JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—Jerry Sellers, owner of Genesis Modular Buildings, Inc., has spent most of his adult life growing businesses. He considers his two-year-old north Florida business a ministry to churches that have outgrown their spaces.
“My favorite thing is to help churches that are meeting in strip malls into their own buildings,” he said.
Sellers, who attends First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said few owners of modular building businesses “have the patience” to work with churches and their multiple committees, but he has always wanted to work with schools and churches.
“I asked God to let that be my calling,” Sellers said. “It is overwhelming to me that I get to talk with preachers everyday who are becoming good friends.”
Genesis Modular Buildings recently relocated to Pickettville Road on Jacksonville’s West side to have more space for the growing business. Sellers depends on a co-worker, whom Sellers calls “an organizational genius,” to install the buildings for the company.
“I sell them and Danny brings the buildings in,” he said.
He added, with a wink, that his new puppy “Tessie” also helps run the business.
Sellers, who has never married, grew up in Jackson, Ga., a small town about 40 miles south of Atlanta, that in the 1950’s resembled Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. His cousin, Gene Pope, is currently Jackson’s sheriff, a position held by family members for three generations.
“We had free roam of the town, and nobody locked their doors—not even the businesses,” he said.
His family has deep roots at First Baptist Church in Jackson where Sellers was baptized at 16. He was active in all children and youth activities, especially R.A.’s, and the church provided a firm foundation of faith, he said.
After graduation from Georgia Southern University, where he lettered in football, baseball and track, he coached and taught four years at Thomson High School in McDuffie County, Ga. He boasts that he coached Eddie Lee Ivory, a standout at Georgia Tech who came in third for the
Heisman Trophy and played for the Green Bay Packers. Even marquee players and good teams could not keep Sellers in the profession, however.
“I wanted to make more than $900 a month, so I went into business, and I went on an adventure and moved to Phoenix, Ariz.,” he said.
Ironically, he found a job in Phoenix working for an Atlanta-based company, Space Master, that sold and leased industrial buildings. His mentor, Howard Dreyer, taught Sellers how to get organized, how to sell, and how to deal with government agencies, he said. Years later he dedicated the Genesis Modular website to Dreyer.
In 1988 Sellers moved back to the Atlanta area with an unemployment check from Arizona for $88 that he used to start his own business, Georgia Trailer Sales and Leasing.
He lived in an apartment complex that advertised “one month free rent” and ate peanut butter sandwiches while investing every penny into the company, he said.
Four years later, the business was earning $8 million in revenue annually. He sold the company in 1996, just before the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, to a division of General Electric.
“I retired at 50. I made a lot of money, invested it in the stock market and lost every cent,” he said. “The Lord humbled me and I started again.”
He worked for Vanguard Modular Buildings in Mobile, Ala., and Jacksonville five years before launching Genesis Modular Buildings, Inc. in February 2010, when he was 61.
“When you own your own business you have to compete real hard, just like in a football game,” he said.
Sellers, feeling like David standing before Goliath, bid against a national company for a contract with the Ocoee County School Board, and his company was awarded the job. When questions arose about the abilities of such a small company, he appeared before the school board and quoted one of his favorite movies, “Hoosier:” “With the God of heaven, it is all one: to deliver with a great multitude or a small company.”
“Getting that job gave me the confidence to do anything,” he said.
For more information on Genesis Modular Buildings, Inc., go to www.genesismodular.com.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.