How did you get into Carpentry? What critical decisions were made to make the first steps into owning your very own business?
The summer of 2014, I was given the opportunity to work as a helper (helping with setup and cleanup but mostly just being an extra hand). The job was only supposed to last the summer until I returned to school, but after two weeks I knew that I was going to have to put my education on hold. I initially fell in love with the work environment; coming from working in retail, it was definitely a breath of fresh air. But I quickly began to enjoy the process of watching these projects unfold. I became really close with the lead carpenter, and within a few months I was buying my own tools and working directly beside him everyday. After about 9 months of learning everything I could there, I decided to move on to start working with a variety of small companies in Delaware. At this point (really without me even realizing) I had stopped being an employee and started being an independent contractor. I had no real intentions of starting my own business or even continuing this work after I had gotten my degree, I was just working to make and save money. Working with a lot of companies has really changed my perspective in so many ways: not only did I get an opportunity to learn how to do things differently- every carpenter has his own tricks and particular ways of doing things- but I also got to see the business from a bunch of different perspectives. I was constantly looking for new opportunities to get better, always asking questions, especially when subcontractors would come on site. I got to pick out what I liked and didn’t like about each business, and I try to incorporate what I learned in my daily process. To this day I routinely scour the Internet for new opportunities or contracts. Last year I found an opportunity that required me to be licensed and insured. I made the decision to start Johnson Development Group, LLC the next day.
What services do you provide to your customers?
JDG, LLC is a general contracting company operating in the greater tri-state area. JDG offers many services including, but not limited to: residential renovations, industrial maintenance, and property management. Currently we have several contracts to a variety of companies in Delaware and Pennsylvania, including installer contracts with Lowes Home Improvement and The Home Depot. While these contracts sustain our daily operations, my real vision for Johnson Development Group in the next five years is to be a one-stop shop for real estate investing. My ideal target market consists of two people:
1. Prospective Homebuyers- people looking to buy run down properties and not only fix them up to their exact specifications, but also increase the home value so that at the end of the process they actually make a significant return in home equity. They can then use this to either refinance and have a much lower monthly payment or take out a Home Equity loan and invest in something they choose! Maybe a rental property!
2. Real Estate Investors- people looking to add to or start building their real estate portfolio. I would like to work with these guys not only as their contractor but also property manager, providing a more consistent revenue stream than homebuyers.
In your line of work, how important is customer service?
As I stated before, these are my ideal customers, and definitely not the jobs that I am currently doing most of the time. My day to day consists of a variety of jobs for a variety of companies including my own. Our residential work includes everything from entire bathroom and kitchen remodels, down to just coming and installing a door or window, and everything in between. When it comes to customer service, my name is everything to me. I take a lot of pride in everything I do, so my work is something I take very personally. I want a customer to not only be satisfied with my work, I want them to be blown away. I don’t want them to tell me how good it is, I want them to tell everyone else! A recommendation is the biggest compliment a customer could give and that is my goal every job.
What are your aspirations for the future of your business?
Long-term I see JDG branching off into financial consulting, while keeping our foundation in real estate investing. I am currently finishing up my last year at Wilmington University with a degree in Accounting and Finance, and the one thing that has become overwhelmingly clear to me is the lack of basic financial principles in the general population (especially in the city of Wilmington). Most people know how to make money, but few know what to do with it when they have it. This is definitely more of a 15- 20 year plan of mine, but I think that it will certainly be the most rewarding.
If anyone has and questions comment or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me, my contact information is below!