Building urban communities - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Like many entrepreneurs, Eugene Marsh, president and CEO of Construction Management Services Inc., gained experience in his field and then gathered the needed skills to begin his company.

Fresh out of the U.S. Army and the Vietnam War in 1972, Marsh sought employment at the local power company in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a relay technician. From there, he went on to work at some of the nation’s most prestigious construction companies such as Charles T. Maine Construction as a design electrical engineer, Bovis Leane Lease Construction as director of business development, and the U.S. Department of Commerce as regional director of construction project management.

Despite a lucrative career, Marsh said he felt like something was missing. So, in 1996, he “stepped out on faith” and formed Construction Management Services Inc., a construction firm specializing in various phases of a construction job from preconstruction (determining the feasibility of a construction project before starting the work), to project review (survey of work in progress or completed jobs).

“I always had an interest in starting my own company,” says Marsh, 50. “In corporate America, things are done one way, and I wanted to do something different,” he said.

Construction Project Management Services has completed management projects for the Milford Presbyterian Church in Milford, New Jersey, a daycare center in Trenton, New Jersey, and the historic Nixon School, the first African American school in Trenton.

Marsh financed his new business with $7,000 from his 401(k) plan from his employment at Bovis Leane Lease and $3,000 in personal savings for start-up costs. Marsh noted the biggest challenge for his new company, which he initially ran from his home in Trenton, aside from lack of time and resources, was marketing.

“I had to figure out a way to get the word out about my company,” says Marsh. “In order to generate revenue, I had to be proactive.”

So he cold-called companies and introduced himself. That’s how his company landed the project management assignment on a $400 million job for the Merrill Lynch Hopewell Project near Princeton, New Jersey, last year. In seeking this project, Marsh said he approached key executives at Merrill Lynch after reading a news article on the project.

“I saw this as an opportunity,” said Marsh. “I said to myself, ‘How am I going to approach the giant of the financial world? They don’t know me, and I don’t know them, so I don’t have anything to lose.'”

After meeting with company officials, six months later he was presented with an offer to work on the project.

Construction Project Management Services employs four. The company’s earnings for 1999 were $600,000.

To Marsh, the greatest reward of running a business is helping other businesses to grow by providing construction management services to previously underserved segments of the population. His company’s primary focus is urban communities, where he says the need for jobs and education is tremendous. Marsh, a recipient of many commendations for his work, teaches construction courses at two local community colleges.

“My goal is to not only build a building, but also

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