Bill Jones has taken his lifelong love of playing in the dirt to a whole new level.
From years spent farming the fields in southeastern Illinois to his newest venture, Bill Jones Excavating LLC, Jones knows how to move earth and make the final result beautiful.
Before starting his business, Jones worked for large farms, and he and his family are also immersed in modernizing an old family farm. He realized the timing of his own crops was critical. He needed work that he loved and could allow him to be flexible.
"Farming is a tough, competitive business and finding productive land is the biggest challenge," said Jones. "The reality is, as the average age of farmers keeps going up, land opportunities will come without taking from the tables of my neighbors.
"Farming just over 400 acres gives me time to dedicate to Bill Jones Excavating."
Much like Jones' crops, the idea for excavating was cultivated with care and consideration.
In smoothing driveways and pond banks, digging trenches, removing old landscaping and limbs, digging out tree stumps and more, Jones has found the key to offering services that are too time consuming and expensive for property owners to do themselves.
"I can show up and complete a job for less than a person can rent a machine and do it themselves," Jones said.
He designed an equipment package that is highly mobile, yet comparable to the size of a backhoe and can be moved with a heavy duty pickup truck, fast and easily.
"My trailer also doubles as a gravel spreading tool for small or hard-to-reach locations."
Jones called on the Workforce & Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Illinois College for advice, months before launching his company.
"It's scary going into business," Jones said. "I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases and that's why I called the SBDC.
"I didn't go into this knowing what to do. I needed that guidance. You are looking for the unknown and unexpected and the SBDC can give you that foresight."
Starting a business with his wife, Amanda, while raising their three children, wasn't easy. There were unexpected expenses, necessary purchases, and changes to their daily life.
But Jones said the end result is worth the pain. He is doing what he loves and is motivated by his family.
Advice? Jones said anyone going into business should plan to spend 20% more than they estimate. He added it's important to really enjoy your work.
"Do what works for you and do what you know," said Jones. "If you ask me the one thing I am good at, it's running an excavator. I like doing it."
Bill Jones Excavating LLC is on Facebook. For information or to schedule a free estimate, call Jones at (618) 841-4627.
• The Workforce & Illinois Small Business Development Center assists owners and managers of small businesses plus people wanting to start a business in the area. Most services are available at no charge. For more information, call (618) 252-5400 ext. 2312.