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Success Stories

I-5 Rose Quarter Improvements Project Success Stories

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Crystal Stone smiles in front of the textured grey stone wall of the First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

A Culture of Support and Acceptance Builds Community

“Working in an industry dominated by white men, Black women have to work twice as hard to get the same outcome as our peers.”

When a fire destroyed their home in Galveston, Texas almost 90 years ago, Crystal Stone’s great-grandparents moved west, first to Vancouver before buying a home in Northeast Portland. Her great-grandfather quickly became a central pillar in the community, helping to establish the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Homeownership and entrepreneurialism ran deep in her family, and Northeast Portland proved to be fertile ground for their efforts: her grandparents on one side of the family owned a home on Northeast Rodney and Going, and her grandfather had a barbershop on Northeast 7th and Knott. Her maternal grandmother still lives in the area.

The family has witnessed vast changes in Northeast Portland. The church co-founded by her great-grandfather was displaced during the redevelopment period in the 1950s and 1960s that brought I-5 and Legacy Emanuel Hospital to Albina—a devastating experience for the congregants and the larger community. Even now, Portland’s neighborhoods continue to change, altering the cultural fabric in significant ways. “To see how much the city has changed in the last 15 years is kind of scary,” she says.

That’s just one reason why Crystal is proud to work at Raimore Construction. Headquartered in Northeast Portland and committed to building the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, Raimore cultivates a culture that lets her bring her entire self—her “true, authentic, unapologetic self”—to work every single day. Before Raimore found her, she relied on code switching to navigate predominantly white spaces and experienced racism, as most people of color do. 

“Working in an industry dominated by white men, Black women have to work twice as hard to get the same outcome as our peers,” she says. “The most challenging thing was deliberately not being acknowledged in meetings or being asked trivial questions to test my knowledge.”

Today, Crystal is Raimore’s Office Manager, a role in which she supervises a team of administrative staff and oversees contracts large and small. “Math is my jam,” she says. Her knack for numbers was her clear advantage when she graduated Jefferson High School in North Portland two decades ago. But it took a few job experiences and a mentor who challenged her to believe in herself before she landed this dream job. 

She began her career working at a landscaping business where she learned how to write estimates and proposals for residential work, as well as how to run payroll and accounts receivable. Crystal quickly grasped the value of technical skills, so she taught herself Microsoft Excel and other tools to stand out from the competition.

This experience ultimately led to work at a different company where one day, the owner—a woman—asked her to apply to be the full-time bookkeeper. The invitation took Crystal by surprise, and she said, “No, I’m not ready to be your full-time bookkeeper!” But the owner persisted, and eventually, Crystal she took the offer. “I lacked a little bit of confidence and decided, okay, you believe in me, I should believe in me.” 

The investment paid off, and Crystal’s career took flight. She landed a position with a large firm but quickly reached a dead end: her only promotion opportunities, she was told, would involve relocating across the country. With two kids and a life deeply-rooted in Portland, Crystal knew moving wasn’t an option. Eventually, Raimore found her, and now she feels like she is making a difference.

Because her workload includes managing contracts, and Raimore’s approach to subcontracting is aimed at supporting and growing a wide swath of other businesses, she is regularly in a position to help businesses which might otherwise be overlooked and underutilized.

“The thing about larger contractors is they stick with who they know and what they know,” Crystal says. “At Raimore, we work with smaller subcontractors and help them learn how to navigate through the submission process, which includes monthly billings, compliance (certified payroll reports), insurance certificates and bonds. Just taking those extra little steps to help them be more efficient in their processes will ultimately help them be successful. That’s what Raimore does.”

Working alongside Hamilton Sundt as a joint venture on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, Raimore now has an unprecedented opportunity to invest in subcontractors across the community. Projects of this size bring long-term stability for contractors, subcontractors and their employees. From pre-apprenticeships to DBE certifications, Raimore is laying the groundwork to prepare and educate subcontractors about the opportunities to come.

Crystal sees the potential for both project work and also for Raimore’s culture of acceptance to spill over as more firms get involved in the Rose Quarter project. “How many owners of multimillion dollar construction companies do you know who will sit down and take the time to talk with their people from the bottom all the way to the top? You know, that's the difference between Raimore and any other construction company that I've worked for. It’s the culture. I know the people here genuinely care, and they invest in their people.”

And no doubt this culture is a step toward restoring the Portland Crystal used to know: a community where people invest in each other, just like her great-grandparents invested in their congregation almost a century ago. “I’m finally in an environment where I can thrive and grow.” Crystal pauses then adds, “And heal.”

A close up photo of DeAngelo Moaning. He has his hands in the pockets of his grey dress pants and he’s looking to his left ​

After Generations of Missed Opportunities: ‘We Need to Take Back the Trades that were Rightfully Ours’

“This is a four- to five-year project that will create opportunities for our community to actually build and understand what these trades can do for us—make a living-wage, create our own infrastructure, start a business, and then pass the knowledge on to those after us.” 

As the old saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” And if you work in the construction industry or have an interest in life-changing skilled trades such as plumbing, electrical, or carpentry, it’s likely your parents or grandparents did too. It was their generation who built bridges, highways and other infrastructure projects over the last century. 

For many young Black and Brown men and women, the history of America’s infrastructure is their story—their heritage. This is especially true for DeAngelo Moaning, an IT Administrator and Operations Manager for Raimore Construction and third-generation Portlander. DeAngelo’s family has worked in this community for generations. His father and uncle worked on the original construction of the Moda Center and his mom has worked for Albina Head Start for the past 30 years, serving underrepresented and marginalized families within Portland’s Black community for decades.

“Young people need to arm themselves with knowledge, take back the trades that were rightfully ours to begin with and capitalize on the opportunities in front of us,” says DeAngelo. 

The infrastructure of this country was built on slave labor. Black workers are the true forefathers of the trades in America. But policies from redlining to union exclusion blocked Black workers from paid work in the trades. So as history progressed, barriers were erected to keep Black workers from these well-paid jobs, and the knowledge passed down from one generation to the next generation faded. 

When seeking work on major infrastructure projects, contractors of color continue to face discrimination not only on the jobsite but also within procurement and contracting practices. Compounding the issue, large construction firms often build their project and then leave town. They rarely make an intentional decision to invest in the people who live in the communities around the project. The result? A massive wealth gap—and missed opportunities.

“By working as a laborer, you can make a living wage without putting yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt to get a college degree,” DeAngelo says. “As you acquire new skills like time management or people management, you can take what you learn to develop your career and start your own business.”

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project is taking strides toward restoring lost opportunities for generational wealth, through construction and beyond. With Raimore at the decision-making table, contractors of color will finally be given an equal playing field when bidding on projects. 

 “The project is a four- to five-year project that will create opportunities for our community to actually build and understand what these trades can do for us—make a living-wage, create our own infrastructure, start a business, and then pass the knowledge on to those after us,” says DeAngelo.

Looking ahead at the next five to ten years, billions of dollars will be invested in infrastructure improvements throughout Oregon, and especially in Portland. 

Preparing the workforce of tomorrow starts today. 

“We have to be willing to support each other and realize that this moment can transform our community, whether you decide to start as a pre-apprentice or begin a new business after years of working for somebody else,” DeAngelo says. “We need people who look like us to carry the torch. The future of our workforce, our heritage really, is in the hands of the younger generation.”

Doctor Steven Holt poses in brown suit and a dark blue bow tie

​Vision Takes Time​

“We have a chance to do something good, something bigger than ourselves. These opportunities don’t come along every day. When they do, we must seize them for generations to follow.”

When the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project established its Executive Steering Committee (ESC), it needed a strategic advisor with ties to the historic Albina Community, along with a talented facilitator to guide the way. Dr. Steven Holt of Try Excellence, LLC emerged as the perfect fit. 

With deep roots and lived experience of Black Portlanders and familiarity with governmental land use processes, his pedigree is custom-built to lead the Executive Steering Committee. But the real magic lies in his strategic approach and facilitation style which centers committee members’ shared humanity.

To long for a home—for permanence—runs in Dr. Holt’s genes. As an eight-year old, his mother lost her home in the Vanport flood. She then lived with her aunt but had to move when Legacy Emmanuel Hospital was built. They settled nearby in Albina only to be displaced again by the construction of I-5.

A busing campaign during Dr. Holt’s childhood led to his own sense of displacement. He straddled two worlds and absorbed limiting, biased beliefs about his own potential. Ultimately, these experiences ignited his passion for human dignity, ethical behavioral practices, and responsible leadership. This led to him being very active in the City as an advocate for community health, wealth and wellness. So when the City of Portland embarked on its neighborhood housing strategy effort, he was asked to participate in a process of community engagement to highlight priorities.

Joan Brown-Kline facilitated the process, and she recognized his potential for community work. One day, over breakfast, she asked him to consider facilitation for a living. He said, “I didn’t know people got paid to do this.” She believed in him, counseled him with the establishment of his business and gave him his first letter of recommendation. He would become the Chair of the Oversight Committee for the North/North East Neighborhood Housing Strategy.

As the principal and owner of Try Excellence, Dr. Holt has stewarded the best of his gifted talents; and with additions of Ericka Warren and Josh Holt to the Try Excellence team, their ability to support businesses, government (local, regional and national), and private industry with strategic advisement, policy and programmatic development to positively shift cultures and center human dignity only continues to climb. 

From equity training to community policing, Dr. Holt’s commitment to the responsible action of community influencers, stakeholders and leaders continues to be the motivation for resolving injustices and bringing policy leaders and community organizations together to drive change. 

“Creating policy and helping change systems and structures, while being engaged in shifting the narrative of how things happen in the city, is phenomenal to me,” said Dr. Holt. “I believe that Divine timing and the patience of purpose is a testament to the growth we’ve seen.”

Giving credit where its due, Dr. Holt is grateful for the help he received along the way and encourages entrepreneurs and small business owners to be patient and seek advice from others.

“Find someone who can speak to you and give you strategies,” he says to other small business owners. And take the long view: “Vision takes time. Nothing that lasts grows or is established overnight.”​​

Eric Knox holds a basketball and kneels in a gymnasium, under a basketball hoop

Whatever You Pay Attention to Grows

“Programs don’t change people, people change people, period. And the only way you're gonna change another person's life is you gotta be nearby and be available to build relationships.”

For longtime coach, mentor and pastor Eric Knox, building a community of support and developing young men and women into the next generation of community leaders is a calling that drew him to Portland over 30 years ago. 

Before coming to Oregon and playing on the men’s basketball team at Oregon State University, Eric grew up in the streets of South Central Los Angeles—home to vibrant Black businesses and middle-class families, yet with too many external distractions for a young man who dreamed of hooping in the league one day. His opportunity to tryout with the Portland Trailblazers arrived in the late 80s, and although he didn’t make the roster, he did find respite in Northeast Portland, eventually feeling called to minister basketball and the Bible—and mentorship. 

“Coming from South Central LA, North/Northeast Portland actually helped me find myself, it helped me become the kind of man I wanted to become,” says Coach Knox. “Portland has a pretty eclectic Black community, but I think to a certain degree it suffers from not having a solid Black middle-class community with an abundance of doctors, business owners, activists and artists.”

He was intentional about his time, energy and purpose from tipoff. He invested in the local community, buying his first house near Northeast 16th and Shaver.  He worked with a local church to organize pick-up basketball with kids from the neighborhood followed by a Bible study, feeding both the soul and the jump shot. Fast forward to now, as he’s the head coach for the Benson High School girls’ basketball team and founder of Holla Mentors, Coach Knox has been able to guide generations of Portland youth, creating experiences and exposure to new careers and possibilities. 

“You know, as I mentor, a lot of Black kids see their only opportunity as a rapper or a ballplayer; they have not been exposed to other opportunities,” he says. “There’s also an exclusionary history in Portland that has kept the city from economically growing at a rate that other mid-sized cities have, in terms of the Black community.”

Looking ahead to future infrastructure projects in the region, Eric is able to connect the dots and encourage students to look beyond the court and pore over the possibility of a career in architecture, engineering or construction. 

“The way you inspire a kid to be interested in these jobs, or anyone who wants to make a career pivot, is you gotta expose them to the industry. And if you can find someone that looks like them, that comes from the same community and understands their experience—man, that that is the inspiration that these kids need. A lot of them don't get those opportunities.”

Recently, Eric invited a high school student to sit down with Jeff Moreland—the owner of Raimore Construction. The three met at Raimore’s main office on Martin Luther King Boulevard to learn more about the industry. Jeff gave them more than just a casual introduction to careers in construction, presenting to them as if they were an official client. Then came a moment Eric will never forget. 

“[Raimore] had a project up the street from this kid’s house, so when I was taking the kid home, we approach the project site and the kid sees a truck and turns to me and asks, ‘Is this Raimore?’ I nodded and they were floored!” he says. “That kid was able to make the connection between this project happening down the street from his house and meeting the CEO of that company, who is Black. That's invaluable, you can't put a price tag on that kind of experience.”

At 55 years old, Eric has experienced enough of his own wins and losses to know it take a village to raise a child. “Whatever you pay attention to grows,” he says. Eric cites a book by Paulo Freire—Pedagogy of the Oppressed—when he talks about one of the most important things you can do when you teach, educate or mentor: help others think critically about their conditions. 

“At the end of the day, programs don’t change people, people change people, period. The only way you're gonna change another person's life is you gotta be nearby and be available to build relationships.”

Eric remains optimistic an ecosystem of Black economic empowerment and entrepreneurship will continue to grow and thrive. “I think the best days that the Black community are ahead of itself. Despite gentrification and displacement, I see as things are growing here in our city, I see the Black community growing as well. And I think there's gonna be some beautiful things happening.”

​Hear more of Eric Knox's story​​

Ericka Warren poses in front of a grey backdrop

Pushing into a New Reality

“I wish that the community knew how many people of color have been brought to the table on this project and are fighting for them, leveraging their professional experience and relationships to speak truth to power to bring sustainable change.”

As a young Black girl growing up in North Portland during the early 1970s, Ericka Warren remembers riding her bike around her neighborhood, cruising past Black-owned businesses and restaurants that flourished in the neighborhood she calls home: Historic Albina.

Although Albina remains home to some of the Black Portlanders whose grandparents settled in the area following the Great Migration and the Vanport flood, Warren has witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of displacement on so many Black families as public projects and gentrification forced them to move away. 

Known for her community-building and operational leadership skills, Warren was asked to facilitate the Historic Albina Advisory Board (HAAB) on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. She is uniquely positioned to speak truth to power, bring communities together, and provide strategic guidance that elevates Black voices to work toward equitable outcomes. 

“I feel honored to lead and work with the HAAB to identify community needs and incorporate what we hear into design and governance,” said Warren. “"I don’t take my role lightly: I know it's a responsibility to carry the weight of my parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors who once called Albina home. There is a lot of passion behind members’ involvement for this project because of the historic and future significance.”

No one on this project knows the Albina community and its history better than Warren and her business partner Dr. Steven Holt, principal of Try Excellence, LLC.  The duo serve as strategic advisors for the I5RQ Improvement Project and and Dr Holt facilitates the Project’s Executive Steering Committee. As the facilitator of the HAAB, Warren envisions using her voice and the voices of the HAAB to push ODOT into a new reality.

“I wish that the community knew how many people of color have been brought to the table on this project and are fighting for them, leveraging their professional and personal relationships to speak truth to power. We have a unique opportunity to help steer the resources of the project to seed substantial community investment for generations to come,” said Warren.​

James Posey stands in front of blue building. He is wearing a jacket, heavy rimmed glasses, and a checkered shirt

The Battle of His Lifetime

​“I’m pretty much exhausted, but I'm not ready to leave the battle because the work is not done. I keep engaging and I keep speaking up... because as I’ve said before: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.”​

Even at 75 years old, Mr. James Posey still wakes up every day with the energy to hold decision-makers accountable and fight for equity and justice in contracting. Battle tested as a veteran of 20 years in the United States Military, surrender has never been an option for him. Around Portland, James is a well-respected, methodical and unapologetic advocate for improving the economic ability for Black people living in Oregon.

Posey’s story is a long one full of perseverance, advocacy, and innovation that ultimately led to him becoming a key player on the I-5 Rose Quarter Project, the largest infrastructure project awarded to a Black-owned contractor in Oregon history.

Currently, Posey serves as a member of the Project’s Community Oversight Advisory Committee (also known as COAC). Through his work, James holds project leaders accountable for minority workforce goals and turns identified barriers into opportunities to shape the future of minority contracting in the Portland region.

Posey’s’ journey to becoming one of the area’s preeminent champions for minority contractors goes all the way back to his childhood in Indianapolis, where he learned all about hard work and innovation from his grandfather.

“My grandfather worked demolition and scrap metal,” Posey recalls. “He was my example of independence. I always respected him, and people respected him, because of his ability to provide for his family and prosper despite the racism, discrimination and all the other stuff that he had to wade through… I was intent on doing something similar.”

“He taught us how to improvise and how to make things work.” 

If improvising is the secret to success, Posey took his grandfather’s lessons to heart, and has spent the last sixty years taking the road less traveled and forging his own path for others to follow.

At 18 years old, Posey made the decision to join the military, where he rose in the ranks to become a crew chief working on F4 Phantom jets. After 8 years in the Air Force, he moved into civilian life while also serving in the National Guard for another 12 years. In that time, he held many different jobs, earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and eventually relocated to Oregon as an employee with the US Forest Service.

Oddly enough, it was his Forest Service job that catapulted Posey into the commercial trucking business. Smart, driven, and worldly, Posey became fed up with apathetic coworkers and the daily grind. One day, he cashed in his retirement, bought his first dump truck and founded Workhorse Construction.

“At that moment,” he says, “I thought, ‘how hard could it be to load a truck and then take it somewhere as part of a project?’ I thought it would be simple.”

But Posey soon discovered that racism manifested many challenges and barriers to this simple plan.

“It turns out,” he recalls, “the white guys thought it was simple, too. And they didn't want no Black people participating. So, you know what happened? They had a public utilities license, and the only way you could get a license to haul dirt was to be approved by an all-white board.” 

Forced to jump over hurdles and work around the obstacles, Posey once again improvised and pursued work paving asphalt to supplement trucking. The industry was deregulated, and as a result Posey was allowed to continue trucking without being inhibited by the racially biased public utilities process. More importantly, he answered his call to begin the next phase of his career as an advocate for contractors of color and economic development. 

Not only did Posey form the National Association of Minority Contractors, Oregon Chapter (NAMC-Oregon), but he also created the Metropolitan Contractor Improvement Partnership (or MCIP) to combat discrimination in the industry and support contractors with resources to help them competitively bid for projects. 

​“MCIP was a kind of a clearing house to really vet minority contractors in terms of their skills, their capacity, and to provide training and development for them to counter that narrative that minority contractors were not trained and we're not capable. Nobody else was out there doing that kind of vetting that kind of providing a pathway to training and development that will allow businesses to thrive.” 

Earning respect and a reputation for going against the grain and challenging the procurement methods at local and state agencies, Posey has made quite the name for himself. 

“I’m pretty much exhausted, but I'm not ready to leave the battle because the work is not done. I keep engaging and I keep speaking up... Because as I’ve said before: if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.”

Looking ahead, Posey is encouraged by the number of younger people who are stepping up and running with the baton as the next generation of leaders in the industry. 
“When I see young people doing what they do, like DeAngelo and Jeff Moreland Jr, I'm inspired. I'm inspired by the potential of what could happen and what should happen. You know, all the things that I've been through in my life it is magical for me to see how this stuff is unfolding this way. It’s good for my soul and bring me great joy.”​

Jeff Moreland Junior stands in front of the Hawthorne Bridge with the City of Portland in the background

A Man on a Mission to Create a Culture Where Others Can​ Thrive

“One of the biggest issues [in the construction​​ industry] is retention—which is why it’s important to have contractors that look like us so we can help people get experience. It’s not an aptitude issue; it’s an exposure issue.”

Jeff Moreland Jr. graduated from college at the dawn of the Great Recession. Degree in hand but few jobs available for young workers, he did what many young people did: he went home. Home, for Jeff, meant working at the family business, Raimore Construction. He never meant to stay long—construction wasn’t how he envisioned his future—but at Raimore, he found a career path filled with mission and purpose: helping other young people of color to thrive.

“One of the things that kept me in the industry was the fact that there was a wealth of opportunity but no representation from people of color,” Jeff says. “I knew a lot of people my age who needed opportunities and looked like me, and I introduced them to what I did because a lot of them weren’t having success finding a job during the Recession.”

But it wasn’t just young people whose lives could change by working in construction—Jeff also discovered experienced workers of color who reached dead-ends in the construction industry because of discrimination and hostility on the job site. 

“People can believe this or not, but it can be discouraging to take that first step when you don’t see anyone else who looks like you in successful careers or positions of influence,” he says. “One of the biggest issues [in the construction industry] is retention—which is why it’s important to have contractors that look like us so we can help people get experience. It’s not an aptitude issue; it’s an exposure issue.”

In the U.S., 12 percent of the total workforce is Black, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only six percent of the nation’s construction workers are Black—a stark contrast to the 88 percent of white workers employed in the industry. Systemic racism and discrimination blocked Black Americans from economic opportunities for centuries, and the construction industry is no different. 

“More than anything, I think the biggest thing the pipeline needs is representation. Getting our community in the industry is a challenge, but retention is even harder because the culture construction has had for so long still permeates,” says Jeff. “One of the biggest barriers to entry is having people that look like you and understand you. Even if it pays good enough, there’s not enough money for anybody to be mistreated.”

Raimore’s work culture is built on respect and valuing each other like family, and Jeff Jr. sees big opportunities for more Black-owned firms in construction to thrive. The demand for a safe worksite free from harassment and discrimination will only get louder in the years to come, and workers of color are uniquely qualified to meet that demand by starting out on their own, as Raimore did 20 years ago.

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project offers the ideal opportunity to launch these new businesses. With more than $100 million ready to invest in small businesses owned by women and people of color, also known as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), contractors will have the opportunity to gain exposure and experience with ODOT procurement, build capacity and create more jobs.  

“This project gives people the time they need to build capacity and pick up new trades. It’s an unprecedented opportunity and we should take advantage of all the resources that will infuse our community and be strategic in how we pool these resources together to help rebuild what was taken from us over time,” says Jeff. “Our equity has already been taken from us in the Albina community, but we can at least rebuild what was lost—even if it’s just a fraction.”

His challenge to the community? “Don’t be scared. We need more entrepreneurship in our community. With so many major projects on the horizon, there’s plenty of work to go around.”

Larry Anderson stands tall on a Portland city sidewalk on a bright day 

​Looking Out for the Community 

“Ain’t nobody going to support us like we support us.” 

Public service is a way of life for many, whether in elected office or as a first responder: Listening and participating with the community. Engaging with neighbors and learning about their needs. Stepping up to be a voice and advocate for those who have been locked out of opportunities. 

A man of the people. 

If there’s anyone who stands out, it’s Larry Anderson. 

Born and raised in Portland, Larry Anderson’s calling comes with a heavy burden, yet with a 6’6” stature and broad shoulders large enough to fill-in as a concrete median barrier, he is well built for the job. 

With a mother who was a registered nurse and a father who was gone days at a time as a brakeman with Union Pacific Railroad, his family eventually bought a house in what is now the gateway to the Alameda-Wilshire District.

He remembers moving from one neighborhood where he was among his kin, to standing out from other neighbors; this duality opened his eyes to the injustices of the Black experience in America. 

In 1981, Larry was sworn in as an officer with the Portland Police alongside the largest number of Black officers PPB graduated at the time. Even in uniform, he never forgot where he came from.

“One of the things that upset me from the beginning was how some officers that weren't from my community had a disdain and disrespect for my community. […] And so, I would challenge that on the inside, as well as deal with that on the outside.”

In his first few years after trial and error, he eventually found his voice and learned more about community engagement and policing by taking a hands-on approach and demonstrating a willingness to accept help and criticism from small business owners and elders in the community he served. By working and coaching basketball in the community where he lived, he quickly became a familiar face that was hard to miss.

Looking back, Larry credits his skills, personality, community association, and size to developing relationships and building trust in the community he called home. 

As Portland grew in population over his 30 years as an officer, Larry saw what little Black community remained in North Portland as more were priced out, the same community displaced by infrastructure and land development: A front row show of opportunities lost.  

With a passion for economic independence and community building, Larry was tapped to serve as an advisor to Jeff Moreland Sr., owner of Raimore Construction working on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. He built relationships over time so he can become an advocate for business, taking his experience and helping others realize their potential and protect their interest.

Excited about the opportunity for Raimore to become the first Black-owned construction company to obtain one of the largest contracts in ODOT history, Larry wants his community and entrepreneurs to be excited about this Project and the investments that will help small businesses, including DBEs, increase capacity and create sustainable jobs.

Before this project, smaller businesses like DBEs would get little work while the larger contractor simply checked a box to meet goals. 

“Now comes a smart owner who grew his business from a DBE to a prime contractor, creating jobs and helping his community become independent. We are the community already. Ain’t nobody going to support us like we support us. We can disagree, but let’s make sure we take care of our community first.”

With Raimore at the helm with the prime contractor, Larry sees an opportunity to leverage capital and put it toward the community as a means toward economic independence.

“If we don’t have economics and the ability to benefit from making a living then we won’t have prosperity. And all the privileges that come from prosperity are denied. We are still benevolent on somebody else because we aren’t self-sufficient as a community. Black culture is seen in media and sports, but we aren’t in business, and we need to change that.”​


Building a Network for Women to Thrive

“If you are networking with people in the industry who look like you, or who don't look like you, you're able to build these relationships and create these dreams that may have seemed intangible.”​

In the U.S., women make up just 10 percent of the construction industry’s workforce—a daunting statistic that hints at the challenges women face in the field. Laura Ramirez, a field engineer at Raimore Construction, is trying to change that statistic and prove that women like her can pivot their careers into these in-demand, rewarding jobs.Laura’s career path didn’t initially start with construction, but from a young age, she was set on economic mobility. During the 1980s, her mother escaped the civil unrest happening in El Salvador and immigrated to Portland, building a life for herself and Laura by working long hours cleaning houses. 

“I didn't know anyone who worked as hard as my mom,” Laura says. “And, you know, I didn't know that we were poor growing up because she never let me see it. She set up a base for me to not struggle as much as she did.”

Laura’s mother wanted a better life for her daughter and encouraged her to pursue as much education as she could. “She never made me think that [higher education] wasn’t an option. It was just something that I would have to do.”

Instead of going to the high school near her home, she decided to attend Benson High School to be among its diverse students and explore the wide range of skills-based training it offered. The decision required sacrifice: she would commute nearly two hours from Clackamas to North East Portland. But her mother provided the inspiration she needed to press forward. “She motivated me by waking up early and cleaning houses, but she also put the responsibility on me to figure it out.”

Laura graduated from Benson with a diploma in construction but decided to pivot at college and pursue a career in education. She earned her B.A. in Spanish and Humanities from Western Oregon University and taught for a few years at a Spanish immersion school, eventually becoming the school’s Director of Operations. Although her time at the school was rewarding, she soon started to long for a new challenge. That’s when her high school training resurfaced.

Laura’s ideal work environment needed to allow opportunities to both problem-solve and help people. So as she thought about her options, she decided to connect with two former Benson classmates who worked at Raimore Construction. Even though they thought she was joking about wanting to work in construction, they encouraged her to make a pitch for a job there. It only took two tries before she landed an interview with Jeff Moreland Sr., Raimore’s CEO. 

“During our meeting, I shared what I wanted to do and basically had to persuade him that I could do the job, even though I've never been in this industry,” she says. “He told me there were some things that I'd have to endure, like working with majority of men, and he basically prepared me for it.”

But Laura was more determined than ever to go into construction.

“Really, I think I just wanted to do the opposite of what everyone else was doing. Growing up, if I didn't see girls doing something, then I would want to do that thing,” she says. “I think I was just always kind of rebellious and wanted to challenge the system. Then as I got older, I realized that this is a reason to push for it: because you don't see it.”

Since joining Raimore, Laura has been promoted to field engineer and is now involved in many projects. But the project she is most passionate about is increasing the number of women in construction. “I just really want women to feel empowered and see themselves in these roles because other women who look like me need to know they can do the work and be just as successful as our male counterparts.”

And she has a compelling reason why: while women make 81 cents to every dollar earned by a man across all economic sectors, in construction specifically, women and men are separated by just a penny on the dollar, according to the National Association of Women in Construction. “It seems like people look at construction as a last option. But really, you can make a lot of money and create generational wealth,” she says.

To further her cause, she launched a meetup to create space for women who work in the trades across the Portland area to connect, network and support each other. What began as a one-off email among a few women became a monthly meetup that to-date has attracted more than a dozen women of different ages and backgrounds.

“The mentorship at Raimore levels out the playing field to make sure not only am I successful, but the women around me are too,” she says. “If you are networking with people in the industry who look like you, or who don't look like you, you're able to build these relationships and create these dreams that may have seemed intangible.”

Milinda Sandifer of Miss'ippi Chef smiles, wearing a deep blue chef uniform
Melinda serves up her homestyle southern cooking as a mobile caterer on the project and delivers tasty authenticity in every bite. Working on the Rose Quarter has opened her to new business opportunities.

Recipes from the Heart​

Three generations of Mississippi recipes – mother, grandmother, great grandmother. Preserving the human connection to her roots through food is her legacy.

A Portland native, Melinda Sandifer, owner of Miss’ippi Chef, LLC catering, sources exceptional sustainable ingredients, without skimping on the details. Prepared in a traditional southern way with love and passion, Melinda’s creations range from sweet potato tarts, to Caribbean jerk chicken with coconut curry rice, and stuffed mushrooms with collard greens. 

Taught by the love of her mother who hails from Mississippi. Cooking was her designated chore learning discipline, hard work and dedication. She used this strength to overcome challenges working in mostly male dominated kitchens.  

Self-taught, with chef’s who believed in Melinda, she recalled few women or women of color working on the line in Portland in the early 80’s. Wanting to own her own business and control the creative cuisine, she found internal strength. “No one is going to tell me there is something that I can’t do,” she states.  

When asked for advice for other entrepreneurs, Melinda cited not getting discouraged, conducting market research and using local low-cost resources like PCC’s Small Business Development Center.


  • Miss’ippi Chef established in 2015
  • 2 employees
  • Self-taught chef
  • 3 generations of entrepreneurs 
  • 2 sisters
  • Diverse cuisine featuring sustainable catering and healthy food meal prep

Monica Leal stands on a highway overpass in Portland, wearing a neon yellow construction vest

Monica leads her team working on the ramp meters, freeway lighting and communications systems design to improve safety and congestion on I-5, between I-84 and the Fremont Bridge. GTEng gains satisfaction in contributing to improvements to our regional transportation system and its many multimodal users. 

Resilience, Hard Work, and Determination: Overcoming Challenges

Monica Leal was born and raised in Colombia and graduated from college in Bogotá, with a degree in Civil Engineering. After college, she attended an English program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she met her future husband before the two relocated to Portland, OR. There, she enrolled at PSU and graduated with a degree of Master of Science in Transportation Engineering.  

Following her father’s footsteps, Monica worked for thirteen years in transportation engineering for a firm where she met her current business partner, Dana Beckwith. In 2015, they both founded Global Transportation Engineering (GTEng).

As a female engineer and non-native English speaker, Monica has overcome many challenges that come with owning a small business. With help from the GTEng team, Monica and Dana have established - and continue to grow  - a successful engineering business, built on the values of pride in work, diversity, community and excellence.  With hard work, this resilient Latina is proving that she can get the job done and is currently leading a team on the design of ramp meters, freeway lighting and communications systems on I-5.

​GTEng can tackle a variety of jobs both small and large  – including designs for high-profile projects across the region. In just over four years, GTEng has added seven employees.

​​​Tayo Adesida stands with his arms crossed wearing a neon yellow construction vest and a hard hat

Bringing it home: Building the Future upon His Roots​

“All the things coming up around this project hit too close to home, literally. So it’s very important for me to do what I can and make sure we bring to fruition what this project means for Black people in the area.”

If ‘Lead Problem Solver’ was a job title, Tayo Adesida would be at the head of its department. He’s technically a field engineer at Raimore Construction, but that’s just scratching the surface of what he does day-to-day. 

Tayo was born at Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and raised in the Historic Albina neighborhood. He grew up building LEGOs and breaking down VCRs just to see how they worked. He lived close to Jefferson High School but chose to attend Benson High School to study automotive engineering because building cars was an early a dream of his. Then, his inquisitive mind and can-do attitude led him in another direction. 

Now as he looks at taking on a mega project like the I-5 Rose Quarter, he sees an opportunity to right a wrong. 

“All the things coming up around this project hit too close to home, literally. So it’s very important for me to do what I can and make sure we bring to fruition what this project means for Black people in the area,” says Tayo. 

It hits too close to home for him because his grandparents left Texas and Louisiana to settle in North Portland, raising his mother in the same neighborhood where he grew up. Following a divorce, his mom couldn’t afford a home in the area anymore, so they moved on. Eight years later, he is returning to his roots where it all began. 

The size and scope of the Rose Quarter project, paired with the historical context of the Albina community and the number of Raimore employees who were born in Northeast Portland, is unprecedented. That’s why Tayo says it is important for Raimore to be intentional about every step until the job is complete. 

“One thing we've always stood by is that we want to influence and bring up the area where we work and live. Our offices are in Northeast, and a lot of us grew up here. Our goal is always to try to get other people in the community involved in this so that they can also grow and see the opportunities.” 

Tayo has held multiple positions during his six years with the company. He is comfortable wearing many hats and taking on any role necessary to get the job done. “It’s still what I do now. I fill in whatever gap I need to fill in,” he says. 

Never hesitant to lend a helping hand, Tayo credits leadership from the top, especially Raimore’s founder and owner Jeff Moreland Sr., for creating a culture of inclusivity and going beyond building infrastructure projects to invest in people first.  

“Anything with a cultural change always starts at the top. If they don’t care, there’s never going to be change in the field. The only reason Raimore has been more successful than others is because the owner really cares about us and that trickles down to the rest of the team.”

As a student studying civil engineering, Tayo earned an internship with a larger contractor in town. His reception there as a young Black man wasn’t welcoming.He remembers feeling awkward about wearing Jordans, donning the classic Bred 4s and Playoff 13s, and rarely feeling like he fit in. Half-way way through his internship, he started to question if a construction career was ultimately worth the pain. He was weighing his options about what to do next when he got a call from an old friend, Jeff Moreland Jr. from Raimore Construction. 

“I was ready to switch it up, change majors and go down a different path. Then Jeff calls me and suggests I interview for a job that opened at Raimore. I told him I don’t want to do construction anymore, but he pulled me back. So I showed up for the interview with maybe 10 people in the room, they spelled it out for me and I’ve been here ever since.”

Tayo says, “What drew me to Raimore was the camaraderie, the feeling of belonging. This was the first work environment I’ve ever worked in where people look like me, they understand where I come from and my cultural background. For once, my culture is the dominant culture. You’re either getting down with us and do it the way we are doing it, or you’re without a job. We're not going to change how we get down to make you feel comfortable. We've been doing that our whole lives.”

That swagger is part of the culture that embodies the culture of Raimore and a reason why they’re known in the community not just for their approach to doing business but also the way they go above and beyond in providing technical assistance and mentorship to small contractors. 

As engagement ramps up and more people learn about the economic benefits of infrastructure projects and construction careers, Tayo would like to see more women and people of color take an interest in architecture, engineering and construction. 

“People just don’t know until you give them access and they can see for themselves, then they tell somebody, and it becomes word of mouth. Then the whole community can be involved in growing this process.”

To grow a process, change must come from within. But where there’s growth there’s also resistance. 

“I don't think it's going to be easy at all. This is going to be work for the next five to seven years, however long the project is, just to make sure we stand by what we say we want to achieve,” Tayo says, “because it's going to be hard. There's going to be a lot of people trying to block that from happening or don't want things to change. People don't like change; it makes them uncomfortable. But it’s undeniable that change is going to happen.”​

Hear more of Tayo's story

Terrence Hays smiles and stands in front of an artistic mural in Portland

Bridging the Gap to Create Opportunities, One Life at a Time

“Individuals like myself are the change that can positively affect the story that we’re creating.”

Terrence Hayes is a rising star at Raimore Construction. He’s an electrician, training to be an engineer and serving as a workforce advocate by recruiting people into well-paying jobs in the trades. But if you’d met him 15 years ago and asked what his future looked like, none of this life would have been on his horizon, because 15 years ago, Terrence Hayes was in prison.

“I was always given the impression that I couldn’t do [electrical work], that I didn’t have the intelligence and the math was so complicated that if you didn’t have extreme intelligence then you wouldn’t be able to do it,” he says. “The truth of the matter is the industry is still painted in that way and it scares people who didn’t grow up around people in the industry.”

During his incarceration, Terrence was introduced to an electrical apprenticeship program. His doubts led him not to pursue the opportunity at first, but one day as he walked through the halls in Oregon’s largest prison, he saw a fellow Black prisoner taking the program. A lightbulb went off: “To see a Black dude doing this, I’m like, I know him. He’s not that much smarter than me.”

With encouragement, Terrence enrolled in the program and began learning the trade. The program lasted four years, and he struggled because everything was new to him—he had no exposure to electrical work beforehand, no roadmap to guide him beyond what the program could provide. Aside from the inmate who introduced him to the program, his only classmates were white men who took little interest in him. Everyone seemed to be grasping concepts faster than him, and he felt no confidence to graduate from the program and go into real-world electrical situations. He reached a breaking point in the final year of the program.

“I was so frustrated, feeling like everyone was growing faster than me and I was not comprehending this thing at all. I wasn’t confident,” says Terrence. He walked into his work area one day and told the instructor, “I’m done. If I walked out of here today, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

The instructor, a white man, saw the potential Terrence couldn’t see in himself and began investing his personal time to build his confidence and prepare him for the work world. Every day after work, they met in the library to review material, talk about electrical theory and dive into code. The instructor bridged the gap so when Terrence arrived at his first jobsite, he knew exactly what he was doing.

“My process started with an individual who looked like me who told me that I can do it, and then it ended with an individual who didn’t look like me being intentional about not letting me fail,” he explains, “which is a microcosm of what I think it takes for Black people to have more success at higher levels in the electrical field, or any trade career.”

Terrence had a job within three days of leaving prison. Four years later, with experience under his belt, he approached Raimore and was hired there. Now, he’s training in civil engineering, building relationships in the community and bringing folks like him into the profession where they, too, can find success after prison. “I have a lived experience that most guys just don’t have, and that’s why I’m valued because we want to see more individuals have opportunities like I have.”

Put another way, he’s paying it forward, bridging the gap in understanding between what a formerly incarcerated worker brings to the table with the needs on the jobsite. There’s a lot of distrust on all sides when it comes to breaking the stigma around employing formerly incarcerated people.

“The challenge is obvious: I’ve gotta convince people that [formerly incarcerated] individuals can do the job at a high level,” he says. “And if I can convince them, then guess who else I’ve gotta convince? I’ve gotta convince that individual—a person who’s been told that they can never do more than $15 an hour that actually, they’re worth $40 an hour, that they’re worth a healthy retirement account, that they can be entrepreneurs.”

Now that Raimore is a prime contractor on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, new opportunities are opening up for Terrence and the former inmates he is bringing into the workforce. “Raimore understands we’re now at a time where individuals with my story can no longer be ignored and change has to happen.”

Thousands of jobs will be in demand as new infrastructure projects break ground in the next decade, not only in Oregon but the United States more broadly. The Rose Quarter project is only the first of many regional opportunities to spur economic growth for communities that have historically been locked out. If done right, the Portland region can leverage these projects to achieve equitable outcomes toward restoring justice. 

​And that’s the driving force behind Terrence’s work: “Individuals like myself are the change that can positively affect the story that we’re creating.”

Tony Jones wears a bright red jacket and stands in front of a glass walled storefront

One Opportunity Can Turn a M​omen​​t​​​ in​​to a Lifetime

“How can we create a system where people can thrive in the right way, where t​hey’re not taken advantage of? That’s what drives me. I want people to be treated fairly. I want to give people a chance.”

​ ​
​Tony Jones remembers himself at nine years old, sitting in the backseat of his parents’ car and driving to his gra​​ndma’s home in Philadelphia. He recalls she lived in a hard neighbor​hood, defined by run-down homes. He also recalls seeing nearby streets lined with nice homes and lively businesses. Back then, before he knew about things like redlining and other harmful policies that barred Black people from owning houses in white neighborhoods, he had just one question for his mother: “why can’t grandma live in this part of town?”

Her response that day stuck with him. “Because they won’t let her.”

For a child who had just been through the foster system, this simple and unjust explanation was clear to him, even back then. 

“For me,” he says, “that's really where it starts and why I’ve always been interested in how I can help oppressed people. I was fortunate to have foster parents who were committed to helping me be successful. I wanted to do that for others. I wanted to treat people fairly and give them a chance.”

Mr. Jones took this childhood experience and vowed to help everyone find their own version of success. He invested in his education, first earning a bachelor’s in political science from Rutgers University and then a master’s in urban planning from the University of Illinois. 

“With my upbringing as a Black foster kid, I wanted to understand politics and understand what makes things tick. I wanted to understand why we’re in the predicaments we’re in, and what happened to create them.”

Since moving to Portland with his wife in 1992, Mr. Jones has used his knowledge and experience to stand alongside and advocate for the economic development of Black and Brown communities. He’s worked to support BIPOC contractors with capacity-building and training through work with organizations like the Housing Development Center’s Contractor Support Program and Portland’s Metropolitan Contractor Improvement Program, where he was the Executive Director.

“I remember attending the Housing Development Center’s trainings for the first few times,” he says, “and seeing how contractors would eat them up. By just explaining the barriers in procurement methods, or billing, I would see the lights going off in their head and those barriers being removed.”

Mr. Jones could resonate with the contractors in that moment because he, too, knew what it meant to have others show up and take care of him. Both he and Jeff Moreland, the president of Raimore Construction, want to see ownership, opportunity and economic wealth blossom in their communities. Both men understand the challenges that have traditionally kept people of color locked out from participating in the construction industry. 

As Chair of the Economic Development Committee of the non-profit Coalition of Black Men, Mr. Jones is focused on building out and promoting economic strategies that build equity and opportunity, such as Raimore Construction’s majority-minority workforce goals. 

“I’ve come to recognize that while it's great to have visionary leaders, it’s really great when a group of people work together on an objective. It’s about standing up and making sure that the people really get the opportunity to support Black entrepreneurs and Black folks in economic development.”

“A lot of people don’t know Raimore has been doing what they’re doing since day one. They’ve hired many people that were formerly incarcerated, and they've given them opportunities. BIPOC young professionals can really be managers and leaders and take that stuff on. That’s why the Coalition of Black men supports Raimore, because they’re a business model that produces results.”

Now the owner of his own construction consulting company, Mr. Jones is once again using his skills to help others. His company, Rubitone Development Services, is named after his mother and supports property owners and developers with permitting, procurement, management and oversight related to small commercial construction. 

Tony Jones' story began way back in Philadelphia with an innocent question and a simple response that showed him the systemic injustice that exists all around us. He’s dedicated his life to overcoming adversity and taking advantage of the opportunities he’s been given in the hopes of providing those around him with the same chances to learn and grow.

“I always believe there will be better day when BIPOC people can move ahead without barriers in front of them. If they're really given an opportunity, you can see what will flourish.”

One opportunity, one chance can turn a moment into a lifetime.

Turon White is decked out in construction gear

Hard Work, a Path Away from a Hard Life

“The value of mentorship? You can’t put a price on that. It’s a life’s worth of lessons handed down, teaching you how to be a better person and better at life.”

Turon White’s life could have gone any number of ways. After graduating high school in Virginia Beach, he returned to his Portland roots to find work. The pressures to go to college were heavy, but Turon wasn’t sure he wanted that life. He knew for certain he didn’t want a desk job, sitting in front of a computer all day. He didn’t want to end up flipping burgers in the back of a fast-food place. And he definitely didn’t want to follow the route he saw his housemates taking—a path of drug abuse and the underground economy.

Above all, he wanted more than just a job but a career path with the chance to earn more than minimum wage and opportunities to grow into leadership roles. But what options exist for an 18-year-old kid with no college degree?

Turon’s dad took note of his work ethic and determination to succeed—attributes he picked up from his mother who raised him alongside his two siblings while working hard to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. A longtime Portlander, Turon’s dad introduced him to Jeff Moreland, the owner of Raimore Construction, both a friend and distant cousin. Jeff gave Turon a job application, and the rest is history.

“Construction wasn’t really an avenue of thought for me,” Turon says. But it turned out to be exactly the career path he needed. “I loved it. I like being outside in the elements, I like being able to walk around, and if a pedestrian’s walking by, I like being able to talk to them about what’s going on. I can be social and still work.”

The path hasn’t been easy, especially because he started his career without any background or experience in construction. He had to learn the basics from the ground up, and he also had to grow up fast. “Everyday I’m out [on the jobsite], I’m learning something new, especially about how to be a man in society and in the world. Coming here at 18, I was very young in the mind, and it grows you up a lot to be out here with other grown men, seasoned guys—guys that don’t take crap.”

Raimore’s team culture gave him the blueprint for success, and he follows it. “You have people that care here, people who will take the time to train you. They really care about the people they hire.”

Turon has benefited from mentoring by colleagues with decades of work and life experience to impart, and he listens to their advice readily. “If you’re being professional, there’s not much room to get in trouble, and you can stand in that,” he says of some of the best advice he has heard. “The value of mentorship? You can’t put a price on that. It’s a life’s worth of lessons handed down, teaching you how to be a better person and better at life. It makes me excited when they tell me something and I get it, it gives you hope. That’s the value of mentorship: it gives you hope.”

Through his hard work and professionalism, he became a foreman in just a few years, and now he manages teams of men older than he is. “It’s a challenge [to manage a crew], but I’ve always wanted to accept that challenge. The main thing is just knowing your crew, knowing what they’re good at and knowing what positions you can put them in to help them succeed because if they’re succeeding, you’re succeeding and vice versa: if they’re failing, you’re failing. That’s the main thing about being a foreman.”

He now tries to help other young people see the freedom that a construction career can buy. “Raimore’s been a complete blessing in my life. I’m trying to tell my little cousins now who are out of high school, in their early twenties: if y’all ain’t got nothing else to do, you ought to come here. I can at least put a bug in their ear, just try it. Even if it doesn’t work, just give it a try.”

Looking back now, he sees clearly how his life departed from the lives of the housemates with whom he lived eight years ago. He has stability, he has financial freedom, he isn’t worried about getting into trouble with the law for drug use or dealing, and he has big dreams for the future: to buy a house with an ample backyard so his dog can run free. Already, he’s well on his way to achieving that dream.

“Don’t be scared to try—don’t be scared to bet on you.”

Hear more of Turon's story​​​​

​Continuing a Generational Legacy

“I want to make my dad proud of what I've done for the business. That’s what drives me—to be able to be successful and make him proud.”

Tyrone Bailey, Jr. had his eyes on a construction career from the start. Because his father works in the industry, he knew better than to believe the misconceptions about construction work being back-breaking, overly laborious or even dangerous. He knew it for what it is: a solid route to self-sufficiency; a career path worthy of supporting families with endless opportunities to learn.

​“There’s a lot of money to be made,” Tyrone says. “Portland is constantly changing and growing. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be worked on and needs to grow.”

Tyrone enrolled in Benson High School where he majored in electrical. But the next steps after graduation made him re-evaluate, and that’s when he landed on his life’s purpose: to prepare himself to take over his father’s business.

Tyrone Bailey, Sr. owns and operates Bailey’s Construction Unlimited, a full-service, MBE-certified hauling and trucking company—and a successful one, at that. For Tyrone Jr. to follow in his father’s footsteps meant he needed to prove himself worthy of the name: Tyrone Sr. is known for his work ethic, integrity and reliability, a strong reputation built over the course of his life.

“If I am blessed to take over my dad’s business, I’m living up to that [standard],” Tyrone Jr. explains. “I want to make him proud.”

It wasn’t a straightforward path for Tyrone’s father who grew up in New Orleans with his eight siblings that he helped raise. Once he found his way into construction, it took a community of relationships to help him arrive at his own business. Like so many successes in Portland’s Black community, that path led straight through Raimore Construction.

“Just being given a chance is all you really need,” says Tyrone. “For myself and my father, all we really needed was a chance.”

Tyrone’s father worked at Workhorse Construction, a Black-owned business. Workhorse hired him to drive heavy machinery and told him he could earn his own truck along the way—the seeds to start his own hauling and trucking service. When Workhorse sold to Raimore in 2012, they made good on their promise, and Bailey’s Construction Unlimited was born.

“In our family, he was the first to own a business,” Tyron says of his father. “I tell him all the time, ‘you’ve succeeded. I’m just trying to be as successful as you are.’”

Two years out of Benson, Tyrone Jr. earned his CDL and hit the road driving in-state until he turned 21 and became eligible for interstate driving. He gained valuable experience and made good money. With demand rising for products of all kinds to be delivered, and many truckers retiring, he felt job security too. But eventually, he knew he needed to augment those skills with business acumen and a construction-focused perspective. So, he turned to Raimore.

“I always kept a good relationship with the guys here at Raimore,” he says. “They knew that I was a pretty good worker, I got a good work ethic, and a good attitude, and they decided to bring me in and help me grow into a management-leadership role.”

Today, he works as a field engineer and project manager, learning to oversee every aspect of a project, from the trucking side, to asphalt, concrete, civil excavation and demolition work. The job is an ideal experience to prepare him to own a business someday.

“I always try to tell the guys I work with to pay attention to the smaller details because the smaller details will always get you into trouble. They can become bigger things,” he says. “Focusing on the details is what it takes to run the work, to properly schedule the work, to plan out the work—all these different things that come into play with running a business or any operation.”

Raimore is more than an opportunity to prepare for his future. It’s also an environment in which he can thrive and be his best self.

“One thing that’s so great about Raimore is being able to work with people who look like you, who have the same thoughts as you, who have the same feelings as you, and being able to have a voice,” he says. “Here at Raimore, I’m not a minority.”

That’s just one reason why Tyrone hopes to stay a while at the company. The other is fear—running a business is not easy, as his father knows well. Failure is a reality for many small business owners, and letting people down is a risk if the business ends up unable to perform. Alongside the risk, though, is the reward of challenging oneself to beat all expectations, to grow, to succeed, and to make people proud. 

“I want to make my dad proud of what I've done for the business. That’s what drives me—to be able to be successful and make him proud.”

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