Volunteering Inspires Owner to Reinvent Her Small Business
“It is an honor to be profiled as one of Manta’s favorite success stories for International Women’s Day (March 8). I credit the friends I have made while serving in leadership positions on the Broward County National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) board for this interview. I have learned to be a better leader to my team and for my business, through this wonderful organization. Business women share many of the same issues and I am very grateful for their support and wisdom.”
After volunteering with the disabled, Jane Snell-Simpson revamped JS-1 Construction to focus on remodeling homes for aging residents.
Whenever Jane Snell-Simpson pushes herself outside her comfort zone, it has a positive effect on her business.
Snell-Simpson is the president of JS-1 Construction, a company she started with her husband, Peter, in 2003. In the beginning, they built hurricane shutters. That industry began to wane around 2007 when other products came available to protect houses and the Sunshine State was hit with fewer hurricanes, she said. But she found inspiration to reinvent her business in an unusual place.
Snell-Simpson was helping friends who operate a nonprofit that aids people with physical disabilities. She realized that as people age, their homes need to function differently. “Our homes have a life cycle,” said Snell-Simpson, who has a degree in construction engineering from Florida A&M University. “As a homeowner, your life changes and your home needs to change, too.”
Based on her volunteering experience, Snell-Simpson got the idea to revamp her business as a remodeling company. Today her company focuses on empowering senior citizens and people with disabilities to remain in the homes they love, she said. JS-1 Construction offers services like home automation technology, inclined pathways and step-free entrances. The company also renovates kitchens and bathrooms to make it them more accommodating to with mobility issues.
As her knowledge in this area of home renovation has grown, Snell-Simpson has been able to market herself as a consultant to businesses that are renovating or seeking to make their facilities more accessible to the public. She has challenged herself to find ways to educate more people about the topic as a way to become more confident public speaker and generate leads.
For example, she recently addressed a group of real estate agents about her businesses and the services she offers. (In addition to remodeling, JS-1 Construction also can help buyers and sellers resolve building violations and open permits that can hold up real estate transactions.) She’s hopeful the talk will generate interest in the business and further establish her as a go-to source for questions about aging in place.
She’s also working to make connections with local doctors who might refer clients to her, and brainstorming ways to reach the adult children of older homeowners, as they are often the ones making decisions for the family.
Last year, Snell-Simpson even embraced online technology as a way to share her knowledge—she developed a series of webinars for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The project “pushed her out of her comfort zone,” but also gave her new skill sets and a body of work that she can put to work for the company in other ways. “I saw it through. I developed the material,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about webinars. It’s about conquering your fear.”
For Snell-Simpson, meeting new challenges and learning new skills is the key to becoming a better leader and running a successful business. “If your business is not where it needs to be, if you’re not getting the response you should be getting then you have to change,” she said. “You have to willing to try new things.”