Carpe Diem


Young but notably accomplished, Jashan Eison leads, but also rolls up his shirtsleeves at H&B, the elevator cab/entrance company where he is president and CEO.

As the child of a single mom growing up in inner-city Milwaukee with two brothers, Jashan (pronounced “Jason”) Eison is no stranger to overcoming significant obstacles. At only 33 years old, however, Eison has not only overcome those obstacles, but excelled, building on his background and education in construction and business management to become majority owner of one of the most established and experienced elevator cab and entrance manufactures in the industry, H&B Elevators in Minneapolis.

In May 2013, Eison partnered with a colleague, Fred Proferl, to purchase the company for which they both worked. H&B was established in 1921 as Hauenstein & Burmeister, and began producing cabs and entrances in the 1940s. H&B works with all the major OEMs to provide custom elevators for thousands of buildings. While the company has done custom work, it also does a large number of standard cabs and entrances for facilities such as schools, offices, hospitals and arenas.

Eison is married to his college sweetheart – Terra, a corporate recruiter for Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. – and the couple has two young children, Savana, five, and Austin, two, who Eison said never hesitate to remind him and Terra that, despite their high-demand jobs, they are the top priority. Although Eison’s home life is very typical of someone his age, he acknowledges that his professional life is not. He provides some insight:

 “I realize that most people my age aren’t running multi-million-dollar companies, but despite many failures, I’ve worked hard and been fortunate. I have a pretty eager desire to learn, grow, teach and inspire. I’m a risk taker, sometimes to a fault. When opportunities come knocking, I take some chances. I’ve been given some great opportunities in life, and the next chapter includes passing [those] along.”

 During his time at H&B, the company has manufactured many products of which he is proud – for instance, the round glass cabs in the Cosmopolitan Hotel elevator in Las Vegas. Eison says:

“However, it’s just as rewarding to be able to point out to someone that H&B supplied the interiors or door panels for [elevators in] a local building that many of our friends and families might be familiar with, like the Mall of America [in Bloomington, Minnesota] or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Simply put, out of our small corner of the industry, we have and will touch many buildings throughout the U.S. and internationally.”

All that is done from a factory in Minneapolis that has nearly 50 employees. It is those dedicated employees, Eison says, who are playing a big part in his early success. His staff also causes him to be optimistic about the future. He elaborates:

 “I strongly believe in doing the right things at the right times. With all that is required of me as president, the biggest challenge is determining what the ‘right’ things are and to make sure they get my attention. That’s easier said than done, so it’s a good thing I have a great group of employees who make a lot of great decisions for the company and our longtime customers. Sometimes, it’s about trusting my gut instincts and the decisions of my employees.”

 The road that led Eison to H&B, where he was hired as a project manager in fall 2007 and ended up in sales and management before buying the company, started in Milwaukee. After he graduated high school there, he went on to earn a BS degree in Construction Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonee, Wisconsin. He then earned an MBA from Marylhurst University in Oregon. His first job in the construction industry was project engineer/manager with Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. in Irvine, California, in 2003. Two years later, he and his then-fiancée, Terra, decided to return to the Midwest, choosing Minnesota, where he landed a project manager position with another local general contractor before joining H&B in 2007.

 Among the strengths he brings to the top position at H&B, Eison says, are a thorough understanding of the construction industry and a willingness to be hands-on in helping solve everyday problems. A highlight of his work at H&B was a major job with Otis on the CityCenter project in Las Vegas (ELEVATOR WORLD, September 2010), which he says provided a great introduction to the elevator industry. Since then, work has given him opportunities to go places he would never otherwise have gone, such as to the Wittur plant just outside Bologna, Italy, to investigate a component for a custom round, glass cab H&B was building.

 He describes the industry as quirky, but also like one big family. “You get that family feel when you’re at the annual National Association of Elevator Contractor conventions,” for example. He said H&B always exhibits at NAEC conventions, because it gives him and his employees the opportunity to tell others about the company’s expanding capacity and capabilities.

 Eison said he strives to balance work and home life, which is sometimes a challenge. “There are days when it’s tough to separate the two, and Terra is extremely understanding about that, even though she is just as challenged with day-to-day work/life balance,” he says, adding:

 “At home, our focus is on the kids, and the two of us try to leave work at work. However, we both want so badly to do well at our jobs that we often really get sucked in. The little ones, however, don’t care much about that, so it’s easy to refocus on them and forget about the office when they’re around. They make certain of that. Any parent knows what I mean.”

 When they vacation, the family enjoys cruising to warm, sunny locales and also flying or driving to them. California is a particularly favorite destination, he says. “The winters in Minnesota are brutal, and we often ask ourselves, jokingly, why we ever left California,” he says. The family loves San Francisco and San Diego and recently visited Sacramento for the first time and had a great time. “We’ve had the luxury of seeing many parts of the country together, although, Terra can’t stand when I admire all the elevators that we encounter in our travels,” Eison jokes. “I just can’t help it, though. Whether it’s an elevator that H&B built or one built by a competitor, it’s still something I can’t help taking a peek at. All of the elevator people reading this can relate.”

One project that fascinates him is the cylindrical, clear glass elevator cab encased in a glass, spiral staircase in the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Provided by Otis, the unit is amazing, he said. “We’ve done some [elevator cabs] that have similar characteristics, but that one is special.”

 When he is not running H&B or spending time with family, Eison enjoys reading books by bestselling English-Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell. “I am currently reading his most recent book, David and Goliath, and so far it’s a great read. He gives some very good perspective on many seemingly simple, everyday things, which is very thought provoking.”

 Eison also thinks of those less fortunate, both in a professional and personal capacity. Over the 2013 holidays, H&B collected more than 1,000 lb. of food for the Second Harvest food bank, and he and Terra adopt a family each year for Christmas, as well as give what they can to other charities, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Eison prefers to hold off on offering any industry-specific wisdom or advice for others. “Maybe in a decade or two,” he said. However, he advises a willingness to listen and for people to surround themselves with others who are going in the same direction as they are and to learn from mistakes, whether they are one’s own or someone else’s. Eison intends to stay in the elevator industry and “continue to retain even more knowledge and wisdom from the people I have had the opportunity to cross paths with.”  

Related Tags

Elevator World Associate Editor

Elevator World | April 2014 Cover