Meet Nigeria’s Nosa Ehimwenman; a cab driver’s son contracted to renovate Chicago airport

Mohammed Awal February 11, 2020
Image credit: Chicago Sun-Times

Nigerian-Born Nosa Ehimwenman is the founder of Bowa, one of the fast-growing construction companies in Chicago. 

Bowa has been involved in numerous projects in Chicago including the renovation of a Starbucks concession in Chicago airport, the same airport his father used to hunt for passengers as a cab driver so he could look after his family.

Born in Nigeria, Ehimwenman was brought to the United States at the tender age of six. That was in 1988. Ehimwenman’s father started as a cab driver, before breaking into Real Estate.

Ehimwenman would take over from his father years later winning Chicago’s first airport concessions construction project awarded to an Africa-American prime contractor, according to Africans in America.

“My last name means ‘you have a good spirit,’” said Ehimwenman. “Sorry, I get a little emotional.”

“I just remember watching my dad come home late and leave early, driving for Yellow Taxi, then Checker Cab, and hardly seeing him because he was always working,” the 37-year-old Hyde Park resident said.

 “I look back at my parents’ sacrifices, at where we’ve come from. To be standing at O’Hare doing a ribbon-cutting for possibly the largest airport Starbucks in the country, it’s kind of mind-blowing.”

Ehimwenman’s father drove a cab for 15 years to provide for his family.

According to the Bowa Group website, Ehimwenman “has always been a part of the construction industry; one could agree that it is a part of his DNA strand,” realizing during his childhood that nothing comes easy and that he would have to work for the life that he wanted – just like his father. 

He worked through high school as a laborer and carpenter with his father on properties in the city of Chicago, gaining a life-long passion for construction and a focused work ethic, the website said.

Ehimwenman holds an MBA from Purdue University and a Bachelors in Construction Systems Management, with a minor in City and Regional Planning from Ohio State University.

He flourished both in and out of the classroom, becoming an All American full-scholarship student-athlete in Track & field while at Ohio State. Among his many accomplishments on the track, he claimed the Olympic B qualification and Big Ten Championship in the triple jump. 

Before joining Bowa, Ehimwenman was with Gilbane Building Company for 10 years. He left his prestigious role at Gilbane Building in July of 2013.

According to the Bowa group website, Ehimwenman managed projects in K-12, Mission Critical, Higher Education, Retail, Healthcare, interior renovations, Higher education, Residential, and Financial Institutions.

At some point, he became one of the youngest senior managers for the Gilbane.

It reportedly that Bowa has seen 300 percent growth since 2013, when Ehimwenman quit his job with Gilbane Building Co., one of the industry’s largest global construction and facilities management firms, to build his own company. 

Bowa’s portfolio includes many projects at the University of Chicago Medical Center and several at O’Hare, including the new O’Hare Police Station Bowa began building last month.

“I got to meet Nosa’s dad today, and to see the look in his eyes, how proud he was of his son, was heartwarming because he’s certainly overcome challenges. It would be disingenuous for us to say that small minority- and women-owned companies don’t face greater challenges than majority-owned companies,” Chicago Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said as reported by Africans in America.

“But the mayor has made it clear from Day 1 that my job is to remove barriers to entry and building capacity for small businesses. And we’re finding that one size truly does not fit all,” she said.

“You have small contractors that like the world they’re in and want to continue operating in that sphere, and then owners like Nosa, who say, ‘I can do that, and I want to do more.’ We’re breaking up these projects … in a way that promotes participation in 77 community areas.”

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: February 11, 2020


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