The Bowa Group

In only three years, The Bowa Group has gone from being the new kid on the block to earning a reputation as a reliable general contracting and construction management firm. “People are starting to know who we are,” President and CEO Nosa C. Ehimwenman says. “We’re bringing a positive new energy, new approaches and new technologies in the market in Chicago.”

Ehimwenman founded the company in 2009 after spending 11 years at Gilbane Building Co. At the time, “I saw an opportunity in the market for a qualified, reputable African American-owned construction management and general contracting firm,” he recalls. “I took a leap of faith and started the company.”

Bowa now employs a staff of 30 who have extensive experience in general contracting, construction management and design/build work. “We’ve been fortunate to develop some good relationships and hire equally good people,” Ehimwenman says.

The company also has succeeded by focusing on high demand niche markets. “Eighty percent of our work is in the healthcare sector,” he says. “We’ve also been doing a substantial amount of higher education and private development work.” 

Client Favorite

Bowa encountered barriers in the industry in the beginning, Ehimwenman says. “We had to prove ourselves,” he says, noting that one client that gave it an opportunity was The University of Chicago Medical Center.  

“They have given us the platform to showcase some of the work that we’re doing,” he says, noting that the company continues to take on projects for the medical center. “Let’s be honest: without their construction compliance department and the entire leadership at the medical center supporting us, we wouldn’t be successful; they really foster a collaborative and inclusive environment.” 

Bowa is currently working on the medical center’s $67 million dollar ambulatory clinic with their JV partner Leopardo, which will expand its services to Chicago’s south suburbs in Orland Park, Ill. 

“This is their first standalone medical office building in the south suburbs,” Ehimwenman says.

When finished, the 108,000-square-foot facility will stand four stories. “We’re scheduled to turn over the project in December of 2016,” he says.

Exceeding Expectations

Bowa regularly deals with competition in its market. “There’s a sense that guys are still bidding projects pretty competitively,” Ehimwenman says.

The company copes by setting itself apart. “It’s really important to us to let owners know we’re your advocates,” he says. “We’re not just your typical general contractors, we’re here to exceed your expectations,” he continues. “We’re the contractors that can really create a competitive advantage compared to some of the other guys that are entering the market.”

Bowa is not your everyday business, Ehimwenman says. “We work hard, but we have an environment that’s a very family oriented culture,” he says. “It’s about helping each other be successful so the company can be successful. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for close family and friends supporting us.” 

This reflects Bowa’s “all-hands-on deck mentality,” he says. “It’s about doing whatever it takes to make the company better.”

Ehimwenman praises his company’s team, including Senior Manager and Lead Estimator Phillip Tan, Vice President of Operations Billy Parker, Accounting Manager Linda Ehimwenman, Office Manager Andrea Cross, Administrative Assistant Kristen Reed, Lead Superintendent Carlos Pinedo and many others. “These are our some of the key team members that have been here from the beginning and are helping this company continue to push the envelope for greatness,” Nosa Ehimwenman says.

Doing Things Right

Bowa is proud of its status as a minority-owned contractor and its work throughout Chicago’s South Side, Ehimwenman says. He notes that the company often hires locally and provides training in project management and engineering.

Ehimwenman also sits on the board at Alain Locke Charter School in Chicago, and is a participating member of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce. “I co-chair the construction committee,” he explains.

He predicts even more success for Bowa. “I see us continuing to gain market share and really setting the tone for what African American-owned construction companies can accomplish when they do things the right way,” he says. 

The company also will continue to expand its customer base, Ehimwenman adds. 

“I see Bowa being one of the top construction management firms in the city of Chicago in the next five to10 years,” he continues. “Bowa [will be] the firm that owners want to hire and great construction professionals want to work for.” 

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