There’s a running joke among Charlotteans that you can’t go a day without seeing cranes in the sky. But what people don’t see are the specialized skills that are needed to complete every phase of construction. NJR Construction specilizes in Metal Framing, Drywall, and Acoustical Ceilings. The minority owned company has been instrumental in completing some very visible buildings in the Charlotte area. We sat down with their company President Ed Roper to learn a little more about his journey as a Minority small business owner in the Charlotte area.
SM: Tell us a little about yourself and your company? What is your specialty, how long have you been in business?
ER: My name is Ed Roper. I am a Charlotte native and have lived here most of my life outside of my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. I am President and one-third of NJR Construction along with my fellow partners Jose Benitez and Nelson Benitez. We specialize in Metal Framing, Drywall and Acoustical Ceiling scopes for Commercial Construction projects. Our company was founded in March of 2016.
SM: What was your motivation for starting your own business?
ER: I have always felt like I had a fire inside of me and felt very ambitious as a result. I think the simplest answer would be I identified a need or problem in the marketplace and decided to position myself to help bring value to the market by solving those problems and providing that need.
SM: Did you find it hard as an MWBE to break into the industry/market?
ER: There have been many challenges along the way. I still feel like I have not arrived. One of the first things you realize in this industry is there are very few people that look like you. So, you are always the minority in most settings. But for me that’s ok. You must learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s the essence of entrepreneurship.
SM: What’s the one thing that sets your company apart from others in your industry?
ER: If I had to pick one thing, I would say it’s our company culture. We take pride in creating a culture that is focused on our employees and putting them first. We truly value each and everyone and are always mindful of the impact they play in our companies’ success. We are big on family at NJR Construction. I don’t want to just ask an employee how their kid is doing. I want to be able to ask about them by name.
SM: What’s one thing you would tell your younger self about starting a business and measuring success?
ER: I would start off by saying focus on the journey and not the destination. The journey is where the true value happens. Running a business is not about making money, it’s about constantly focusing on becoming a better you and as you become better that translates into you also being an example that helps those around you become better versions of themselves. I’d also say don’t look at others as a measure of your own success. There will always be others that are further along or who seem to be doing better. You are in competition with you. If you can look back and say to yourself you are a better person than you were 3 or 5 years ago, to me that’s success.
What are you most proud of as it relates to being an MWBE business owner and operator? I enjoy being able to create opportunities for other minorities. That’s what makes me the proudest.
SM: How can people get in contact with you?
The best way would be to email me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org