Apple Valley entrepreneur named 2017 Small Business Person of the Year Finalist
When John (Jay) Jeffs found himself repeatedly repairing and replacing mailboxes for High Desert residents in the 1980s, he realized that the area needed more service and a better product. Due to a lack of providers in that industry, the business grew and six years later, Jeffs began manufacturing his own patented locking mailbox, The Letter Locker.
Earlier this month, Jeffs was named the 2017 Small Business Person of the Year by the U. S. Small Business Administration.
“This was all my father’s idea of simply repairing and replacing mailboxes. He would drive down Apple Valley Road and see the traditional ‘round top’ boxes smashed up and damaged,” Jeffs said in an interview for the Town’s Shop Local initiative. “He laid out a plan, bought the necessary materials and we began a door-to-door service for repairing mailboxes run out of my parent’s garage.”
As the business expanded, Jeffs realized he needed more space and more resources. In 2000, with the use of a Small Business Administration Loan, he purchased an 18,000-square-foot building in Apple Valley containing offices and warehouse space that allowed him to add modern manufacturing equipment.
Since then, he has acquired additional patents for new locking mechanisms and has added facilities in San Diego, Escondido and Nevada.
“Today, we’re not only serving the local area, we’re serving the country,” Jeffs said, and noted that for the last 30 years, his product has been made in the USA.
Like many businesses that survived the recession, Jeffs’ business went through many challenges. Hiring key people, re-evaluating his pricing model, and retaining quality employees has allowed Jayco Industries to excel in this niche market and increase its staff to 18 employees.
“Jay is an exemplary model of a home-grown success story,” said Mayor Scott Nassif. “For three decades he has essentially provided important services and employment that our residents needed. The Town is grateful that he started here, stayed here and continues to do business right here in Apple Valley.”
Jeffs is active in his local community through the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce, participates in the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce Economic Enhancement Forum, the High Desert Opportunity events and others. He serves on the Apple Valley Fire Protection Board of Directors, volunteers at his church and participates in holiday toy drives.
Jeffs was recognized at the recent Small Business Week Awards Program earlier this month hosted by the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as part of the National Small Business Week celebration that recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
For more information visit www.sba.gov/nsbw/nsbw.