Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Elbert Batton created Batton Consulting & Construction with dreams of operating a successful business.
Mark Twain once said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” and in this goal, Elbert Batton has been a successful man. Although he has always enjoyed things like hunting, fishing or a round of golf, Mr. Batton says his true passion has always been to own and operate a successful business, and he particularly enjoys the construction industry, having begun working in construction at the age of 16.
“I truly believe that if we don’t seek the things we are passionate about, we will not only live an unhappy life but will die wondering why we didn’t at least try and go after our dreams.” Recently, Mr. Batton went after one of his dreams by opening his business, Batton Consulting & Construction.
Mr. Batton and his wife, Monika, have made Okeechobee their home for the last 47 years since his brothers talked him into moving here. When he first got here, he said the pay was barely enough to get by, and he had to work weekends to make ends meet, but soon he heard about a company starting construction on an apartment complex, and he went to see if they were hiring. By this time in his career, he said, he had a lot more confidence in himself, and when the supervisor asked him if he could do the job, he told him he could, and that he was not only a carpenter but could also run a crew. The supervisor then offered him $4 per hour, but Mr. Batton said he decided to try his luck, and he said he couldn’t do it for less than $5. Unfortunately, he said, the supervisor turned him down, but just as he began to walk away, the supervisor said, “I will give you $5, but you can’t tell anyone.”
That was just the beginning of his rise in the construction community, and in 2008, he received a call from the governor’s office telling him Gov. Charlie Crist had appointed him to the Construction Industry Licensing Board for the State of Florida. He said, “At first I thought someone was playing a joke on me. When I returned from a job site, I called that number back to confirm the call was not a just a joke.” He spent four years serving on that board and said it was probably one of the greatest experiences of his career.
Over the years, he took several courses including one from an international correspondence school called, “Reading Architect’s Blueprints.” He especially enjoyed a course he took at Fayetteville Technical Institute called, “Estimating for the Construction Industry.” He said the instructor took them through an entire project from raw land to completion of a large complex, and he found the whole class very interesting. Although he has taken many more classes, including accounting classes at the college level to prepare him for owning a business, it was those first two classes, he said, that gave him the confidence to move forward in the business he was already beginning to love.
With over 60 years’ experience in the construction field, Mr. Batton is more than qualified to meet the needs of the Okeechobee community. He explained, not only did he begin working at the age of 16, he had been around the business his entire life before he began working because his father, brothers, uncles and other family members were also in the trade.
Research and investigation are his favorite parts of the consultation business, and he enjoys assisting those who may want to build their own homes but need some guidance with the permitting process, insurance and license requirements for subcontractors. Those types of things make the consulting end of his business a lot of fun. He also does construction management for those who need that. He said he thinks he is successful because he has a way of talking to people. Other people complain about having to talk to the building department or city or county licensing boards, but he enjoys that. He said he just pleasantly asks questions, and they respond well to that. In addition, he makes it a point to never stop learning.
“You can never know too much,” he says. His new business, Batton Consulting & Construction, is located at 200 N.W. Fifth Street and is open Monday through Friday. The phone number is 863-634-7460.