Team Spotlight: Janice Mueller, CADD Tech

Janice Mueller, a CADD Tech at Abonmarche, has been with our firm for more than 20 years, making her one of our resident experts on all things Abonmarche.

  • Early Bird or Night Owl: Early Bird
  • Coffee or Tea: Tea
  • East Coaster or Out West: Out West
  • Favorite Travel Spot: Havasu Falls, an area of waterfalls on the Havasupai Indiana Reservation located in the Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Creative Outlet: Needlepoint of rock concert tickets. I’m working on one from a Rolling Stones concert that my husband I went to a few years back.
  • Favorite Stones song: Start Me Up

How did your career first take shape?

I earned my degree in Interior Design from Purdue University, and I spent a few years doing corporate and residential design in Fort Wayne.

How did you make the shift to CADD?

At the beginning of my career, there was no CADD; we were all drafting. I went back to school and earned a second degree in CADD at Southwest Michigan College (SMC), and my next-door neighbor, worked at Abonmarche, heard that I was studying CADD. Shortly after that, I started as a CADD Technician at Abonmarche, and I never left!

From your view, what is the most noticeable change in the industry?

The precision in technology is the biggest change I’ve seen throughout the years. When everyone was beginning to make the jump from drafting to CADD – that felt like such a huge shift. Before, you could never draw that precisely. The technology we now have at our fingertips is incredible.

What is your area of focus at Abonmarche?

I work with our surveying and land development teams, as well as with builders and contractors who build homes.   I collaborate with a client to position each house on its lot correctly, taking into consideration a number of competing factors, such as zoning requirements, easements, drainage, municipal services and natural slope of the land for septic design.  Many times, it’s in a subdivision that our own team has designed and developed which is really neat to be able to work on.

When people hand you the plans for a new home, it’s a really rewarding experience to be able to look at the land and the work that needs to be done to create that home, and help manifest that reality for them.

Abonmarche South Bend – A Living Lab

In August 2020, during the quiet summer months marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, our South Bend team moved into a brand new workspace in the city’s bustling downtown area. The new offices, designed by our Abonmarche team, serve as a precedent for our next chapter of growth.

Nestled in the west side of downtown South Bend, 315 West Jefferson is a brick building with a classic exterior and unlimited possibilities on the interior. Our team eagerly got to work doing something they do for clients every day – designing and creating inspiring, functional spaces. Ideation began within the architecture & design teams – but this time, the client was ourselves.

In its previous life, 315 West Jefferson was a typical office building most recently used by a family and children’s services organization. After initially considering a sprawling ground-level expanse, Abonmarche instead opted to take on half of the building’s floorplate across two levels, creating a more dimensional, tight-knit work experience.

Construction teams gutted the building all the way down to the super structure, clearing the way for a clean slate for our architectural and design teams to work with.

Inclusivity by Design

One of the primary design goals of the space was to build inclusivity into the floorplate – to reflect the relationships and working styles here at Abonmarche.

“Our work processes are more horizontal than vertical, and so we needed our space to reflect that way of working,” says Arvin Delacruz, Architect, AIA, NCARB, at Abonmarche.

One way of achieving this was to provide equal access to natural light and exterior views.

“Anyone in this building can lift their head and see a view to the outdoors,” Delacruz says. “This was really important to our leadership because it communicates to our staff that Abonmarche as a company is paying attention to its staff’s physical and mental wellbeing. Research shows that employees who have access to natural daylighting and views are more productive, more relaxed, and healthier.”

Project manager offices are located on the interior, to prioritize more communal access to natural daylighting on the perimeter. With just three private offices located on the perimeter, collaborative gathering areas and open plan workstations are full of natural light.

In addition to gathering spaces equipped with the newest collaborative technologies, many workstations are height-adjustable, enabling our staff to change positions and build movement into their day.

Flexibility + Cohesion

The Abonmarche design team devoted much of its focus to making the two levels feel unified, yet distinct.

“We designed our new space to be cohesive, but at the same time offer unique experiences on both floors – so that people want to travel between them, whether for formal meetings, informal brainstorming sessions or charettes, or visiting with coworkers in other locations,” says Delacruz. “The more movement and cross-pollination our teams have, the better our results are. Creating those ‘destination’ spaces and opportunities for spontaneous collaboration are critical to fostering agility in our work processes.”

At the building’s core, a grand staircase connects the two levels. At the top of the stair, two partner offices are lined with glass windows.

“Our leadership is, and has always been, really accessible to our entire staff. It’s a piece of our culture that we’re incredibly proud of, and we wanted to mirror that quality in our new space by making those leadership workspaces super visible.”

“It was important to our leadership that the design also communicate the idea that we support mobility within the company – whether moving upward, laterally, or scaling back to a part-time role requiring less permanent space.”

Private offices and open plan workstations are future-proofed to accommodate change and growth in the coming years.

Curated for Individual Choice

Our design team outfitted the new workspace with a curated mix of open and enclosed meeting spaces. Each of these spaces offers something unique to staff, whether it be high-top counter workspace, casual low-back swivel chairs, or privacy phone booths for phone calls or focus work.

Individual workspaces and meeting space options are complemented by a materials library, beverage station on the ground level, full open concept kitchen on the second level, and a multipurpose gathering space intended for training sessions, office-wide meetings, and parties.

315 West Jefferson was designed to be a future model for revamping other Abonmarche offices, and also as a showcase space.

“We designed our space to serve as a living lab that lets us experiment with new concepts and vignettes,” says Delacruz. “We wanted to be able to play around with how people use workspaces in our space, in order to test drive strategies for our clients.”

Our new South Bend workspace is a vital piece of our future – of where we’re going, and what is important to us. As we enter 2021 and an increasingly post-pandemic work climate, we are excited to share this new space with our clients and other members of the communities we serve.

Abonmarche Named to Moody on the Market’s 20 Best Places to Work in Southwest Michigan – Class of 2019

by Pat Moody

If Clark Kent hadn’t been a newspaper reporter, his alter ego of Superman would have fit in very well at Benton Harbor’s renowned team at Abonmarche. Especially, his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound which leads the Abonmarche team to finding the right solution every time, or their ability to create a web of intricate thinkers unafraid to create a joint venture to come up with the best super team every time. The multi-disciplinary nature of their everyday work and some of the amazing transformations stemming from their work render the perceived “wow factor,” to an everyday occurrence. Take a moment to read some of the great things they’ve been doing over the years and why employees stick around for a long time and cherish the time they have together as a team.

What is the name of the business you are nominating?


Who are the owner(s) and/or principals in this company?

Chris Cook and John Linn

How many people work at the company you are nominating?


Tell us the story behind the nominated company. What does it do, and what sets them apart from other companies in the region?

I have worked here for almost 26 years. We are a multi-disciplinary firm with engineering architecture, landscape architecture and surveying. We put our clients first and listen to their needs and wants and always strive to give them the best service possible for the best price.

In your own words, why do you think this company deserves to be declared to be one of the 20 Best Places to Work in Michigan’s Great Southwest?

I love it here and wouldn’t have been here almost 26 years if I didn’t!  They are great to their employees and are actively involved in the communities volunteering and sponsoring events. They encourage us to become involved. Recently an employee passed away and the family member lived out of town. Abonmarche paid for all of the food for the service and our office staff took care of ordering it and having it delivered so as to take some of the burden off the family from out of town.

What makes workers proud to say they work there, and keeps them a part of the team?

We do great work and it shows – Road projects…Pedestrian bridge and trail by the Saint Joseph Water plant…The Howard Ice Rink just to name a few.

Let’s pretend you’re writing a review for Yelp! or Trip Advisor. Give us your best recommendation for the nominated company that would make the rest of us wish we worked there, too.

A great company with great employees and longevity within the community serving Southwest Michigan for forty years.

What three key words best describe why this company is a Best Places to Work caliber company?

Talented employees…2. Innovative thinking…3. Dedicated to good service

As a Best Places to Work company “Super Hero,” what are the two most magical “Super Powers” this company has on a day-to-day basis? (i.e., Ability to read minds, fly, invisibility, etc) And why?

Super Power One Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound – find a solution to any difficult project circumstance

Super Power Two Create a web of intricate thinkers and not afraid to joint venture to come up with the best super team

Tell us about the leadership of the nominated company and what they do to:

A] Keep spirits and motivation high? Raises and acknowledgements of a job well done

B] Keep innovation and fresh ideas advancing? In house training encourages additional training at owners’ expense

C] Keep communications open? Quarterly luncheon meetings with all staff and continuous correspondences. The owners’ are active members within the work place stopping by to discuss projects, intranet updates daily, etc.

Explain a specific “wow!” moment in this company’s history that is virtually “Hall of Fame” or “Best Practices” worthy, as an example to other companies in the region.

Hard to think of one right now as seems like we have wow moments everyday so they don’t stand out as anything out of the ordinary

Best Places to Work have a reputation for not only working hard, but also for playing hard. How does the nominated company:

A] Honor or reward success? Monetary bonuses, anniversary gifts, etc.

B] Socialize as a team? After hours get-togethers, Christmas parties, picnics, etc.

C] Get involved in community events? Sponsorships of numerous events and employees actively involved in local communities: coaches, committee members, etc.

D] Celebrate life? Bed Race and after party Dairy Queen Blizzard Days, etc.

Write a brief, but compelling, recruitment ad telling people about why they should come and work there, too.

We are a fun group to be around and many of our employees and previous employees who have moved to other states stay in touch – friendships are born that last a lifetime

What one thing is special about your nominated company that most people in the community have no idea actually happens there, but should be shouted from the rooftops because it’s that cool?

Generosity-giving to others in need and not expecting publicity or notoriety… bake sale, fundraisers, etc. to help cancer patient’s family…

Give us three employee perks or benefits that you think make the company you have nominated worthy of a Best Places to Work trophy?

Yearly Raises…2. Christmas Bonus…3. Employee Matching 401K contributions

If this is your company and you win, write the best headline ever for your company newsletter describing your successful selection to the list, and be as specific as you can about how you would celebrate the win if money were no object.

Abonmarche Wins Best Places to Work Companies 2019 – thank you all for voting for us and you should be proud as you are the reason this company is so successful. Please take a day of your choice off to celebrate on us! Thank you again for making us a Great Place to Work!

Tell us anything else you want about this company that you suddenly realize we haven’t asked you about, but you’re sure will be the thing that puts you squarely into the winner’s circle! (Wait a minute! Can you put a square in a circle?)

Bed Race Champions 2018

Teamwork is key to a great company and being proud of your place of employment and co-workers is essential. Again I would not be here for going on 26 years if this was not the best place to work!

Abonmarche Among Best Places to Work in Michiana

The South Bend Tribune released its list of best places to work in Michiana, and Abonmarche was the winner of the medium-size company (101 – 249 employees).

Abonmarche Superheroes Win 2018 Bed Race

A team of Abonmarche Superheroes took 1st Place in the Great Bed Race. The team – consisting of Sam Jablonowski (Captain), Mike Morphey, Lucas Grosse, Dan Bomzer, Garrick Garcia, and Jason Thies – went undefeated in their races to take home the trophy. They also walked away with the award for the team with the most spirit!

Proceeds from the Great Bed Race support the Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary programs and Slumberland 40 Winks Foundation that enrich the lives of families. Besides participation in the event, Abonmarche raised $585.00 through bake sales and raffles, donated to the 40 Winks foundation to provide beds to children in need in our community.

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