Despite pandemic, Fisher Arnold hires new employees, barrels forward

by John Klyce, Memphis Business Journal, June 5, 2020

When Jeff Arnold and Bobby Fisher started Fisher Arnold in 1986, the firm’s goal was to improve gradually. 

“From day one, it was always, ‘We can be better, we think we can do more,’” Arnold said. “That drove us to be a little bit bigger, do a little bit more and a little bit more.”

These incremental steps have made it a bustling company. What started as a six-person engineering firm added architecture, planning, and consulting and now has more than 150 employees.

Arnold recently turned the presidency over to Keith Budlong, whose MidSouth Utility Consultants merged with Fisher Arnold in 2017. Arnold remains CEO and focuses on client relationship development. 

The leadership move came shortly before the pandemic, and Fisher Arnold isn’t immune to viral symptoms. While a lot of its revenue comes from critical infrastructure, some clients reined in spending. 

Still, an economic downturn won’t stop the firm from pulling the trigger on new hires. In 2020, Fisher Arnold has seen 17 new staffers, 14 of them enlisted since March. 

They’ve hired more people this year than the past several years combined, Budlong said. They also plan to bring on recent graduates. 

“At a time where some companies are uncertain about their future, we still maintain a growth mindset,” he said. “We’re trying to bring in a new generation of young professionals.”

Already the largest engineering firm in Memphis, Fisher Arnold is trying to grow its architectural footprint. In the past few years, it’s designed two buildings for Shelby County Schools and has more projects in the pipeline. 

It’s also important to look at where the economy heads the next few years. Director of Architecture Charles Keefer expects it to be a while before there’s much traditional strip mall, office, or retail development. But, there could be brisk business in the supply chain and health care industries. 

The firm’s cofounder is hopeful. 

“From my chair, I am more excited about the future of Fisher Arnold than I ever have been along the way,” Arnold said.