When she graduated highschool in 2013, Chelsea Ellis-Hogan was given a selection: Attend faculty to earn a enterprise diploma or take a deep dive into the asphalt business at Sam Ellis College.
The latter possibility, admittedly, was a fictional college dreamed up by its namesake, Ellis-Hogan’s dad.
However his pitch was engaging. The elder Ellis would train his daughter how one can run an organization via hands-on expertise. And finally, the reins to the family-owned paving enterprise could be hers.
She signed up for Sam Ellis U.
Now, Ellis-Hogan, a 26-year-old Black lady, is almost all proprietor of Jim Reynolds Asphalt, based by her nice uncle within the Nineties.
She leads the enterprise from its authentic house in Smoketown, hiring most employees from the traditionally Black neighborhood south of downtown.
And he or she’s serving to change the face of the overwhelmingly white, male building world.
Based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, simply 58,000 of the ten.7 million individuals employed within the building business are Black girls — lower than 1%.
“I simply chuckle about it as a result of I do know all the pieces about me is completely different,” Ellis-Hogan stated. “I’m younger, I’m a minority, I’m a girl, as properly. I’m the exact opposite of what most individuals anticipate within the business. I adore it. It exhibits no matter we need to do, we will do it.”
The concept Ellis-Hogan might construct her personal path was instilled in her from a younger age by her dad, who owned an out of doors clean-up firm earlier than becoming a member of Jim Reynolds.
Ellis was identified with dyslexia and by no means attended faculty, his daughter stated. He had his first baby at age 16 and didn’t have the identical alternatives as his friends.
“He had no selection however to be an entrepreneur,” Ellis-Hogan stated.
Ellis’ laborious work has enabled Ellis-Hogan and her two siblings — who additionally work at Jim Reynolds — to have selections he didn’t. However he’s all the time made it clear to them that different individuals aren’t as fortunate. And if somebody wants a leg up, you lend it.
“I bear in mind at the same time as a child taking a look at purposes that was on my father’s desk the place it was grown males not capable of spell easy phrases, however my father was giving them jobs,” Ellis-Hogan stated. “Individuals who was simply popping out of the jail system, he was giving them jobs. Being raised round that … it made us all wish to give again and do extra and be part of one thing greater.”
Ellis, who retains partial possession of Jim Reynolds, stated it means so much for his daughter to enter into the household enterprise, and he hopes to see her develop it to a degree previous the place he might, taking up multi-million-dollar contracts for initiatives citywide.
She’s obtained the drive and connections to take action, he stated. And mixed together with her ardour for giving individuals an opportunity, she has an actual potential for making change in Louisville’s underserved communities.
“It makes me very, very comfortable and serene each time I rise up and are available to the workplace and see what Chelsea’s doing and the way she’s serving to individuals, altering individuals’s mindsets,” Ellis stated.
“It means so much as a result of she might have went any route she wished to go. Chelsea’s a really proficient lady. She might have began her personal enterprise. However she determined to be a part of my dream, and that’s to have a enterprise that we will cross down from era to era to era.”
That dream and the household’s generosity have been an inspiration to Yusef Bibb, 34, who landed on the asphalt firm in 2019.
He met Ellis-Hogan via MAF Gallery & Cafe, a espresso store she co-owned on Barret Avenue that has since closed. The connection led him to Ellis, who inspired him to pursue his personal enterprise — and gave him a job so he might construct up capital.
“I ended up very a lot liking the entire asphalt business. I really fell in love with it via the love that Chelsea and Mr. Ellis have for it,” stated Bibb, who grew up in Smoketown, down the road from the Jim Reynolds workplace. ”… Simply working with them, it confirmed me how one can take delight in what I do.”
Bibb lately left the corporate after two years to work full time on his personal endeavors, together with a personal-professional growth coaching program below the identify Kocoon On-line Academy. He presently has contracts to conduct lessons with YouthBuild, Goodwill and Jim Reynolds.
“I look as much as Mr. Ellis as a father determine. I have a look at Chelsea as my sister,” Bibb stated. ”… I really feel like they’re a mannequin of not solely enterprise however how a household ought to work. I drastically respect them to permit me to have the chance to even expertise that.”
Ellis-Hogan stated entrepreneurship can open doorways for individuals, permitting them to construct private wealth whereas additionally contributing to their communities.
That’s particularly necessary in a neighborhood like Smoketown, the place the median family revenue is under $32,000 — 56% of the median throughout Jefferson County, as an entire.
“When individuals have entry to data and information about enterprise, it may change issues for them,” Ellis-Hogan stated. ”… It makes all of us passionate to simply be an instance in our neighborhood that, hey, we’re right here, we’re making an attempt to do it, we’re making an attempt to enhance and find out about our funds. You are able to do it, too.”