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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Sherie Hensley, PE & J. Allan Hensley Jr., AIA, H4 Architects & Engineers LLC

Spotlight - Sherie Hensley, PE & J. Allan Hensley Jr., AIA, H4 Architects & Engineers LLC

image H4 Architects & Engineers LLC’s Allan and Sherie Hensley

HOUSTON - They work on two different sides of the industry, but husband-and-wife team Sherie Hensley PE and J. Allan Hensley Jr. are always on each other’s side in life and in their business, H4 Architects & Engineers LLC.





How did you become interested in your respective fields?
Sherie: I was interested in math and science growing up, but I wasn’t quite sure what direction to go. I talked to several engineers throughout high school to try to get on the right path. I chose mechanical engineering because it was the broadest engineering field. I went through school, just getting the exposure in anything and everything that I could. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1998 from the University of Houston. When I finished my degree, Allan was already working in the construction industry, so he gave me some recommendations on companies to contact. That’s where I got my foot in the door into the construction industry, working for a firm designing MEP systems.
Allan: I had always done woodworking and stuff with my hands as far back as I can remember. My junior year of high school, I signed up for the Marine Corps. I was guaranteed the engineering field, and after boot camp I was assigned the job of heavy equipment operator in the Marine Corps for six years. After the Marine Corps, I worked in commercial construction. I went to the University of Houston and received my Bachelor of Architecture in 2003 and my Master of Architecture in 2004.

How did you meet each other?
Sherie: I met Allan when I was straight out of high school and he was in the Marine Corps.
Allan: Before I got out of the Marines Corps, I met Sherie via my brother who was working at the same movie theatre as she was. She had one year at A&M. Then we got married and she continued going to college wherever we were stationed at.
When did you decide to start your business, and what was your motivation?
Allan: I decided I would start my own company in 2007. The economy was kind of bad then; I got tired of paying daycare expenses and Sherie had a good-paying job. I could work out of the house, and that way we wouldn’t have to pay daycare for our two kids.
    It started as a sole proprietor, just myself underneath my name. I did five or six projects a year, but most of the time I was focusing on being Mr. Mom, taking the kids back and forth to school and doctor appointments. Slowly, after the downturn in the economy of 2009, I started to get a few more projects, and I started branching out and trying to sub out some of the projects to some consultants. Finally, it got to the point where I had to hire a staff in 2011.
Sherie: I still had my day job, but I would help in the evenings and on the weekends as needed, whether it was engineering or accounting.
    In 2013, I was a partner at an MEP firm. It was the third job I had ever had over the course of my 15 years of experience.  A few years later, I branched off and started H4 Engineers. A couple of years later, we combined H4 Architects and H4 Engineers so that we didn’t have to track accounting for two separate companies and all of the other paperwork that goes along with it.

What is it like to work with your spouse?
Allan: We have our days, but most of the time it’s good! It is a testament to both of us that we do work 24-7 with one another. Working with your significant other, spouse or loved one has its benefits, but the bad side is that, since both of us are in this company, it’s feast or famine.

What strengths do each of you bring to the table?

Sherie: The architectural side of things is his background, his cup of tea. Also, he’s much more laid back than I am, so he’s able to make sure he can diffuse situations that may arise with clients.
Allan: Sherie is the rock, she’s the big dog, the big boss. She’s very level-headed and organized to a point where all of the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. She can juggle about 30 balls up in the air and still be on time and on task with all of the deadlines that she has, not just on the engineering side but she also does all of the bookkeeping and record keeping and payroll.

What is your current scope of services?

Sherie: We offer architectural services as well as mechanical, electrical, plumbing engineering. We do permit running, fire code review, and master planning. As part of our services now, we’re able to offer virtual reality tours for some of our projects that we’re using 3-D software for.
Allan: On the architectural side, we do residential and commercial work. On the residential side, it’s new single-family housing, additions, and remodels. On the commercial side, it’s anything from a car dealership to a restaurant, multi-family, tilt wall construction, and warehouses.

What do you enjoy about your work?

Allan: Each day is different. You don’t have to sit behind your desk doing the exact same thing over and over again. On the architectural side, I can be working on a house one day, a commercial project the next day and then go back to the house the same day. There is always something different that you’re learning; the profession is always changing with new materials coming out, new techniques, how you can build certain buildings or put something together. There is a benefit to being in this profession to where you enjoy it and have a smile on your face 90% of the time. As you’re driving to work, you know you’re going to see something different besides just the same thing on your screen.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Allan: We don’t have much free time! We have two kids.
Sherie: Our daughter, Allana, is a senior at the University of Houston with a kinesio-logy degree; she’s our little 4ft. 10in. sports buff. Our son, Lance, is currently going to the University of Houston College of Architecture. He’s been interning with us since his sophomore year of high school.
Allan: One stays with us right now and one stays closer to U of H. Usually, Sherie and I just go home, make a quick meal, sit down and relax and watch a little TV before 9 o’clock rolls around … then, we get extremely tired and fall asleep on the couch!
    On the weekends, we try to do stuff to help us wind down. We do wood-working and we like to tinker with cars. Sherie likes to go for walks and kayaking.
Sherie: I enjoy being outside. We do enjoy woodworking; we used to do that before we had kids. We built furniture and wall decorations. With the kids growing up and all of the involvement we had with them, we didn’t have much time to do that, but now that they are in college, we’ve resurrected all of those hobbies.

What do you hope the future holds?

Allan: Hopefully, the future holds that we are still in good health and we’re able to enjoy our senior years after going through – like everybody – 9-to-5 jobs for as long as you have to nowadays. We plan on traveling and enjoying quality time together.
Sherie: We figure that our profession gives us the opportunity to sort of semi-retire at some point in the near future and still be able to travel, consult and work on projects. We don’t have to be sitting at a desk to be able to work and possibly generate some income.
Allan: Also, with our son studying archi-tecture, we hope in eight to ten years that he’ll be in a position to take over and we’ll just keep going strong.
    H4 Architects & Engineers in Spring, TX provides full service architectural and MEP engineering. –mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net