Brian Hill

Hill & Cox Corp.

City: Hot Springs
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Year: 2008

Not long after taking a job with M.W. Kellogg in Houston in 1990, fledgling mechanical engineer Brian Hill realized that a cubical life in a big city was not for him.

Hill and his wife moved to Hot Springs, where Hill joined the family business, the commercial contracting firm Hill & Cox Corp.

In 2003, Hill's father, company founder Larry Hill, retired and then-President Randy Cox died suddenly in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Thrust to the helm of the company, Hill and his partner, Robbie Cox, and by extension the 43-year-old company, were left to "sink or swim."

And swim they did. Hill and Cox grew the company's revenue from $10 million in 2003 to about $32 million in 2008, Hill said.

Hill's secret to success is surrounding himself with successful people. He added that cultivating a company slowly and carefully is vital. "I think that you have to be careful not to get caught up in making money," Hill said.
Hill's leadership philosophy hinges on a relationship of mutual respect between a boss and his employees.

"I think the key to our business success is that we have to have great relationships with the people we work with. And you've got to have respect for others," Hill said.

"If you expect respect back from [employees], you've got to treat them the same way."

Hill also has a "hands-on" approach that, he said, has limited the company's growth. Hill and Cox choose to keep most of their contracting projects within 60 miles of Hot Springs so they can be on site daily to monitor the quality and progress of a job. Hill said they also like to keep projects close to home so employees can "sleep in their own beds at night" and be with their families.

"My greatest accomplishments happen when I am part of a team that is able to transform a raw piece of land into a 70,000-SF school facility, which is home to over 600 students, or build a 45,000-SF counseling center for mentally disabled people in Garland County," Hill said.

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