Chelsea Ellis-Hogan, 26, is the majority owner of Jim Reynolds Asphalt, a firm founded by her great uncle in the 1990s. When Ellis-Hogan completed high school, her father asked her to choose between going to college to earn a business degree or join him in the asphalt industry.
Ellis-Hogan opted to join his dad in the paving industry. Her father taught her how to run the company through hands-on experience and today, she is running Jim Reynolds. She now runs the family business from its original home in Smoketown.
“…I know everything about me is different,” Ellis-Hogan told Courier-Journal. “I’m young, I’m a minority, I’m a woman, as well. I’m the complete opposite of what most people expect in the industry. I love it. It shows whatever we desire to do, we can do it.”
According to Courier-Journal, Ellis-Hogan’s dad has been instrumental in helping her shape her career path. Her dad was the founder of an outdoor clean-up firm before joining Jim Reynolds Asphalt. Her dad was diagnosed with dyslexia and never attended college and so entrepreneurship became the only viable option for him, according to Ellis-Hogan.
Despite his own challenges in life, he has created a path for Ellis-Hogan and her two siblings to have a choice in life. Ellis-Hogan said her father’s background is also a big lesson for her as she is constantly reminded that there are others who are not lucky like her.
“I remember even as a kid looking at applications that were on my father’s desk where it was grown men not able to spell simple words, but my father was giving them jobs,” Ellis-Hogan noted. “People who were just coming out of the prison system, he was giving them jobs. Being raised around that … it made us all want to give back and do more and be a part of something bigger.”
Aside from running the asphalt company, Ellis-Hogan is determined to change the face of the construction industry which is overwhelmingly dominated by whites and males. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that Blacks make up less than 1% of the construction industry.
In order to change that, Ellis-Hogan typically hires workers from historically Black neighborhoods south of downtown. She sees the move as a way to help Black people build wealth while also contributing to their community.