Appetite for development
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Appetite for development

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Ora Reynolds helps Hunt Midwest become largest developer of residential lots in area

Anyone who has been around Ora Reynolds for any length of time would conclude she is a woman of boundless energy.

And they would be right.

As vice president and general manager of real estate development for Hunt Midwest, she has been responsible for the purchase and entitlement of more than 3,300 acres of land and the development of more than 4,800 platted lots in more than a dozen master-planned communities.

As of February, she also became responsible for the company’s industrial and commercial development with a focus on the marketing, sales and leasing of surface industrial and commercial properties.

That’s a lot to put on one plate.

“I love the entrepreneurial environment,” she said. “Of course, the Hunt family is the best there is to work for. They have given me a lot of latitude.”

Reynolds, a native of Chicago, graduated from the University of Indiana with a degree in finance and later worked in the banking industry.

When Hunt Midwest was looking for someone to work in business development, it was recommended they hire someone with banking experience. Reynolds was chosen.

“We were expanding, and Ora had enthusiasm and the financial literacy we were looking for,” said Hunt Midwest’s President and CEO Lee Derrough. “We asked her if she wanted to take on real estate development. She did and took us from nothing in 1993 to the largest developer of residential lots in the metropolitan area.”

The company owned 300 acres of land on what is now Shoal Creek Parkway and 76th Street. Reynolds, who had been with the company for two years, took the challenge to develop it into a residential community.

“Our plan was to develop 900 homes in 25 years,” Reynolds said. “We did it in 11 years.”

What came after that was one of the fastest growing residential development companies around with developments throughout the Northland and in Lee’s Summit.

In less than a decade, Reynolds had climbed the ladder from manager of new business development to manager of residential development, then director, then general manager, then vice president and general manager of residential development, and finally overall real state development, including industrial and commercial divisions.

The challenge is always there.

“When you present an idea, the usual response is, ‘Go for it,’” she said. “I think that’s why we have so many people who stay here for 20, 30 even 40 years.”

She said it was difficult to strike a balance between her duties and other things.

She serves on the boards of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City and is vice chairwoman of the association’s political action committee. She has been elected to the board of the National Association of Home Builders and serves on its land development committee. She also serves as vice chairwoman of the Northland Chamber of Commerce Planning and Development Committee, the Platte County, Clay County and Lee’s Summit Economic Development Councils and the Partnership for Community Growth and Development in Liberty. She is also a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions leadership program.

Business Editor Gene Hanson can be reached at 389-6638 or ghanson (at) npgco (dot) com.

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