Second Chance Success Stories

Jim M. Webb (EMDC '22) is building on his EMDC learning to create more opportunities for himself and others with Nation Builders Construction Group.

Jim M. Webb

Jim M. Webb believes strongly in second chances.

As a person impacted by the justice system and a single father of four, Webb is in the middle of his own second chance while also helping create them for others through his company, Nation Builders Construction Group. 

“I used to believe that second chances were gifts that people extended to others until I understood that each second is a chance to create a new reality,” said Webb (EMDC '22), who graduated from Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program this month. “In recognizing time as opportunity, I was able to control the seconds of my own life and create chances for myself and others.” 

Nation Builders evolved from an earlier venture of Webb’s: A Stroke of Genius residential painting company, which he started in 2009. He later focused on commercial projects, and clients began to turn to them for other types of jobs. With the business approved to do work on government projects, Webb saw an opportunity.

“However, marketing to the government as solely a painting company would not get us any business in that market,” he said. “With the need for competent diverse construction professionals on the rise, we felt we could better compete as a general contractor rather than as a subcontractor.” 

Thus, Nation Builders was born, founded with the mission to not only do great work creating attractive working and living spaces in the commercial and government sectors but also to teach others – often those looking for a second chance – how to do that great work themselves. 

In January 2016, Nation Builders started a workforce development program to help potential employees find the right opportunities to match their personalities and aspirations. Applicants attend 40 hours of leadership training and, if they choose to move forward with Nation Builders, are placed in a nationally certified construction course while working as an apprentice. 

In 2018, Webb and his colleagues added training on character development. The program is purposefully designed to be challenging. 

“Anything worth having in life is worth working for,” Webb said. “People appreciate the things they have worked hard for better than the things that were given to them.” 

Webb includes himself in that. He said the lessons he’s learning through EMDC have been helpful in his work with Nation Builders, which has offices in Chicago and the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. The program has helped him change his approach as an executive to help lay out a clear blueprint for the company’s future. 

“I have been able to better offer my value proposition to clients by narrowing down on how my company is different,” he said. “I’ve also been able to be more competitive in the way I approach pricing our work with consideration to our value proposition.” 

Meanwhile, he’s been a sponge for the program’s lessons on leadership, particularly how to help others become leaders.

“Developing effective leadership with the people you have should be a never-ending priority of any high-performing organization,” he said. 

Because of his experiences in life and with EMDC, his own second chance, and the second chances he’s helping provide for others, Webb is excited about his present — and future. 

“I love creating new spaces for people to have meaningful experiences in,” he said. “I feel a sense of community in being able to build things with others and to serve our clients in that same spirit of community.”

McCormick News Article