Resource International Inc.
- Written by: Camila Osorno
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Resource International Inc. (Rii) is a full-service project management company that combines traditional project management services with highly technical specialties in engineering, materials testing and information technology. The family-owned and -operated company takes pride in bringing a diverse selection of skills to every project where most services are performed in-house for streamlined service, saving the client time, money and the hassle of coordinating with multiple companies. Instead, Rii believes that clients lead a project’s team, and it is the role of Rii’s professionals to built trust, set a positive example and collaborate with other subcontractors to deliver every project smoothly.
Rii is now serving a billion-dollar construction industry, but like many successful companies it was born through chance. “My husband [Kamran Majidzadeh] was doing research for Ohio State University in 1972 when he was invited to present his findings at the International conference on Pavement Design,” recalls Farah Majidzadeh, CEO and chairperson of Rii. The conference opened up the world of state-of-the-art, non-intrusive pavement testing technologies to the Majidzadehs, and Kamran returned from the conference eager to continue researching the first generation of pavement testing equipment.
“The equipment was just sitting in the garage, so I figured I might as well try to market it,” laughs Farah. Farah sent out a few letters on her own personal stationary to possible customers, and within a few weeks Farah had two interested parties on the hook and Rii was born. Customers were drawn to the possibility of learning the true conditions of roads and bridges without having to stop traffic or dig up pavement that may have lasted a few more years. Farah spent the early years of the business traveling around the world to places like Kuwait, where construction was booming, to fine tune the pavement-testing technology to accurately diagnose pavement conditions and building up a strong following of clientele.
Rii has since become a full-scale project management company with nine departments and three laboratories. Rii relocated from the Majidzadeh family home to headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, while also maintaining Ohio branches in Cleveland and Cincinnati, plus offices in Pennsylvania and Florida in order to reach clients nationwide. Rii’s services cover the gamut of civil engineering, geotechnical surveys and testing, heavy highway and bridge construction, information technology, environmental services and pavement engineering. “I realized early on I didn’t want the company to be at the mercy of any subcontractor, which is why we do virtually everything in-house,” asserts Farah.
Rii’s technologies have come so far over the years that roadway condition assessments are still some of its most popular services. The company has been performing bridge deck condition evaluations for CalTrans since 2005, using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to survey the conditions of major Californian infrastructure like the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, the Santa Monica Viaduct and Vincent Thomas Bridge. Rii also surveyed more than 58 bridges along a 100-mile stretch from Burbank to Bakersfield totaling more than 1 million square feet, which the Rii team successfully completed in less than 40 hours.
“The beauty of GPR is that it works at the speed of traffic,” expands Farah. “There’s no need to disrupt traffic flow because the technology picks out the conditions, layer by layer.” Rii’s findings proved that the conditions of the roadway and bridge deck were good, except for one part along the Oakland Bay Bridge Deck that was subsequently repaired.
Rii may be best known for its advances in developing tools and technologies for noninvasive pavement quality assessment, but it is Rii’s personalized approach across all divisions that keep clients coming back. Rii’s corporate culture stresses the importance of innovation, experience and teamwork at every stage to create working relationships motivated by results, not profit.
Investing Internally for a Home-run Hitter
“We were one of the only firms during the recession who didn’t lay off a single employee, because when professionals come to work for us they become part of our family,” states Farah. “The Rii team understands that we’re not here to sit down and waste dollars. We’re here to find solutions.”
Rii did cut back management salaries by five percent, according to Farah. However, Rii focused primarily on providing additional training opportunities to employees during some of the slower times to expand professional skill sets and make the team overall, more flexible and agile. The move helped to reassure the team of brighter days ahead and put the company on track for such fast paced growth. Rii added 32 additional members to its team within the first six months of 2010.
And Rii set the tone for its performance as a construction management company early on. Rii was contracted by the Ohio Department of Transportation in 1998 to serve as the construction management and inspection contractor on a $92.8 million project building 10.7 miles of highway along Ohio’s Butler Regional Highway. It was the single largest road construction contract that year in the state, and Rii managed to complete work a full eight months ahead of schedule, garnering the construction company Kokosing a $5 million bonus.
Rii leveraged its technological capabilities to develop a pavement on par with the high-performance pavement often found in Europe. Farah recalls that many critics argued Ohio’s harsh climate would make the feat impossible, but lo and behold Rii came out on top once again. “We promised a zero-maintenance road, meaning the road would have no potholes or problems for at least five years,” recalls Farah. “Butler Regional Highway is now going on 13 years with zero maintenance, and we have the capabilities to do that anywhere in the United States.”
The team has since gone on to work on a variety of high-profile projects, including the Cincinnati Red Great American Ballpark and an expansion of the runway at Port Columbus International Airport, among many others. The company’s commitment to finding viable, innovative solutions remains steadfast. Rii will celebrate its 40-year anniversary in August 2013, and though the team may not have any concrete celebratory plans, the company’s result-oriented approach and close-knit culture will continue to bring Resource International Inc. many reasons to celebrate in the years to come.
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