Young Woman in a Hurry

Jody Burton

by James A. Bacon

Two years ago, Jody Burton purchased a used F-150 pick-up truck for $1,200. The old guy she bought it from seemed to have done a good job of maintaining it, so she figured it would hold up pretty well. Next, she ran a couple of ads in the paper. Bingo, she was in the hauling and disposal business.

“I will haul anything,” declares the pint-sized woman with long, braided hair. With the help of a two-man crew to do the heavy lifting, she started cleaning out attics and garages. Soon she discovered that that she could generate steadier business by forging relationships — with real estate agents seeking to spiff up houses for sale and with home improvement contractors doing renovations that generated loads of debris.

Burton’s up-from-the-bootstraps business received a boost early this year when she received a SEED grant (Supporting East End Entrepreneurship Development) from the Bon Secours Richmond Health System. She used the money to increase her working capital so she didn’t have to live hand-to-mouth between payments from her customers, and to create marketing materials like a website and fliers.

Now, benefiting from a second SEED grant — part of $57,000 dispensed to seven east-end businesses — Burton plans to buy a F350 truck with a dump bed that she can use to haul debris. No more truck rentals. There are some good deals on the market right now, she says. It’s a good time to buy a used truck.

The 25-year-old whirlwind is a born entrepreneur. “I was never comfortable with the idea of working 40 hours a week for somebody else,” she says. She remembers her first job with dismay: She made only $13,000 a year — before taxes. She concluded that the way to make more money was to become the head of her own company. “If you can visualize something,” she says, “you can make it happen.”

Entrepreneurial roots run deep in Burton’s family. Previous generations owned a hog farm in Henrico County and ran a trash-hauling business back in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, an era of rigid segregation in Virginia when opportunities for African-Americans were scarce. Her mother grew up on land that was sold to the developers of the Regency Mall in Richmond’s near West End. “If they could do it (own their own businesses) back then, there’s no reason I can’t find a way to make my own money.”

Burton is not married and has no children. She gives her unrelenting focus to her business. J. Burton Hauling and Disposal, and to self improvement. With a high school diploma and a junior college degree from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, she is now studying at night through the Turner School of Construction Management.

She’s always thinking ahead to the next step in growing her business, she says. Right now, she’s concentrating on building strong relationships in the construction business — taking on small jobs and proving herself in the hope of winning bigger jobs in the future. “It’s all about who you know.”

Burton hopes in time to move up the scale to big, commercial construction jobs. She is quietly confident that she will — and anyone meeting her probably will feel the same. “When preparation meets opportunity,” she says, “it’s bound for success.”

Bon Secours of Virginia Health System is a sponsor of Bacon’s Rebellion.

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13 responses to “Young Woman in a Hurry”

  1. but wait! DJ, Romney/Ryan sez there are “takers” and “parasites” who want welfare and unemployment not work much less entrepreneurship.

    this is obviously an evil plot by that RINO Bacon.


    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Have you been drinking again during the day, Larry? Whoever said entrepreneurship wouldn’t work?

      Ms. Burton seems very capable. Her understanding of how to find business is quite insightful.

      Come back in 10 years when she owns scores of F-350s and explain to her how it was the government which created her business.

      She may think it was a small grant from a charity and a lot of hard work.

    2. Ms. Burton comes from a family of hard working women and men. She was destined to strike out on her own and to do well at whatever she set her sites on. Congratulations young lady, may you continue to prosper!

  2. I think you missed the point DJ. WHO do you think SHE.. VOTED FOR!

    do you think she voted for the party that gives her “stuff” and that she has ever used government entitlements in her life?

    I’m betting that she has been a recipient of “free stuff” – and I’m also betting that she is likely not in the tiny percent of blacks that voted for Romney.

    what do you think?

  3. Larry, you’re walking on thin ice. I’d suggest that you very gingerly start backing up before the ice cracks under you.

    95% of African Americans voted for Obama. Ms. Burton is African American. Ergo, knowing nothing else about her, the odds are 19 out of 20 that she voted for Obama. So far, so good. That’s simple arithmetic. But what’s this about her “not being in the tiny percentage of blacks that voted for Romney”? How could you possibly know one way or the other? What stereotypes are you are bringing to bear here?

    And what’s all this about “free stuff”? What grounds do you have for assuming that she has been a recipient of “free stuff”? There is nothing in the story to indicate one way or another. What forms the basis for your hunch? Would you care to illuminate your assumptions?

    This was a story about an ambitious young woman with big dreams and a strong work ethic. That’s all it was.

    It would be very interesting to interview Ms. Burton about her views on Obama, the welfare state and race relations in America. Until someone does so, however, I think it would be unwise to speculate, based upon her race, what those views might be.

  4. Jim – it’s the GOP narrative – that promotes the perception that because blacks vote for Obama that they are all “takers”.

    Dollars to donuts this women seriously resents the GOP message that seems to be thrown at all blacks as a group because they vote for Obama for “free stuff”.

    The GOP has a similar problem with LATINOs when they leave the impression that way too many LATINOS are “illegals” or have “anchor kids”, etc.

    The GOP’s ham-fisted approach to minorities does not even acknowledge that there are folks like this lady.

    I encourage you to interview her… not because I think she is an Obama-supporter but because it would illustrate how people the GOP promotes as “takers” are not necessarily so.

    If the GOP wants to win their share of minorities, they’ll have to stop their “takers” and “illegals” narrative and get to a more positive message – and acknowledge and recognize folks like this lady.

    but do the interview… and be complete.. get her life and work history, whether she relied on govt aid, etc… it would be a fascinating interview. Then if it were me, I’d draw the correlation to the GOP’s failed approach to minorities. (but that would be me).


    1. That’s not the GOP narrative. That’s the MSNBC/Democratic Party version of the GOP narrative. It is untrue and it’s offensive.

  5. I agree it’s offensive but it’s the truth. How else can you explain the GOPs inability to attract minority votes?

    Jim – have you been listening to the voices in the GOP when it comes to “takers” and “illegals”?

    this does not come form MSNBC… it comes from voices in the GOP itself.

    Have you heard the GOP talk about Obama being a Kenyan Muslim or “lazy” or not born in this country?

    You may not “hear” this. I do not know why you do not but I can assure you the people who are the target of those voices do hear it and they showed up at election.

    1. I read widely and I do not encounter such talk anywhere except, occasionally, in the comments sections of blogs. Those voices do not represent the mainstream of the GOP any more than, say, the African Americans who tweeted (as a number of them did) that they would start riots if Romney beated Obama represents the mainstream of liberal, Democratic or even African-American thinking.

      How else can I explain the GOP’s inability to attract minority votes? Because Democrats yell “racist, racist, racist” every chance they get — and they have the bigger megaphones.

      1. Jim – the “tweets” you mention did not come from the Democratic Party. The “voices” DID come from the GOP – from folks like Sununu and others.. and from FAUX and talk radio.. and to blacks and Latinos – they feared that these people would be formulating administration policy.

        I think you have a huge blind spot guy. Blaming the loss of Latino and Black votes on the Dem’s is insulting to minorities – as if they
        can’t think and decide for themselves. You want to talk about “offensive” – THAT’s offense guy.

        Until folks like you understand this and get on the GOP about it, the GOP is doomed with respect to minorities.

        I say this with all respect – seriously.

        When you discount the minorities own ability to make reasoned decisions based on what they hear from BOTH parties – you really do insult them.

        In Va, no one demonized Allen – not Kaine and not Obama but Allen got 10% of the black vote. How do you explain that?

  6. Let me back up one step. You tell me why blacks and Hispanics voted in such huge numbers for one party and not the other.

    George Allen got less than 10% of the black vote in Virginia.

    why do you think that is?

  7. DJRippert Avatar

    LarryG – Take off your tinfoil hat for a moment. I live in the most diverse region of the state. When I talk about “makers” vs “takers” it’s NoVa (and, often, Tidewater) vs elsewhere. Help me understand how this has anything to do with race. My very diverse neighbors and I are the people who generate the surplus. Your less diverse neighbors and you are the people who consume it.

    If I really were a racist, I guess I’d move from the county where I have lived my whole life (63% white) to the county where you live (83% white). Instead, I believe that WE in NoVa are providing a surplus that you spend.

    The election is over, LarryG. You can stop falsely accusing everybody who disagrees with you of being a racist for another 3 to 3 1/2 years.

  8. DJ you might think in terms of regional “takers” and “makers” but that not what the GOP narrative is perceived to be in Va. The GOP was lucky to get 10% of blacks in Va – why?

    My purpose in writing this is to make a plea that the GOP needs to stop it’s “maker and taker” narrative that is a toxic de-facto class war that will continue to drive away minorities from voting for the GOP.

    I’m not accusing anyone of anything “now that the election is over” but I deeply resent the fact that the Republican Party ended up positioned in such a way that a significant part of America is either afraid or not trusting of them and that’s a loss for the country because we need both parties to be equally competitive in attracting minorities.

    I’ll vote again for the GOP when they return to their fiscal conservative roots and propose budgets that pass the smell test AND when they get in the game for attracting minorities to their party. I want to see black and hispanic faces when they stand up in a Congressional news conference to lobby for or against passage of legislation. I want to hear a lady like this one articulate the GOP message on entrepreneurship and personal responsibility. I want her to be a GOP role model for kids growing up in urban areas.

    I remember the days in Virginia when BOTH the political parties were full of racists and closet racists and it was bad for Virginia and now I fear the GOP has overt and closet racists in their ranks …or lets say this ….the minorities perceive it so – and the result is the GOP is basically lily white with a few notable examples to contrary.

    When George Allen gets 10% of the black vote in Va – something is bad wrong …. and you cannot dismiss it by saying that the Dems were shouting “racist” any more than one could conclude that people did not vote for Obama because the right was calling him a “socialist”.

    People are smarter than that – no matter their color and ethnicity.

    I speculated at the top – and I could be totally wrong – but I speculated that this entrepreneurial lady who should have by all rights align with the party that loudly proclaims it supports “makers” but I speculated that she may well not align with the GOP.

    Bacon said I was on thin ice for saying that. He’s probably right and maybe I’ll have to take my words back.

    I have absolutely no evidence at all to speculate what I did but in looking at her .. she just did not look like a face that would be welcome
    in the Republican party these days.

    I want both parties to compete equally the minorities and get past this damn culture/class war where the perception is race alone makes you a “taker” in some folks eyes and in the GOPs eyes – as a perception. It’s wrong. The GOP needs to stand strong against it and the proof of their efforts will be not what they say they are doing – but actual votes in elections.

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