J.P. Evans saw his share of hardship as a child.
As a youngster in Lynchburg, Tennessee, his large family broke apart due to substance abuse, he says, and he and one of his six siblings went to live with their grandmother and step-grandfather.
"My (step) grandfather (Alf Taylor) raised me," Evans said. "Even though we didn't have a blood relationship, he went back to work and provided for me and my brother."
Later, Evans said his grandparents fell ill and he was taken in by a guidance counselor at Moore County High School, where he was an all-state quarterback on the football team.
This childhood turbulence — and the help he received — filled him with resolve and a heart for service as an adult, Evans says.
Today, Evans, 25, is business development manager for Southern Spear Ironworks, a Chattanooga steel company. Southern Spear is a growing company with more than 50 employees that has been in the news for being a major contractor in a U.S. government project in Antarctica.
The company is shell contractor for the McMurdo Station, the United States government's logistical hub for scientific research in Antarctica. The station dates to the 1950s and houses up to 1,100 people during the summer months. The current construction project is designed to consolidate buildings in the complex.
"It's a 10-year project," Evans says. "We are going to be there for a long time."
Southern Spear Ironworks also has been involved in renovating the Loudon County Courthouse, helping to build a resort at Fall Creek Falls state park, and contributing to various commercial projects including a Publix shopping center in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, and a Subaru dealership in Atlanta.
Evans credits Southern Spear Ironworks president Sean Compton with building an energetic culture at the company.
"Sean does a great job of hiring people," Evans says. "He just hires smart people who know how to solve problems."
* Hometown: Lynchburg, Tennessee
* Job: Business Development Manager at Southern Spear Ironworks
* Education: B.S. in Engineering, Tennessee Tech University
* Residence: Hixson
Before signing on with Southern Spear Ironworks, Evans worked in sales at Trane heating and air conditioning in Huntsville, Alabama. He also did an internship at Nissan Motor Company in Middle Tennessee.
Evans is part of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Protege training program for young business leaders. Through the program he has gotten to spend time with former U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who he says is one of his role models.
As he settles into his job in Chattanooga, Evans says he has a heart for public service. He is a mentor for Tennessee Promise, helping students navigate community college.
He met his wife, Paige, in college at Tennessee Tech. They have one child, Taylor, with another on the way, and live in the Big Ridge area of Hixson.
Evans says he wants to be part of the Chattanooga story at a crucial point in the city's history.
"I think the growth we will see in the next 10 years is going to be unprecedented," he said.