The last of the homegrown firms

I like to think of myself as a talented gardener. If you ask my husband, Kamran, about my gardening skills, he’ll laugh, but I’ve cultivated something special in Ohio’s rich soil. I’ve grown a company.

Resource International Inc. employs more than 170 Ohioans. What started in our basement 40 years ago has grown into a multimillion-dollar business. We are a “homegrown firm.” Therefore, we continue to focus the majority of our resources and business development efforts on pursuing contracts in Ohio. This is where our roots are, and this is where we want to keep them.

Tied to the community

We’re proud to be experts in the state’s public infrastructure, project protocols, and roads and facilities. We’re honored to have built relationships with both public and private clients over the years.

With our headquarters in Columbus, 95 percent of our employees are based in Ohio. As a local firm, our revenue goes back into the local economy through the taxes our employees pay.

But over four decades, our employees’ contributions have been more than financial. They are immersed in these communities. They own homes here. They’ve raised their families here. Some have started nonprofits or donate time to a local philanthropic organization.

From community service, civic engagement and fundraising, to just the presence of our employees within their neighborhoods, the schools their children attend or the sports leagues they participate in, Rii employees are active, contributing Ohioans. Every day they shop locally, participate in bake sales, attend religious services, drink beer at the neighborhood tavern or donate their expertise to school projects.

Local is not lesser

This is the value of a homegrown firm. It saddens me to look around and count on one hand how many other homegrown firms are left in my industry in Columbus. These days we bid on local projects with a sense of trepidation, because there are so few barriers to entry for non-local competitors.

There is always the potential for an owner to select a national firm, even when the local architecture, engineering and construction firm has lower overhead costs and knows more about the project because of local experience and expertise.

I respect the reasons an owner may have for considering and, at times, selecting national firms. But I hope Ohio business leaders understand that “local” or “homegrown” does not mean “lesser.” I hope these local owners recognize local firms’ expertise and our contributions to the local economy and communities when they begin the consultant selection process, and take it into consideration before making their decision.

At the end of the day, projects deserve the best consultants, whether local or national. But Ohio-based AEC companies have a long, wonderful history of doing outstanding work throughout this great state and I hope we can all continue to do so.

Our project team members know what it means to be a Buckeye, because they are Buckeyes, which is exactly why I decided to grow Rii in Ohio’s rich, wonderful soil.

 

Farah B. Majidzadeh is the CEO and chairwoman of the board of Resource International Inc. Farah has received numerous awards for her 43 years in business, including 15 years as an unprecedented chairwoman of an International Joint Venture (Highway Maintenance Associates) in Saudi Arabia.