Director, OPERATIONS, JR Jones Roofing & Waterproofing

LOCATION: Houston, Texas


WHEN YOU'RE NOT THINKING ABOUT ROOFS: Traveling and collecting some pretty cool rocks!

Though she’s just 36, there’s probably no one in the roofing industry who knows more about the geological origins of the roofing materials they handle daily than Jenny Smith. The veteran project and people manager has a degree in geology from the University of Houston with a concentration in petroleum geotechnology.

While it sounds like that kind of background has a lot of applications in a few different fields, Smith began blending her love of the Earth’s minerals with commercial roofing over a decade ago. Throughout most of her academic journey, she worked days at JR Jones Roofing & Waterproofing and attended night classes until 10 p.m.

That type of dedication and thirst for knowledge continues in her current role, running operations for a major commercial roofing contractor focused on growth.

RC: How long have you been in the roofing industry, and how did you get your start?

JS: I started 10 years ago. I started with JR Jones while in college. I needed a full-time work schedule that allowed me to attend night classes.

RC: Tell us about the roofing company you’re part of.

JS: James Ronald Jones, founder of JR Jones, started roofing on the residential side in 1980 and transitioned the company to the commercial side in 1984. By 1987, JR Jones was traveling the United States to install roofs. The business was built on a people-oriented mentality and grew by referrals. Currently, we have 85 team members in the field, split between roofing operations, service operations, and waterproofing operations, with 29 team members in the office supporting all three divisions.

RC: What types of offerings does your company provide?

JS: Commercial roofing, waterproofing, sheet metal, concrete, and service.

RC: What are the top reasons why the company is successful?

JS: The biggest reason our company is successful is our people. We have a fantastic team of talented individuals who truly care about what we do and the services we provide. Most of our field management has worked with us for 10-plus years, with some of our top field members having 20-plus years of service. The quality of workmanship we strive to provide to our partners also far surpasses the majority of other roofing contractors. We do not base our business model on cheap labor; our field teams demonstrate this focus on quality daily.

And our partners. We travel the nation with our partners. Our [people’s] demonstrated levels of care and quality make our partners feel sure and comfortable with our work, [allowing us] to travel nationwide to perform work for them.

RC: How do you contribute to that success?

JS: My role in this process is support. As a member of the management team, we work diligently to get the right people in the right positions. Once a role is staffed properly, we do anything and everything required to support our staff in success.

RC: What are significant challenges in your market, and how is the company addressing them?

JS: The public bid sector of our market is challenging. We do not pride ourselves [on] cheap labor nor do we strive to be the lowest bid. Houston is a huge market saturated with contractors willing to cut corners and sacrifice quality to win jobs. This is not who we are. We balance this by maintaining a partner-focused mentality in our sales processes and cultivating referral-based work.

RC: Do you see your age as an advantage or disadvantage in this business?

JS: I view my age as an advantage. I like to think I am in the “sweet spot,” which allows an understanding of [how] the industry previously operated and the direction the industry is going. There has been an operational shift in the construction industry over the past five to seven years. My age aids [in] an easier operational evolution while maintaining those original industry ideals.

RC: What area of the roofing business are you the most passionate about?

JS: Personally, I am most passionate about project management. However, my opinion may be a bit biased as that is where I have spent most of my time.

RC: What’s next?

JS: My goal is to become an industry expert. Throughout my time with JR Jones, I intend to increase my technical knowledge while continuing to provide improvements and solutions to industry-related problems.

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