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Home | AUSTIN | Spotlight | Spotlight - JBK Electric, Kyle, TX

Spotlight - JBK Electric, Kyle, TX


AUSTIN - Truly a leap of faith, JR and Meredith Ketter embarked on a journey that only God could see them through. The young faith-driven couple both had good steady careers when JR decided it was time to start his own company when he got a flash from God. Towards the end of their first year in business, JR found himself in troubling times. Not wanting to let anyone know what was going on, he kept things to himself and prayed for help. Getting through that first trial, he kept his faith and thought he was on his way, but he would go through yet another trying time and this time he faced what he felt was failure. And once again, he prayed and put his trust in the Lord and continues to do so.

Where did you grow up?
    Meredith:  I was born in Odessa, but grew up in Midland, TX.
    JR:  I was born and raised in Midland, TX.

What was it like in Midland, TX?

    JR: If you’re not from there it’s hard to explain.  I had a lot of family there growing up but we lived out in the country. Everybody out there lived on 10-acre tracks so it wasn’t like your closest neighbor was right there.
    My grandparents bought a miniature golf course called Green Acres Miniature Golf in 1955 after moving to Odessa from Wisconsin and then to Midland.  They moved the whole family down from Wisconsin.
     Green Acres became a claim-to-fame there. It was the place to be, to hang out and have fun because in Midland there was not a whole lot to do besides finding trouble.
    My grandparents bought the house next to them for my parents as a wedding gift.  So I grew up next door to my grandparents. During the summers or whenever, when we were out there by ourselves and could hang out at the golf course.
    I grew up spending much of my time with my grandparents because they were five acres away and we would just run across the field to see them. That probably was my first taste of wanting to own or run my own business.

Did you know each other growing up?

    Meredith:  We met in junior high and knew each other for years before dating.  JR was a big soccer player back then.  I was a cheerleader and involved in student council.
    I actually grew up in town, not in the “country” by any means. I also grew up with lots of family around and spent a lot of time with my grandparents as well. My grandfather was also an entrepreneur.  He had a dry cleaning business in Odessa and my dad also had small businesses too.

How did you two meet?

    Meredith: We did not start dating until well after college.  We ran into each other on Easter in Dillard’s after I had graduated from Texas Tech. I was living in Austin at the time and JR was living in Midland.

When did you get involved in the electrical trade?
    JR:  My dad was leading me down this path.  He always had me working or doing something.  He probably had the biggest leased land with cattle inside the city limits. So after soccer everyone would go out and have fun, but I had to go to work. It was a little bit of farm mentality, fixing fences or fighting tumbleweed. At the age of four, when I got old enough, I started working with my dad as an electrician’s helper.
    My dad retired two years ago after being in the trade for 45 years. He had gone through the union school and got his license and kept his card on file.  But in the ‘80s when I was about 4 years old, the economy busted in Midland and there was absolutely NO work for anybody in Midland. He started traveling with the union for the next 10 years and finally a company in Midland started up and he went to work for them his remaining time. Because they were an open shop, he put his union card on a lay-a-way plan.  He worked there until he retired.
From all those years of working with your grandpa and your father, did you always know you would go into electrical?

    JR:  Absolutely not.  I hated it. My dad was kind of a prankster and some electricians would probably laugh at this, but I can recall installing an old T-12 8ft light fixtures that weighed around 20-30 lbs. They felt like 100 lbs. lifting them above your head and holding them in place until they are screwed in. He thought it was funny to drop screws just as you get it over your head because you could not let it drop below your head once you got it up there.  After about five minutes your arms are shaking and you’re about to drop this thing and he would finally get back up there to screw this thing in.   He pulled pranks like that on me all through my teens helping him and decided I was done.  I’m going to get my education. I went to West Texas A & M for a while and ended up getting into too much trouble to be honest.
    I went back to Midland and started working on getting my journeyman’s license.  Then my grandmother came to me and told me she wanted me to finish school.

Did you get your degree?
    JR:  My grandmother and I had an agreement.  I thought I was a little older and little smarter and ready to finish.  She paid my tuition and I paid for my books. I was working and going to school all about the time I ran into Meredith. It was a busy couple of years working 40 hours, going to school and flying down to see Meredith, but eventually I got my degrees in Applied Science in Computer Graphics bachelor’s degree in industrial technologies with a minor in management.  A couple of years later I got my Masters Electrical license.
    After that I started moving towards starting my own business. Each year I try to improve myself and achieve something even if it’s just a certification.

How long did you have this long distance relationship before deciding  to get married?
About a year.  I had two years to finish college and I was six months into those two years when we met again and started dating.  I finished in ’08 and went to work for her cousin in the oilfields for about eight months when the economy busted again. I had some friends that worked at Zachry Construction and told me about this great electrical company who was looking for someone if I was interested and so I went to work for Big State Electric in ’09.

When did you two get married?
  We got married in 2009.  We had a surprise wedding.  Nobody but our parents knew we were getting married.

A surprise wedding?  How did you pull that off?
    Meredith: JR had sent out a message to everyone telling them he was going to ask me to marry him and he wanted them all to be there because they all knew I would want to elope, so please come so y’all can at least see me ask her.
    Everybody came. My stepdad became an ordained minister, so he married us. We got married at Horseshoe Bay. My dad walked me down the aisle, surprising everybody.

How many children do you have?
    Meredith:  We have two children.  We have a seven-year-old little boy named Jackson and that’s where JBK comes from, Jackson Burke Ketter.  Burke is my mom’s maiden name.  JR’s granddaddy’s name was Jack and we’ve always loved the name Jackson.  And we have a four-year-old daughter named Allie Ann.  She’s a mess.

What do you guys like to do when you’re not working?

    Meredith:  We are real involved in our church.  God has really surrounded us with good people.  We spend a lot time with friends doing things with our church.
    Jackson plays soccer, football andbasketball so we spend a lot of time at the fields and Allie Ann is a dancer and does gymnastics, so we are pretty busy with the kids.

Do you have any regrets going into the electrical business?

    JR: Our first year in business had me wondering what had I gotten myself into.  Business started out great and then I found myself having trouble making ends meet.  During the holidays and Christmas, I discovered people are slow to pay and I did not know how I was going to get us through this. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. I began to question myself.  Did I get this calling from God, did I not hear Him right. I prayed a lot and sought His help, because in my heart I knew this is what he directed me to do.
    I got through that time and started lining up work again. Meredith had quit her job in 2016 to focus on the company full-time. Then contracts were being pulled off the board and we thought we were going to have to close our doors this time last year. 
    We both prayed and asked God for his help.  We knew He had put us on this journey to start this business.  He guided me down this path.  He saw me through troubled waters before and I knew it everything was going to be okay.  The day I called Meredith and told her this is it, we have to close the business, we got our biggest contract and have been going since.
    If it hadn’t had been for our Life Group at Vertical Chapel we would have probably killed each other or been divorced.  They fought in prayer with us each week of 2016.  It was truly one of the biggest storms we have faced. -cmw




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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net