After graduating from Sprayberry High School, then Georgia Tech, Croy went to work for Cobb County as a drainage and sewage engineer. At the time, he had no way of knowing he was on the path to oversee a period of unparalleled growth in infrastructure development that would literally pave Cobb’s future growth.
In 1986, Croy became division manager of road maintenance until 1992, when he became the county’s director of transportation.
“At the time, Cobb County really ran its own little construction company — we had our own grading, paving, bridge and concrete crews,” he said.
In the position, not only did Croy have oversight of the projects built from Cobb’s first transportation special purpose local option sales tax and the Cobb County Transit bus system, but also he witnessed miles of asphalt materialize into Cobb’s key arteries, including the East-West connector, the West Cobb loop, Barrett Parkway and Johnson Ferry Road.
“Our team did about $1.2 billion worth of project work during the ’90s in Cobb County,” he said. “We had a lot of new subdivision construction going on, and there was a lot of traffic and a lot of traffic issues.”
In 1999, former Gov. Roy Barnes picked Croy to be deputy director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Croy then moved into the role of executive director of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority, where he worked on the Northern Arc project and advocated for methods to accelerate projects through bond initiatives.
In 2004, Croy left state government to become president of and eventually purchase a small Marietta general civil engineering firm with 20 employees in 2005.
In the years since, the firm has grown to 70 employees.
“I’ve been able to put a diverse team together with older folks and younger talent,” Croy said.
The firm offers transportation, traffic engineering and operations, program management, survey, photogrammetry, land acquisition, site development, wastewater, environmental and construction engineering services.
Well-known for their SPLOST and transportation work in Cobb, the firm has shifted heavily into aviation and has become the engineer of record for 19 airports, he said.
The firm’s clients include Kennesaw State University, and the cities of Smyrna, Powder Springs, Marietta and Austell. They have clients and projects in Georgia and Alabama.
He says that while business has slowed down in the last two years, he has seen an uptick this year.
“There is work out there, but it is very competitive,” Croy said. “We have flattened out, but we are fortunate to still be standing.”
Croy said that before the downturn, revenues were almost $10 million. He says that the firm has now bounced back to between earn between $8 million and $10 million a year in revenues.
“Jim is a common-sense, straight shooter, problem-solver, concession-builder type of person that is very rare in this business,” Smyrna mayor Max Bacon said. “He is a good man and has had a major role in the success of not only Smyrna, but Cobb County.”
Croy says at 63, he does not plan to retire anytime soon.
“I have a 10-year plan; I just have not decided when the 10 years starts,” he said.
CEO Profile: Jim Croy sr.
* title: Managing partner, Croy Engineering
* age: 63.
* education: Georgia Institute of Technology, 1971, bachelor of civil engineering.
* family: Daughter, Jessica Holt; Son, James Croy Jr.; two grandchildren, Tyler and Lusi.
* First job: MacDougald-Warren, Inc. — Employed full-time as a highway contractor in the Atlanta area in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while attending Georgia Tech as a full-time student.
* best job: All of my jobs have been both challenging and fun. Being an entrepreneur is rewarding in that our team at Croy Engineering is accomplishing so much, not only with professional services, but also through charitable works and community service.
* lesson learned the hard way: While it may sound cliché, business is made up of highs and lows. The highs do not last forever, and the lows will eventually come around to highs again. As tough as it can be to weather the storms, I’ve learned to enjoy each day for what it has to offer.
* advice to the next generation: Value your relationships and commit to being a loyal friend in your personal, business and social life.