Learn more about the people behind our local businesses!

Jeff Hairston
J3 Painting and Construction, LLC

By the 1990s, Jeff Hairston had amassed a metaphoric toolshed of important construction skills — knowledge that included how to repair houses, paint houses, install roofs, and much more. Those skills were taught to him by his father, and Jeff had honed them through multiple projects and on-the-job experience. By 1996, Jeff decided to take an entrepreneurial leap, turning his knowledge into a small, local company, J3 Painting and Construction LLC.

The business began as a hobby, a summer side-business Jeff juggled while working as a schoolteacher in the public school system. Later, when Jeff transitioned from teaching to firefighting, he kept his side-business alive, eventually giving it his full focus. “In the beginning, I struggled,” Jeff admits. “Across 15 years, I built a foundation for my business, but I still struggled to keep it afloat.” Jeff’s dad had taught him valuable skills. “But trying to succeed in the world with bigger, established companies can be impossible without specific knowhow or connections.”

That’s exactly why PBDG partners like O’Neill Construction Group are committed to providing professional mentorship for PBDG members. They know no one rises alone. “O’Neill’s shared knowledge has been priceless for me and my business,” Jeff explains. “There’s not one person who can be successful in life without some type of help. As a schoolteacher, as a parent, as a mentor in my community, I take pride in helping the next generation learn and succeed. PBDG has done just that for me.”

For Jeff, paying it forward has come full-circle with the help of allies who operate from the same playbook. “My business has grown significantly since those early days. But it’s still not at the place I imagine it could be.” And as any entrepreneur knows, it’s this ever-striving spirit that sparks exploration, growth, and ultimate success, especially when it’s amplified by the wisdom of a professional mentor. “With O’Neill and PBDG’s combined help, I’ve built a blueprint — a roadmap — to achieve the goals I want to accomplish.”

But the real power lies in solidarity. “The commercial side of the construction industry is controlled by non-minorities,” Jeff confirms. “As an African American contractor, it can be exhausting and deflating to try to break in. But PBDG creates access and dialogue between minority-owned businesses and the major construction companies.” And, like the early mentorship and help Jeff received from his father, and as Jeff now knows first-hand, “That’s invaluable.”

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