Meet The Founder: Lasenta Lewis-Ellis
Starting from scratch is not foreign to Lasenta Lewis-Ellis, the founder and CEO of LLE Construction Group.
Growing up in Columbia, Lewis-Ellis attended college for architectural engineering technology with dreams of building her mother a house. After her mother’s passing, however, she found herself struggling to find the same meaning in designing homes while also taking care of her family. That degree from Midlands Technical College helped her to earn a position in the facilities department at the University of South Carolina. As she worked her way up over the years, she realized that she hadn’t learned the construction side of her business, despite her skill in drafting.
Her next position took her all across the country, but Lewis-Ellis’ ties to Columbia kept her in South Carolina, where she rejoined the facilities management industry at South Carolina State University. After losing her job in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Lewis-Ellis decided it was time to start a new course in providing for her family, and founded LLE Construction in 2011.
She reached the understanding that she didn’t know everything she needed to succeed as a first-time business owner – and characteristically, dove right into entrepreneurial programs like FastTrac at Midlands Technical College. Those programs taught her how to find just the right niche in the construction market – for Lasenta, those small-to-midsize projects the educational and commercial markets which were often ignored by larger contractors.
Since that time, Lewis-Ellis has seen consistent growth in both her business and her entrepreneurial profile. In 2016, she received recognition as the Enterprising Woman of the Year from Enterprising Women Magazine, and in 2019, she took on the mantle of Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Richland Library. Community is at the core of her values: she devotes herself to inspiring and helping others see the potential in themselves. As the leader of one of South Carolina’s few minority-owned, woman-owned small construction firms, she serves on several community boards and mentors up-and-coming entrepreneurs as they start their own journeys. As Lasenta says, “Everyone has the potential to do great things. I believe in helping others achieve that.” Her latest endeavors come as she branches into real estate development for the first time. Her vision? Re-investing in neglected communities to ensure everyone has a chance to succeed.
Lewis-Ellis highlights the importance of leveraging resources that exist to help entrepreneurs. She credits her appetite for learning and desire to grow as the drivers behind her own success, and stops at nothing in encouraging others to seek whatever help they may need as they start or grow their businesses.