After 34 years in the home improvement business, Warren Jones is calling it quits. The 68-year-old said he plans to retire as the vice president and general manager of Enloe Residential in late August.
The decision was a few years in the making, Jones said.
“I think when you get my age and you look around, you probably see a few things you want to do, and you may not want the same responsibilities,” he said. “I can do a few things that might be a little more pleasurable, I think.”
In 1980, Jones sold a grocery store he’d owned for roughly seven years and joined what is now Southern Industries, a home improvement company based in Augusta, as a salesman.
Within a year, Jones had already been promoted to a managerial role in the company, and he combined his sales and previous managerial experience to continue moving up the ladder.
“I enjoyed it, and I caught on quick,” said Jones, adding that he considers the home improvement business a natural fit for him.
The company continued to grow, and by 1999, Jones was in charge of roughly 200 employees. But that’s when he decided to downsize his responsibilities. He transferred that year to Enloe Residential, one of Southern Industries’ branch offices, in Aiken, where he manages a staff of about 50 employees.
“I’m too much of a hands-on person, that’s one thing good about it,” Jones said. “You can see what you’re doing if you’ve got your hands on it and can see where it’s going.”
Jones’ staff more than doubled over the 15 years after his arrival. Working with different types of personalities, from construction workers to office managers to salespeople, and getting them all on the same page is just part of the job, he said.
“It has been fun,” Jones said. “It’s always a challenge, any time you’re working with people, because everything we do here is people oriented. You have to recognize the fact that everyone is not the same, and that I’m not going to be able to change them.”
Jones’ work, which ranges from home additions to replacing windows and doors, can be found within a 60-mile radius of Aiken. He said his fondest memories have come from working with homeowners to make sure Enloe’s work is completed to their satisfaction, as well as having them call him back again to request more work for their next home project.
“Listen to your customer,” Jones tells newcomers to the home improvement business. “Just listen to your customer. Treat your customer as you want to be treated.”
Jones said he hasn’t yet decided what he’ll do upon retirement, though he expects a few more triathlons and mission trips could be in the works.
It’s likely he’ll also spend a portion of his retirement just riding around, admiring and reflecting on his work.
“Going back over the years and going by houses and churches and all of the things that we have done over the years, it’s nice to say I had a part in this and I had a part in that,” he said.
Avery Wilks is an intern at the Aiken Standard. He is a senior at the University of South Carolina.