Patricia Jones
Steve Jones Patricia Jones

Patricia Jones knew little more than how to identify left- and right-hand doors when she and husband Randall Jones opened Jones Lumber in July 1989. The couple turned the corner about 10 years ago, and now have a solid, $4 million operation. But lumber isn't all that keeps Jones busy. She's been active on a variety of civic and charity groups. This month, she'll be co-chair of the chamber of commerce's annual barbecue festival, which draws more than 10,000 people over three days. Here's how Jones keeps it all on her plate.

Develop a Focus. "When we came in, we were going to have everything and be all things to all people. ...We didn't know about turns; we thought 'You can't sell an empty wagon.' Our philosophy now is that we can't service all customers. We focus on the type of inventory we need to provide that service."

Track the Numbers. "I look first at inventory in the department. I want to know where there's too much stock or too low a profit. I see if sales of any of our A items have dropped to B or C. We use Activant Eagle for Windows; we upgraded last fall. Its Business Adviser gives me point-of-sales numbers and inventory."

Business With Your Spouse. "We have opposite personalities. We sent our son to where you get tests, and he said 'Mama, I took the tests, and there are two personalities you never should put together: yours and daddy's.' But we're married for 30 years this [past] August."

Is Volunteering Good for Business? "I think it sets a perceived idea of what people think of your business. But does it increase your profits? No. ...You do it because you love people."

–Craig Webb