For someone who doesn’t like to get on the rides at the State Fair or Six Flags, I can still compare the past 55 years to one of an exciting roller coaster ride.
We started in a 2-story building on Fairmount and Cedar Springs. I climbed those cold, outside stairs on January 12, 1961 to be the first secretary/receptionist for Ratliff, Irby, Purdy – a firm that had been in business for four years. We inched up the track’s first hill with only 5 of us on board. Two weeks after I started, we moved to a nice office building at the corner of Harwood & Cedar Springs.
As we chugged along on the roller coaster, several folks got on the ride with us. We began to pick up speed and our group continued to grow. We moved from Harwood and Cedar Springs to the Stemmons Towers, and we were moving and growing pretty fast.
My personal life had its own roller coaster moving and growing at a rapid pace too. I met and married my husband Eddie in 10 days in 1962. A precious son barely 5-years-old came with him, and many of you know him (Scott Fletcher, who has been with Humphrey and Associates for 35 years). We quickly added a daughter Edie in 1963 and another son, Eric, in 1966.
The RIP roller coaster had to make a stop in 1966 to let Jerry Irby off, who passed away from a bout with cancer.
The firm of Ratliff and Purdy continued on the ride and we added more and more passengers.
We decided to build our own building to accommodate our continued growth as that roller coaster continued upward. We moved far north where the land was just beginning to develop – to Midway and Sigma Road – where the road came to a halt just past our building.
In 1969 as we were completing the building, two new passengers joined the ride. A new partner, Jvan McGuire, came aboard to help the ride go a little smoother and faster along our journey. As a one-girl office with a husband and three children, I discovered that working 7 days plus nights at home was wearing out my personal ride. So in October 1969, Sandi Martin (now Danna) joined us as our new receptionist. It has been my pleasure to call her my friend and still coworker 46 years later. What a ride we have been on during these many years. We have been to more weddings, funerals, birthday parties – and have seen precious children grow into adults and have their own children – than most people do in their lifetime.
The roller coaster continued to grow and pick up speed through the 70s, and we continued to see change along the way. Harold Ratliff got off in 1977 due to a buyout by Purdy & McGuire. Jvan McGuire got off in 1979 due to a fatal heart attack.
At this time, the roller coaster slowed down for a while because it was uncertain what path it might take next. Our clients were not sure if we would make it either, with just one principal engineer left to run the roller coaster. We are grateful for the many clients who stayed and have been with us for decades!
In 1982, we sold our building because we had outgrown it, and we moved to Quorum. We merged with Zumwalt/Vither in 1983, and brought a significant group of passengers on board with us.
The roller coaster was going at a pretty rapid speed during those days until about 1986 when the economy took a big hit. With that, the roller coaster began to slow down and many of the PMI passengers began to get off, one by one.
We had signed a new lease in Trammell Crow’s new building, Greenhill Park on Midway Road, and by the time we moved we only took half of the entire floor. The roller coaster ride was really slow and more passengers continued to disembark. We negotiated ourselves out of the 5-year lease, and moved back into our building on Sigma Road. The owners had defaulted on the note, so we took the building back. There were only about 26 passengers left out of the once 125 passengers we had while at Quorum, and we were doing everything to keep us on the track.
Technology was changing rapidly with computers and innovative design software being introduced. It was a big financial struggle to keep the passengers and to buy the new equipment to keep up with the growth and changes in the industry.
By 1990, we were down to 16 passengers and Jim Purdy was worn out from a long journey. I could tell he was ready to get off the old roller coaster and take a different journey on his own.
Kip Hanzlicek joined the ride in 1984 and Jud Bryan had been on board since 1981. Jud had been on a couple of other roller coaster rides long before he joined PMI, so he too was ready to retire.
I had been a partner for about 10 years, and had a lot invested in the ride. I was not ready to call it quits. I approached Mr. Purdy and asked if he would sell his shares and get off while we were virtually at a stop on the track.
In May 1994, the final papers were signed and we began the next journey on the roller coaster. Kip became the President and Jud decided the ride was going to be fun again so he stayed for a few more years.
Kip and I have been fortunate to add three more partners during the past 15 years, and the new ownership continues with the same partners with Camille Barton as our new CEO, along with Kip, Dan, and Scott. Folks who were on the ride then and have retired or still chugging along include: Kip, Sandi, Brad, Ken Riley, Tom Rose, Oen Gwie, Conrad Pinneke, Jose Casanueva. Many people have joined us on the ride, got off for a while, got back on again, are working at other firms or retired, and still say, “what a ride!” and a great journey.
The roller coaster has had a lot of fixes over the past 55 years, and a lot of changes in the technology to keep up the fast pace, but right now it is up to full speed with fresh owners and new ideas.
The roller coaster will come to a brief stop on January 20th and let this passenger of 55 years off so she can live the next phase of her life at a slower pace.
I am looking forward to seeing the roller coaster speed ahead, climb higher than ever, filled with a group of excited passengers who make it to the top and stay for many years!