Bonnie Moss, President of MBCO, talks about the civil engineering company and how the recent floods will impact the landscape of Houston.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
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For all you folks that like to Twitter, hashtag TBR as in Texas Business Radio, hashtag TBR. We monitor that all the time. Now you know that you could sit back, relax, enjoy this program. We’ve got a great one going. Special guest for this session is Bonnie Moss who is founder and I guess co-founder, president of MBCO, which is a civil engineering company. You’ve really had an amazing track record so let’s start, Bonnie, by saying thank you for joining us.
Bonnie Moss: Thank you. Thank you for taking the time.
Jay Curry: We’re very interested in hearing this amazing story of what you’ve done in such a short amount of time. Tell me, what does MBCO do and what’s that stand for? What is this?
Bonnie Moss: Well, thank you. MBCO is a multidisciplinary civil engineering firm that has a surveying component. We are civil engineers that design traffic transportation, waterline design, utilities, and environmental for mainly government agencies.
Jay Curry: Okay, and you’re doing engineering work. What’s that mean?
Bonnie Moss: Engineering work means civil engineering design on large ditches, large highways, traffic signals, traffic studies, things like that.
Jay Curry: Big stuff.
Bonnie Moss: Big stuff, yeah.
Jay Curry: Does civil ever mean little stuff? Do they civil engineer that little line that goes in my backyard? That wouldn’t be so …
Bonnie Moss: Yeah, all of it. I would say, yeah, anything. Civil engineering, what that means being things that affect the civilians, being civil, so anything. Yes.
Jay Curry: What area? You’re in just the Houston area?
Bonnie Moss: Here in the Greater Houston area. We do work for all the local Greater Houston counties, Montgomery County, Brazoria, Harris, of course, Fort Bend County and also all the small local municipalities within Houston along with the City of Houston.
Jay Curry: It’s a very interesting story. You’ve only been around about three years and you came together, three different people with different backgrounds, lots of experience, and you’ve created this rapid growth company. Talk to us about how do you get three people to come together like that and how you put the whole thing together.
Bonnie Moss: Yeah, it’s really fascinating. I mean, we’ve known each other for a little while but we all came together and I think what got us together is that we’re very like-minded people. We like to have fun. We love relationships but we’re also technically savvy. We have engineering degrees and so what was neat is that not one of us does the same thing and so when we realized that we were going to start the company, it just kind of flourished from there.
Jay Curry: It kind of sounds like you took all of your engineers, civil engineers actually but you’re from different diverse areas.
Bonnie Moss: That’s correct.
Jay Curry: You brought, what, someone that’s a traffic expert?
Bonnie Moss: My background is traffic and transportation so I’ve done a lot of design of traffic signals and traffic studies, a little bit of roadway stuff, but then you have another partner who does a little bit of that but more on a exploded level like complex highways and bridges and big projects for TxDOT and streets and drainage. Then, the other partner is large diameter waterline design and utilities and right-of-way acquisition, so individual expertises.
Jay Curry: You mesh that together. Did you know each other beforehand? How could you click so fast?
Bonnie Moss: Well, I knew the one partner. He and I worked together many years and then, he brought somebody-
Jay Curry: He knew the other.
Bonnie Moss: He knew the other. He knew her for many years and he’s like, “Oh, you’ll love her. Bring her on.” I was like, “Okay.” We all met and he was right.
Jay Curry: You started with three years ago.
Bonnie Moss: Correct.
Jay Curry: You’re setting with 24, 25 plus now.
Bonnie Moss: That’s right.
Jay Curry: It meant success. It is woman-owned. That’s a little bit of advantage but that doesn’t get you anywhere but to the batters but you still got to get a hit, you still got a score and make runs. What’s the competitive advantage? Why does somebody come to you rather than that other civil engineering firm?
Bonnie Moss: Well, I think the large part of it is, yes, we are women-owned. We have all the certifications but there’s the surveying component. A lot of other engineering firms need to include the other surveying component on their team and so that’s huge.
Jay Curry: That’s what made it, is that okay, you may have traffic but you need a little more of the larger, maybe on this project, transportation type of experience so you bring your other partner or one of the people that-
Bonnie Moss: Correct, or the surveying component. Absolutely.
Jay Curry: Surveying, it’s kind of a big deal for you because you actually work for your competitors in that area.
Bonnie Moss: We do. Like I said, our competitors is also our customers too. We need them but they need us because of our certifications that will help them potentially win the job.
Jay Curry: Where do you get your work? I know it’s from large municipalities like Harris County.
Bonnie Moss: Correct. We get work from Harris County Flood Control District. We do regional water authorities, TxDOT, City of Houston, Fort Bend County, Harris County, Montgomery County, whatnot. Yep.
Jay Curry: How do you know things are going on? You’re reading the paper and going, “Oh, we’re going to build a new …”
Bonnie Moss: We stay active in the community most definitely. It involves going to city council meetings, going to commissioner courts, reading the paper, staying in tuned what’s going on with TxDOT.
Jay Curry: I know that you don’t put three people together and suddenly explode to the business that you have. There’s some trick going on there. It’s not you’re sitting around, the three of you come to a room and you start a business, the phone starts ringing. You’ve got a little different approach.
Bonnie Moss: I do. Luckily, each of us have had over 20 years of experience that we brought together and brought to the table and so, that helps. We’ve built the relationships and we kind of knew what we’re doing a little bit ahead of time.
Jay Curry: Okay, so it’s relationships.
Bonnie Moss: Absolutely. The key to our business is there’s a lot of engineering out there to be done and a lot of engineering companies that do really good work but our key is the relationship. We are definitely relationship builders, first and foremost.
Jay Curry: Now, I don’t want to knock guys because they’re kind of my best friends too but the reality is that engineers that are guys aren’t quite as relationship-oriented, if you would. They’re more focused and driven and less people design. That’s really one of your competitive advantage.
Bonnie Moss: Absolutely. We love people. We love coming up with new ideas. That’s also another competitive advantage, is that we offer new ideas, new solutions to problems that are solved usually the same old way but yeah, that was our competitive advantages. We love relationships.
Jay Curry: It’s also got to be something. When we were talking beforehand, I was asking about, well, civil engineering is kind of civil engineering. It’s just the lower price but you’re going, “No, no, no. We bring creativity in. We bring some new ideas.” What’s that about?
Bonnie Moss: Well, designing a ditch is designing a ditch. It’s done the same way usually every ways but we bring up different ideas and alternatives that maybe the client has never thought of, outside the box type thinking.
Jay Curry: Thinking.
Bonnie Moss: Absolutely.
Jay Curry: … which is for an analytic, I’m a computer guy myself, I’m the same way, it’s a little hard to get out of the box when you’re having fun playing in the box. That’s one of the things that you break. This has been very interesting. Your growth has been phenomenal and three people, 20 years’ experience in different areas. Think about that folks. Put it together. Work on relationships. You can build a substantial company. Bonnie Moss, thank you so much for coming on. This has been a great story. Congratulations on your success. It’s amazing.
Bonnie Moss: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Jay Curry: All right. This is Jay Curry, your host for this segment and we’re going to take a break but we’re going to be right back. We got a lot of interesting stories and today, we’re celebrating women entrepreneurs. It’s a great theme so stay with us. Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.
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Jay W. Curry
Along with hosting “Texas Business Radio”, Jay is a Professional Certified Coach and Master Chair facilitating four Houston-based Vistage peer groups. In addition to being a best selling non-fiction author, the 2015 release of his award winning novel, Nixon and Dovey: the Legend Returns, adds novelist to his title. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics from Oklahoma State and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State. You can learn more about Jay HERE.