Ju­lian com­pany plans year­long sab­bat­i­cal for ser­vice projects

Centre Daily Times (Sunday) - - Business - BY HOLLY RID­DLE

Nexen Con­struc­tion’s CEO Eli Ace al­ways knew he had a vi­sion of some­thing big­ger, of be­ing a part of some­thing greater than him­self.

Now, with an up­com­ing #Serve2024 ini­tia­tive where em­ploy­ees take a year off to give back to the com­mu­nity, he’s mak­ing that vi­sion a re­al­ity.

Hav­ing founded Ju­lian­based Nexen in 2009, for the first sev­eral years of the com­pany’s ex­is­tence, he pri­mar­ily man­aged the la­bor por­tion of large con­struc­tion jobs ar­ranged by a man­age­ment com­pany.

“The man­age­ment com­pany did the leg work, put us on projects and I just had the guys,” Ace said. He was look­ing for some­thing more.

“Since I was a young kid, I wanted to work and be part of some­thing big­ger than my­self, but I didn’t re­ally know how. I didn’t think it was go­ing to be in a busi­ness as­pect,” he said. “I al­ways re­ally wanted to work for a busi­ness owner that (al­ready) had the re­sources. I wanted to be a right-hand man to a re­ally, re­ally good leader.”


But Ace could never quite find the leader he was look­ing for. So, frus­trated with Nexen’s way of do­ing busi­ness at the time, when his now-pro­ject man­ager Vi­taly Glushak told him to go build the busi­ness he dreamed of while Glushak took over the field team man­age­ment, Ace set out to be­come that leader him­self.

“Three years ago, Vi­taly pushed me out into the CEO role and he took the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the field. That’s when I re­al­ized I was ac­tu­ally in a role I en­joy. I get to net­work, be a part of the com­mu­nity,” Ace said.

Free of the de­mand­ing field man­age­ment, he threw him­self into learn­ing all he could in prepa­ra­tion to build his busi­ness, hir­ing a busi­ness coach and tak­ing ad­van­tage of busi­ness re­sources.

“All the sud­den, the busi­ness started to take trac­tion. It was re­ally tough, but it re­ally started to work out as we started putting peo­ple into the right roles,” Ace said.

He be­gan to cre­ate a uni­fied team, one that no longer needed to lean on the man­age­ment com­pany for work, but that could in­stead be­come a leader in the re­gion, with a cul­ture founded on core val­ues Ace be­lieves in.

“In 2009, we (weren’t re­ally run­ning as a busi- ness),” he said. “We were just a whole bunch of guys putting prod­uct on walls; we were get­ting paid by the man­age­ment com­pany. All the guys were sub­con­trac­tors. There were no em­ploy­ees. I didn’t like that. I wanted to see a com­pany full of em­ploy­ees.”

One re­quire­ment he has of those em­ploy­ees? They have to see the com­pany’s vi­sion.

“(Po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees who) see the vi­sion, those are the peo­ple we want to hire,” Ace said.

That vi­sion re­volves around the motto of “Build, Lead, Serve” and it’s a theme seen through­out ev­ery as­pect of the com­pany, par­tic­u­larly Nexen’s new #Serve2024 ini­tia­tive. In 2024, Nexen will forgo all paid projects to do­nate its ser­vices to the com­mu­nity, with each em­ployee split­ting their time be­tween vol­un­teer­ing, team-build­ing ex­er­cises and per­sonal pur­suits, such as spend­ing time with their fam­ily and trav­el­ing.

“I al­ways saw pas­sages in the Bi­ble where the com­pa­nies back in the day would take a year off as a com­pany to re­ally serve the com­mu­nity and have time of re­flec­tion, re­fo­cus and re-en­er­gize. I thought that would be re­ally cool. I was al­ways fas­ci­nated by that,” Ace said.

“We’re go­ing to take 2024 and we’re go­ing to re­fresh, re­fo­cus, re-en­er­gize — take time to get to­gether to work­shop, team build and help out com­mu­ni­ties that are less for­tu­nate around us.”


While Ace says he’s been warned he may lose some busi­ness and con­trac­tors due to what some peo­ple would call a rash de­ci­sion, he said, re­gard­less, he’ll gain a com­mu­nity, and com­mu­nity is a big part of his busi­ness goals.

“My vi­sion has al­ways been work­ing in the com­mu­nity and build­ing a busi­ness around the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Un­til 2024, Nexen plans to put the right pre­cau­tions in place to en­sure #Serve2024’s suc­cess; this in­cludes build­ing the com­pany and lead­ing the in­dus­try to then turn around and serve the Cen­tre County area.

“Our com­pany is in the build­ing stage of the busi­ness. We’re build­ing it up un­til 2020, and then from 2021 to 2023, we want to be lead­ing our in­dus­try,” he said. “We want to get trac­tion, a lot of prof­its. We want to go into ex­e­cute mode. We want to get a lot of profit, a lot of sav­ings, a lot of cap­i­tal. The year be­fore 2024, we want to make sure we have a lot of cap­i­tal saved up, so that our em­ploy­ees are on a salary ba­sis for the en­tire year.”

He also notes that Nexen is build­ing up its core group of em­ploy­ees now, to get the right peo­ple in the right roles, just as Ace found his right role as the CEO of his com­pany. When hir­ing, Nexen keeps its Build, Lead, Serve motto front and cen­ter.

“We’re build­ing up a gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers to serve their com­mu­nity with their God-given tal­ents,” Ace said.

What hap­pens for the com­pany af­ter 2024? Ace says he plans to have projects lined up for the start of 2025 and then the cy­cle of build­ing, lead­ing and serv­ing will be­gin again. His goal is to con­duct an ini­tia­tive sim­i­lar to #Serve2024 ev­ery seven years.

Photo pro­vided

Ju­lian-based Nexen Con­struc­tion has cre­ated a plan to serve the com­mu­nity in 2024, with all em­ploy­ees tak­ing a sab­bat­i­cal year for pub­lic ser­vice.

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