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Home | AUSTIN | Spotlight | Spotlight – James Gill, Owner, Austin Rent Fence

Spotlight – James Gill, Owner, Austin Rent Fence

image James Gill and Courtney Baldwin will be getting married in August. Barley and Madsen may be part of the ceremony!

AUSTIN – Where are you from? I was born and raised in Corpus Christi. I went to WB Ray High School.

    I was a big sports guy. I played varsity soccer all four years and was team captain my senior year.
    I played varsity football in my senior year, as well.
    I actually received some awards during my soccer career. I also played soccer at Southwestern University in Georgetown.

When did you move to Austin?
    I relocated to Austin for an undergraduate degree in the mid 90s. I went to school at the University of Texas.
    When I graduated with a degree in government and a minor in history, I wasn’t quite ready to enter the workforce, so I thought I should get some more education. I went on to finish my law degree at UT, as well.

When did you know you wanted to be an attorney?
    I guess it was always there. I remember representing myself on traffic tickets when I was still a minor!
    It probably wasn’t a lifelong goal, I just knew I didn’t want to do hard labor when I grew up.
    I used to shovel toxic waste in the oil fields during summers in high school. Shoveling anything in 110-degree heat will make you want to sit in an office!

Tell me about your parents. Siblings.
    My mom was a lifelong teacher and my dad worked in the oil fields. He was the same age as I was when I started my law firm. He started a trailer rental business during the oil boom of the 80s.
    He is retired now, but he did everything from being an engineer to owning part of a company. When he was younger, he was a rig hand.
    I have a younger sister who is a physician’s assistant.
    In our house, it was very school oriented. We always had to make excellent grades.
    My dad was always willing to help me as long as I was in school and doing well. He told me if I wasn’t – then get a job and pay for everything yourself!
    My mom was very involved in our social and academic careers – she was a math teacher.
    I am still very close with both of my parents today.

When did you open your law firm in Austin and how did you become involved in the temporary fencing business?
    I opened the firm in 2005. And the fence company started in 2008. The plans began in 2007.
    I’ve attended every Austin City Limits music festival since it started. I live not too far from Zilker Park.
    One year, it had rained during ACL and I noticed that the temporary fencing stayed up for a month.
    I thought to myself - I bet they are getting paid for every day that fence is up! So, I got a line of credit, bought a bunch of fence, found a site to put it on, got a truck and trailer and started work.

How many employees do you have now?
    We went from two of us to currently having six employees full-time and three part-time. I did have a partner but I bought him out several years ago.

What is the biggest part of your fence business?
    The number one thing is construction sites. We also do a tremendous amount for events – festivals, racing, parties – anything that serves alcohol!
    TABC rules say events serving alcohol have to have a fence up.
    We always used to simply do panels for six years, but now we’ve expanded to doing barricades and posts in the ground for a wider variety of things.
    About 80 percent of our business is for private clients.

Does it ever get confusing – having two full-time businesses?
    It is a very complicated yet delicate balance.
    I have people helping out with the phones and I’ve gotten very good at scheduling and prioritizing what can be done by me and what can be delegated.
    Sometimes, I’m answering law office on one phone and Austin Fence on the other!

What was the most memorable event you have ever fenced?
    We did the original Fun Fun Fun Fest – it was basically a city built inside the fence. It was decided that things had to be moved. We really had to remove everything and we had to set it all up again in a different spot. We literally had to rebuild the entire city. That was in Waterloo Park back then.

You own a third business, as well, don’t you?
    Yes, I also own an RV park in Mason County on the Llano River. It’s a new business for me. It’s on 15 acres with 1,000 feet of river front. The property is called Dos Rios and it is where the James and Llano rivers converge.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a successful businessman?
    Two main things:
You have to learn everything from the ground up so you can understand the company and run it yourself if you have to.
Take a risk! I didn’t know if it was going to work or not, but I would much rather try and fail than not try at all.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
    This afternoon I am finishing up at work and heading out to the Greenbelt with the dogs.
    I like to hunt – not big game – I’m more of a bird hunter.
    I’m an avid kayaker. Austin is a great place to do it.

Are you married?
    I am engaged to Courtney Baldwin and we are going to get married in August.
    She is a physician’s assistant at Westlake Dermatology. We actually met at a Bob Schneider concert in Austin.
    We have two dogs: mine is Madsen and hers is Barley.

Do you like to travel?
    I love to travel. I started traveling while I was in law school and did some schooling at the University of Victoria in New Zealand and the University of Malta in Malta. I’ve been to Thailand, Australia, the UK and most of the Caribbean.
What was your favorite place?
    The most beautiful was New Zealand. The nicest people were in Fiji. The best hunting was in Argentina.

Are you planning a trip for your honeymoon?
    Not sure yet. Potentially, we might find an island somewhere like Bali or Seychelles.

What other hobbies do you have?
    One of my other hobbies to reduce stress is to cook. I am the chef in the house. I love to cook - whether it is long-term smoking brisket, seafood dishes or wild game.
    I actually like the TV show Top Chef. The season 9 winner, Paul Qui, is from Austin. We did the fencing for the construction of his restaurant.
    My love of cooking is followed closely by Saturday tailgating at a UT football game and then going in the stadium!

Who would you buy a beer for and why?
    Richard Branson – the man is fascinating. After he bought an island, he needed an airline to get his friends to the island, so he bought an airline.
    Willie Nelson – the stories he could tell! I would tell him to tell me any story he wants! I’d like to hear about when his tour bus got pulled over. –cw

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Sue Johnson sjohnson@constructionnews.net