We had the good fortune of connecting with Soheil Nakhshab and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Soheil, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I was introduced to engineering and architecture at a young age as my father worked in the industry. Once I reached high school, I was fully immersed in the trade and ready to follow his career path. As a I studied Engineering at San Diego State, I was lucky to be able to work for multiple leading architecture and engineering firms. By the time I was a senior in college, I already had eight years of experience under my belt. While I was so incredibly appreciative of all the people who took a chance by hiring me, I envisioned a career path not as an employee of a firm, but as the leader of my own. I wanted to be able to dictate which projects I took on, who I worked with, etc. I approached my father and expressed the desire to start my own company. We began a small operation in 2003 and immediately I got involved with past colleagues and began consulting on their projects. 50 projects ballooned to 80 by my second year in business. When the recession of 2008 hit, consulting work dried up so I began to focus solely on design-build construction. As a small business owner, I have been fortunate to have had so many encouraging, knowledgeable mentors along my path to business ownership.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Since the age of 16, I have immersed myself in the philosophy of the old master architects. I not only design my projects, but handle the engineering, development, permitting, construction, and even property management when applicable. My main passion is taking complex, undesirable sites and morphing them into prime examples of form and function. I feel that challenges such as an extreme topographic condition or an existing historical component lend themselves to innovative solutions and better architecture. My other main focus is to create a sense of community within my developments. Due to my parents’ experience living in Iran and Italy, we were raised to appreciate the idea of multi-generational residences and the importance of both immediate and extended family. Since San Diego is a heavily transient city, I aim to create environments that allow individuals to become family—to grow and coexist together. One of the things that I am most proud of is the fact that my profession has never been a “job” for me. It was a hobby that became a passion. However, business operations have never been my strong suit and I did have to spend a lot of time over the years learning and correcting mistakes I’ve made. I’m lucky to have had excellent mentors, family members, and trusted co-workers who have helped me overcome the weaknesses I had when I first started my business. My goal is to simply make an impact on my community. To leave it better than I found it and to contribute to the rich cultural landscape of the urban areas of San Diego. So much multi-residential construction is akin to “big box” apartments and homes that all look alike and lack character. I value the architects and builders who try to solve housing issues while creating aesthetically pleasing products. With a little forethought and creativity, both can be achieved.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Two places immediately come to mind: Balboa Park and the Old Del Mar coastal area. My wife, children and I like to ride bikes from our Bankers Hill home to explore the endless cultural experiences that Balboa Park has to offer. Biking allows us to really take in and appreciate all the special nooks and crannies of the park—hidden trails with beautiful botanical gardens, stunning architectural details tucked away from the main drag, and unbeatable skyline views. We like to visit Hillcrest Sandwich Shop to grab lunch, order pizza from La Pizzeria Arivederci on our way home, and enjoy the amazing views of Maple Canyon and the California sunset after a day of exploring and exercise. Getting to the Del Mar coast requires a drive but the payoff is worth it. We take I-5 and exit at Genesee, which connects us to the Pacific Coast Highway along Torrey Pines Park. We hit the park for a quick hike up through the trails and then emerge at the beach backdropped by those stunning cliffs. We like to bring our gear to the Powerhouse Park area and spend the day lounging in the sun, surfing, and bodyboarding. Afterwards, we cruise up PCH towards where I grew up in Encinitas. Once we’re there, it’s impossible not to head to inland Encinitas to grab some truly amazing Persian food from Peachy’s Market and Grille.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents are most deserving of this shout out—especially my father. He recognized my initial interest in the industry and immediately connected me with colleagues that he felt would provide me with beneficial learning experience. My parents also sold our family home and used the funds to invest in the business and our first development project, which kickstarted us on our path. Their support and belief in me boosted my confidence immensely when I was first starting out. Working as a family team, we were able to accomplish so much more than if I had just been on my own. They were the always the first to provide support or, when needed, loving objection and intervention. Their caring approach motivated me to find success and also to make sure that my business decisions were sound. As a result, our company has consistently grown since 2003, and our families have grown and continued to contribute as well.
Darren Bradley, Paul Body