My grandfather is a man of few words, lacking in sarcasm, and with an inability to tell a good story. Of course, all of these are lies to make the people who know Eddie Austin Knight laugh a little. In reality, he is charismatic, hard-working, and far more intelligent than he allows himself to believe. For this reason, and simply because he is the E.A. Knight, I thought it practical to start with him as I delve into the blogging world.
“So, when was E.A. Knight first thought about?” I asked, as I sat across the ironic round table from my grandfather.
My grandfather reclined in his chair and looked up to his figurative memory bank and said, “Well, back in 1979…” and he was off. I didn’t ask another question for a good 10 minutes. I didn’t have to.
E.A. Knight Construction started on a high rise in Carbondale, Illinois, across from the Southern Illinois University. However, as my grandfather was quick to point out, construction had started for him when he was eight years old, in a small town called Rosiclare, Illinois, when he and his friends tried to reveal the innards of a cue ball. (If that story sounds interesting to you, you can purchase his books A Bucket of Bent Nails or This Was Not My Fault, where he goes into much greater depth than I plan on going.) The Cue Ball story marks the beginning of his life in carpentry. As he grew up, Eddie Knight moved from Rosiclare, Illinois, across the country to California, where he fine-tuned his skills as a carpenter on commercial projects.
A move back to Illinois to raise his two kids, Beth and Glen, led a 40-year-old Eddie into working for his brother-in-law on this 8-story high rise. The project started with a contractor out of Memphis, but when the project stalled and progress nearly halted, a man by the name of Charlie Goss stepped in as subcontractor to finish the project, finishing its interior. His death shortly after led to Eddie’s brother-in-law taking over the project as lead contractor. Once again, the unfortunate death of his brother-in-law led to the need of another contractor.
“The big shots from [the Memphis contractors] came to me and said, ‘You’re next.’ And I… I said, ‘I don’t want to die.’ They said, ‘No, you’re a contractor now.’” The Memphis contractors had spent long enough on the job and wanted to get their carpenters off it, so they turned to him.
Yes, it was sudden and, in some ways, morbidly lucky, but Eddie had always dreamed of being a business owner of his own one day but didn’t know how or when he would take the next steps. Well, the Universe has a sick sense of humor, and It pushed him down the steps into launching a new business.
Eddie needed employees next, if E.A. Knight Construction was going to be a legitimate business, but that’ll have to wait for the next blog.
Thanks for reading!