Playing in the dirt

Demolition company moves headquarters to Clay

Eric Cravey
Posted 2/15/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – In his career spanning two decades, Jim Smith has learned how to safely handle everything from hazardous waste to duck nests.

Now, Smith and his wife Kristi have moved their …

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Playing in the dirt

Demolition company moves headquarters to Clay

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – In his career spanning two decades, Jim Smith has learned how to safely handle everything from hazardous waste to duck nests.

Now, Smith and his wife Kristi have moved their $1.5 million company, Jimco Site Services, to Green Cove Springs after being headquartered in St. Johns County since 1998. The company is located at 909 Leonard C. Taylor Parkway, which is the new name for State Road 16 East.

“We owned a piece of property where we also have our house and we were running [Jimco] off that property and we just needed to get out…time to expand,” Kristi said.

The Smiths opened their 5,000 square foot headquarters on Jan. 1 and are looking to grow from their current crew of nine employees. In making the move across the Shands Bridge to Clay County, the Smiths also started a completely new company, Taylor Parkway Storage, which is adjacent to the demolition company. In total, the two businesses sit on just under four acres alongside State Road 16 near the old Lee Field Naval Air Station property.

“As things grow, we have the potential to hire for the storage yard, at least one more, maybe two. Drivers, I have CDL drivers coming in every day. If we can get this ball rolling, we can hire two, three, four more drivers easy,” Jim said. “We just purchased a grinder so we hope to have at least one grinding crew, possibly two.”

The Smiths chose Green Cove Springs based on multiple factors – the 20-minute drive from their St. Johns County home, the coming First Coast Expressway and the potential new construction that the multi-million dollar toll road project will bring, as well as proximity to other companies with whom they already have relationships.

“We did this work at the swimming pool,” Kristi said and Jim interjects saying, “Oh yeah. We did the Spring Park renovation two years ago when they tore down the old city hall,” he said.

“And we were kind of looking at it then … we looked at this property then,” Kristi said.

They had owned a piece of commercial property in Jacksonville that would have made a good location for a company headquarters. However, when that land was taken through eminent domain for a road construction project on Lane Avenue, the Smiths went shopping again for a piece of land. That’s when they chose Green Cove Springs.

“It’s just pretty. It’s pretty and it’s nice. I’m from a really small town in Mississippi …raised that way in the just tiny little town and I love it. And we love St. Augustine, but it’s just so grown up. We’ve already some good contacts and friends over in Green Cove Springs, so it was just a good fit,” Kristi said.

For example, in 2013, Jimco did the demolition work on the old car dealership that now holds the Clay County Supervisor of Elections.

The Smiths are not only banking on their location to give them exposure and new customers, they are also hoping the feedback about the economy is true. From what they have been experiencing, they believe the timing was right to expand. For example, when she wrote the loan application for their Small Business Administration loan for the property and building construction, she had to do a market analysis for a revenue projection. She said, so far this year, current actual revenue is exceeding her projections by about $300,000.

“From June of 15 to June of 16 and from June of 16 to June of 17, I’m $300,000 ahead,” she said.

About 80 percent of Jimco’s business comes from commercial site work, while 20 percent comes from residential site preparation. One of the company’s largest projects dates back to 2005 when it won a contract to help shut down operations for a former Clay County employer. Jimco tore down the old Iluka Resources Ltd. plant south of Green Cove Springs when its Australian parent company announced it would shutter the Watson Road facility in tandem with a second titanium and zircon mine in Brantley County, Georgia, a move that resulted in the total loss of 180 jobs.

“It took us a year to tear down that plant, so for that, we dealt with MSHA, which is the Mine Safety and Health Administration, instead of the occupational safety and they’re even tougher than OSHA,” Jim said. “So we had a lot of compliance to go through there. We gassed up on a lot of the OSHA and MSHA regulations and certificates …so, we’re on guard for that stuff.”

Meeting deadlines and being on a work site when we say they’re going to be there is what sets them apart from their competition, Jim said.

“We added the clearing and the grinding for the subdivisions and the moving of dirt, so we got a little bit flexible and it seemed to work out,” Jim said. “I don’t claim to always be the cheapest, but I do answer the phone and I’m willing to give you the bad news along with the good news or the good news with the bad news.”

And then there was the demolition project with the ducks. When the Brumos Mercedes and Lexus dealerships on Atlantic Boulevard set out to remodel, Jimco was called in on the project by the general contractor. As it turned out, there was a mama duck that had built a nest near the dealership’s service department.

“There was a little duck in the middle of our demo job. Well, I mean, you can’t just run over the ducks, so Jim brings a cardboard box, puts the nest and the ducks in it and brings it to the house and my girls hatched the duck eggs and raised the little ducklings,” Kristi said.

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