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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Jonathan Greene, J.A. Greene Construction Services LLC

Spotlight - Jonathan Greene, J.A. Greene Construction Services LLC

image The Greene family. L-R: Addison, Jackson, Leila and Jonathan

HOUSTON - Understanding the value of each client and leveraging his experience and integrity to ensure success has always driven Jonathan Greene. This drive has helped shape the client advocacy people have come to know from J.A. Greene Construction Services.



Share about your start in construction.
    In high school, I took a drafting class, and that’s where it all began; that’s what I wanted to do. In high school, I did some competitions and it piqued my interest. I went to college at Sam Houston State University and majored in design and development. During college, a buddy and I started designing custom homes on the side to get some industry experience. After realizing that we would need experience with our college degrees, we continued designing custom homes for two years. For me, those two years really planted the seed of business ownership.  Learning how to ‘land’ a paying client and then maintain the client’s expectations was the basic start of where I am today.
    I graduated in 2004, and I worked at a residential drafting company in Conroe for about eight months. Then, one of my college professors connected me with a developer in The Woodlands and I went to work for them, which is where I started my career in commercial design and construction. I was a senior project designer but I did everything; I designed retail buildings, bid it out, and built it all in-house, which was a feat in and of itself for a young kid right out of college. While working for that developer, I did many different types of projects and work for many different types of clients, from hotels to cancer clinics to retail centers to a bridal shop and everywhere in between.

When did you begin to think about owning your own company?
    While working for the developer in The Woodlands, I did a build-out for John Masserano, one of the developer’s tenants. John did nationwide project development for dentists.  I ended up going to work for John as a consultant and director of project management.  Working for John really taught me I could run a business; John helped guide the development of my temperament and overall confidence that I had the skill set to do it.  John challenged my design skills and really opened my mind to not only my possibilities, but the overall possibilities within the design world.  John, much like the developer I worked for previously, was a mentor to me.  John helped form my mindset of client advocacy, which to this day is still a guiding principal and what sets J.A. Greene apart from our competition.

When did you decide to strike out on your own?
    As I mentioned previously, John got me started, figuratively and literally.  John moved his company to New York and I was in a position to retain some of his clients in the Houston area and leverage the many relationships I had already built. As they say, the rest is history. I started a business with a partner in The Woodlands designing and building dental/veterinary offices.  We were successful!
    After three years, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity come my way, so I sold the company to my then-business partner. I then went on to have the honor of building the Pleasure Pier in Galveston for Landry’s. Rebuilding a dilapidated pier to its former glory from the 1940’s still remains one of my crowning achievements, especially given my age at the time. I ended up developing another 25 or so restaurants all over the nation for Landry’s, gaining a wealth of knowledge that only comes with experience.  After that, I started J.A. Greene Construction Services.

What motivated you to open your second business?
    Generally speaking, having found success owning my first business, I always had the ‘itch’ to go back to business ownership. Call it unfinished business or motivation, I knew I would end up starting another business and knew I could not wait too long, so I started J.A. Greene.
    J.A. Greene was the company I was groomed to own and a dream come true. Being 100% in control, I was able to lay the foundation for a company who’s employees carry the same mentality I do with the same work ethic. 

How has the company evolved?
    When we started, we were doing dental offices and some veterinary work here and there. It was just me and one superintendent working out of my house. Now we do retail centers, office buildings, restaurants, restaurants chains, warehouses, and, of course, doctors offices (dental, veterinary, optometry, dermatology, internal medicine, etc.) – just about every type of commercial construction that’s out there. We have also started real estate development, which was my first big dream back when I worked for the developer in The Woodlands. Having purchased land, developed the land, and now having tenants, we have a better appreciation for what our clients go through and share a unique perspective for our clients now that we have ‘walked in their shoes,’ from a real estate development standpoint.
    One of the things we do differently is profoundly simple: empathy. We adjust our way of conducting business to suit our client because we realize the design/construction process can be daunting. We are empathetic in our advocacy, our explanations, and our willingness to do what the clients asks.  We want them to feel like we are in their corner, fighting for them. One of the simplest ways we do this is regarding changes or ‘change orders.’  Let’s face it, everyone changes their minds and I mean EVERYONE. Instead of ignoring these changes or trying to take advantage of them. we embrace them and try to draw them out during different stages of construction as to not cost the client additional money. Additionally, we have a doctor who puts on a J.A. Greene shirt and comes to trade shows with us to help meet new clients. This doctor also provides consultation throughout the entire process of opening new offices for us.  

What do you enjoy about your work?

    I enjoy working for the clients. Being a business owner, I can sympathize with what they’re about to go through and with my consultant background, I want to help them and I feel like I can help them. We’ve been successful in doing so for five or six years now. Quarterbacking that process is the most gratifying aspect of what I do. 

Is your business involved in community-minded efforts?

    Before Hurricane Harvey we would conduct food drives, sponsor families for Christmas, and handful of other smaller donations. After Hurricane Harvey that changed; we wanted to do more and our construction background put us in position to do some real good. We did our part around different neighborhoods, demolishing some houses, helping some people rebuild, and helping a few businesses get back on their feet. We did not bill a single person we helped!  Our entire company stepped up, working weekends to help, which is something I am very proud of.  I personally witnessed clients who had lost their business and home in tears, paralyzed not knowing what to do or where to turn. I knew then our efforts would have to be more consistent. We have begun company-wide volunteering with Hope Disaster Recovery, committing to one day a month for the foreseeable future. 
    Each year, we sponsor a few events for the Aldine/Spring/Klein rodeo committee, on which one of my superintendents serves. This year, we’re also doing CANSTRUCTION. We will be donating toys and hosting food drives too.
    We’re also an affiliate with the University of Houston’s construction college. We’re able to get interns from them whenever it’s needed; the interns get college credit for working for us.

How do you enjoy your time when you aren’t working?
    I have a wife, Leila, an 8-year-old daughter, Addison, and a 5-year-old son, Jackson; my kids are the “J” and the “A” of J.A. Greene. Leila is a stay-at-home mom and also teaches part-time at Steppin Time PAC, a dance studio in Cypress. She does a lot of volunteer work at the elementary school where the kids go. Jackson likes science, solar systems and sharks. Addison is into dance and she loves swimming. We’re big Disney people and we go to Disney too much – my favorite Disney character is probably Peter Pan!
    I’m am a workaholic, I love what I do so it does not feel like work. Between coaching my son’s basketball team, soccer games, my daughter’s dance recitals, working out, and late meetings with doctors does not leave a whole lot of time for a personal life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do some volunteering back at my college, Sam Houston State University, for my fraternity. I am helping them build and brand-new fraternity house pro bono.

Do your kids visit you at the office?

    They come here once or twice a week The other thing about my company, from a family standpoint, is my mom Jeri Young is my accountant and my brother Gabe Greene works here part-time doing contract work while he starts his own business. It’s great to work with family; you can trust them without question, especially my mom from an accountant standpoint. She has control of the money, which is always an important part of running a business. And she has background in it; she worked for a large landscaping company as their accountant. She retired and I pulled her out of retirement.

What are your plans for the future?

    I spend a lot of my time in the future as I am often working on preliminary work for projects that may be a year down the road, so our future is really something to be proud of. The client base we have built and the confidence others place in us is fantastic. We plan on doing a few larger projects over the next few years in addition to our bread and butter of tenant improvements. We hope to start doing more development projects and focus on property ownership as a long-term investment strategy for J.A. Greene (or JAG Properties). We also look to maintain our relationships with past clients. What I’ve found is all of our contacts that we’ve made in the past, some of those people want to start their second or third location.
    I want more of the same. What I do and how we do it is perfect for me. It’s hard to complain – but I hope we don’t get any more hurricanes!
    Commercial general contractor J.A. Greene is in Houston. –mjm

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Author Info
Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net