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Sonja N. Hines( Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun photo / June 26, 2013 )
43, President, H&S Resources Corp.
As president of H&S Resources Corp., Sonja N. Hines has seen her company nearly double its revenue and grow from 32 employees to 103 -- all in the span of a year.
The Columbia-based, $6.8 million firm is a jack of all trades when it comes to keeping a federal workplace running smoothly. That can mean anything from maintaining heating systems to providing custodians to transporting personnel for federal agencies and military bases.
The minority firm's expansion placed H&S at 31st on a 2013 ranking of fastest-growing women-led companies in the U.S., determined by the nonprofit Women Presidents' Organization and American Express' small-business division.
"Last year was a breakout year for us," said Hines. "That was due to really focusing on our market and really getting out there ... and going after opportunities."
Hines found her way into the line of work by accident, in physics class at her North Carolina college. She'd been thinking about switching majors from chemistry and asked the student next to her, "What's your major?"
His answer, occupational safety and health, intrigued her. She discovered the field would allow her to blend her love of science and people. She's never looked back.
Her job, throughout much of her career, has been to keep employees safe. She served as a safety engineer or similar roles for Miller Brewing Co., Exxon, Sandia National Laboratories and Roche Molecular Systems Inc. At Aberdeen Proving Ground, she helped neutralize mustard agent. She's done work for NASA and at the Washington Navy Yard.
All the career diversity laid the groundwork for H&S, which she started in 2006 with Thomas J. Scanlon III, now H&S' vice president, and one other employee. Scanlon describes his business partner's personality as equal parts easygoing and assertive.
"It was clear to me: She was someone who could run a company," Scanlon said. "She clearly knows how to organize things and manage people, and also to interact with people and network. ... She's gotten out there and pounded the pavement and gotten us business."
When she's not running her company, Hines, a Crofton resident, is more than likely spending time with her 4-year-old twin daughters. Either that, or going to museums.
"I love reading about history, and I like to go to museums," she said, "to find out what happened yesterday."
-- Lorraine Mirabella