Reaching new heights in the elevator business: Minority CEO honored for entrepreneurial success

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Jashan Eison went from employee to a successful CEO within a decade’s time.

Only four years into his acquisition of H & B Elevators and already he’s being recognized for providing high quality jobs to the city’s north side.

“It feels great most of the time, then there are those days where you look around and you say there is nobody to complain to,” Eison said.

The inner-city Milwaukee native was first hired as a project manager at Minneapolis-based H & B elevators in 2007. 

In 2011, once he heard his employer was considering selling the company, he and a co-worker decided to purchase it.

“When I saw this opportunity there was initially to be quite honest there was a lot of fear,” he said. “Not having any experience in being an entrepreneur or a business owner, there were some gaps in my understanding and my pocketbook, so to speak."

So associates referred Eison to the Metropolitan Economic Development Association. Their  sole mission? To help current and aspiring minority entrepreneurs succeed.

“Our approach is to really provide advice, information, connections and resources to help people start, grow and acquire businesses," George Jacobson, the Director of MEDA Minneapolis’ Minority Business Development Agency, said. 

On average MEDA helps launch 10 to 15 minority-run businesses in Minnesota every year.

Jacobson, who worked with Eison directly on the acquisition, refers to him as an ideal candidate.

“It was very clear that he had a wealth of understanding about the business and the industry, the company had been around a long time,” he said.

MEDA helped Eison execute presentable business plans, financial statements, and provided him access ideal capital. 

“I believe in changing some of the economic disparities,” Eison said.

He decided to move shop into an approximately 52,000 square foot shop in north Minneapolis–where more than half of his 50-employee workforce lives.

“We touch a lot of buildings from our little corner of North Minneapolis,” he said. “Being in north Minneapolis gives me that opportunity to be around a group of potential employees and employees, too.”

Inside the shop Eison’s employees press, shear and laser punch the elevator frames, doors and cabs we’ve likely depended on at some point before.

“Any city throughout the country, H&B elevators are in it,” Eison said.

But evidence of Eison’s rise to the top is vast. You can find H & B Elevators manufacturing inside U.S. Bank Stadium, the State Capitol and even inside the tallest skyscraper in the world–the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

“We’ve grown our revenue by probably about 40 percent since acquiring the company,” he said, pretty significant within the construction industry.

Eison’s direction, vision and success is why MEDA named him their Entrepreneur of the Year. The prestigious award is given to minority entrepreneurs who demonstrate industry leadership, business success, economic impact and community involvement.

Although the milestone is one Eison reaches with surprise.

“I’m pretty honored to have met that threshold at this point,” he said.

Yet the accomplishment is one Eison said is proof that with the right support anyone can call the tune for your own success.

“You have to be willing to work hard, and then you have to be willing to work a little bit harder because it is fun to be able to say you’re the boss, but it comes with a lot of responsibility,” he said.

MEDA hosts its Annual Recognition Meeting Monday June 12 at 3 p.m. inside U.S. Bank Stadium’s Delta 360 Club. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and the event is free and open to the public.