AE Works president and new GBA member Michael Cherock is making a big splash in the small business community. He was recently named the PA and Western PA Small Business Person of the Year and was also recognized by Ernst & Young as the Service Category award winner for the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Western PA and West Virginia Program. Here’s a look at his work and what all the fuss is about!
On May 23rd, a crowd gathered at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum to celebrate Pittsburgh native Michael Cherock for being named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year. (He was also named the regional Western PA Small Business Person of the Year before winning the state title.) The location was fitting due to Cherock’s past service in the U.S. Navy and the fact that he and his team at AE Works designed that building’s green roof (one of the largest in the city). The roof design incorporates green technology into this early 1900s Beaux-Arts Style treasured National Register of Historic Places landmark and demonstrates Soldiers & Sailors’ commitment to sustainability.
Cherock’s journey to becoming a leader in the small business community started when he was young. Always interested in how things worked (“Wires were always my thing when I was young,” he says.), Cherock fed his curiosity and love of learning by becoming a nuclear-trained power plant electrical operator on Naval submarines. After a hand injury led to medical discharge from the Navy, Michael transferred his passion to the classroom and completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in architectural engineering from Penn State University. Cherock started AE Works in 2007 as an electrical engineering firm in his Pittsburgh basement. Today, the team has grown to a full-service East Liberty-based architectural and MEP engineering firm with 31 employees in three locations across Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.
AE Works offers a host of services, including architectural and interior design, mechanical and electrical engineering, building information modeling (BIM), and sustainable design, just to name a few. In addition to the green roof at Soldier & Sailors and many renovations that incorporate energy efficiency, other green building projects they’ve worked on include the City of Pittsburgh Lighting Ordinance to meet the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan (adopted by the City of Pittsburgh on August 5, 2008). A focus on healthy and high-performance design fits well with Cherock’s values.
“At AE Works, our products are buildings, spaces, and systems – all designed by people for people to enable others to do what they do better while working to improve our collective world. And that is what this award is about – our team. Every staff member is a valued teammate and helps bring purpose and meaning to the firm, to their colleagues, to their own work, to our clients, and to our communities. It is our people who create the value that fuels the firm’s growth,” affirms Cherock.