Architecture firm CDH Partners named Top Small Business in Cobb
May 8—CUMBERLAND — A 45-year-old architecture firm was named the Top Small Business in the county by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Monday.
Vinings-based CDH Partners was named the top small business from a field of 25 finalists the chamber announced last month.
"This is such a huge honor, and I'm so glad to be here with my team," said Melissa Cantrell, the firm's CEO and president, accepting the award. "... We've worked really hard over the last few years to really overcome some of our challenges ... We are so proud to be part of the Cobb County community."
CDH was founded in 1977 by Bill Chegwidden, Don Dorsey, and Chuck Holmes. It specializes in commercial and institutional design, such as corporate offices, health care, schools, churches and senior living. Their clients are mostly in the Southeast.
CDH's work in Cobb have included projects at Pope, Sprayberry and South Cobb high schools, Kennesaw State University, North Metro Church, several Wellstar facilities and the Arylessence headquarters.
Before the winner was announced at the chamber's Marquee Monday event, short videos submitted by each of the 25 finalists were played.
"We design places where people are born and restored, married and worship, are educated and graduated, where they live and work," said a voiceover in the CDH video. "We design places that matter."
Cantrell is a CDH employee of almost 24 years, and started as an intern. She is one of the firm's several architect-owners. She became president in 2019 and CEO in late 2020.
The firm employs 42 people, and will be up to 48 staff within a few weeks, Cantrell said in an interview. The firm has seen about 25% growth in its revenue each year for the past three years, Cantrell said.
"What I like most about what we do is the impact we have on people, on our communities. The way that everything we do shapes how you think about your surroundings ... It's just very impactful for me," Cantrell said.
Danny Mackey, a senior associate and co-owner, said at any one time CDH has 100-125 ongoing projects.
"It's incredible. I've been with the company for 40 years. And to be recognized in this way is really heartfelt," Mackey said.
Mackey said CDH has a great culture and a "tremendous number of repeat clients."
In the past few years, CDH has had to adapt to what today's workforce is looking for, Cantrell and Mackey said.
"We had to think about things a little differently," Cantrell said. "How we worked, how we communicate."
Mackey said the company was well-positioned to transfer to remote work when the pandemic started.
"We had to work from home. Fortunately architecture and being on the computer — we're not doing drafting boards anymore, it's all digital — we were already kind of set up internally to do that," he said.
The impact that COVID-19 had on small businesses, and firms persevering through adversity, was a theme throughout Monday's event.
"The past couple years have shown us all the tenacity of the small business community and what it takes to thrive," said former Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Loud, one of the co-emcees. "We also have seen how impactful and necessary their contributions have been. The ability to innovate, overcome and be a shining light for their community. Cobb is an entrepreneurial and determined community."
In presenting the award to CDH, Loud said the company is active in philanthropy and also does pro bono projects.
In other awards, Artisan Custom Closets was inducted into the chamber's Small Business Hall of Fame.
Marketing agency Yalo won the award for Best Minority-owned Business.
Modo Modo Agency, also a marketing firm, won the award for Best Woman-owned Business.
Poultry Partners, LLC (Zaxby's of Marietta) was honored with the Community Service Excellence Award.
Three businesses were named the Top Small Businesses to Watch — FruiTea Bubbles Cafe, Georgia Drainage Specialists and CyberData Pros. Those businesses launched within the past three years and have already achieved substantial growth.
Out of those three, CyberData Pros was named the Top Small Business to Watch.
This year's 25 finalists for Top Small Business are listed below:
—1885 Grill Acworth
—Honeysuckle Biscuits & Bakery
—41 South Creative
—Johnson & Alday, LLC
—About You Family Medicine
—Manay CPA Inc.
—Modo Modo Agency
—Credit Union of Georgia
—Four Hats Inc.
—Proda Technology, LLC
—Gaston Street Eats Co.
—SK Commercial Realty
—Governors Gun Club, LLC
—The Music Studio Atlanta
—HR Knowledge Source