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Crown Paving's 'Boss Lady' Paves Way in Greenbrier, Tenn.

Thu August 06, 2020 - Southeast Edition #17

Crown Paving is a nationally recognized Certified Women Owned Business. With that recognition, Jessica Blackburn and her business are able to provide supply chain diversity.
Crown Paving is a nationally recognized Certified Women Owned Business. With that recognition, Jessica Blackburn and her business are able to provide supply chain diversity.

Asphalt is all around.

It paves the way for us to get to where we are going, whether it is for work or play.

As president of Crown Paving in Greenbrier, Tenn., Jessica Blackburn understands the importance of efficiency and quality. It's why clients such as McDonalds, Holiday Inn and Nashville International Airport chose Crown Paving for asphalt paving, concrete and repair solutions.

"Asphalt and concrete are everywhere," said Blackburn. "I tell our apprentices that if you learn this skill, it will serve you well the rest of your life. Anywhere you are in the world, someone is always going to need something built with asphalt or concrete. It's really an incredibly sustainable business."

At job sites, Blackburn is affectionately known as "Boss Lady." The nickname "unicorn" would also be fitting. Out of the nearly 32 million businesses in the United States, only 13 million are women-owned.

Family of Business Owners

Blackburn comes from a family of blue-collared business owners. Her father owned a drilling and blasting business. After school and in the summers, Blackburn started working at her grandparents' auto repair station. Upon graduating college with a marketing and economics degree, she started working at her aunt's powerline construction company.

A few years later, she decided to give the corporate world a try at a large holdings company. Blackburn worked her way up from an entry-level position to managing a department and playing a vital role in the company's marketing, business development and customer retention efforts.

"While I thrived in that environment, it was apparent to me that owning a business was something I wanted very much," she said.

However, before Blackburn ventured out on her own, she was recruited by a local healthcare agency that heard about work at the holdings company. With an offer too good to refuse, the CMO and CEO tapped Blackburn to help grow the business and position it for an acquisition by one of the largest agencies in the world.

"With the agency acquisition complete, I was ready to move on and finally launch my own business. I saw an opportunity in the paving market because of the growth that Nashville was experiencing and the shortage of specialized contractors. I knew I wanted to build off my experience of running small businesses, growing and attracting business, and in an area that was and will always be needed, like asphalt and concrete construction."

Experts in a Family Environment

Crown Paving was created in 2015 and its services include paving, milling, patching, repairs and maintenance, seal-coating and striping.

The company is built from three generations of experience along with a team of experts Blackburn has assembled. Its concrete and asphalt division both bring years of experience and a wealth of knowledge.

Crown Paving is a nationally recognized Certified Women Owned Business. With that recognition, the business is able to provide supply chain diversity.

"There are several obvious advantages to working with your family and a local company. One of the most important, from a customer's perspective, is we don't have a lot of red tape or bureaucracy, which makes us nimble, fast and easy to work with. It makes a real difference that we can get the work done quickly and the customer always has direct access and can reach me."

Crown prides itself on word of mouth from clients, but they aren't the only one singing its praises. Blackburn said there are at least six instances where she hired someone, then after a few months, they refer a family member for a position.

"I love that. I think it's telling that they like where they work, they see our commitment to our employees and want to bring their relatives to work for Crown. Crown is nothing without our employees who work so very hard. I know each person's story, their families and are committed to growth plans for each individual. I tell them if we continue to do good work and grow, they will always have a job at Crown."

Crown Loves Tennessee

Blackburn grew up and currently lives in Robertson County and Crown Paving's office, shop and equipment yard is less than two miles from her home. They are located 25 miles north of Nashville and within a day's drive of 75 percent of U.S. markets and 50 percent of the U.S. population.

Crown Paving works all over Middle Tennessee serving local commercial, retail, hospitality and government paving needs.

"The business climate that has been created by Tennesseans is unmatched, with a pro-business regulatory environment, state and local tax burdens among the lowest in the country, and sound fiscal management that has led to healthy state budgets and the ability to invest in infrastructure and our economic ecosystem."

Life of a Leader

"The Women of Asphalt" recently announced a list of the Top 20 Influential Women in the Asphalt Industry. Blackburn is on the list, which features, as the publication describes "industry game changers who have demonstrated success in the asphalt industry, affected positive change, served as a mentor and given back to their community."

Blackburn is still surprised by the honor and said it's validating to be recognized.

"I would not have the opportunity to be recognized without all the efforts of every person that works at Crown Paving and the great work our crews put out each day. I'm hoping the recognition helps me connect to other like-minded women in the industry to learn and network with them to grow my business. "

Blackburn described her leadership style as reliable, hardworking, safe, responsible and trustworthy, and they are the same qualities she asks for in employees.

She is keenly aware as leader of a company, she's responsible for people's livelihoods and doesn't take that great responsibility lightly.

"Our employees are counting on me to think through consequences, imagine various outcomes, risks and opportunities and make informed choices and thoughtful decisions that continue to give them job security and growth."

Crown Paving's Projects … Operating During a Pandemic

One of Crown Paving's notable projects includes the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and it is currently in the second year of a five-year contract.

Crews perform paving and striping services in non-secure (landside) areas for airport projects at Nashville International Airport (BNA) & John C. Tune (JWN). Blackburn explained that the "on-call" component of the contract simplifies and expedites the repair and construction process.

"It's really given us the opportunity to shine in all our service areas."

How has coronavirus pandemic impacted Crown Paving?

As an essential business, Crown Paving has been able to continue to operate. Blackburn said that "right off the bat" she implemented:

  • Installing make-shift hand washing stations on crew trucks;
  • Reducing the number of employees in each truck;
  • Fogging trucks, equipment and tools each day;
  • Conducting, implementing and educating on social distancing standards; and
  • Sending soaps, sanitizer, masks and cleaning supplies home with every employee.

"As a leader, it's certainly been stressful. I've learned that you can't sit around and be scared thinking ‘what could happen,' but you can and should, make plans for everything that ‘might' happen. I usually always have a worst-case plan, and then hope to be pleasantly surprised that I don't have to implement it."

Blackburn is on Robertson County's Economic Development Board. In recent months, in partnership with a local hospital CEO, County Chamber, County Mayor and other local leaders, they have focused on discussing COVID-19 best practices.

Blackburn said that meeting with this group and talking with industry peers has helped guide her and offer valuable insights during a rapidly changing time.

"Bringing essential business together in our community has made a tremendous impact on aligning protocols and practices in our workplaces [job sites] and community to keep everyone healthy the best we can."

For more information, visit CEG

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