Nick Paolella started Jon-Don in 1978 with his nephew, John Paolella. Over the years Jon-Don, Inc. has grown into a national company with multiple locations and hundreds of employees. Nick lives in Medinah, Illinois with his wife, Judy.
Now let Nick tell you the rest of the story …
I never dreamed of winding up as one of the owners of Jon-Don, Inc. In fact, I thought I was going to spend my life building roads and bridges as a construction manager. But then in 1972 I was out of a job but bound by a one year non-compete contract to not work in the construction industry. So what to do …
By chance, my next door neighbor owned a business manufacturing cleaning equipment so he hired me as a salesman. Since I was totally ignorant about selling he insisted I attend a sales training course. So I grudgingly enrolled in a program started by some guy I had never heard of by the name of “Dale Carnegie”.
The principles taught in the Dale Carnegie course changed my life and caused me to fall in love with the sales profession. I never went back to heavy construction building roads. Instead, I started constructing something very different. I began “building” close professional and personal relationships, many of which I am proud to say have endured to this day.
A few years later my cousin John came to work at the same company and our relationship grew into being more than just relatives- we became close friends and we still are.
Now in the mid 1970’s as I called on small distributors scattered over three states I noticed that each served a small pocket of their cleaning customers but there was no national company taking care of the other carpet cleaners out there. So against all odds and against a lot of warnings from people supposedly smarter than me- I decided to start serving all carpet cleaners.
I went to my cousin John, who at the time was 21 years old, sat down at his kitchen table and said, “I’m going to go in to business for myself and I’m thinking about taking you on as a partner.” Without even asking what we were going to do he replied, “I’m in!” And John still is “in” as a loyal partner and friend.
John and I started Jon-Don on June 15, 1978 with just a hand-shake. All we wanted to do was “make a living” for the two of us. As it turned out we’ve “made a living” for quite a few people! I’ve always tried to follow my father’s advice “Always surround your self with people much smarter than you and you’ll find out just how smart you can be!” (In my case it has been fairly easy to find people “smarter than me”!)
One thing we tried to do at Jon-Don right from the beginning was learn from the mistakes of our previous employer. He had every perk and benefit imaginable and enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. But his employees had nothing! So John and I decided our goal was for our employees to have everything we wanted when we were working for someone else. And evidently our people appreciate this philosophy because many of our original employees are still with us.
I’ve always said, “Avoid doing business with your friends but work very hard at making friends out of the people you do business with!” And I sincerely hope you will let Jon-Don and I continue this philosophy with you as our valued customer … and friend! Nick
NOTE: On February 17, 2022 ‘Papa Nick’ Paolella passed away peacefully after a battle with COVID-19 and double pneumonia. He was 86 years young. Over his 50 year career in our industry Nick was a friend, mentor and an inspiration to many. Without Papa Nick’s vision and passion Strategies for Success would not have transformed thousands of cleaning and restoration businesses. THANK YOU, Nick! Steve Toburen