Unique Approach for Tom Hoch Design

Tom Hoch has been involved in the family business since he was a child. His parents, Tom and Joanne Hoch, founded Tom Hoch Design in Oklahoma City in 1963. Today, Tom Jr. leads the interior design firm as the principal designer and has helped refine the company’s unique “revenue-based design” approach. The model takes into account branding, space planning, sizing and a mapping process, ideal for retail-driven spaces like golf shops and clubhouses and food and beverage outlets.

Hoch’s firm has done a lot of work for the golf divisions of Marriott and Ritz-Carlton and parlayed that into a specialty, filling a niche at upper-end golf courses and country clubs across the country. The century-old Tulsa Country Club recently chose Hoch to create a master plan for the renovation of its 65,000-square-foot clubhouse.

Hoch and his staff also do the bulk of their own building and installation, creating many of the anchor pieces and other woodwork used in the designs in a 30,000-square-foot studio in the Oklahoma City offices. The dual services, Hoch says, helped create and enhance the revenue-based design model. “If you hire Wolfgang Puck to do your menu, you'd also want him to cook it,” Hoch explains. “It's made us better designers because we understand what works and what doesn’t. It's also made us better from the standpoint when we design something, we understand the cost of it.”

Hoch recently chatted with us about the firm’s unique approach.

The dining room at the members' clubhouse at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota (FL).

Explain how the revenue-based design approach works?
We've been practicing it for many years. I think through our endeavor on the build side, we're really in tune to the financial side and it's made us better designers. We make our designs work better for the client from the operational perspective. We find the best arrangement of interior spaces to create the least amount of people needed to serve the customers. We look at retail from a design standpoint. How can we best emotionally connect with the customer and draw them in with the use of space.

I imagine that has been an effective approach during the downturn?
I think it's been very helpful. Once (clients) see case studies they get excited about it. Everybody is looking for ways to create new revenue opportunities and a lot of people are sitting on their hands because they can't. Our revenue-based design is a responsible endeavor, though. We're not changing things to change, but we give it a thorough evaluation before we implement anything. We make sure our clients’ hard-earned dollars are spent wisely. People are really looking for small, but effective ways to create revenues. People are coming to us and saying I've got half a million dollars to spend, what can you do for us.

How do you figure out how to do that?
I think the key is to help the client understand who they are. We also fold a branding survey into the revenue-based design model. It’s important for properties to understand their true market position. That’s done by canvassing the customer base; interviewing employees and the staff and understanding the market they’re in. It provides a really nice road map to follow. We have people on staff who handle that and when the survey is done, it gives us some direction for our design process, which includes a thorough endeavor on space planning. Then once we identify the design direction, we write a narrative, a story if you will, to tell what we’re trying to achieve with the interior design. So before we actually begin the nuts and bolts of the interior design, we have a good foundation to build on.

And then you also do most of your own building on projects as well?
We do, about 90 percent of the time. We want to give our clients the opportunity to shop it, but we'll usually bid on it too. Then we do a separate contract with the owner or client and actually build out the product and deliver and install it, too.

What types of pieces would you typically design, build and install?
More accent stuff, artisan type pieces. We pretty much stick to specialty type stuff. I call them anchor pieces, like registration desks, something to anchor the lobby. We got really busy with Ritz-Carlton and Marriott and their golf divisions and golf clubhouses have become a really good niche for us to fill.

A table made from walnut at The Club at Cordillera in Edwards, CO.

What's a recent project you've done?
We just finished a wine room for (the Club at Cordillera in Edwards, CO). We built a table out of reclaimed walnut. Imagine a walnut tree, sawed in two to make the table. That table is almost 18 feet long. And we did 16 chairs, too. That came from one big tree. They wanted to revive this little revenue-creating space in the club and gave us a 10-day timeframe to turn it around and we pulled it off because of our build capability. It's a one of a kind piece, using reclaimed materials. A larger example would be outfitting an entire Ritz-Carlton members-only (golf) clubhouse (in Sarasota, FL). We did custom wood lockers, all the wood beams and the custom retail golf fixtures in the (pro) shop.

What kind of staff do you have in your Oklahoma City office?
On the design staff we have 10, and we have about 25 artisans in the back, in a 30,000 square-foot-facility, and we're all under one roof.

Are you looking to do more hotel work or focus on the golf side?
I think we’ll have some opportunity in public space type work. I think because of our emphasis on clubhouse type work, on the hotel side, our experience fits more a boutique type hotel, an upper-end boutique that appreciates the attention to detail in public spaces.

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