by Allen Gress
Bill Jeffries, Louisville’s 2012 Citizen of the Year, loves to tell the story of how his father Joseph founded the Joseph A. Jeffries Company in 1933 delivering retail coal to area homes in Canton.
Living with the challenges of the depression, two wars and seven children, the growth of the company had to be conservative. As time went on the company’s customer base grew from the coal business to excavation and paving. “As my brothers and their children entered the business,” Bill recalled, “we grew to become the turn-key family-owned construction company we are today.”
William F. Jeffries, Bill to most everyone, became the 38th community member to be honored as Citizen of the Year since the Rotary Club began the award in 1975. Due to illness he was unable to attend the presentation at the Community Banquet Wednesday, but his wife Barbara accepted the award for him and received a standing ovation. “It is said that behind every successful man there is a magnificent woman,” Bill quipped.
But Bill didn’t start out in the construction business. Following graduation from Glenwood High School he attended Ohio University where he received his BBA degree and began a 20-year career in education. He served as an elementary school teacher, principal, math and computer specialist for the Stark County Board of Education, taught graduate and undergraduate classes at Malone and Kent State as well as consulting work for the Ohio Department of Education.
As sometimes happens in life, a death in the family changes everything. Joseph passed away in 1984, so Bill stepped into the business temporarily. He never left.
About this time, Bill and his brothers and sisters formed a partnership called Groffre Investments. “Mom offered some land from the former Giant Drive-in and we built and leased our first building to Georgia-Pacific,” he said. “As the years went on, we purchased more land and built more buildings. Our success is truly because of family values. Each member provided leadership where needed and everyone worked for the good of the family.”
Throughout the years the Jeffries family has continued to give back to the community by supporting the schools directly or providing scholarships to local students in the names of their parents. There have been years of contributions to the YMCA and other community organizations and when the Rotary needed assistance with their Metzger Park restroom project, the Jeffries Company was first in line to help. Their green trucks could be seen during construction of the new football stadium almost every day. Their list of contributions, like Chevrolet, runs deep.
But perhaps their most long-lasting contribution occurred last spring when the family and the City of Louisville partnered to entice Chesapeake Energy, a Fortune 500 Company, to make its local headquarters on the 284 acres of the Beck Road Industrial Park. This means significant investment in land and buildings rumored to be over $100,000,000 as well as hundreds of jobs. Future tax revenues for the local governments will be exciting.
Bill and Barbara have three children, Melissa Seemann, Bill Jeffries and Jenna Jeffries.