How Jefferson K. Rogers founded JKR Windows
The Founder Series is a column by and about Utah founders and how they got to where they are today. Click here to read past articles in the series.
Five years ago, I was broke, addicted, and going nowhere fast. Addiction started early. When I was 13 years old, I smoked my first cigarette. At 14, I drank my first beer. Not long after that, I smoked my first joint. While many of my friends were going to church and Boy Scouts, I went the opposite direction. I liked the kids in the “questionable crowd” and chose the party scene.
These choices as a teen led to a lot of time on the couch as an adult. I slept over at my friends’ house and enjoyed free rent. I drank their beer, ate their food, and smoked their weed. I was lucky that people loved me—they put up with a lot. But eventually, it would become too much for them, and they’d ask me to move along.
After several years of this, I was finally ready to try being a responsible adult. I moved into a house with my brothers and put my name on the lease. Before we’d even finished moving in, I broke my leg in a motorcycle accident. I couldn’t work, and I had no money saved, which meant I was broke within days of the accident. Unable to pay rent, I ended up being the guy on the couch all over again, but this time at a house with my name on the lease.
It was an uncertain, emotional time for me. All those hours on the couch made me realize just how little I was doing with my life—but one night, the universe held out a hand. A commercial came across the TV around 1:00 am for the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. They had a location in Phoenix, where I had some family.
I knew instantly that I had to get myself into that program. It felt like I had a chance to get out of this scenario, stop couch surfing, and build a real career for myself.
For the first time, I left the environment of my complacency and addiction. I got away from the people who were drinking and partying. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done—I had to separate myself from the people I loved the most, I had to put in more mental energy to the challenges of school and my new environment than I’d ever done before — and I also had to get clean. My aunt and uncle said that, as long as I stayed with them, I needed to stay away from drugs and alcohol—I agreed.
As it turned out, I loved the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. I never missed a day, I was never late, I had perfect attendance, and I aced every class. Being sober agreed with me.
My first taste of entrepreneurship
While I was in school, I started a pressure washing business in Arizona, my first taste of entrepreneurship—and it was a total failure. I tried to hire employees but was terrible at management. I also was incredibly impatient. Over time, I got burnt out from pressure washing. I tried several times to hire help, but it wore me to a nub, and I slowly lost interest in all the accounts I had. I couldn’t see a future in it.
Instead of investing any more time in my failing power washing business, I got a job at my as a mechanic for semi-trucks and trailers at my uncle’s business. I worked my way up the company and eventually landed a management position at the shop. It was a good opportunity but had a major downside—I was working 70 hours a week and often miserable and ornery as a result.
I’d also started struggling with addiction again. The pressures of being a new husband (I had gotten married while in Arizona), business owner, and full-fledged adult made me feel anxious all the time. I looked for ways to suppress that burden of responsibility and went back t familiar “friends”—aka weed and alcohol.
I began looking for an alternative to the long hours at my uncle’s business, and my attention was caught by a friend who was starting a window company. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to do that; he had been very successful in the financial services industry and earned around $400,000-$500,000 a year. But it started to make sense when he explained that he intended to start up his own business and build something big. Like me, he had hopes of being a successful entrepreneur.
"Just like I invested money in consultants for my company, I’ve invested money in my own development."
He convinced me to start the business with him and initially promised I would be a founding partner. Instead, he made his brother a partner and expected me to put in all the sweat equity, be the sales guy, open offices, and train and develop their people. I didn’t mind doing all of that at first, but when I realized that being a “partner” was never actually going to be part of my future at the company, I got a chip on my shoulder.
I wanted to do something about it, but the only problem was that I wasn’t clear-headed enough to figure out what that was going to be. I had gotten back into partying hard. Even when I moved back to Utah from Arizona to get away from another destructive group of friends, I couldn’t escape my addiction. I started drinking and getting high on my own, often hiding my behavior from my wife, Shandell.
Hitting rock bottom
It was September 2017, and we were gearing up to celebrate my son’s birthday and brother’s anniversary one weekend. I started “celebrating” early in the morning by drinking, then I ran into some friends mid-afternoon and drank some more. That night, Shandell and I went to a concert with my brother and sister-in-law, and I continued drinking there, too. By the time Florida Georgia Line took the stage, I was slurring my words and acting totally belligerent.
I argued with my wife and stormed off to my truck. On the way, I saw this couple approaching me. I don’t even remember why, but I head-butted the guy. He was knocked out cold, and I thought I might have killed him, although thankfully, I didn’t. My car was only a couple of yards away, so I ran to the car and drove off, really drunk. What happened next was a blur of getting chased by security, stashing my truck, running to rejoin my group, dodging cops, and finally managing to get home: nine people crammed into my sister-in-law’s six-seater car.
The next morning was my son’s 12th birthday party. My whole family was there to witness me hungover—sick, dizzy, and running to the bathroom. While everyone else was cheering the kids on at the Bounce House Shandell had booked for our son, I was throwing up in trash cans and lying down on a bench. When we got home, after the party, I found out I’d been nailed with assault charges from the night before.
I’d been sick at the birthday party, but I felt even sicker thinking of who I’d become. Somehow, I had to make a permanent change in my life.
Not long after the concert, I was sitting in my truck, scrolling through Facebook instead of walking up a driveway to do a sales call. My attention was caught when I saw an ad for a mentorship program being offered by Grant Cardone. I had recently read Grant’s book, The 10x Rule, and I knew he had found huge success after struggling for years with addiction. It was my first exposure to someone with a background like mine, who had succeeded at the kind of level I could see myself succeeding at.
I spent our last $1,100 dollars on that program, and I firmly believe it was the best money I’ve ever spent. Over the next few weeks, I started implementing some of the habits and daily tasks they were assigned in the group, such as getting up before sunrise, writing my goals down every day, reading ten pages out of a self-improvement book, getting myself out of obscurity and regularly making posts on social media.
The new habits started building my self-confidence. Also, having the accountability of everyone in the program—not to mention all my social media followers, who were seeing my daily posts—gave me momentum to keep moving in a positive direction. I was still drinking and smoking weed at the start of the program, but as I became more immersed, I had a glimpse of a better future. I began believing I could become a better version of myself.
I also started seeing a huge increase in my success at work. As a result of all my new habits, my sales numbers started going through the roof. I also started pushing the owners and all the other salespeople to innovate in needed ways. I was challenging everybody to do more, but they didn’t want to do more. The chip on my shoulder grew because I knew they could be a better version of a company.
On January 8, 2018, the morning after another bender, I woke up and told my wife for the first time that I had a problem. I admitted I had an addiction and said I wanted to do something about it. I told her I was scared and needed her support. She said she would do anything she could to help me.
I’ve been sober since that day.
Starting my second business
During my first week of sobriety, I tried going to work, but detox hit hard, and I started feeling deathly ill. For the next five days, I dragged myself from bed to the couch and then back again, feeling absolutely miserable. I was questioning everything about myself, my ability to support my family, and what I was doing with my life.
But as the days dragged on, my mind was getting clearer and clearer. I still had that chip on my shoulder, working for these guys who had promised to make me a partner for their windows company but hadn’t followed through. I finally made up my mind to do something about it. I had something to prove.
On the last day I spent lying in bed, I decided to start my own business. I said it out loud, I told people I was doing it. In March 2018, I began the process of doing the paperwork and establishing an LLC. Everything for JKR Windows was finalized two months later.
Now, with my own company, I had the opportunity to innovate in all the areas I’d recognized my former company falling short in—areas like customer service, sales process, training, efficiency, vision, and mission. One of the things that helped me build my business so fast was that chip on my shoulder: I had a mission to be better than that other company, to do more, and to stand for something different.
When I first started JKR Windows, I did everything personally for the first 12 months, absolutely everything. I closed every deal, trained each new hire, made sure every person got paid, and scheduled and collected on every install. We were working out of an office the size of a large closet.
Quickly into my entrepreneurship journey, though, I realized that if I wanted to scale, I had to teach other people to do some of the tasks I was doing. I started putting more energy into training and empowering people to step into different roles, which freed me up to keep moving the target on our goals. In the first year, we had easily outpaced my former company, making $1 million in revenue and service. I decided we needed a bigger target and doubled our revenue goal for the following year. We hit $2 million easily, so I decided to bring on a consultant to help us keep accelerating growth.
When the early months of 2020 rolled around, we had a great team in place and strong momentum. Then, the pandemic hit.
I gathered my team together in mid-March. Everyone was anxious and wondering what we were going to do. They wanted to know if they were going to lose their jobs? Stay home? Mask up?
“To hell with that,” I thought, so I made a plan and went all in. “While everyone is retracting, we’re going to accelerate,” I told my team. “We’re going after that market share. We’re not staying home. We’re going to increase our activity.”
We had always been a door-to-door sales company. As it turned out, that was the best possible sales model at the start of the pandemic because everyone was stuck at home. Our industry was positioned well, too: people had home improvement on the brain and were ready to buy new windows.
We were in the right place, at the right time—but we also had everything cued up to seize the opportunity. We had a great team, strong processes in place, and were ready to scale as fast as we needed to, to meet demand.
That year, we did $10 million, and our revenue grew by 500 percent.
We now have 100 employees, and I’ve continued to set huge goals for us. They’ve always seemed impossible when we first write them down, but we keep surpassing them so I’ve learned to keep thinking bigger. Today, our crazy goal is to build the company to $200 million by 2028-2030. We’re on track to hit $20 million this year, so we’ve got a short window to “10x” this business.
I’ve also continued to identify big personal goals for myself. My biggest stumbling block as a leader early on was communication—I wasn’t all that tactful, and I didn’t have a lot of patience. There were some instances when I blew people out of the water because of their mistakes. Because of this, I knew I had some learning to do if I wanted to keep up my company’s accelerated growth.
"My social media posts started in a pretty humble place."
So, just like I invested money in consultants for my company, I’ve invested money in my own development. I got involved with Michael Burt, a personal development, high-performance coach for business owners and sales teams. I’ve also invested in a personal trainer and a nutritional expert to help me meet my health goals. And I’m proactive about seeking out mentors and getting myself to conferences like Mastermind, where I can continue to learn, grow, and network. As a result, I’ve been able to transform myself as a person just as profoundly as I’ve seen my business grow.
Becoming an influencer (and mentor)
My life was completely transformed as a result of the Grant Cardone mentoring group. It made me seek out continued mentorship from people I respect and also helped me want to become a mentor. I’ve helped build huge success stories among people in my own business, helping employees go from making $20,000 a year at their former jobs to $30,000 a month selling windows. Now, I’m passing on the lessons I’ve learned about training, developing people, communicating, and handling difficult situations to other business leaders.
Working with Coach Michael Burt also piqued my interest in coaching and consulting. He’s expressed his love for coaching and seeing people achieve huge success in their lives. I’m now in a position where I have similar knowledge and experience to offer others as an executive coach and business consultant. There are plenty of consulting companies out there offering mediocre service—I’ve hired and been disappointed with several. I’m working to bring true value to other home service companies and teach them some of the lessons I’ve learned.
Over the past two years, I’ve been working with one company at a time creating success stories, and I have a lot in the works: weekly podcasts and speaking engagements for businesses in the home services industry and affiliated associations. On top of that, I’m writing a personal development book to be released in early 2023.
I’m also sharing my experience and knowledge as a social media influencer. My social media posts started in a pretty humble place: If you scroll through my Facebook back to 2017 and 2018, you’ll see me talking into my phone, sharing some of the nuggets I was learning in the mentor group, talking about the books I was reading. I was just beginning to go through the motions of putting myself out there, creating my brand and getting out of obscurity. I was inexperienced—but I was doing it.
Eventually, I hired a marketing company to help build my social media presence, and now I have content being produced on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook every day. My Instagram following has grown to over 60,000 followers, and it grows by about 2,000 followers a month. It’s been one more investment that’s continued to accelerate my success.
I’ve come a long way, and I’m not done yet. Thanks to coaching and mentoring—and an incredibly supportive wife — I was able to turn my life around, start a business, and achieve explosive growth. Now, it’s my turn to pay it forward.