Everything started on the track for Eze Small (B.S. ’03, CERT. ’11, M.S. ’12). Now president and chief operating officer of Elite Construction of NY, the root of his career began in track and field at New York Tech. “I’m a big fan of athletics and education,” says Small. “Being an athlete teaches you how to strive for excellence by improving yourself daily, being organized, being focused.”
He chose New York Tech for its track and field program but shifted his focus to his other love, engineering, after catching pneumonia, which prevented him from ever running again. However, he continued assisting the head coach Peter Zinno even though he couldn’t participate.
Small, who has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s in energy management from New York Tech, landed a position following graduation at Turner Construction, where he worked for five years on site-specific projects at the Fulton Fish Market, Citi Group, and Brooklyn College before moving on to Triton Construction. The company’s leaders included former Turner Construction senior personnel who brought him on board. At Triton, he developed additional skills as a project manager and project engineer.
“I wanted to do construction management and engineering in a more personal way, where we represent the client, but we also go into communities and help the community,” says Small, who co-founded Elite Construction in 2011. Through the company, Small works with local schools, providing scholarships and mentorship. He also speaks at high schools to students in athletics.
Small continues to use all the lessons he learned at New York Tech, remembering the advice from one professor to “carry a notebook.” Small always gifts new hires at Elite with a book. “I tell my staff, if you’re working on a project, take notes. A dull pencil is better than a sharp mind. Keep your notes, and track yourself, so that’s what we do— all the basic principles of engineering and building.”
Throughout the past decade, Elite has hired a number of New York Tech alumni. And to this day, New York Tech is forever engrained in Small’s life. His sister-in-law was also a track and field runner, and he met his wife, also an All-American, at the university. And the legacy continues: His daughter is currently in the nursing program in the School of Health Professions, and one of his two sons wants to follow in his footsteps.
“I would tell him to go to New York Tech tomorrow,” says Small. “It’s a school that focuses on the development of a professional and enables them to manage high-stakes, high-opportunity situations. You have your labs, your teachers taking the time to explain things to you thoroughly, so it’s foundationally put into your system. And when you go to work in a fast-paced environment, you’re able to process the information calmly and make some decisions. Tech means the world to me.”