In spite of it all, or perhaps because of it, Evans Nwankwo has made the leap. Nwankwo grew up during a civil war in Nigeria with his mother, stepmother, and a dozen siblings. Through hard work and pure tenacity, Nwankwo made it to the United States, put himself through college, and founded Megen Construction Co. in Forest Park, which has landed projects such as the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR UNIQUE CHILDHOOD? Without doubt, cooperation. Life is full of give and take. My mom and my stepmom came together after my dad died to help raise all of us. That really cemented the lesson. You learn by example. Also, I came to realize that whatever happens, happens for a reason, even adversity. I believe God has a plan.

WHAT HAS MADE YOU SUCCESSFUL? There are a number of things, really. Education is obviously part of it. I also believe if you're going to be successful in any business, you have to gain experience, and I did so by working under someone for a number of years.

HAS THERE BEEN ONE DEFINING MOMENT FOR MEGEN CONSTRUCTION? Two years ago, we were at the point where it was me and everyone else. To continue to grow, I knew that I was going to have to relinquish some of my authority. As a founder, I found this extremely difficult. I was afraid people weren't going to do things the way I would have done them, but I knew that in order to grow, I was going to have to let go of some of my power. So ... we created our different project divisions. It was a major, defining moment in the life of the company, and I'm convinced, better than ever, that it was a positive move.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST MISTAKE YOU HAVE MADE? A couple of times we've had to hire people pretty fast. The fact was we needed someone right away, so we grabbed them. Unfortunately, they didn't live up to our expectations, and we had to let them go. We've created a financial reserve so that we have money available to hire talent whenever we find it, so we won't run into this problem anymore.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO AN ASPIRING ENTREPRENEUR? I would say try to get an education and gain as much experience as possible. Whatever it is you're getting into, make sure you can handle it. Be able to see where you're going before you get there. Don't be one to crumble under adversity, because if you crumble, others will follow. Start slowly. Don't try to take over the world overnight, because you're going to stumble. We're all in business to make money, but put it second. Put quality first, and the money will follow.

WHAT'S IN THE FUTURE FOR MEGEN? Take over the world. No, seriously, I only wanted to get as big as 11 project managers because, as the saying goes, in every 12, there's a Judas. We now have 16 project managers, so I didn't live up to that. I don't know where Megen will be in the future. A business is like a child. You can't control or limit how much or how fast it will grow.