Board of Building and Fire Appeals,  the Valeo Behavioral Health Care Board, Topeka South & Downtown Topeka Rotary, Go Topeka Executive Board, the Downtown Topeka Board, the Downtown Topeka Foundation Board, the Smurthwaite Scholarship &  Leadership Alumni Board, Topeka’s Active 20/30 club, Leadership Kansas, and NOTO anonymous.  As well, they support Most Pure Heart Catholic Church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka Board, Fast Forward Steering Committee, 20 Under 40 Steering and Selection Committees, the River Front Task Force and numerous USD 501 school-sponsored events.


Cassandra Taylor and Scott E. Gales
Architect One
906 S. Kansas Avenue, Suite 200
Topeka, KS 66612