Kent Construction has been a family-owned business for more than 40 years and has been run by three generations of the family. It was founded by Ernest C. Davison Jr. of Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. After retirement from the military, Ernest moved to Delaware where he created the business in his basement. Kent’s specialties include site/utility work, concrete and carpentry.
The company operates on the principles of have fun, make money, give to the community, and be ethical, and he particularly stressed the importance of giving back and being a positive force in the community on later generations.
The company is in the midst of a transition phase with the third generation stepping into leadership roles but has the time to “take the careful steps and proactive planning measures to make it a smooth transition,” say Katie and Kristin Davison, members of that third generation who are acting as general manager and project coordinator, respectively.
Katie and Kristin entered different career fields after college, but both ended up “right where we needed to be.” Kristin says. “It was important to our parents that we worked our way from the ground up and learning each area of the business. It was like baptism by fire. As long as you kept coming back to the office day after day, taking yourself beyond your comfort zone, and trying to keep you head above water, that’s really all our parents ever asked for.”
“When I think of legacy, I think of being 8 years old,” says Katie Davison. “I would look forward to the chance to tell someone that Ernie Davison was my grandfather. He was our hero and certainly a ‘hometown hero’ in our small community. People to this day still talk about how great he was to work with and how philanthropic he was in the community.”
Kristin adds that “the best piece of advice we have received since being at the business and that we give
to other family business owners is to not sweat the small stuff and pick and choose your battles wisely.”
The Davison family had its own Winston racing team in which Ernest’s son, Pat Davison, was driver and Ernest’s other son, Rick, and his daughter Julianne were part of the crew team.