Despite a new CEO living in Texas, Rees Associates Inc.'s headquarters is at home in Oklahoma City, firmly perched at East Wharf on Lake Hefner, its founder said.
“Our headquarters is in Oklahoma City, Okla. We're an Oklahoma corporation. The treasurer is based in Oklahoma City. Our headquarters is where we are incorporated,” founder Frank W. Rees Jr. said Wednesday — minutes after the firm's board of directors named Allan Parr, 46, president since 2011, as just the second CEO, succeeding Rees.
Frank Rees, 68, remains as chairman of the board of Rees Associates, the national architecture, planning and design firm he founded in 1975. Parr lives in the Houston area.
The question of the front office's location arose because Rees Associates has nine locations across the country and Rees has maintained homes in both the Oklahoma City and Dallas areas for years.
Rees said it was time for new executive leadership.
Not fun lately
“There are people who can't seem to understand: ‘How are you giving up a company you founded?' I've done this for more than 36 years. There's nothing new about it anymore,” he said.
The past five years, with the prolonged effects of recession taking such a toll on construction, he said, “It hasn't been any fun.”
Rees said the firm has about 80 employees, 40 in Oklahoma City, at 9211 Lake Hefner Parkway in a 42,000-square-foot, three-story office building considered Rees' local showcase for its corporate work.
Rees also has offices in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, Baltimore, Indianapolis, San Francisco and Spokane. The firm also has joint ventures in Mexico City and Beijing.
CEO well prepared
Parr has “prepared hard to be CEO of a major company,” Rees said. “He's thrilled about it and excited about it and it's new to him. ... He was responsible for thousands of employees (and several large, scattered operations) for Hewlett-Packard. He can lead a firm this size in his sleep.”
Parr joined Rees Associates in 2009 as chief operating officer and director of operations for Rees' Dallas office. He is a registered architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects with more than 20 years of experience in operations management, project management, facilities operation, construction, design and business development.
“I could not be more excited about this opportunity,” Parr said. “Rees has a long history of delivering high-quality work and building lasting relationships. We recognize that industry leadership requires focus, commitment, and constant reinvention. With this in mind, we have aligned our resources to focus on design innovation, the use of leading-edge technologies, and as always, a commitment to outstanding client service.”
Up at night
Rees said the change will appear seamless — because it happened, in effect, months ago.
Rees said the surest sign that changes are well in place at the top, he said, shows up daily in employees' email boxes with “send” times registered late at night or in the wee hours — from Parr, no longer from Rees.
“He's begun to operate the way I used to. I now get email from him. He's up in the middle of the night trying to figure things out,” Rees said.
On special assignment
As chairman, Rees said his duties are to chair meetings of the board, the executive committee and stockholders, and to carry out special assignments by the CEO. Right now, Rees is tasked with a senior living and health care project in China.
He said he has no plans to retire.
“I hope to be chairman for a long time,” he said.