When Drew Stoltz and Rob Hoag were working for a large Southern Ontario environmental engineering firm in the early 2000s, any early departure from the office – for a golf game, dentist appointment, even a funeral – was met with the same joke: “must be nice.”
It didn’t happen often. In a heavily structured corporate environment, big billing numbers weren’t just the expectation, they were the focus: the client as a commodity. The pair moved to a second firm a few years later but, despite some positives, the mentality remained the same.
“Those big companies taught us a lot in terms of experience and work ethic but we got tired of the approach,” Drew says. “We couldn’t serve our clients the way we wanted to and we felt there was a better way.”
The pair decided to strike out on their own, leaving the security of a big firm to start their own company. There were plenty of decisions to be made but among the most important: what to call their new venture?
“So we’re going to start our own company and we’re gonna put it where we want and we’re going to set our own billing rates and we’re going to do it how we want to do it,” Drew says. “And we just said ‘well, that Must Be Nice.’”
And so MBN Environmental Engineering was born.
More than 10 years later, that ethos remains at the core of Drew and Rob’s approach.
“We talk all the time about getting to know the people we work with, understanding their goals and their businesses – treating people like we want to be treated,” Rob says.
Because they are still a two-man shop – by choice and by design – every client works with an environmental engineer with decades of experience
“I try and stay away from cliches: ‘we know how to partner with our clients,’ or ‘we know how to come up with unique solutions to your problems.’ Everybody says that,” Drew says. “But we’re going to be heavily involved with every project and we have the experience to back it up.”
After spending more than two decades working side-by-side, Drew and Rob still enjoy their partnership.
“It’s really the friendship, the kinship between the two people that makes MBN unique,” Rob says.