Keeping up with the Joneses
Hoping to continue the work begun at Pork N More, Levi and Ashley Jones recently opened Pro-Ag Builders, which specializes in agricultural construction.
At this point, Levi is president of the company, while Ashley is vice president. The couple say that Levi is in charge of the construction while Ashley does the paperwork around the office. Levi, the son of Pork N More owner Craig Jones, said that he had worked in the business for several years. He grew up in Columbus Junction on a family farm and graduated from Columbus Community High School. After Pork N More closed so the elder Jones could pursue Ace N More, Levi worked for about a year at another firm in Iowa City. He later opened Pro-Ag.
Ashley grew up in Norway, Iowa. She graduated from Benton Community and earned a paralegal degree from Kirkwood College. She worked at a law firm before going to work at Pro-Ag.
What brings you to Washington?
Levi: It’s a really good base for our business to grow and prosper. As you know we have quite a few swine facilities in this area and that is where we thrive. That is what brought us to Washington – and the previous family business also helped us narrow into this area.
Since you have been in Washington, what do you think?
Levi: It is a great place to have a small business. The people — you can’t ask for a better town to live in or have a business in. It is a great environment and great people to work with. Overall, it is a great place.
Ashley: It is diverse. I love the shops and different businesses here.
Levi: We are pretty established here. This town has its own stores to sustain itself for the most part. It has a good school district. What more can I say?
What is your favorite part of Washington?
Levi: I think the best part of Washington is how many trees there are.
Ashley: We were just talking about that this spring.
Levi: It’s a really beautiful town. It has so much going for it that way. There is so much history in Washington. We just got the pamphlet for the 175th celebration coming up. I though that was pretty need. The town actually started with 24 lots. We thought that was pretty interesting, that it started that small.
Ashley: I like the theater and that they are restoring that now. It has an old school feel I think it is pretty neat.
Levi: It is a nice addition to the town to have another piece of entertainment.
How long have you been in business?
Levi: We started in May 2012 full time. I quit my job and started Pro-Ag builders. I started off doing the work myself with no employees. With all the office work I eventually hired a guy or two to assist me with service jobs and new construction as we grew. As we grew further, a year later I believe, my wife joined us to help pick up the office work and the paperwork of billing and invoicing.
Ashley: It has been a fast co0uple of years and that is good.
What made you decide to follow in your father’s footsteps?
Levi: After my father had started Ace N’ More up here, Pork N’ More kind of dwindle down. We actually ended up shutting the door. I picked up another job in Iowa City and was making the commute every day. I did that for about a year and decided it wasn’t for me. I wanted to have something else going. I would rather be in charge of my everyday work and be back in this kind of environment working with the farmers and people I knew and that I could show respect to and who showed respect to me for the type of work we could do for them or offer them. That’s just kind of my two cents on it.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
Levi: I would say the people I meet everyday. I meet quite a few people and like I said, I love going and visiting with people and visiting new sites and new places. With this type of work we are out and about and visit people and we go all over the state. Just last week we were down in Macomb, Illinois doing some work for some guys down there. It’s just good to see the country that way and you know that you are making a dollar doing it. I guess that is the most enjoyable part.
Ashley: I guess being your own boss.
Levi: Most definitely, I have to throw that in two. It is not all gravy. It can be stressful some days, being your own boss. There can be some hair pulling days that’s for sure. You aren’t sure if everything is going to come together quite right or on time and stuff like that. It is just a lot of responsibility to take care of other people as far as other employees and being responsible for their livelihoods as well.
What are some of your hobbies?
Levi: Recently we just moved to Washington over by the golf course and I am kind of picking up golfing this year. I am a very novice golfer and not very good. I’m at the very beginner stages. It is a good time and it is a wonderful course to play on. I like to do fishing and hunting as well. Outdoor things are what I enjoy doing.
Ashley: I like outdoor stuff as well. Cooking.
Where do you see yourselves in the future?
Levi: Hopefully still in business, still growing and serving the community as best we can. Hopefully we will have a better foothold on our business and have some more people in a higher position to help grow our company and our business. As we are still in the beginning stages of our business, we are still trying to find the perfect fit for all of our personnel and to try to have the right chain of command established as we grow.
Ashley: We’re expecting our first child in September, so that will be a new chapter as well. It’s a boy.
What’s his name going to be?
Levi: We are unsure at this point – Baby Jones for now.