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Closing The Loop: J.R. Burkes

Warren Miller

J.R. Burkes has done a little of everything in construction. Originally from Palatka, J.R. has done the ground work of development all his life.

“My dad owned a paving company, and I’d go do extra jobs with him on the weekends,” he said. “We cleared land, dug ponds. I’ve done a little of all of it.”

When his daughter became chronically ill, J.R. started a business with his son-in-law, David, so that David had the flexibility. But nothing about working in dirt is easy.

“We try to get into the pieces that no one lese wants to do,” J.R. explained. “We’ve been putting in the silt fences on construction sites. That’s doing better for us than anything.”

J.R., 55, has three other children, and they all help take care of their sister. They’ve also run side businesses like sandwich trailers at construction sites, and a mobile barbecue company.

Finding a niche for his new construction company has been a challenge. But his company, J&D Tractor, is keeping busy. And J.R. Burkes’s priorities are his family, not business success. He knows he can always find work.

“As long is it gives David a paycheck, so that he can take care of my daughter, I’m okay,” he said. “I’m healthy and I always can find a job, driving machinery for someone else. I’ve done it all my life, and I’ll do it again if I need to.”

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.