Fresh out of college from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, Holley Ellis went to work as a corporate recruiter and trainer.
The now 29-year-old says she was attracted to the job because she likes the challenge of problem solving and finding a structural engineer for a company that desperately, temporarily, needs one can be exciting.
Hence, after working for other recruiting firms, Ellis founded The E Group Inc. and E Group Engineering Services, the latter of which employs and lends out engineers to needing companies.
A good deal of E Group Engineering Services’ employees handle work for Atlanta-based Southern Company.
Ellis says she expects Southern Co. “to have 200 requirements (or open positions) to fill this year.” During that time, Ellis says she will hire more engineers for her firm to fill out slots for companies requiring various services.
Ellis’ entrepreneurial spirit showed itself early. She worked as a bank teller, camp counselor and knife saleswoman in high school and sold imported jewelry and art, among other jobs, to finance her college education.
The Mobile native says much of her company’s success can be attributed to her husband, Scott.
“He put his real estate career on hold when we got the Southern Co. contract and has since become a permanent fixture with the company. He is in charge of finances and has since opened his own financial/office support division of The E Group, which is doing very well.”
On her future plans, Ellis says she will stay with The E Group until retirement.
She also sees herself becoming more involved in civic organizations.
Using advice she once received, Ellis says she believes, “If you build a company centered around customer service, both to your employees and clients, you will be successful.”
Ellis says her father, Robert Montiel, a lawyer turned Episcopal priest, is among her mentors. She says she learned how to be ethical, religious, smart and philosophical from him. She also counts David Dyson of the Dyson Leadership Institute as a person of inspiration, adding that Dyson’s seminars and lessons have helped spur her business initiatives.
Among her hobbies is spending time with her two children, a 6-year-old girl and an 8-month-old boy. “Every Saturday, that’s what I do,” she says. “I don’t check my e-mail… My 14-hour Saturdays are my favorite day of the week.”