Jamie & Sodora Jones
The irony of Jamie Jones’ HVAC business amuses him as he reflects on his earlier life. “I never fixed a thing before in my life,” he chuckles, recalling his young self before he saw a life-changing ad in the newspaper in the mid-1990s. He had been stocking produce in a local market at night when he came home and saw the ad. The Monticello Area Community Action Agency (MACAA) was offering funding for the first year of a four-year job training program to those who qualified – and help in finding a job once the program was completed. Jamie was accepted and plunged into the training program that changed his life.
He acquired the technical skills he would need through his classes and later learned more about managing both projects and people when he went to work for an area HVAC company after he graduated. By 2004, he was moonlighting as relatives and friends sought his expertise. Since Jamie and his wife, Sodora, both grew up in Charlottesville, it didn’t take long before word spread and he had enough demand for his services that he finally went out on his own in 2007.
Jamie came to realize that “I could do the ‘work,’ but it’s more than just the work” when you own a business. Ever supportive, Sodora handled his bookkeeping and paperwork in the evenings after her own full time job. In June 2009, she joined her husband to work full time managing their growing business.
Keeping the books became a source of concern for Sodora who worried that she didn’t know enough about what she should be doing. After researching options for advisors, she reached out to the Central Virginia SBDC for counsel. “Nora reviewed everything and then reassured me that I really was not far off, so I developed the confidence I needed to go forward,” she recalls. On Nora’s advice, they also hired an accountant. After a few years and as the business grew, Sodora turned again to the SBDC to request help with QuickBooks. She was able to work one-on-one with an expert who came to her office and helped her straighten out some issues that had developed.
Today, Jones Heating & Air has eight employees and just bought its own building across the street from its present location. Once again, they turned to the SBDC, consulting with Nora on the process of securing a business loan. She provided them with a referral and with three bank contacts. Renovations on the building will soon begin and they plan to move into their own facility in early 2014.
“We are really excited about our new building and how our business has been growing even during an economic downturn,“ Sodora explains. “And it’s good to know we have an ongoing resource we can turn to whenever we have a need.” Jamie agrees and is happy to summarize his three part advice for other small business owners. First, he says “Hire a good accountant you can really talk to.” Secondly, “Have a sense of how a business is run – we’re still learning, but we’ve come a long way.” And finally, “Have people, resources, you can turn to for advice who are reliable and responsive.” They recommend the SBDC.