Ken Jones with wife Otelia.

You could say that Ken Jones has served a critical role in building VCU, literally.

In recent years, Jones, founder and President of Prestige Construction Group Inc., has led a number of campus construction and renovation projects. Prestige recently completed a $4.5 million, 15,000-square foot addition, as well as a renovation of the recital hall, at VCU’s James W. Black Music Center.  The company also renovated the Hunton Hall Student Medical Center, the VCU Alumni House and the VCU Sim Lab. Prestige also built VCU’s Baird Vascular Medical Institute in the near West End.

In addition to those projects, Jones was integral in building the VCU Basketball program years ago. After three outstanding seasons at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, an NAIA powerhouse, the 6-foot-11 Jones transferred to VCU for the 1979-80 season.

As the Rams’ starting center under Coach J.D. Barnett, Jones averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds to help VCU to its first Sun Belt Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament bid. In the Sun Belt Championship Game at the Charlotte Coliseum that season, Jones scored 16 points and added 11 rebounds as the Rams topped UAB 105-88 for the title. He later contributed five points and seven rebounds in VCU’s first NCAA Tournament game, an 86-72 loss to Iowa in Greensboro, N.C.

Jones’ history as one of the heroes of VCU’s coming-of-age season is one reason why he takes his work on campus today to heart.

“We’re not going to fail on a VCU project,” said Jones, a 54-year-old Prince Edward County native. “We’re going to put our whole heart into it to be successful because I want to do the absolute best for the university.”

Jones had always dreamed of opening his own construction company, so much so that he can tell you the exact moment he received his contractor’s license: Feb. 21, 1991 at 11:30 a.m. He hasn’t looked back since.

Shortly after that landmark moment, he founded Prestige with just three employees. In 1997, after six years of specializing in residential renovations, the company successfully transitioned to commercial construction projects.

In the last 15 years, Prestige has made a name for itself in the commercial construction business, building and renovating churches, schools and medical facilities. In a given year, Jones says Prestige will participate in anywhere between 25-40 projects.

Prestige has been able to not only weather the economic downturn, but thrive in it, growing by 60 percent in the last four years, according to the company’s website. Those achievements haven’t gone unnoticed. Jones was recently named the 2012 Metropolitan Business League Entrepreneur of the Year.

Jones’ success has allowed him to give back to VCU, as well as Lincoln Memorial. A long-time contributor to the Ram Athletic Fund and men’s basketball season ticket holder, Jones traveled to the Final Four in Houston in 2011. Prestige is also a corporate sponsor of VCU Athletics.

“I just thought it was the right thing to do to stay close to my alma mater,” Jones said.

Jones currently resides in Chesterfield with his wife Otelia and their nine-year-old son Timothy.

The 1979-80 VCU Rams earned the school’s first NCAA Tournament bid. Front row (left to right): Mark Dowden, Edmund Sherod, Freddie Bates, Monty Knight, Tim Harris, Greg Shropshire. Back row (left to right): Greg McCray, Danny Kottak, Kenny Stancell, Ken Jones, Greg Ringo, Penny Elliott.