Khalil Davis Is Making the Most of a Second Chance in Life and a Newfound Passion for Construction

Among the many virtues of Construction Ready is its willingness to take in students with a past. Since the CEFGA program launched in 2014, hundreds have come through its doors in need of a second chance.

Khalil Davis is one of those who capitalized on the opportunity Construction Ready gave him. He’s not ashamed to say he spent more than three years in prison, and he has an air of determination that suggests he won’t make the same mistakes again.

“When I got out [in May 2015], I tried to look for a job, but people shut me down,” Khalil recalls. “But that wasn’t going to stop me. Even if I had not found Construction Ready, I still would have found something. I was not going to give up.”

Fortunately for Khalil, Construction Ready was there to speed along his comeback story. After moving in with an uncle on Atlanta’s Westside, he heard about the fast-growing program at its original Westside Works location. He was accepted into Group 11, graduated in August 2015 and was hired by Lichty Commercial Construction.

Four years later, Khalil had moved on to a job with DPR Construction and was one of five Construction Ready graduates to receive CEFGA’s inaugural Craft Pro Construction Ready Graduate of the Year Award.

“I was speechless,” Khalil said after the August 2019 ceremony at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta. “I had so many words I wanted to say. There’s nothing like that feeling. Like [another winner] said, five years from now, where will we be if we just keep pushing? What happened in the past is in the past.”

It’s certainly been a journey for Khalil, who started his post-Construction Ready career at the bottom, literally – “sweeping floors, digging holes, shoveling rocks,” he remembers with a laugh. Over time, Lichty gave him more responsibility, including a supervisory role on an Atlanta restaurant project.

In 2017 Khalil accepted a job with DPR, a general contractor with offices in more than three dozen cities including Atlanta. In recommending him for the CEFGA Craft Pro award, his supervisors cited his eye for detail and craftsmanship, his leadership potential and his advocacy for jobsite safety.

One of Kahlil’s early assignments was to support the DPR jobsite management team on an office building project in Chamblee. The project superintendent was so impressed with his work, he requested Kahlil to join him in a similar role on the next project. By then it was obvious that he was developing a passion for DPR’s culture of safety, and he expressed his desire to continue on that path as a career.

Steve Duff, Safety Manager for DPR’s Southeast Region says, “Khalil’s various credentials he earned through the Construction Ready program, his concern for safety, and his quest for wanting to know ‘the why’ caught my attention on our Chamblee project. At DPR, leaders who have this quality have the opportunity to take on the additional responsibilities of a Field Safety Coordinator role.”

Khalil now is pursuing Safety Trained Supervisor, or STS, credentials through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. This designation is common among field leaders in DPR’s West Coast offices, and the goal is for Kahlil to be one of the first to earn it in the company’s East Coast operations and set an example for others to follow.

“I love construction,” Khalil says. “Whether it’s safety, whether it’s building, if I’m in the field, I’m happy. With safety and construction, it all runs together.”

He also praises DPR’s corporate culture of investing in workforce development: “The people I’m around, the team – they’re involved in you personally. Whatever position you’re in, they teach you. I’ve learned a lot.”

In turn, Khalil has made time to give back to CEFGA. After he graduated, he spent hours of his spare time creating a scale model of a construction site, which he presented to the CEFGA staff and is on display at its home office. He also has returned to Westside Works to share his experiences with Construction Ready classes there.

“Construction Ready changed my life,” he says. “So anything I’ve learned, I try to go back and pass that along. There’s opportunity out there, and Construction Ready is the best way to take advantage of that. You just have to take it one step at a time, and you have to want to change.”

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VIDEO: Khalil talks about his passion for craftsmanship, from the Atlanta-area projects he works on to a scale model of a job site he once built. Follow us on our YouTube channel to hear from more successful Construction Ready graduates.

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