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Jonathan Russell, 38

A new Florida resident built a $30 million construction business in four years.


  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 5:00 p.m. October 12, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Jonathan Russell holds up a picture of his mom and dad, who double as his mentors.
Jonathan Russell holds up a picture of his mom and dad, who double as his mentors.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Class of 2023
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For anyone who’s followed demographic and population trends in Florida over the past few years, Jonathan Russell’s story will sound familiar. About four years ago, while in his mid-30s, he relocated from Houston to St. Petersburg, giving up a promising career with Turner Construction Co., one of the largest contractors in the country, to follow his entrepreneurial dreams. 

“I moved to Florida from Texas and did not know one person,” Russell says. “I started a company from scratch. It wasn’t my father’s, and nobody gave it to me. I had my savings account and my 401k, which I basically depleted to get to get this thing off the ground. Four years later, we have two offices, in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, and a dozen employees.” 

As owner and president of St. Pete-based Partners Development & Construction Group, Russell has quickly made his mark on his new home. The company’s first big win was an extensive renovation of the Venice Assembly of God, now known as Lift Church, and that $3 million job opened the floodgates. The firm has since completed a wide variety of commercial projects, including a new office building for Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa and the new headquarters of insurance giant HCI Group Inc., also in Tampa. It also builds homes, mostly in Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

Partners Development & Construction Group’s work at the Venice Assembly of God did not go unnoticed by other churches: One of the company’s current major projects is construction of the new Calvary Chapel Fellowship in St. Pete. 

Has divine intervention played a role in Russell’s success? Possibly, but he also believed in himself and his abilities. 

“I had the education, I had the experience and I knew that for me, personally, if I just trusted the good lord, he’d guide me,” he says. “That’s all I needed.” 

Russell also credits his mentors — his mom and dad — for the foundation of his success. His father, he says, was a teacher and coach who provided lessons in work ethic and finishing what you started. Russell's mother, who worked for the same company for 40 years, he says, taught him about patience and determination. 

Russell says Partners Development & Construction Group will build about $30 million worth of projects by the end of 2023. In its first year in business, that number was $60,000. As the company’s leader, he doesn’t take the reasons for that quick success for granted.

“This year, I made the decision that I would pay 100% of all health benefits for all employees,” he says. “So, now we do that. I want to make sure that our employees understand that they work for my company, but at the end of the day, it's my responsibility to take care of them. It's much more than just building buildings. I’m building their lives, building their families, building their futures, and I can't do that if I'm not helping to take care of their well-being.”

 

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