James was determined to break the cycle and live a life of prosperity, so he came up with a plan. He made a budget. He continued his education at night and earned his GED at 18. When he graduated, he set his sights on vocational school and learned about welding and HVAC systems. He worked as a laborer at Roland Shultz Construction, and in his off time, he used the skills he learned at school to flip a mobile home, which he rented to his brother.
In 1979, and when he was around 20 years old, he bought Traveler’s Mobile Home Park and flipped duplexes in Republic in addition to working his day job. To save money, James says he’d use scraps from jobs sites, including lumber and even toilets. While his friends bought new cars and bigger houses, James says he remained frugal. James’ real estate projects stayed constant as he switched from Roland to CIR Electric in 1988, where he landed an apprenticeship. At that time he was on to his next goal: becoming a master electrician.
The drive to succeed was mostly intrinsic, but once James married and had kids, he found motivation in supporting his family. Looking back on those years, Jamie says she has vivid memories of her dad’s work ethic. “My dad worked fierce hours,” she says. “I can’t remember a weekend that he was available. He did everything he possibly could to improve our lives and to become successful.” Though he did work long hours, he still made sure his children knew how much he cared for them. “When he was gone he made up for it with one-on-one time with each of us,” Jamie says. “He got a double lawn mower so his kids could ride on the mower with him. He would spend time with us even when he was doing his chores.”