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From Port-Au Prince to
Born in Haiti
Hermann Colas, Jr., founder of Colas Construction, Inc., was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti in 1948, the eldest son of eight children. His father, a Haitian entrepreneur, owned a successful distillery. The Colas family and business was very respected and reputable in Haiti, but Haiti's unstable political climate made it difficult to remain productive.
Hermann moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1969 because his mother was fearful for his safety in Haiti. Hermann was outspoken about the need for political change in a country where speaking out was dangerous and dissent was not tolerated. Being the eldest son from a family of eight siblings, at an early age Hermann assumed a strong leadership role.
In The Army Now
Within a year’s time of moving to the United States, Hermann was very eager to pursue the “American Dream,” but he didn’t know exactly how to begin. His first experience was to voluntarily enlist in the United States Army in October of 1970, where he served two years of active service and four years of reserve status during the Vietnam War. Hermann was assigned to Williams Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso, Texas where he served until his discharge from active duty. After his years of military service, Hermann was offered and proudly accepted United States Citizenship.
Go West Young Man
In January of 1974, Hermann moved to Portland, Oregon for matters of the heart. He married his wife, Roberta, in 1975, and it was there that they raised all three of their children. Hermann graduated from Portland State University receiving his Bachelor of Science in mathematics and computer science, appearing on the Dean’s List for academic honors every term.
Hermann served over 20 years in various roles at USWEST (Formerly Pacific Northwest Bell). He managed incredibly large budgets for equipment planning and deployment in the Portland Metropolitan area. Hermann later became a regional Manager for Global Positioning Systems (GPS) deployment in the USWEST territory, serving on the American National Standard Institute (ANSI); representing approximately 13 states. Hermann occupied many subsequent positions during his career that helped strengthen his ability to lead and effectively communicate with project team members. His entrepreneurial nature led him to investment in real estate rentals and renovations, where he learned to understand the risks that accompany modern construction projects. These experiences ultimately led him to the formation of his own construction firm.
Hermann always had a vision of creating a prominent family owned business that he could pass to his children and to future family generations. His plan has always remained the same, but the journey has been a challenging one. In the early 1980’s, Hermann began purchasing, renovating and managing rental properties. He brought his son, Andrew, around with him as his little apprentice and taught him the importance of having pride in his work. He encouraged his daughter, Aneshka, to assume leadership roles and pursue a degree in accounting.
After dealing with an incompetent private contractor during the construction of his personal residence, Hermann decided to found his own General Contracting Company. Colas Construction (formerly West-Trend Construction) was incorporated on June 3, 1997. Hermann developed and self-financed all of his initial projects leading to significant recognition. Today, Hermann has two of his children as executive members of the firm. Over the years, Colas Construction has continued to build top quality projects. The company’s construction portfolio now includes ground up and renovation of affordable housing, mixed use, tenant improvements and various commercial projects.
Hermann always felt that he was destined to run a successful business. From an early age, his parents set forth an example of a strong work ethic and savvy business talents. His father headed the business and his mother was the chemist in their distillery. Today, Hermann and his family continue the tradition of teaching important values and ideals necessary for the continued success of Colas Construction, Inc. The Colas family works hard to pass on its legacy of excellence to a new generation.
1969: Brooklyn Bound