What would make you give up a potential NFL career to move home to Maine and start a construction business? For Kendrick Ballantyne, owner of Optimum Construction, it was opportunity….the opportunity to build his own business in an industry he enjoyed and in a place that he loved.
A native of Gorham, Kendrick attended Northeastern University where he played football and earned a degree in finance and a minor in construction management. From a young age, Ballantyne knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur and own his own business. With family in the construction business, he had long been intrigued by the industry. His education at Northeastern set him on a path to start his own construction business, and after playing one season for the Baltimore Ravens, Ballantyne decided to make a move toward achieving his childhood dream.
Why construction? It’s all about people.
When Kendrick decided to leave the NFL, he didn’t come directly back to Maine. He spent some time honing his skills by working for the facilities team at Northeastern. After a short stint in Boston, he returned to Maine at the age of 27 to start Optimum Construction.
For Kendrick, the appeal of a career in construction is that it brings together so many people to complete one design. From all the engineers and architects involved in the design, right through to the completion of the project, Kendrick observes that, “Construction is all about people, managing people, and relationships with people.”
Now, seven years after moving back to Maine, Kendrick is fully invested in his own business and his home state. Though he enjoyed his time in Boston and Baltimore, he says the pace of life in Maine is much better. He was looking for a work-life balance and while he is still trying to find a full balance as a fairly new business owner, it’s an improvement over life in the big city. Now, he’s close to the ocean and the woods and near his family in southern Maine. He has all that, and his business is doing well.
“I feel blessed already to have a business that provides for myself and my family as well as other people’s families,” he says.
What’s on the horizon for careers in the trades?
Maine’s construction industry on the whole is growing, observes Kendrick. As a southern Maine-based business, he specifically cites the burgeoning development in and around Portland. He’s optimistic about the market for younger people in construction, predicting that the demand for construction and trades workers is just going to keep growing and that the fields are “ripe for the picking.”
As for his own future, Kendrick plans to keep working hard, growing his business through providing quality work and stellar service to clients.
Kendrick Ballantyne and Optimum have been successful in their first seven years in business, and we at ABC Maine are excited to see where this young entrepreneur and his team are headed.
Want to Learn More About a Career in Construction?
Ask your teacher or guidance counselor about attending the Craft Championships! Held on November 17th from 8am to 2pm, the Craft Championships is a free field trip and hands-on opportunity to try out construction trades.
Email Hope Perkins to learn more.