When you think about the construction industry, what comes to mind?
Images of skilled trades professionals operating tower cranes and placing beams are likely. But for Mr. Namdi Iwuoha, president of JLN Construction Services, working in construction isn’t just about excelling at those hard skills. The right mindset makes all the difference, too.
Mr. Iwuoha leads his firm and its team members with both — and that drives his desire to succeed.
A Father’s Request
Mr. Iwuoha grew up in Nigeria. In the 1980s, a mentor suggested seeking higher education if he wanted to begin a career in the country’s oil industry. He applied to schools in the United States and came to America initially to study geology. Six months later, his father urged him to change his field of study to engineering. As Mr. Iwuoha notes, “His word is golden.” It ended up being a good move.
“I was always amazed at how things were built, and I am very hands-on,” he explains. “That made me choose civil engineering.”
He graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1986 with a bachelor’s in engineering.
The Beginnings of JLN Construction Services
Upon graduating, Mr. Iwuoha began his professional career with General Electric, building subway cars in Buffalo, New York. He moved to Maryland in 1987 and, from there, worked for various engineering firms.
He decided to venture out on his own in 1997. Because of his passion for construction, Mr. Iwuoha started JLN Construction Services and Avalon Consulting Services (which acts as JLN’s consulting arm). JLN, a Baltimore, Maryland-based certified minority business enterprise (MBE), offers a comprehensive range of services for the effective management, construction, and timely delivery of projects.
In the years that followed, JLN took on many K12 projects as well as some higher education jobs at local community colleges. It wasn’t until 2017 that the firm was hired for a nearly $7 million project with the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). The job, which was pivotal for JLN, entailed safety and equipment upgrades to two of the airport’s concourses.
“BWI was a very, very tough project,” Mr. Iwuoha explains. From security implications to quality control and working in an active environment, the project didn’t come without its challenges.
Despite the hardships, Mr. Iwuoha and his crew walked away with several lessons learned. As a complex project with many logistical concerns at play, JLN worked on the airstrip at night in shifts to accommodate BWI’s hustle and bustle. Overall, making sure the job was completed with the utmost quality was the number one lesson learned. Mr. Iwuoha credits his team with having the right skillset and mindset for the success of the project.
A Protégé Meets its Mentor
JLN’s reputation began winning the firm new work — and new partnerships. Formed in 2018, JLN joined a mentor-protégé arrangement with Barton Malow. This classification helps Mr. Iwuoha’s company gain capacity and win contracts that it otherwise wouldn’t have been considered for.
“Barton Malow showed me what a true partnership could be,” Mr. Iwuoha says. JLN has worked on three projects at Morgan State University through this partnership, including the Martin D. Jenkins Behavioral and Social Sciences Center, completed in 2017; the Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall Student Services Building, completed in 2020; and the Health Human Services Center which will reach completion in the first half of 2024.