The Orange County Chamber of Commerce and the Orange County Review are partnering to highlight a Chamber business of the month. Those recognized are Chamber members who demonstrate support for both the Chamber and the community. Each month, a different business (selected by the Chamber) will be featured with a questionnaire designed to give the community some insight into both the business and the individuals responsible for its success.
This month, the Chamber recognizes Jeff Earnhardt and Edward Jones Investments. Jeff is celebrating his 20th anniversary as an advisor with the St. Louis-based financial services firm.
Edward Jones Investments,
118 W. Main Street, Orange
Describe your business.
We identify what’s important to our clients and help them develop a plan—for retirement, college savings, a second home. We specialize in retirement planning but customize a plan for what our clients want.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’ve gotten to build some of the most awesome relationships with families and I wouldn’t have gotten to do that without Edward Jones. I enjoy the social part—the interaction with our clients. That’s the most gratifying. Seeing a relationship start, grow and finding out what’s important and then seeing the end result.
What’s the best thing about being in business in Orange?
It’s got to be the people. People here are great. I love small town. Edward Jones started in a small town, so this is the perfect model. Old town, Main Street fits our model to a T.
What brought you to the area?
I graduated from JMU in 1994 and at 22 was hired to be the town administrator in Gordonsville. I worked there four years and opened an IRA account at the Edward Jones office in Culpeper and the advisor there said, “I think you’d be good at what I do.”
What’s next for the business?
We bought this building five or six years ago and have completely redone it. I can see myself here another 20 years, at least. This is one of the hardest jobs to retire from because you build such relationships with customers. It’s about doing something you really love and I love what I do. I’m fortunate to be able to say that and mean it.
What did you want to be when you grew up and what was your first job?
Originally, I wanted to go into accounting, but I changed to public administration and finance. My first job? Burger King at 16, making $3.35 an hour. Later, a buddy of mine and I started a lawn cutting and landscaping business where we lived in Newport News. We did that about five or six years and had built up a pretty good business.
What’s your hidden talent or
something most folks don’t know about you?
I’ve had two holes-in-one—both on number 15 at Culpeper County Club. One was during the member-guest. That cost me a lot of money that night. I’ve also bowled a 300 game.
Favorite book or movie?
Most of the books I read are business books. I read “Raving Fans,” a book on customer service, about once a year. Favorite movie? Hmmm. I should ask my wife. She’d know right away. I’d say anything with Denzel Washington or Harrison Ford. They’re my favorite actors.
Who is someone you really admire?
My grandfather—97 years old and still alive. He’s the perfect example of a country gentleman. He’s a World War II vet and raised three kids with my grandmother.
If you were a vehicle, what
kind would you be?
1968 Mustang fastback. Timeless and classic.
What’s a perfect weekend look like?
Anything with my two daughters and my wife. Could be the pool, vacation or just at home. If I’m by myself, I’m going to get in a round of golf.
Met anyone famous?
Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Matthews, Cal Ripken. I’m a sports memorabilia collector.
Best business advice you could offer?
I train advisors all the time … what would I say? Whatever you do with business you’ve got to be passionate about what you do and wear it on your sleeve. I know that sounds very “Kumbaya” but I believe it. You’re either in business by default or design.