“Veronica, I have an extra straw for a huge margarita. Call me.” With those words, Greaves Construction was born. Well, sort of. Jon Greaves put a classified ad with that text in the University of South Florida’s newspaper, the Oracle, for the classmate he recently shared tacos and, yes, a huge margarita with — his now wife, Ronnie.
“I didn’t even know it for weeks,” she says. “I never looked at the classified section!” Greaves founded his eponymous construction company in 1986, shortly after graduating from USF. There was just one problem; he and Ronnie were broke. She provided the solution in the form of her student loan money, which they put toward the first Greaves Construction van, nicknamed “Smiley” for the two windows and bent bumper on its back end that resembled a face. “One of my very first projects was a two-story addition over a pool,” Greaves says. “Then it was just word of mouth. Still to this day we’re proudly 90 percent referral-based.”
Today, Jon and Ronnie are preparing to pass the company on to the next generation: their son, Will. The younger Greaves spent his summers doing labor for the company during college, spending a few years in sales post-graduation and eventually returning to Tampa to work his way into a production manager role. “My dad basically came to me one day and said, if you don’t come learn how to take this thing over one day, I’m going to have to sell it,” Greaves recalls. “I said, ‘OK, I don’t want that to happen,’ so I moved back up.” “Will is very bright, and we have full confidence that he’s going to do just fine at this,” Ronnie Greaves says. “I think Will’s got big plans for this company. I know he’s got a headful of things he’d like to do.”
While the company is experienced in green home renovations and installing smart home technologies, Greaves focuses heavily on universal design, or projects that make homes more accessible. The company is designated by the National Association of Home Builders as a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist for its ability to make spaces livable for all. They frequently partner with charities like Wheelchairs 4 Kids to help build ramps and create more open spaces in the homes of low-income kids and families dealing with a disability. “Whether someone is ill or handicapped or is older, everyone needs modifications to work,” Jon Greaves says. “We are certified to build so everybody can use the space.”