If it weren’t for a thoughtful dean, Charlotte wouldn’t be the city it is today. Robert Snyder, retired dean of UNC Charlotte’s William States Lee College of Engineering, saw something in Noah Lazes, and he made sure the young student saw something in Charlotte, too.
Lazes, president of the ARK group, is the man responsible for the N.C. Music Factory and numerous other clubs throughout the Queen City.
He says Dean Snyder told him to pay close attention to the entrepreneurial opportunities Charlotte offered. “You could see Charlotte transforming,” Lazes said. “At that time, it felt like a small town with a lot of potential.”
While at UNC Charlotte, Lazes, who graduated in 1994 with a civil engineering degree, obtained his pilot’s license, learned to play the guitar, rushed Lambda Chi Alpha and eventually became the president of Tau Beta Pi, the oldest and most prestigious engineering honor society in the nation. He also fostered his entrepreneurial spirit.
Opportunity knocked when Charlotte was chosen to host the 1994 NCAA Final Four championship basketball games.
With the Chamber of Commerce’s blessing and funding, he and a friend took over several burnt out buildings on Tryon Street and made an entertainment district appear, practically overnight. He earned enough money from that venture to open his first club. In fact, he said, “The day after giving the commencement speech to Tau Beta Pi, I opened Fat Tuesdays.”
Since then, Lazes has been involved in numerous projects in Charlotte and across the country. The city now boasts a burgeoning entertainment district. However, Lazes would like to see someone create a company of engineers whose mission is to help developers find aesthetically pleasing ways to solve problems and save money at the same time. He’d do it himself, he said, but he’s a little busy right now.