‘My American Dream and Rebuilding the Nigerian Infrastructure’
Nigerian born Namdi Iwuoha and his organisations JLN Construction Services, an African American Minority Construction firm, LLC and Avalon Consulting Services, are household names associated with best global standards and practices in Maryland and its city, Baltimore. The philanthropist who is a role model for the next generation says his American dream will only be complete when he replicates his celebrated infrastructure construction and remodeling accomplishments in his country of birth. Nduka Nwosu reports
You can call him Namdi or Nnamdi Iwuoha but whichever way it goes, this is one Nigerian whose craft in engineering construction in faraway America has brought pride to the Nigerian community in Maryland and its famed largest city of the US, Baltimore.
Next time your flight descends into Baltimore-Washington International Airport observe that the whole idea on the expansion of the multi-faceted concourses is to give you a unique experience that is not only pleasurable but stress free. BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport as it is commonly known is an architecture of tourist appeal. It even becomes more of a massaging delight when you are departing from or arriving to BWI in Gate D8 and D7.
This reconstruction was executed by JLN Construction Services and LLC with Engineer Iwuoha supervising.
The BWI Airport website is glad to announce its arrival into a fresh new world of customer service care of low fares, convenient parking, modern terminal and an “easy come, easy go” reputation all of which make BWI Marshall Airport your best travel choice. Iwuoha’s organisation indeed shares in the glory of this transformation, the new look BWI Airport. Since the idea is to sustain the curious impression of the visitor for as long as he is willing to the largely re-modelled and reconstruction of the World Trade Center sustains the tempo.
Welcome to the state of Maryland the home of Morgan State University. Take a drive through the Jenkins Building, the New Student Center and cruise through the State Highway Administration 211 Building and get a feel of newness all over you.
Welcome to the world of Namdi Iwuoha who sits on the driver’s seat of JLN Construction Services, LLC (JLN), an African American Minority Construction firm and Avalon Consulting Services, LLC (Avalon) specialists in engineering services. The firms are located in Baltimore and with a branch office Laurel, Maryland.
How did it all begin?
After working with some of the Fortune 500 companies, he ventured out on his own and floated a going concern, the JLN Construction Services, LLC and Avalon Consulting Services, in January 1997. His vision? “To provide quality services by employing the right tools, talents and resources to execute and ensure completion of jobs for our clients, to help them realize their goals, while exceeding their expectations.”
Iwuoha set for his group of companies the goal of seeking to constantly improve and stay current on developing technologies, regulations, legislation, and industry best practices by providing the highest level of quality in all services with total success of each project executed in view. For Iwuoha the focus was to constantly exceed the expectations of clients and partners, to uphold high moral principles, values and business practices, to provide for his employees a safe and productive work environment in which they can achieve their personal career goals.
Has the group met the expectations its founder set before it? The laurels it has garnered for best practices and the quality of jobs it has delivered in 21 years of its establishment in 1997 resonate all through the length and breathe of Maryland and Baltimore where many of its completed projects stand out as medals of honour. Iwuoha has been garlanded with medals beyond his expectations because according to him, “JLN has performed services as a General Contractor, Joint Venture Partner, Teaming Partner, Mentor Protégé as well as a Minority Sub-Contractor on a multitude of projects for various agencies, placing key emphasis on the quality and diligence of our services and works to satisfy our clients.” In 2016 the prestigious Baltimore Smart CEOs organization admitted him into its Hall of Fame for leading edge CEOs.
His promise: “We will continue to rise to the forefront in the building and construction industry due to our commitment and dedication to providing quality services and ensuring our clients’ satisfaction. In addition, JLN will remain dedicated to developing the proficiency and skillfulness of our employees, as well as maintaining their longevity in our company.”
With over eight business certifications such as the MBE by the Prince George’s County, Maryland, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), Charles County, Maryland, the Cory of Baltimore, Maryland and the LDBE by the Metropolitan
Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) plus recognition by the Mayor of Baltimore, Iwuoha has every reason to say his American dream indeed has been one met with great expectations. His high-profile clients in the Maryland administration network extend to the Ports, Aviation, Transit, State Highway, Departments of General Services, Housing and Community Development, Housing Authority of Baltimore City, City of Baltimore Department of Public Works, Prince George Department of Public Works and Education, et al.
That young man who left the shores of his country with a suite luggage he calls a portmanteau way back in the early 1980s has grown to be so big in corporate America that he has become a critical voice for the African American experience, so much so he serves in many capacities of influence outside his core business in civil engineering.
Expectedly this life changing experience did not come with a bed of roses. It had thorns and hills that needed to be dismantled. Like the alchemist seeking to transmute a base metal into a noble one such as gold, he was cooked in the furnace of human experience, with an admixture of ingots as the fire roasted and transformed him to a distinguished citizen. In everyday language, he met people along the way, angels sent to take him to the next level. These experiences and challenges shape the persona in him.
Iwuoha’s career in the engineering and construction sector kick started with what in his professional language he calls horizontal design and construction of roads, bridges, culverts, sediment and erosion controls, mass site grading, drainage and pavements services. According to him: “during this period of my career, I was involved in infrastructure assessment, design build, scheduling, constructability review, project management and project inspection.” More importantly Iwuoha’s early apprenticeship working with Fortune 500 companies actually prepared him to tread the road less travelled throwing him up to greater heights of accomplishment.
Vice President of the Nigeria Children Foundation and co-founder of Buffalo Area Engineering Awareness for the Minorities (BEAM), Iwuoha remembers his parents Geoffrey Uwalaka and Jessie Iwuoha of Umueze Ogwa in Mbaitoli LGA, Imo State with passion and nostalgia. Being the first son in a family of seven children imposed on him early in the day a sense of responsibility and duty. His father was a civil servant who believed in education and hard work, admonishing his children always to be hard working since it is the passport to success among other things.
He also ensured he gave them good education within his reach ensuring each of them became a university graduate as the minimum passport to playing active roles in society. An old boy of Aboh Mbaise Secondary School in Imo State Nigeria, Iwuoha left his country in 1981 for the US to fulfill his American dream, earning a degree in Civil Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1986.
That journey that began 37 years ago has borne positive results of a protean dimension, what Iwuoha says is possible with a guiding principle which is that it is not what you have achieved in life but what you do with the achievement and the impact on the rest of humanity that matters. This guiding principle has led him to invest heavily in human resources, talent and team work. A recipient of the “Best Minority-Owned Construction Contractor of the Year 2015” in the Maryland Washington corridor and best clipped video of the Year 2015, Iwuoha’s very active involvement in the affairs of the state of Maryland where he has been privileged to sit on leadership positions of many organisations, has led him to believe he could do same back home in Nigeria using his skill in engineering, construction and organisation of men and materials.
Iwuoha, looking forward to replicate his skills and achievements back home waxes patriotic with the familiar refrain of making America great again reminding his countrymen and women that “we can make our country great again. In Nigeria, God blessed us with all the known natural resources without natural disasters. Let us work together to rebuild our nation.”
The JLN boss who serves on the board of Maryland Minority Contractors Association (MMCA) as well as being a corporate member of Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association (MWMCA) says his next destination is his country of birth where he believes his 32 years of exposure as a leading player in corporate America is needed at this critical moment. He argues there is a need for Nigeria to reverse the trend from the poorest to among the fast growing economies of the global village. He hopes that someday he would be given the opportunity to bring back home his knowledge in Engineering, Construction, Management and Decision Making to make positive changes and create value in his country of birth.
A Morgan State University Civil Engineering advisory board committee member the JLN leader starts his day with a personal aphorism and a company policy which states that you should plan your day and work your plan, guided by best global practices and standards aimed at producing nothing but the best. For him his American dream remains a job half done until he is able to transfer to his country of birth the knowledge, experience, hard work and perseverance that have brought him critical recognition in Maryland and Baltimore and indeed America. “My ultimate dream is to create opportunities for our young graduates by empowering them with the right skills and exposure.
Secondly, I want to help re-build and create lasting infrastructure back home, the type that have made us household names in the US. With my relationship with some of the firms in the US, we will be able to add value to the redevelopment of Nigeria.”
Mr. Iwuoha whose firm JLN was recently honored as “Best Minority-Owned Construction Contractor of the Year 2015” in the Maryland Washington corridor and best clipped video of the Year 2015 was also voted the first minority firm to be awarded a General Contract of $5.9M with Maryland Department of General Services. In 2014 he received an Achievement Award from the Greater Baltimore Committee for participating in the greater Baltimore area.
Mr. Iwuoha focuses on helping small businesses as well as build and maintain relationships with his clients. He was recognised by the City Council of Baltimore and the Mayor for Professional Commitment in Baltimore. In 2011, his firm along with Hensel Phelps donated over 200 backpacks to less fortunate and minority students in East Baltimore Area. His company provided the Howard Community Association with free office space for community events.
Adapted to a typical Biblical expression, the subject in question wonders aloud to himself of what shall it profit Iwuoha if he wins all the laurels in the world and back home he has nothing to show for the great civilization that has brought him thus far to a professional success story and material conquest. For him until he exports back home what America has done for him then his popular maxim of turning what you have to the benefit of man’s estate as Francis Bacon also averred, would have come to naught.
According to Iwuoha, “my country Nigeria is overdue for the next level of development. As the giant of Africa, it is my hope that the next government will create a master plan that will be based on goal-oriented projects and physical accountability. It will be an honor to serve our country through infrastructure and implementation of good governance with God as our anchor point.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee National Leadership Award recipient says he is proud to be born a Nigerian, studied in Buffalo New York and resides in the state of Maryland where he has largely impacted his exemplary life on
Nigerians and the larger Maryland community with its huge Nigerian population who are very proud to have Iwuoha as their own. He has been rated as a man who is community-oriented, philanthropist and team builder who creates opportunities for his community. Mr. Iwuoha has been known to give donations to local and international organisations to both schools in Nigeria and Maryland and keeps giving and doing good. He is active in his village where his welfare programmes have added value to the entire community.
Iwuoha keeps creating opportunities for the next generation through scholarships for higher education both within and back home in his country, employment, internship, as a mentor protégé, the creation of new businesses and challenging opportunities for college graduates with active participation in community events and activities.
As the Best Minority Construction Contractor of the Year 2015, he insists the poor maintenance culture in Nigeria’s infrastructure network is due for a reversal. “A poor maintenance culture of our vast infrastructure network translates to a loss of productive time, a loss of national wealth and a fall in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), productive time, loss of goods and services, poor health of citizens and loss of lives as well as escalating crime and violence. It impacts negatively on every facet of national life as growth is impeded.
“Maintenance culture in Nigeria will create wealth, productivity and good governance. Given the opportunity to add value to our country Nigeria, my core areas of interest will extend to the same activities JLN and Avalon Consulting daily tackle in the world’s most advanced economy and they include the following: roads and bridges infrastructure maintenance, drainage and reconstruction, improvement and modernisation of our air and sea ports.
These will improve goods and services and consequently create good governance. Nigerians are good and hardworking people but some of us are not given the opportunities. “In life it is not what you achieve, but what you do with the achievement,” Mr. Iwuoha who resides in Woodstock, MD with his wife and children avers.