Joseph Scott is the first to admit that his success as the owner of Joash Construction is a surprise to anyone who knew him growing up on Kentucky Street in West Louisville.
Joash Construction is a minority-owned construction firm with annual revenue in the millions and major contracts with some of Louisville’s biggest contractors and utilities, including the Metropolitan Sewer District. Scott lives in a beautiful home at the end of 47th Street, occasionally playing basketball on a court his company resurfaced as a favor to his neighbor, the Rev. Kevin Cosby.
In his business dealings today, Scott doesn’t display the anger of his youth, the temper that got him into all sorts of trouble. Instead, he gives second chances, hiring people with traits he recognizes from his own life.
“You can’t give up on people, because God didn’t give up on me,” he says. “I would have been voted the most likely to go to prison in high school. I’m not the same person. I was a bad guy, angry, mad at the world.”
Scott said his transformative moment came when he went to prison for shooting someone over $40 in Park Hill. This came after he’d spent a decade dealing drugs on the street, everything from marijuana to crack. That came after he’d made his way through Thomas Jefferson High School selling joints to fellow students.
In prison, he said he was approached by Mormons doing a prison mission, who led him through a prayer. He gave his life to Christ, right then and there, and began to study the Bible. He was released after 91 days.
“I began to read the Word, and believed God would get me out,” he says. “I got out and God showed me he was real. I started studying the Bible, going to different churches. Anytime they hollered ‘Church!’ I was going to church, it didn’t matter what denomination. I was just hungry for the Gospel. I began to apply Biblical principles in my thinking. I began to do that in my actions in how I thought and was dealing with people.”
Upon his release, Scott found work in the pest control business, and realized quickly that he had a knack for it. It was an aptitude he learned growing up in the West End, in places where he gained plenty of experience with roaches.
“They thought I was a genius because I knew where the roaches were. Even though they train you, they didn’t have to train me. All my life I grew up poor, and we had roaches. I did well in that field,” he says.
Meanwhile, he also became interested in property management, and he managed to acquire some rental property. His income improved, and he moved up to better housing. Then, as has often happened in his life, he met someone who offered a new opportunity, through church.
That’s how he got into the construction business, selling vinyl siding and replacement windows.
That led to a chance meeting with Joe Pusateri during a pickup basketball game at Southeast Christian Church. Pusateri, owner of Elite Homes, was building subdivisions in the East End. Scott says Pusateri became a valued advisor and mentor.
“When I gave my life to Christ, I learned how to do legitimate business,” he said. “God put people in my life like Joe Pusateri. I met them playing ball or at church. I’ve always got my best contacts and blessings when I was out trying to help somebody else.”
Scott started his own business in 1999. He has branched out from vinyl siding, and the Joash operation has divisions that do resurfacing for basketball and tennis courts, utility work and new construction. Joash was among the first contractors hired for the new Passport Health Plan Health and Well-Being Campus in the West End.
“I learned how to take the Bible and apply those principles in your life and in your thinking, and trusting God,” he says. “What you see here is a product of me coming from nothing, and working the principles.”