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Spotlight - Justin O’Neal, Fair Claims Roofing & Construction

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image Justin O’Neal, President of sales and marketing, Fair Claims Roofing & Construction, The Woodlands, TX

HOUSTON - Justin O’Neal had a lot to say about being a business owner, but it is his modesty that speaks for him. He is no stranger to hard work and his roots are the branches to his success.





Where were you born and raised?
    I was born and raised in a little town called Athens, TX which is in east Texas about 30 miles west of Tyler and 70 miles southeast of Dallas/Fort Worth.

What was your childhood like? Do you have any siblings?

    I have a small family and I have a younger sister, who is two years younger than me. We grew up modest and my family was in the garbage business, so I grew up helping with the family business. I helped with whatever needed to be done, either with picking up containers or maintaining the trucks.

How old were you when you started to work for the family business?

    I was 12-years-old. Every summer I’d be working on the truck five days a week.

What is your educational background?

    Some college completed. I actually left college to pursue my career in roofing.

When did you leave Athens?
    I left Athens the same time I got into the roofing business. I actually got into the roofing business and began to commute back and forth to DFW. Then the opportunity came to relocate to the Houston area in 2001. So the year 2001 was technically the year I left Athens.

What were the early work experiences like transitioning from the family business to your new line of work?

    I actually got into roofing with just the sales side of it. I did it as a temporary idea and then when I got into it I was expecting it to be a career. An opportunity came from a gentleman I went to church with. He was one of the owners with a roofing company and he commuted back and forth to Dallas every day. As I started working with him I was young, 19, but I was working three days a week (kind of half days) and then three full days with them. And I still worked for my family’s business; we would get done at about 2 o’clock on the garbage business. I would leave at 2 o’clock and drive to DFW. Then I would work from 3 PM to 7 o’clock at night doing estimations. I did very well and had a lot of success. I was earning a pretty good income, especially for my age. At that point I took a risk and told my grandfather that I was going to go a different route rather than the family business. I left the family garbage business to pursue a career in roofing sales.

How long did you stay working for the roofing company in the DFW area?

    I worked for that company and started part time, then went full time three months later. That was when I finished my semester in college. From May to the end of that year into the summer of the following year in 2001, I became the company’s top producing sales person. I was only 20-years-old.  That following summer they were looking to branch into the Houston market, so I came to the Houston market with them to be kind of their sales manager. I was going to help start things up for them and we did. We then got relocated. So I commuted back and forth to Houston for about six months and then January of 2002 I relocated myself and moved to Houston. I worked for the Houston branch for about four to five months. Then I had an opportunity with one of the partners, who is now my current partner, Ray Phillips. He had left the company prior and gave me an opportunity to become a partner with him and help start the company that we have today, which is Fair Claims Roofing & Construction.

When was Fair Claims Roofing & Construction established?   
    I think our first day of business was April of 2002. We’ve been growing strong ever since.

How does one go about making a business owner decision at such a young age?
    Obviously, there was a lot at risk, but I had confidence in myself and confidence in the business that I was doing. It was nice to be able to be in a role in a business where I was able to work more with my brain than with my hands.
 How did you pick a company name?
    At the time when we went into business, the only thing our company really focused on was insurance related roof replacements. That was our niche when it was a relatively new concept to help consumers with their insurance companies to help get a claim approved. That was where the name Fair Claims came from back then, which is interesting now because we still do that, but it is now a small piece of what we do.

Do you have any mentors?
    Ray, my business partner is my biggest mentor. I’ve also had mentors within the industry.

Tell us about your last name, where does it come from?
    It is an Irish name;. My family at some point came over seas from Ireland. I have not been able to track my genealogy past the civil war era. I’ve been able to track my genealogy all the way back to the Carolinas, from Texas to Tennessee and from Tennessee to the Carolinas; back in the mid 1800s is the last record that I have of someone there.

Now let’s talk about your family life, are you married?

    I am married. I’m actually newly married; I just got remarried about a month ago. Her name is Jillian (Jill). Congratulations to you both!

How did you two meet?
    We met at the gym that we both worked out at. We had been in a class together that a friend of Jill’s invited her to. We met and talked a little bit, then I asked her out and we kept dating.

Do you have any children?

    I do have three children from my previous marriage. I have two boys and one girl. Tristan, 14; Kylie, 11; and Preston, 9.

What are some of your favorite family activities?

    We like to do things outdoors. We like to go hiking. We like to watch sporting events together like an Astros game. I’m also a Cowboys fan, even though I live in Houston; we travel up to Dallas for games. We also like to watch movies. My kids are big movie buffs, so we like to do that with them.

What Cowboys games have you been to this year?

    Jill and I are actually going for Thanksgiving Day. The kids and us will go to the New Orleans game.

Do you go to away games?

    I do, I went to the Philly game in Philadelphia. That was really cool! I go to at least one away game a year.

Do you have any hobbies/interests?

    Mostly just my business, honestly, I’ve been focusing a lot of developing more of a metal secondary company that focuses on metal fabrication. That is taking up most of my time.

    Fair Claims Roofing & Construction is a roofing contractor for both commercial and residential in The Woodlands, McKinney, Austin and San Antonio. –lv

Author Info
Lexie Velasquez lexie@constructionnews.net