Kimley-Horn began as the partnership of two transportation engineers, Bob Kimley and Bill Horn. Kimley came out of the NC State Highway Commission. Horn was a highly intuitive, creative engineer—the kind of guy who could sketch the plan for a thousand-acre project in pencil on scrap paper and get it right the first time. After a year, Bill and Bob invited one of Bill's former grad students to join them. Ed Vick was a creative problem solver whose technical excellence and genial ways built a loyal clientele. The three incorporated in February 1967.
Steady growth marked the firm's development through the 1970s and 1980s, with new disciplines being added as new specialists joined the firm. Those specialists—practice builders, we still call them—are given tremendous freedom and corporate support for building their own enterprise within the enterprise. Once a practice builder is on board, he or she can draw on the full resources of the firm to make their practice work.
Starting in the 1990s, ambitious annual and five-year goals fueled the always competitive staff to new achievements. The firm leaped from an ENR ranking of 105 in 1990 to 33 in 2014. It became the nation's leading engineering firm for multi-family residential and retail properties.
The impending retirement of the last founder in 2001 sparked introspection about what should never change. Five core values and a core purpose were identified. Our business exists, above all, to provide an environment for our people to flourish. But inextricably interwoven are the values of honesty, integrity, and ethics; exceptional client service; high expectations; sharing and caring; and sustained profitability.
Those values and purpose aren't new—they go all the way back to our founders. Our circumstances change, but our character remains the same. And as we move through a new millennium, that just seems right.