Jim grew up in Kentucky and was not afraid to tell you his childhood was like the school of hard knocks and nothing was ever given to him. I met Jim in 1996. He had been working for a company based in Kentucky and wanted to open his own business in Florida. By this time, Jim had over 30 years of experience in construction and said it was time he worked for himself. I was eager to learn what he had up his sleeve. The first attempt was a bust but that didn’t stop Jim. He regrouped and in 1999, he opened James L Davis, Inc. Once he got his company up and running successfully, he recruited me to come work for him as a project manager. I was petrified but decided to take on the challenge. I remember interviewing with him and his son and them both telling me, you already “know the business” you can learn the rest. To quote Jim; “don’t worry kiddo, we will help you”. 15 years later he put me in charge of running his company when he lost his late wife, Diana and needed to take a break. We would speak often and when I would ask him how he was coping, he would say “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in”! During the years working for him, he would always call in when traveling and wanted to speak with me. He would say “hey kiddo, you have the wagons circled so they can’t get us”? I’d say yep we are good for another day Jim, and he would always end his phone call with “you know what I know”. He had so many stories about his life and loved to tell them to whoever would listen. After I started traveling with him on many trips, I could almost tell those same stories word for word. There was a running joke between our design team and me when we traveled with Jim. He would insist on driving every time and after a few close calls, none of us wanted to sit in the front seat! So instead of calling shot gun like we did as kids for the front seat, you would hear us call “I have the back seat”! Jim would slowly veer over to the sideline and hit “those bumps that are there to alert you”, we all would jump and he would laugh and say “just making sure you all are awake”. Jim was a very generous, kind, and caring man. He was like a father figure to me. In the 20+ years knowing him and working for him, he was by my side through so many life changing moments. One I will never forget is the day I received a call; my mother had passed away. He saw me about to crumble and hugged me tight and said, it’s going to be okay, she is in a better place now. Jim was my mentor. That first year working for him, I would walk into his office and say “I have a question on these drawings, can you explain to help me understand”? He would stop what he was doing and explain it to me. Without him nudging me to take this job, take courses to learn how to read drawings, learn how to put together a budget/estimate, take the test to get my GC license, I wouldn’t be where I am today, running my own business. Jim passed away on August 21, 2022, just shy of his 75 th birthday.
Respectively written by Tracy L Donovan