Jeffrey L. Copeland
Born and raised in Delphos, Ohio, Jeff Copeland always knew he wanted to be in construction. At 10 years of age, quarantined with the mumps, he snuck out of the house to watch a crew of carpenters form the abutments for a nearby bridge. He never wavered from his goal.
Copeland’s father, an Ohio State graduate, was dismayed that his son wanted to attend Purdue, not just because of the OSU tradition, but also of the cost. To help ease this burden, Copeland worked on a kitchen crew and as a draftsman for the University while he attended Purdue.
Other activities on campus included ROTC, where he was selected Outstanding Basic Cadet, Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, and intramural sports.
Copeland graduated in January 1969 with a BSCE. His primary area of interest was soils engineering and he fondly remembers Dr. Leonard and Dr. Harr.
After graduation, he moved to Pittsburgh to work for Dravo Corporation. Later that year, he married Gloria (Lorie) Cloud, a Purdue Pharmacist from Orleans, Indiana.
In 1971, they moved to Columbus, Ohio, to be closer to family. Jeff went to work for Ross Laboratories in their Facilities Engineering department. While there he had the opportunity to provide the structural design for several large plant expansions.
In 1976, Copeland joined the Sherman R. Smoot Co., a Columbus-based General Contractor. He served as Chief Operating Officer.
An opportunity arose in 1985 that Copeland could not pass up. A friend, Tom Fitzpatrick, asked Jeff to partner with him to buy a 75-year-old construction company that Tom’s father was managing. Copeland became the first non-family President of that company, Elford, Inc. In 1999, Tom, the CEO, announced he was leaving to pursue other interests – and 48 hours later he was headed to Australia. Fortunately, Copeland had a good management team who helped with the transition.
In 2011, Copeland stepped away from daily management of the company. Today, he is Chairman of the Board and works with young Project Managers and Superintendents to help solve field problems.
Along the way, Copeland found time to get an MBA from Xavier University and became a licensed Forensic Engineer. He and his wife have a son, a daughter and five grandchildren.