MWDBE SPOTLIGHT: Meet Jewell Antoine-Johnson
Founder of Antoine Johnson LLC
1. How did Antoine Johnson get started?
I graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C. with a BA in architecture. My architectural career spanned over 16 years with a few of Philadelphia’s notable firms: Geddes Brecher Qualls Cunningham (GBQC) and Cubellis. Ultimately, my goal was to establish a design-build firm. I had great architectural mentors. I knew that to be successful in business and construction, I needed mentors in this industry. I was fortunate to build those relationships and started the business in 2009.
2. What is Antoine Johnson’s specialty?
We offer at-risk construction management services and owner representative services. Given our team’s design background, we are able to plan and manage projects with each stakeholder’s (owner, designer, and contractor) perspective in mind.
3. What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the relationships that we’ve built over the years. I understood quickly that Philadelphia was a place where relationships mattered. Being the new business on the block, I knew I would have to be strategic in my partnerships and clients to garner success. We had very little business development resources. The connections we made by partnering with established firms have really helped catapult us to new levels. We gain the respect and trust of our peers and forge new client relationships built on the work we produce together.
4. How did your partnership with LF Driscoll begin?
Emily Bittenbender, founder of Bittenbender Construction, is one of my first business mentors in the construction industry. She introduced me to Mack Stulb, president of LF Driscoll. Mack quickly became a mentor who helped me understand the ins and outs of the business, evaluate potential opportunities, and gain exposure. LF Driscoll gave us one of the first opportunities to be a prime on a large project—the Philadelphia Museum of Art Core Project. As a young business looking to expand into at-risk work, that kind of experience establishes your lines of credit and bonding. It was a tremendous opportunity and really helped establish Antoine Johnson as a firm that could handle large, complex projects.
5. Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business in our industry?
Find several mentors. It’s imperative you speak with successful, likeminded people who understand the nuances of your industry. They have done it before and can provide real-time lessons learned to help you to build on your success. Mentorships can be mutually beneficial for both mentor and mentee. Look for ways to bring value and pay it forward by helping other small businesses.
About Antoine Johnson
Year established: 2009
Location: Camden, NJ
Notable project: Philadelphia Museum of Art Core Project
Length of partnership with LF Driscoll: 3 years