Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 1.53.28 PM
Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 1.53.28 PM

Over the last 15 years, Kevin Salmon has been involved with the design of over 1,000 Papa Murphy's pizza stores. Papa Murphy's opened their 1,400th location in Phoenix Arizona at the end of 2013. With this milestone, Kevin weighs in on his impressive design collaboration tenure with one of the nation's most popular pizza chains.

Wilkus Architects: Technology has undergone some dramatic changes in 15 years. How did the construction document delivery begin and how has it evolved with changes in software?

Kevin: The main thing I notice is how much quicker the computers are.  Things like saving your drawing or plotting is much quicker.  Also, with BIM technology, the Construction Drawing set is more interactive.

WA: Were your first Papa Murphy’s projects drawn in pencil?

KS: I’m not that old, but I do use a white board as one tool to help keep track of where projects are in the process.

WA: What are your thoughts on North American continental domination? This locator map of all of their locations is massively impressive. Do you ever stop and think, “I am responsible for creating the built environment empire of take-n-bake pizza”?

KS: If you could populate the project locations by year, it’s like one of those movies where they estimate the impact of a spread / advancement.

WA: What talents have you developed during your Papa Murphy’s tenure to assist in your working relationship with franchise owners?

KS: The main thing is learning to manage client expectations and keep the project moving.  Sometimes there are factors we can’t control that affect getting a permit and you have to be able to come up with solutions quickly to keep the project on track.  Having a good team is essential. My job as a project manager is to make sure everyone is doing their specific job because everyone is important in the process.

WA: In Commercial Design the franchisee is an important client. How do you assist them in the process of getting their business from paper to profit?

KS: As the design professional, we are responsible for completing the Construction Drawings and getting a building permit.  Time is money, so the sooner we can get them a permit, the sooner they can open the store and make pizzas.

WA: With projects all over the United States we need to do some math:

WA: On average, (off the top of your head) what percentage of hours per location do you spend on the phone coordinating the design and construction process?

KS: I would say that 50 percent of the time on a project is emailing and coordinating on the telephone.

WA: On average, how many e-mails are exchanged?  It depends on the location and the franchisee.

KS: If it is an easier jurisdiction, and the franchisee has been thru the process before, then it’s not too bad.  If it is a new franchisee in a tough jurisdiction, or the building is really old with no information, then I’m in for a long day…

WA: Ever have a building-code official that you couldn't negotiate with? Percentage-wise, how many code battles have you won? Have you gotten so good that you just always win when a city thinks they know what they are doing?

KS: For the most part, plan reviewers are good to work with and just doing their part.  Occasionally you will get a plan reviewer that interprets the code their own way or just doesn’t use common sense.  You have to be careful that you don’t win the battle but loose the war – because the General Contractor still has to file for inspections and you don’t want the city mad, making his life miserable.

WA: Anything we left out that you would like to add?

KS: You really get to know national geography!  It is also fun to talk with people all over the country from different backgrounds – and oddly enough they almost always have lived or know someone who lives Minnesota.


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