Decision to stay in home town is paying off, big time
JOEL Jensen is a shining example of a born and bred Northern Rivers success story.
But he goes against the grain of his peers, according to statistics.
The 29-year-old decided to stay in the region to start a construction business and raise a family, rather than head off to the big smoke.
And his decision has paid off - Joel Jensen Construction is booked out for the year.
Whether its new homes or renovations, concreting or insurance repairs, there is no shortage of work for Joel and his team.
Joel took an apprenticeship with a local builder and went to TAFE at Wollongbar, graduating about nine years ago.
He hasn't left to seek work or education because he always loved the area.
"It never even crossed my mind to move away from the area," he said.
"The people around here are fantastic and the local business support is fantastic."
He is also a keen footballer and has played for Marist Brothers in Lismore for about 15 years, giving him a community connection which has helped to grow his roots in the region.
Now Joel and his wife, Brittany, sponsor Marist Brothers.
Joel started off as a sole trader while Brittany went to Southern Cross University in Lismore and got a degree in early childhood and primary teaching.
"She was going down that path and I was going down mine and we started to grow and got busier and busier," Joel said.
"We then turned into a partnership.
"Once my wife fell pregnant, she then became more involved with the business and took over the administration side for me because I was getting too busy.
"From there we grew out of that again and grew into a company.
"By this stage we were probably employing five people, and now we are currently up to 18 employees."
They now have two young boys who attend preschool and primary school in the region.
Joel said as a local business owner himself, he made an effort to support local trades and local suppliers.
"Everything we spend, we spend locally, whether it's buying a vehicle or a trailer or materials," he said.
"That way it sort of comes back around."
At the moment the team has smaller spots available but, pending a couple of contracts in the works, are booked out for the year.
"We now have contracts and we worked for all the banks, NAB, Westpac, St George, Telstra, Optus, the Blood Bank, Caltex, BP service stations and we have also picked up work for the police stations now as well," Joel said.
"We are travelling from Wauchope to Tweed and out to Tenterfield."
For Joel and the Jensen family, staying in his birth town to start a business was "a lot easier".
"I had a lot of support around the area. Friends and family can get around you and get your name out there," he said.
"It takes a long time to build trust, especially in a trade, so people knowing me from sporting activities or working around the area before I started my own business definitely helped to give me a leg up."