Mother Magnolia engineers Atlanta to El Paso
on Thursday, 27 February 2014.
President and CEO, Magnolia River
What started as a project management and inspection service for gas and water lines 14 years ago has blossomed into a thriving energy and utility consulting firm, Magnolia River. Kimberly Hoff is at the helm as president and CEO of the Hartselle firm she founded with her husband, Ronnie.
Originally focused on making sure new gas and water line projects were being constructed according to drawings and regulations, Magnolia River today is an engineering, software, infrastructure and geospatial solutions company.
Kimberly Hoff says the company started by chance after her husband, Ronnie, quit his job. She handles the business side, and he handles the operations side.
They hired their first employee after a year. Soon they needed engineering services, so they added a professional engineer to the staff and incorporated the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.
"Our engineers can use it with data points to find out exactly where a specific valve is located or where a regulator station is located," she says. "For people who have a hard time understanding it, I tell them it's like the GPS in your car, instead of telling you where to turn, it shows you exactly what point certain things are located that a utility company may need."
In 2011, Hoff led the way for Magnolia River to acquire Aeroquest Optimal, a company in Huntsville offering similar services. Since Aeroquest Optimal offered a concentration in aerial surveying, the acquisition further expanded Magnolia River's services.
An emerging software development component also is used to complement the company's engineering services. Hoff says they've always offered a variety of individual applications and tools, but now they're putting those tools together in a software package to help companies better predict areas of potential concern.
Hoff says starting the company was the best move she and her husband ever made. Coming up with the name was "one of those husband-and-wife argument things."
"Ronnie wanted the name 'river' in it, because he likes living close to the Tennessee River. But I wanted something Southern. The magnolia is my favorite tree, and it's definitely Southern, so I asked him what he thought about Magnolia River? And we agreed."
Hoff founded the company as Magnolia River Services because the acronym would be MRS. When Ronnie noticed her using the MRS acronym, he asked her why.
"He didn't even get it," she says with a laugh.
Today, the company has almost 100 employees, with offices in Hartselle, Huntsville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Little Rock, El Paso and DeBary, Fla.
In addition to serving as president and CEO, Hoff says she considers herself the "mother" of the company.
"I want our employees happy and doing a good job," Hoff says. "And I give them every possible resource to succeed." — Wendy Reeves