A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:

MATTHEW JOHNSON leo a. daly

Title: Vice president, managing principal

Age: 47

Matthew Johnson is leading efforts to produce design solutions that improve clients' business as the newly named managing principal of Leo A. Daly Minneapolis, the local office of a national architecture, engineering, planning and interiors firm based in Omaha.

Understanding business goals from the beginning of the design process leads to better results, said Johnson, who has 25 years' experience as an architect.

"Every piece of real estate that a user occupies can reinforce that brand, that functional flow or whatever the company is doing or can work against it," he said.

Johnson oversees a team of 60 in executing projects and pursuing new business. He's working to raise the profile of the Minneapolis office with projects such as the Toro Co. headquarters expansion in Bloomington and the Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial in St. Paul.

The Minneapolis office traces its roots to the Setter Leach & Lindstrom architecture firm, founded in 1917 and acquired in 2003 by Leo A. Daly. The office serves industries including health care, manufacturing and distribution, food and beverage, government and commercial workspace.

Johnson previously worked at Welsh Companies and DLR Group. He serves as a board member of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota and a planning commissioner for the city of Savage. He has an architecture degree from the University of Minnesota.

Q: How can architecture help solve business problems?

A: It's trying to look at solutions in a holistic light and understanding your highest return on money spent. If we don't look holistically at how you fit within a building short term and long term, you'll ultimately end up revising your processes just to function within a building that really isn't who you are, who you aspire to be or who you need to be to be a success.

Q: What appealed to you about the opportunity at Leo A. Daly?

A: Coming back to an architecture-engineering company allows me to tackle bigger-scale projects across a greater variety of client types. It's great to be able to bring integrated design services to a project. The sky's the limit for the clients we can support here locally as well as nationally and globally.

Q: What motivated you to study and pursue a career in architecture?

A: I've always liked creating things. I enjoy the sense of design and creation and understanding all the things that make people tick, because everybody is affected by their environments. That's been an interesting lifelong passion in terms of how design affects our culture.

Todd Nelson