About 25 years ago, Jeffery Postell was digging ditches on construction sites. Now, he’s an executive building the city brick by brick.
All those years ago, Postell’s goal was to get somewhere with air conditioning. He said he kept moving up step-by-step. Six years ago, that led to him starting his construction company, Post L Group.
“We started out with these small drywall projects and, as in smaller renovations, maybe cafeteria additions to elementary schools. We did a lot of those,” Postell said. “We’re now doing $2 million jobs at the airport.”
Postell’s rise in the construction industry is a result of decades of hard work, returning to school at night, working long days and the support of the community. Now 40, he wasn’t planning to eventually open a business when he returned to school years ago; he just planned on working.
When his business started, Postell had no money, and his office was his kitchen table.
“I sacrificed everything financially to make it happen,” he said. “And it was a rough road. About two years in, we started getting sustainable, and we finally started retaining some earnings. I had to go from being in the weeds, project manager type of guy, you-want-the-estimate-the- type-of-guy, to being CEO, which was a very hard transition.”
That transition also can be difficult in an environment where people of color have extra challenges to rise to the top of industries. Fortune reported earlier this year that there have only been 19 Black CEOs out of 1,800 CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500 list, dating back to 1955.
But through that work, he made valuable connections. Chris Gavras, president of The CG Group, said those relationships helped Postell.
“The people they work with, and the responses they get on the quality of their work speaks for itself,” Gavras said of Postell’s company. “And I think Jeff is proud of that, and he should be and in all of us that know and consider Jeff a friend, we’re proud of him and his company for what they do. They’re not just a company that does work, they do quality work, and that’s why his company is growing so quickly. Word of mouth is golden. And the word, the word about Jeff and his company is, they pay attention to detail, they do quality work, and they get it done on time.”
During those building years, Postell said, it also was important to serve his community. When he moved to the Como neighborhood, he started going to the community center and helping mentor students there.
Postell would ask the students to show him their online portal and he would work on their homework with them. If a student was behind in assignments or not completing work, he would help them make a plan with their teachers to get caught up.
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“I really got committed to Fort Worth in terms of my social life, my commitment to the community,” Postell said. “So, in turn, I think, greater Fort Worth also committed to me as a business owner, but it hasn’t been easy.”
Aside from the work at the community center, Postell served on many boards and committees.
He’s had a passion for serving others and being a mentor since he was young, said his aunt, Vickie Richardson-Steward, 59.
Postell served as a mentor for her son and his other younger cousins. After Postell’s first son was born, she recalled, he took his younger cousins with him to the grocery store to get supplies for the baby.
“All those cousins were looking at him like, ‘Man, you sure spend a lot of money. Are you going to be able to get the tires for the truck?’” Richardson-Steward said. “And Jeffrey was like, ‘No,’ he said, ‘My responsibility is to my son.’ He says, ‘When you have a child everything, everything else is obsolete. You got to take care of your child.’”
It was a memorable lesson for them, she said. It also shows how much Postell values taking care of others, she said.
Gavras said his friend has a real focus on the community and making it better, “with a real laser focus on the African American young people.”
“He doesn’t just talk about it,” Gavras said. “He’s implementing his vision, and it’s making an impact and giving a lot of people in a lot of communities, but especially the African American community, has given people an opportunity not just to have a job but to build a career.”
Postell said it feels great to represent Black men at the top of the industry, and he is proud to do so. But he also said he would not be able to do so without a great staff helping his company succeed.
That is why he does not want to be the only Black man in an executive office. Postell has initiatives in place to diversify construction.
“We’ve got initiatives where we make sure we go out and hire people from our communities,” he said. “We make sure we really focus in on introducing more Black folks to construction opportunities. There are so many jobs available, and we really want to see construction be even more diverse than what it is now.”
Postell is working on bringing more people into the unskilled trade jobs of construction, such as sweeping, running the temporary elevators or demolition.
“No one wants to do those things,” he said. “It can be seen as uninspiring, it doesn’t pay well, it’s hard work.”
He wants to offer more people opportunities in construction. To do that, Postell said, he hires ex-felons, ex-convicts and people who have just graduated high school.
“From a community aspect, what we’re really focused on is how can people that want to make a good living, but they can’t, they haven’t been inspired to like, do the grunt work at the beginning,” he said. “We’re really focused on communities, creating a program that’s going to hold their hand.”
The company has a mentor program that pairs people with a sponsor in the company to do some of the unskilled trade work in the company and prepare them to then go into a vocational training program.
The program might lead to people getting jobs outside the company, but Postell said it is bettering the community.
In running his company, Postell said, he had to step away from some of his community leadership. In some ways, that can lead him to feel like diversity in leadership is decreasing as he steps back.
But other people can fill those roles. He has to focus on having a sustainable business and creating jobs.
“As I try to step back and make sure I’m keeping my business sustainable and focus my community activity in one or two specific areas and not be pulled, but often people want me to get involved in other things,” Postell said. “We’ve got to find leaders within the community to fill those gaps that want to lead and be involved, even if they don’t have a big brand, but because they’re passionate about it.”
Jeffery Postell Bio
Moved to Fort Worth: In 2012 while building the Tarrant County Civil Courts building
Family: Postell has three children, Jeffery Postell III, 22, Jace Postell, 6 and Jaxon Postell, 1. He is married to Charlena Postell
Education: Associate’s degree from North Lake College in construction engineering in 2000, bachelor in business management from Northwood University in Cedarville in 2002
Work experience: American General Supplies Construction, 1997-99, general labor and general foreman; Mart Inc. General Contractors, 2000-02, assistant superintendent; Meridian Commercial, 2002-05, assistant project manager and project manager; Varsity Contractors, 2006-08, project manager, Yates Vending, project manager, 2008-15; started Post L Construction in October 2015
Volunteer experience: Currently a board member of Tarrant County United Way, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Real Estate Council, National Association for Minority Contractors and North Texas Tollway Association Business Diversity Advisory Committee member. Previously served on City of Fort Worth Building Standards Commission for District 8, board for Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, Regional Black Contractors Association, mentor, tutor and basketball coach at Como Community Center, coached basketball at YMCA
First job: American General Supplies Construction
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: To be a great listener and a great teacher, and I would also say do the right thing even when no one is looking, follow your gut.
Best advice ever received: Keep the main thing the main thing
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to include the correct spelling of Gavras.
Kristen Barton is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.