Jim Knight lives by two mottos.
First, “every day you get up, you have to do something that makes the world a better place, and make others’ lives better,” says Knight, senior principal with Stantec’s Dallas office.
The second? “You have to raise your family, so they can make the world a better place, after you are gone,” he says.
Knight is the driver behind such master-planned communities as Trinity Groves, an 80-acre development west of downtown Dallas that offers restaurants, retail, hotels, and housing. For more than 30 years, he has focused on land development, master planning and infrastructure design.
He’s driven by a desire to serve family, industry and community. In fact, Knight believes he is a servant to his community. “If I can’t make my community better, in some way, every day,” he says, “I’m not doing my job.”
Knight says he is focused on future generations, in part, because he and wife, Alexa, have three children. His eldest son, Jared, is an attorney; middle son Zander is in high school, and daughter Harper Leigh attends middle school.
“I believe my job is to make the world better for them and others their age,” he says. “When they grow up, they can avoid my mistakes, and pay the philosophy forward.”
Part of Knight’s beliefs also can be tied to changes in civil engineering and real estate.
“Back in the 1980s, you had to be a good technical engineer to survive,” Knight says. In the 1990s through the early 2000s, relationships were the focus.
These days, “thanks to advances in technology, everyone is technically good at the job, and everyone has great relationships,” Knight says. The next logical step is adding value. “I have to make a difference, every day, to make my client’s project a success,” he says. “If I can’t make my clients’ projects better, they don’t need me.”
Then, there is service to the community.
Knight was active with the Real Estate Council in Austin (RECA), ultimately becoming that organization’s president. When he and his family moved to the Dallas area in 2011, he joined RECA’s sister organization in Dallas, The Real Estate Council (TREC). Knight is TREC’s vice chair for 2018; in 2019, he’ll step into the role of chairman.
One of his goals is to work with governments on regulations to drive economic development and sustainability. He also wants to address education. “The better we’re able to educate our young people, the better the next generation will be,” he says.
Knight is on the boards of Downtown Dallas Inc. and the Dallas Regional Chamber.
“Downtown Dallas Inc. is working on economic drivers for downtown Dallas,” he says. “The Dallas Regional Chamber wants to grow the entire community. And TREC focuses on improving the CRE world. They work in tandem.”
Knight’s service philosophy can be traced to his upbringing. Born and raised in Temple, Knight is a seventh-generation Texan, who learned, from his parents, that humans are Earth’s tenants, and are responsible for the planet.
He affirmed his philosophy while in school, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas and an MBA in finance from Texas State University.
Ultimately, his beliefs crystalized throughout his career, from his start at Baker-Aicklen & Associates in Round Rock, Texas through 2016, when Stantec bought Bury, the company he had co-founded.
It’s safe to say that Knight’s overall belief is servant leadership, that doing right to do good eventually leads to success.
“The real power is being able to reach out, with hands open, and ask how I can help you,” Knight said. “It’s not about putting yourself above everyone else.”