Brandon Jones, 36, is the president of Jones Weldingand Industrial Supply.
Brandon Jones was fresh out of college when he returrned to Albany more than a decade ago to learn the family business — Jones Welding and Industrial Supply.
His father was his role model and mentor. However, the father had a heart attack in 2002 and Jones was immediately thrust into a leadership role with the company.
Jones credits his father’s teachings and his philosophy of staying out of debt as much as possible with the continued success of the company.
Jones shared a question-and-answer sessesion with reporter Jim West.
Q. What was your first job?
A. Actually working at Jones Welding and Industrial Supply. I worked in the back dock. I painted cylinders and I cut grass, dusted shelves. Anything that could possibly cause you to get an infection or an allergy, I did it.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?
A. I’m pretty sure it was spent on a girl.
Q. What’s the single most effective technique you’ve found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. Trying to tie compensation directly to some sales or profit goals. Performance directly related to compensation is the thing that keeps people motivated, in addition to just trying to operate a business that is friendly to relationships. We operate like a large family.
Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?
A. This is a family business and I was more or less thrown into this business. My father had a heart attack back in 2002 and I had only been with the company three years when that happened. I graduated college, moved back and he had a heart attack and I was immediately thrown into kind of a leadership role with my company. It’s more or less the providence of God that brought me here. I never thought I wanted to be in the business at all until opportunities and circumstances presented themselves.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. My dad was my role model and mentor. Unfortunately he passed away in 2006, but things that he was able to teach me while he was alive I still use today.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?
A. Something I’ve known and actually been practicing in my business, and that’s to try to stay out of debt as much as possible. I know that a lot of banks aren’t going to be happy that I said that, but I think when you run any type of accounts receivable, when things turn down in the economy you tend to have higher losses in regard to people owing you and you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re paying somebody else you’re in debt to. I think that’s bad business structure.
Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?
A. None of it. I think all of it provides more opportunity for business, different types of business, ways of communicating with customers, as well as venders, so I hope for continued improvements in technology. I wouldn’t take anything back.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. My iphone. I don’t know what I did without my iphone.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. I enjoy July 4th. My family tends to congregate at Saint Simon’s Island and see the fireworks display over there. That’s a treasured tradition.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. The Bible — very important. I think it’s important when you’re running a business to understand the sovereignty of God, but assured that all things are as they should be. Other than the Bible, I’m reading a book, “The Case for Amillennialism” by Kim Riddlebarger.
Q. I’m up and going by?
A. At about 6:30 I get up, shower, get dressed, drink a protein shake and I’m here usually by 7:00 or 7:15.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and Why?
A. Other than, I guess, Jesus Christ, who I will meet someday, Jonathan Edwards would probably be someone I would enjoy meeting. I enjoy reading guys like John Piper, who is a kind of a contemporary of Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards was reputed to be one of the greatest intellects to ever come out of North America. In fact, he was a great theologian, an extremely self-disciplined individual.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. I enjoy working out and I love golf, and I have a 2003 Harley Road King I love to ride.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. I don’t live with regret. I can’t think of any business decision I’d go back and change.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. The people that I get to work with every day. Our employees are tenured. A lot of them watched me grow up in the business. They’re some of the best people in the world to work with. And, our customers. We know our customers, for the most part, personally.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. The stress, realizing you have to motivate people. That’s part of what it is to be a business owner is to try to keep people motivated. Sometimes it’s hard to keep yourself motivated, much less try to motivate other people. So if there’s a deficit I’d say it’s continuing to try to motivate people. It’s something I could do better at.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. Algebra. I hate numbers and I hate math, but I use algebra every day.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. Any type of Christian ministry would be great, whether that be part or full time.
Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …
A. I don’t believe in retirement. I think I’m always going to be involved in the business. That’s my intention. I hope my children are involved in the business after me. My retirement will probably be on the day I take my last breath.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. Integrity is, I believe, the key to being a good business person. Now, can you be successful and not have integrity? Sure, and I think there are millions of business people that lack integrity that are successful, but in my view of success, integrity in doing what you say you’re going to do is the key.
Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?
A. I think that’s largely going to be dependent on how this presidential and congressional election goes. Not just for Albany, but for our country in general. If the trend in our national politics is to support rugged individualism and support risk-takers in business — the job creators — if that’s where our voting leads us, to having people in office that support those types of things, then I look for a positive outcome. If the election leans the other direction where we’re going to be completely, constantly challenged to be dividing Americans along socio-economic lines or racial lines, pitting one American against another — the 99 percent against the one percent — then I think you’re still going to have the struggling economy.
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. Everything. All kinds. The only thing you won’t find is rap and country music.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. I hope that you’ll continue to see young families moving into the area. Young families choosing to stay in the area, raised in the area. I hope there will be jobs, the economy will be thriving and I hope you’ll see Albany maintaining and creating a base for young families to come in and raise their kids.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?
A. Any family vacation is a great vacation, obviously. My greatest vacation would be my honeymoon with my wife, but every family vacation is an excellent vacation.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. Consolidation of distribution. I’m an industrial distributor. What I’ve seen is a lot of my competitors consolidating, eating each other up, which has made a good environment for small businesses who typically are service oriented businesses. We offer competitive pricing but at the same time we can do things they can’t do simply because they’re a larger organization.