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Every time the fire station bell sounds, Jeffery Sealey and his crew have to be ready for anything. The morning they were dispatched to rescue Margaret Smith and her two toddlers from their burning home was no different. Arriving on the scene, Sealey delivered the two children into the hands of his colleagues through a bathroom window and carried Smith, unconscious from smoke inhalation, to safety. All of their possessions may have been destroyed, but as a result of Sealey’s bravery and compassion, the Smith family emerged from the hospital a month later with hope for their future.
Little did they know that Sealey would re-enter their lives 12 years later to save them again, this time as a successful real estate investor. Last year, Smith, desperate for an affordable and safe place for her family to live, found J S Enterprises L.L.C., a real estate and construction company owned by Sealey. “We didn’t recognize each other right away,” says Smith, who was reacquainted with Sealey after a friend told her about one of his rental properties. “He saved us twice.”
After 16 years as a firefighter, Sealey has met many families like the Smiths. He began to wonder if these families had made any financial provisions for the unexpected disasters they experienced. Sealey’s interest in property procurement and development would eventually motivate him to pursue it as a viable business opportunity. “Real estate wasn’t something I planned to do. I just tried it out with one house and kept on with it as I experienced more and more success,” he says. He launched J S Enterprises in 1999 using $7,000 in savings to purchase a condemned three-bedroom house and an additional $19,000 to remodel it.
Sealey started the company, then used a portion of its revenue to finance his real estate ventures. Today, with three work crews of five men each, Sealey’s construction company, a subsidiary of J S Enterprises, generates more than $250,000 annually. The real estate portion of his business grossed approximately $425,000 last year and is on track to generate $500,000 this year.
Despite his success, Sealey continues to encounter challenges. Born and raised in the South, the 39-year-old husband, father, and minister is no stranger to the struggles local residents endure while trying to improve their financial position, especially in the areas of homeownership and wealth building. He looked around his Tuscaloosa, Alabama, community and saw great potential for empowering some of the most underserved citizens of his community.
Only four years away from retiring from firefighting, Sealey is working to expand his company beyond the residential market to launch commercial projects. “We have partnered with other black investors to purchase the first local, black-owned hotel in our area,” says Sealey, who is looking into buying several restaurants and eateries as well.
JS Enterprises L.L.C.; 1038 61st St., Tuscaloosa, AL 35405; 205-792-