NJ Urban News writer Alexis Collins interviewed Anthony Talley, the founder and managing member of A E Talley Construction. The multimillion-dollar company is based in Philadelphia, Pa, and has an office in New Jersey. It specializes in construction, construction management, and investments. In a somewhat unique business model, the organization is divided into three phases, phase one is general construction, from the ground up projects to renovations; phase two is spearheading larger construction projects for commercial construction: and phase three is purchasing plots of land and/or dilapidated homes or properties, and then fixing them to rent or sell.

Anthony Talley, owner of AE Talley Construction in Philadelphia, Pa (Contributed photo)

Talley, a native of Willingboro, NJ, aspired to be a business owner due to his family’s decorated entrepreneurial background and his relatives being the first in their respective industries and fields. His company’s mantra is a simple “making lemonade out of lemons” by diligently and proudly assisting people in the beginning stages of investing and contracting; offering summer internship programs, where interns have access to shadowing opportunities, mentorship, and job sites; and providing community resources to give back. Talley’s company also has a YouTube Channel of the same name, where viewers can watch some of their client success stories and work highlights of the year. 

NJ Urban News: How long have you been in business, and why did you start your brand? 

Anthony Talley: We have been launched since 2009. Interesting story and a pivotal moment when the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008, and we were losing hundreds and hundreds and thousands of jobs a month because of the financial crisis. When President Barack Obama just took over office, I was working for Toll Brothers. I was working as a general superintendent and making a handsome wage, but I wasn’t prepared. I got called into the office, and [they] said, “we’re going to have to let you go.” It was nothing personal. I didn’t do anything wrong; it just was that time when people were trying to save their selves, they were getting rid of high salaries to try to maintain as much as possible, and it hadn’t dawned on me because weeks prior, I was letting people go left and right myself. Still, I didn’t think it was going to be me. I had an out-of-body experience, what I thought was the worst day of my life, actually turned out to be the best day of my life, and that’s when I started the company. But back to that day, I didn’t sleep for probably two weeks straight. My wife would look over at me, and I would just be sitting staring at the sky because I hadn’t prepared myself for being downsized; even though I was making a hefty wage, I didn’t save any money, we were just kind of living, having a good time, traveling, living in a lovely home, having nice vehicles, and having our kids in school, and when that day happened, I wasn’t prepared so I didn’t know what I was going to do. I started our company, and I’ve never looked back. I vowed never to work for anyone else again and never be in a situation where I was not prepared financially and that someone else could tell me, “You no longer have a job.”

NJ Urban News: Can you please share your experiences about starting your business–and advice you can offer to other entrepreneurs–with a particular focus on business owners of color?

Anthony Talley: The biggest thing is that preparing yourself is not always something that you can do; preparing yourself for this moment or growth is not always going to happen; sometimes, you must do it. We’re here, but there’s always a preceptor; when you go to school, there’s somebody in orientation; when you go to work, there’s always somebody showing you the ranks; if you’re a basketball player or athlete, there’s always someone to take you and show you where you’re supposed to be going and what you’re supposed to be doing, and it’s no different for business. In business, you must seek knowledge from other responsible and successful people. We’re in a growth spurt right now, and God is putting people in my path to help us grow. We’ve been in business for quite a while now, and we’re looking at our next steps and milestones. Right now, construction leads the way for us, but we would like for that to be inverted. I would like for our investments to lead our way and the construction to be the lowest fraction of work that we do, right now it’s the highest.

NJUrban News: What were some of the low points you experienced in starting the business?

Anthony Talley: There were a lot of lows. When I first started the business, I think I scraped together $500, and that $500 quickly went because I had to do an LLC to get licenses and insurance; before I knew it, I was in a delta, and I was using credit cards to be able to get the things that we needed to get to be a legitimate business, so that was a significant low point for our existence. Another low point was when we finally realized that some people don’t pay. We did a new construction job up in North Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, and a customer just refused to pay at the end of the job, and it was $35,000 leftover to be paid, and for a small company, $35,000 was a lot of money. That was another eye-opening experience, and what it did for us has helped us to re-tool and ensure that we satisfy expectations at all steps of our work, so we can’t get stuck or the likelihood of us getting stuck is not there. Sometimes you get in a situation where people are just not going to pay, but it won’t be anything that comes from our responsibility.

In Part 2 of the interview, Mr. Talley will discuss the future of his business, legacy and the credo of keep all in the family)

Read Part 2 here: https://njurbannews.com/2023/07/05/business-in-black-anthony-talley-part-2/

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *