Nevada company celebrates 25-year mark with a ribbon-cutting ceremony

Marlys Barker, Editor
Pictured are JCG Land Services founders (from left), Jay Walton, Carrol McCracken and Gene Asklof. Photo by Marlys Barker

Twenty-five years ago, three guys — Jay Walton, Carrol McCracken and Gene Asklof — put the first initials of their names together, borrowed some money and set off to develop a business, not knowing exactly how it would all turn out.

“We were focused on going paycheck to paycheck (back then),” Walton admitted, as he looked around at the front room of the business’s South G location in Nevada at all the employees, Chamber members, family and friends who had gathered to celebrate the business’s 25-year milestone.

“We (the three founders) started this for a job for ourselves, but now it supports 60-plus families across Iowa,” said McCracken.

JCG Land Services, Inc., as Walton describes it, is a business that gets involved in projects all over the state and Midwest. “Any time private property is needed for a public improvement project … involving easements… we come in and become the liaison… We make sure everyone understands the procedures… We serve two interests at the same time.”

To do the work they do, McCracken said, “we have to be engineers, farmers, attorneys and (jokingly) therapists … there is not a degree for this type of work.”

JCG has done business at its South G location, across from Story Medical Center, for 19 years. It also has office space in the old Smitty’s Grocery Store building on Sixth Street in Nevada, and it operates offices in three other Iowa communities: Leon, Cedar Rapids and Urbandale. The company does work in 13 states. In Nevada, the company employs around 26.

The business started with its main office in Ankeny and came to Nevada in 2000. “When we first started, we needed to look at the concentration of where most of our projects were. We thought Des Moines was key (for location),” Walton said. But, it soon became apparent that projects were going to happen all over the place, and being in the greater Des Moines-metro area wasn’t necessary, so they came to Story County, where they were closer to their homes.

Last Thursday afternoon, McCracken spoke at the gathering they held prior to cutting a ceremonial ribbon. He shared that the 25-year milestone was “quite an accomplishment” for the business and thanked people like Steve McGill, president of State Bank & Trust in Nevada, for loaning them money to get it all started. Many, he said, “thought there was no money to be made in right-of-way … but we’re larger now than the (engineering) firm we (the founders) came from.”

McCracken commended their employees. “Without them, we could not do our work,” he said. Finally, he shared his belief that the work this company, which has a quiet existence in Nevada, does, when you look at the big picture, “helps improve people’s lives.”