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An Eye For Opportunities

Amherstburg native, Terry Jones, started with very little, but his wits and work ethic 
have taken him to heights he could not have imagined when he first started out
Author: Matthew St. Amand
Photographer: Trevor Booth
3 weeks ago
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There are no half measures in the life and experience of Amherstburg native and serial entrepreneur, Terry Jones. 

“One day he wanted to start auto racing,” Terry’s wife Lisa remembers. “The next thing I knew there was a race car in the driveway. Terry was thirty years old. Most drivers start when they’re twelve. That’s why Terry’s racing number is ‘30.’” 

Born and raised in Amherstburg, Terry attended Western Secondary School and worked for his father, Ron Jones, who owned a landscaping business and a moving company. Upon graduating from Western, Terry had no trouble keeping busy. He landed a government job operating a grader on road work projects in the county and worked for his father during his off-hours. 

“My dad passed his work ethic to me,” Terry explains. “There is no way around it. That’s how you get things done. You do the work.”

July 30, 1993, found Terry working on Boblo Island dismantling rides at the newly closed amusement park for his father’s company. It was Terry’s twenty-second birthday and he looked forward to going out, later, to celebrate with his friends. He had no idea this was the day his life would change.

“My dad came over to the island and said to me: ‘You’ve got to do this moving job for me today.’” 

Not the words Terry wanted to hear.

“I said to him: ‘I’m going out with my friends!’ And my dad said: ‘You can go out after.’” 

There was no sense in arguing. The work would not do itself.

“After I finished at Boblo Island, I was dirty and grimy and just wanted to get the furniture move done,” Terry recalls. “The job was at an apartment. When I knocked on the door, this beautiful blonde opened it. I nearly fell over.” 

That was the day Terry met Lisa Meloche. Although they would marry on December 30, 1995, at that moment, Lisa had zero interest in kindling a new relationship.

“I was at the end of a relationship—I was done with guys,” Lisa says with a laugh. “Then Terry shows up at my door!”

Soon after, Lisa learned Terry was doing grading work at a property near her parents’ home, so she incorporated that area into her morning jog. 

“I jogged by the site everyday until Terry called me,” she says. 

“Yeah, I saw Lisa jog by a few times,” Terry recalls, “and finally I worked up the courage to call and ask for a date.”

After thirteen months working as a grader operator, Terry left the job. His friends thought he was crazy.

“I couldn’t handle it,” Terry says. “I couldn’t work at that pace. That’s when I decided to start my own business. On my way home, I stopped at the bank and wanted to get overdraft on my bank account. I said to them: ‘I’m a businessman!’ The person I dealt with asked: ‘How long have you been in business?’ And I said: ‘I just started!’ I didn’t get the overdraft.”

Lisa connected with Terry just in time to help him with his new venture: installing interlocking brick. If anything will test the strength of a relationship it’s working together on tough, tedious projects. 

“We worked out of our house, I was his secretary—which didn’t last,” Lisa says. “Terry wasn’t much for keeping receipts. I helped him lay interlocking brick. On weekends, he shuttled racehorses back and forth to Florida. He was always working, always motivated. He saw opportunities in everything he did.” 

“Finally, I got tired of being bent over looking at the ground all day,” Terry says. “So, I started in demolition.” 

Around that time, Terry’s father showed him a notice in the newspaper. There was a demolition job at a property in Brighton Beach.

“I got all the permits I needed and entered a bid,” Terry recalls. “I got the job. I later learned that my bid was half of everyone else’s. It was like being paid to go to school. At the time, I didn’t even own a piece of equipment. I just figured it out as I went.” 

And the Jones Group was born. 

Terry continues: “It took about five years to complete the circle—to earn enough money for the big equipment, trucks, yards, get all that into place.”

One of the things Terry always looked at regarding business was taking on tasks nobody else was willing to do. 

“It’s cool knocking down a building,” he says, “but nobody wants to clean up the mess. That’s where I come in. I became good friends with John Moceri—God rest his soul—of Windsor Disposal Services. He was a great inspiration. And Gagnon Demolition. They’re great people to work with. Everyone thought we were enemies, but we were good friends. John would come over and cook for me and my race team! Friendship is friendship and business is business, and we could differentiate the two.” 

Terry has a way of making the impossible seem doable. He figured out demolition like someone untangles bad driving directions. 

“It’s capital intensive,” Terry concedes. “Most of all, though, you need great people to make it all work. I have great employees. They are the best part of the success. I can’t be everywhere, so I need great people and I have great people.” 

As the Jones Group flourished, Lisa made her own way at her family’s automobile dealership, Joe Meloche Ford in Amherstburg, which she owns with her sister, Michelle Ropac. 

In 1997, Lisa and Terry welcomed their daughter Mackie into the world, and in 2004, their son Kasey was born.

Terry’s ability to take chances has not only served him well in business, but throughout his life.

During a rare, idle afternoon in 2001—while Lisa was out with Mackie—Terry’s life took another dramatic turn. 

“I was watching NASCAR on TV,” he recalls. “I remembered asking my dad, years ago, if he would sponsor me in auto racing. He said: ‘No way I’m going to spend my money on that!’ By the time I was thirty, I had enough money to do it.” 

Terry says: “I raced in the CASCAR series at Delaware Speedway, but I got tired of the two-hour drive each way. Somebody recommended Toledo Speedway in Ohio—that’s only forty-five minutes away. I started having success there. I eventually won so many races in the ARCA Series they didn’t want me in the league anymore!”

Terry moved up to NASCAR and raced until 2017. He knew from his business experience that to be truly great at something, one had to focus all their time and energy on it. 

“I couldn’t race and run a business,” Terry says. “I had some good races. I came in second at Daytona, once, and had many respectable finishes.” 

These days, Terry is a team owner and his son, Kasey, is heavily involved in the racing team: Rette Jones Racing, based in Mooresville, North Carolina. Among other drivers racing for the team, former actor Frankie Muniz, known for his starring role in the ’90s TV show Malcolm in the Middle, came aboard as a driver in January 2023, along with NASCAR driver Noah Gragson.

Speed has not always served Terry well. There was an evening in 2017 when he rode a friend’s full-dressed Harley Davidson motorcycle. 

“We were only about a mile from my house,” Terry remembers. “We had turned the corner going down Third Concession and I suddenly lost control of the motorcycle.”

Terry takes a breath and continues: “At the time, nobody knew if I would survive. I was in a coma for a few weeks. My grandmother was looking out for me. I also had a pair of great surgeons. They were brothers, actually—one worked on my skull and the other worked on my pelvis. I wish I could meet them, again, and thank them. They saved my life.”

There are many moving parts in the entity of Jones Group. Those machinations continued while Terry recovered from his injuries. 

Before the motorcycle crash, Terry began acquiring properties. Area realtor John D’Alimonte called while Terry was in Florida, racing, and asked: “Are you interested in a marina?”

“Which one?”

“Bru Mon Yacht Club in Amherstburg.”

“OK.” 

Terry laughs recalling the day. “That’s how simple it was. I don’t have a pension. My properties are my pension. I always tell my kids: ‘Don’t sell the marinas. They’re great pieces of property.’”

They also provide great opportunities for his family.

“My daughter, Mackie, took Business in university and now she owns The Towne Shoppe in Amherstburg,” Terry says. “Demolition isn’t the environment for her. She could handle it, but she’d be on the road all the time. She’s a young woman and will want to have her own family, someday, and that’s why I’ve bought the marinas, and the clothing store, apartment buildings, warehouses. She’s my property manager.”

As for working on property deals, Reliable Realtor John D’Alimonte says: “I’m proud to be part of the team!”

“He sees my vision,” Terry says of John. “He understands me.” 

A project of particular note, that the group is excited about is the St. Anthony’s Lofts—soon to be unveiled. For this gem, Rosati Group was brought in along with cabinets by Cremasco. Mr. Style will stage the model loft.

No one is more astonished by this amazing journey than Terry himself. He credits the love and support of his family and friends and valued employees for his success. He doesn’t spend much time reliving his victories or lamenting disappointments. He’s too busy looking for that next opportunity.

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