- News & Analysis
- Event Tickets & Nominations
Heather Nelson was looking for a way out of banking, which had lost its fun, and was considering returning to school for a Ph.D. a little over eight years ago when lunch with a client remapped her life.
Her lunch companion, North Little Rock contractor Ken Davenport, spent the whole hour talking about an energy efficiency business his son was planning. As he detailed how it would work, Nelson stopped him abruptly with a question: Who’s going to run this business?
“You are,” Davenport replied.
“The hell I am,” Nelson shot back, but within minutes Josh Davenport and Nelson had a rendezvous with destiny. “The rest is history,” said Nelson.
Nelson is president of Seal Solar of North Little Rock, with Josh Davenport as CEO, overseeing a company that shifted completely from energy efficiency work to solar contracting in May 2019. Now, after a 40% increase in revenue in the past three years, Seal is a leading third-party solar contractor in the state with 45 employees and more than $10 million in revenue for 2020.
Nelson, who minored in entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas and eventually got her MBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said her motto is “make a plan; work the plan.” Other guiding philosophies are to “mentor and be mentored, and never stop learning, growing or failing.” Among her own mentors, she said, are Arkansas bankers Rusty Guerra, Robert Burnett and John Dominick. A Leadership Little Rock and Leadership Arkansas graduate, she serves on the board of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association and Junior Achievement of Arkansas.
Nelson recalled her first job at age 13, busing tables at a Mountain Home restaurant. “I was Chatty Cathy with the diners, and started to understand the importance of relationships. It’s still a strong suit for me. And I learned that hard work really does pay off.
“It made me appreciate a dollar, taught me how hard it is to make a dollar,” she continued. “Growing up poor, that’s a lesson I held onto. It does take a lot to earn a dollar.”