Jonathan Shively, co-founder of Central Construction Group and Southland Building Materials, grew up in Little Rock and graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in international business. He joined Stephens Inc. after college, working in mutual fund trading, the private client group and institutional equity sales.
Shively was the head of the institutional equity sales teams for both Europe and the Southwest United States when he left to form Central Construction Group. He is a member of the board of directors of Our House.
What is your favorite part of doing what you do for a living?
I left a 19-year career in the investment finance world in 2015, moving my focus from somewhat intangible investments to building real projects because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. Whether it’s the historic revitalization on Main Street, apartments or hotels in northwest Arkansas, it is rewarding to be a part of something that will be around long after I am gone.
Give us a quick history of Central Construction Group and the ownership that makes it go?
Formed in 2011, CCG had a unique start for a construction company in that we were essentially built from the inside out. Most companies form and then work to get business. We started in response to a developer needing to value engineer projects to get into budget. Working with Moses Tucker Real Estate, we built the first ground-up apartment in downtown Little Rock in over 30 years, and we’re currently working on our fourth and fifth buildings in SoMa for the Lasiter Group. With partners Chris and Jamie Moses, we branched out when I came on board full time.
What renewable energy features are most in demand in today’s construction projects?
Renewable energy in construction has gone from “niche to necessity” with LEED construction projects providing a road map for building sustainable projects. Even our historic remodels utilize smart energy-efficient features with everything from lighting and climate control sensors to energy-efficient roofing systems or instantaneous water heaters. Energy efficiency is not only recognized for long-term cost savings over a project’s lifespan, sustainability has become a priority for developers.
Contractors around the country complain about a lack of workers. What will it take for the construction industry to raise wages to attract good workers?
This industry is encountering a structural problem. The recession caused skilled workers to leave the field, and younger workers never filled the void. CCG focuses on bringing in younger employees and providing them with the tools and training needed to succeed. We make competitive salaries, health care packages and a 3.5 percent 401(k) match a priority and utilize technology programs like ProCore that allow us to do more with less.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
My father-in-law is a banker in southwest Arkansas, and he told me, “Don’t ever forget what it’s like to sit on the other side of the desk.” That really made an impact on me. I interact with people from all walks of life and view them all as part of a team of valued partners.
Who are your mentors, people who made a difference in your life?
My father instilled in me the value of a dollar, the importance of hard work and to never give up. I had a paper route as a 12-year-old, and he was right beside me at 4 a.m. Thirty years later, I realize it was one of many life lessons that made me who I am.