Jolley spreads his wings after EMJ

Jolley spreads his wings after EMJ

October 8th, 2009 by Brian Lazenby in Business Around the Region

Staff Photo by Tim Barber Ed Jolley Jr. talks about forming his own construction company in the footsteps of his father, who started EMJ, Jolley Building, LLC. Mr. Jolley has moved his offices back into the original offices of the EMJ company at 6148 Lee Highway.

The office space for Jolley Building LLC feels like home for Ed Jolley Jr., who previously worked in the Lee Highway structure for EMJ Corp., the company his late father founded more than 30 years ago.

Mr. Jolley, 48, worked for Edgar Jolley's company 21 years before leaving to form Jolley Building in the One Park Place building, 6148 Lee Highway.

"We are now fully engaged and rocking and rolling," Mr. Jolley said.

The 10-employee company is working on construction jobs that range from $12.3 million projects to about $10,000.

"We are a small company, but we are enjoying that," he said.

The company's philosophy is to grow, but to do so in a controlled and conservative manner, said Mr. Jolley, who was vice president of pre-construction at EMJ.

He said Jolley Building's first-year goal is to be a $20 million firm, but he declined to release revenue figures or to indicate if Jolley Building is on track to reach that target.

"We'll see where the Lord takes us, and we'll see where we go after that," he said.

Bill Young, spokesman for the Nashville-based Associated General Contractors of Tennessee, said forming a company during the current economic climate will likely be the most difficult thing Jolley Building faces.

"With the market right now the way it is, it would be a challenge to say the least," Mr. Young said, acknowledging he has been approached by graduate students from Vanderbilt University unable to find a job as a laborer.

He said one indicator of the state of the construction industry is the Nashville skyline, which two years ago was dotted with about 15 cranes. Today there is one, he said.

Tennessee is one of the worst-hit states for construction, Mr. Young said.

But Mr. Jolley is confident his company will survive because of the professional and personal service he offers that so many others do not.

"We feel this is a great time to start a company, and a great time to start new vision," he said.

Mr. Jolley's reason for leaving the company that bears both his and his father's initials, was a philosophical difference about where EMJ is headed.

His step-brother, Jay Jolley, remains president of EMJ, but Ed Jolley Jr. said the two remain cordial even after his departure.

Mr. Jolley said he is concentrating on building his business and submitting winning construction bids.

"We're in the big game and bidding work," he said. "We will build just about anything -- except a dam."