Davenport pays it forward

John Davenport Jr.

Davenport pays it forward
February 21
00:05 2019

Throughout Black History Month, The Chronicle will be highlighting history makers from right here in our community who are making a difference and setting an example for others to follow.

This week we shine our light on John Davenport Jr., founder and owner of DAVENPORT, an engineering, design, and consulting firm located right here in Winston-Salem.

Growing up Davenport’s father would regularly take him to construction sites where he became fascinated with designing and building. Although Davenport fell in love with construction at a young age, he had no idea those visits to construction sites around town would lead him to where he is today.

After graduating from East Forsyth, Davenport’s love for construction and design led him to continue his education at N.C. State University.  After undergrad, Davenport went on to attend N.C. A&T State University where he received his master’s in engineering. In 2002 Davenport went out on a limb and decided to open his own engineering firm. While speaking with The Chronicle last week, Davenport said he never imagined his company would take off the way it did.

“When I first started, I was just trying to survive,” laughed Davenport. “So to be where we are today with over 70 employees, that wasn’t my original thought.”

From humble beginnings in 2002 with less than five employees, today DAVENPORT is a leading engineering and design firm with clients throughout the Southeast, with certifications in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida. DAVENPORT has also worked on a number of projects here in the City of Arts and Innovation, including; the Benton Convention Center, Winston-Salem State University’s north parking lot, and Simon G. Atkins High School to name a few.

Despite all his success, Davenport always finds ways to give back to the community that gave him his start. Aside from his father taking him to construction sites, Davenport also credits Addie Hines and the Upward Bound program at Winston-Salem State University for introducing him to the world of engineering.

“I went through that program and she was instrumental in helping me get in the position to go to college and go far,” continued Davenport. “Upward Bound prepared me and helped me understand what that looked like.”

Since 2007, Davenport has held a summer camp where children from local high schools and the Winston-Salem Urban League have the opportunity to intern with his company. Davenport said giving back is one of his “core pillars.”

“…Someone gave me an opportunity and quite honestly, when I was at that point in life I didn’t even know how to get into corporate America. I didn’t know what engineers did,” he continued. “But now that I have an opportunity and I know the ins-and-outs, I feel like it’s my duty. And it’s actually one of the most gratifying things I do.”

In 2011 Davenport’s passion for giving back led him to take the vacant seat on the board of education left by Geneva Brown. Davenport said being from Winston-Salem and knowing the community, he felt it was important to bring his experiences and insight to the board. Currently, Davenport is also a board member for several other organizations in the area including: the board of Health and Human Services, the Forsyth Tech Board of Trustees, and several others.

“It’s very important for me to give back. Whether I’m serving on the school board or working with other organizations in the area, it’s all about giving back and being able to shape how things unroll in our community,” said Davenport. “Someone has to serve on these boards to be the voice and provide prospective. Very few people from Winston-Salem are serving on these boards and the older I get the more I understand how valuable that is.”

When asked what advice he would give an up-and-coming entrepreneur who may be having second thoughts about following their dream, Davenport said he would encourage them to learn from their failures. He said, “Everybody has some strength and you don’t measure your strength by somebody else. You look at what you can do and what you bring to the table.

“… The only time you fail is when you don’t try. If you just try you’re probably going to go a lot further than you thought you were going to go. And then you have to be resilient because anybody who is successful didn’t become that way overnight,” said Davenport. “So as an entrepreneur, you can’t expect to start right off and knock it out the park. That’s not how it’s going to be. You have to be comfortable with learning how to fail and learn that failure is a learning lesson.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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