As a child, Chase West meandered down the halls of the former Southern College of Technology with his father, Eddie, chatting with professors and admiring the numerous awards that lined the brick walls as they walked.
At the time, Eddie West wanted to show his son the place where he learned his craft, long before becoming an electrical contractor and starting A. West Enterprise in Albany, Ga., with his wife, Angie. He never anticipated that his son would follow him and his father-in-law to become a third-generation contractor. After graduating this month with a degree in construction management, Chase West will join his father’s company as a project manager.
“If his granddaddy was alive, he would be so excited and so proud to see his work continue on,” said Eddie West, a 1994 graduate of Southern Tech, now Kennesaw State University.
However, the path to graduation was somewhat of a journey, Chase West said. After graduating high school, he enrolled in Darton State College, now Albany State University, and later took a break from school to try his hand at law enforcement. He joined the Albany Police Department in 2013 after completing the police academy.
“I started policing because I wanted to be sure that construction was something I wanted to do and not just something my dad wanted me to do,” West said.
After a three-year stint as a patrolman, West began to reflect on the times his father brought him into the construction management capstone room to show the work of students who would soon graduate and “make some real money.” He decided it was time to put down the badge and return to the place that gave his father a fresh start.
“My dad has always taken me up to this campus year after year and made me walk these halls, made me look at the plaques on the walls,” West said. “He was very proud of the education he received. When I finally made it back up here myself, the first thing I wanted to do was chase his legend down.”
Carrying over credits he earned at Darton State, West completed his degree in just two years, averaging about 15 credit hours per semester. Like his father, he served as the student chapter president for the Association of General Contractors and was named chairman for the University’s Construction Guild. He was active in the student government association as a senator representing the College of Architecture and Construction Management, and was initiated into the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success.
“Chase has an impressive personality and is an avid listener. He stands firm on his ground but also has a soft side, and is always ready and willing to help others,” said Khalid Siddiqi, chair of KSU’s construction management department. “Several construction companies approached me to recruit Chase, but he politely declined because he made a commitment to his dad to work only after completing his degree program.”
Though he had some field experience working alongside his father, West said he felt being involved with the various student organizations gave him a new perspective on project management. He credits the construction management faculty with continuing to push him academically.
“The professors are all extremely friendly and extremely helpful, and I’m not just saying that,” West said. “They all know my name, and they’ve all gone out of their way to help me any way that they can.”
Eddie West jokes that his son couldn’t graduate fast enough, as construction managers are a need for his company and others across the country. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 48 percent of contractors nationwide say they have trouble filling salaried project manager positions, which include construction managers. In Georgia alone, more than half of survey respondents said project managers were their greatest need.
Speaking from his own experience, Eddie West said that his son should be well equipped for the job on Day 1.
“I know Chase is getting a quality education because it’s pretty much the same education I received two decades ago,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun to see him go through school and to call me to talk about what he’s learning because I’ve done it all before.”