At just 10 years old, Elizabeth Evans won her first tennis tournament. At 15, she started running marathons. And at 17, the future business owner joined the United States Army. Four years ago, Elizabeth took another leap of faith and founded E2 Design & Construction (“E Squared”), a custom home building company that has since split into two brands: E2 Homes and E2 Roofing.
From West Point to the National Guard and Remodeling
Elizabeth’s journey to building and remodeling started when she joined West Point after being recruited to play tennis. Fascinated by building and design, the young cadet chose a civil engineering path, where she learned construction and project management skills that serve her well to this day. “Construction and the military have so many parallels,” Elizabeth says. “I’ve had several of my classmates at West Point end up in the construction industry.”
In 2005, Elizabeth left the army for the Florida National Guard to pursue her next venture. “I was fascinated with the idea of building a home,” Elizabeth says. Although she had not worked directly in the residential construction industry in the military, she landed a job with Pulte Homes, a local builder, before starting E2 in 2017.
At first, the new business owner marketed her company as one brand, but Elizabeth quickly realized that the way she talked to clients about custom homes and roofing differed. This realization prompted her to hire a marketing coach who assisted the team through the transition to E2 Homes and E2 Roofing. She says the rebranding improved business, and the company grew 10% despite the pandemic’s challenges.
Thriving in two male-dominated industries
Both the military and the construction industry are male-dominated, but how she is perceived in the two spaces differs. “In the military, I wear a uniform, and you can see my rank,” Elizabeth says, which she notes helped ease any friction that may have arisen between her and other soldiers. “I’ve always just been treated as an officer, a soldier.” In remodeling, however, there are no name tags. Though she doesn’t lose any sleep over it, Elizabeth can recall times when homeowners did not know that Elizabeth was the owner of the company and would approach her general manager instead, assuming that he was the owner and she was in an administrative support role.
Most of the time, however, being a woman founder is a strength, and Elizabeth thinks that her perspective keeps E2 competitive, something her clients have told her is unique to her company. “I walk into someone’s home and my shoes come off,” she says. “I think about someone’s kids and their dogs, and tell my guys to use that magnet and make sure there’s not a single nail left in that yard.”
Veteran-owned, operated, and staffed
Elizabeth is a busy woman. Her duties at E2 haven’t stopped her from rising within the Florida National Guard, and she was recently promoted to Colonel. During 2020 and 2021, she also attended the Joint War College, JAWS (Joint Advanced Warfighting School). Only 45 active duty military members attend the 11-month program a year. Four days a week in the mornings, she attended JAWS classes and then shifted over to running E2 in the afternoons and evenings.
Still, the colonel’s military ties aren’t kept separate from E2: Elizabeth also makes it a priority to employ veterans and is a franchisee for VetCor, an emergency restoration services company owned and staffed by veterans that handles water and mold damage.
Even though they may have a learning curve to understanding the field, veterans can become the star players on a team, according to Elizabeth. “I can teach you how to install a roof. But I cannot teach you how to work hard and want to do things that will make your team stronger,” she says. “That has to come from within you, and that’s what you’re going to get when you look at hiring a veteran.”