STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In 2001, John Tardy found himself without a job. Despite 15 years of construction expertise and experience supervising over 700 workers over three companies, his boss closed his business.
“I was offered other jobs, but I told my wife, Jeanine, I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I wanted to work for us,” recalled John.
So Jeanine decided to open JVN Restoration Inc., a Women Business Enterprise (WBE), named after the couple’s three sons, John, Vincent and Nicholas.
“I went through 10 different credit cards. Nobody would give me a loan, because I wasn’t even in business long enough,” added Jeanine. “So, obviously, if I didn’t have a house, I wouldn’t have the business. We would have risked everything.”
When JVN Restoration Inc. opened in February 2002, the business started small: a desk, computer and phone in the Tardy garage, plus a rented space in a warehouse.
The new business specialized in fire and water damage removal, mold remediation, asbestos and lead paint removal, and complete home construction. It was an easy transition for John, who tapped into his vast construction experience. Jeanine, however, put her nursing background aside and learned about the behind-the-scenes intricacies of a completely new field rife with rules, regulations and paperwork. In addition, she pursued all the licenses needed to work in the field.
“My kids were going back to school, and now I had to put 100% effort into making the company succeed,” said Jeanine, the owner. “I had to learn to do it all, from estimating the job, to filing it, and all of the field operations that go along with each project. So, I just called people and asked a lot of questions.”
While the new business had the experience, the next step was to secure work. The duo contacted connections, worked off referrals, and spent time making cold calls.
“We would do anything from soup to nuts. We took anything that we could get, and that’s what built up the company. To this day, we will do a small minor project to a multi-year project,” said John, the senior project manager.
The duo recalled how they received an overnight call after a storm damaged the glass storefront from the JC Penney at the Quaker Bridge Mall in Trenton, N.J. Without hesitation, Jeanine told John to load the truck with plywood and board up the windows. Stemming from that act alone, the couple said that JVN Restoration Inc. still receives projects from the retailer for other locations in the area.
“It’s just about building relationships and working hard at it. A lot of our clients tell us, ‘The reason why we call you all the time is because I know I can go home at night, I know my job will get done, and I don’t have to worry about it,’” said John.
Jeanine laughed, adding: “But it’s a lot of work. It’s been many years now, but we don’t stop working. Even when we go away, we’re working. We’re always on the phone. I guess that’s good for the success of the business.”
It’s those connections and quality workmanship that put the company on the brink of its 20th anniversary next month. The Tottenville business handles between 400 and 600 projects annually, but some noteworthy local jobs include: Gerald Peters and Pandora, both located inside the Staten Island Mall in New Springville; The Boulevard shopping center, New Dorp; South Beach Psychiatric Center, and Staten Island University Hospital’s Ocean Breeze campus.
When exploring the borough, it’s hard not to encounter a JVN Restoration project. That especially holds true on the East Shore, which suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy.
“After Hurricane Sandy, we probably helped over 150 people get back into their house. We also helped a lot of those businesses get back on their feet,” said John.
Jeanine added: “It’s wonderful that we can do that. Hopefully, that’s what we’re there to do, which is to help. And thank God that we’re able to help people. You want to do something. You can’t just sit back. We were out of commission here, too. Our whole warehouse flooded. So, we took the business, we moved operations to the house, and we worked off a generator.”
For their accomplishments, Jeanine and John Tardy are being honored with a Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Award, which they will receive in the Established Businessperson category. The awards — which are presented by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Advance — honor the memory of Louis R. Miller, a businessman and West Brighton resident who was also a community leader.
JVN’s portfolio of work is tremendous, but many will say that the heart and soul of Jeanine and John are just as big, if not bigger. The duo will often make donations — whether it’s labor, services, or contributions — to worthy people, organizations and causes around the borough.
For example, the business was one of several construction companies that assisted in the renovations at the Kruser-Finley House, a Dutch farmhouse in Historic Richmond Town that was built in 1790 and damaged by fire in 2014.
When the historic St. George Theatre was undergoing repairs, JVN was tasked with the project. Coincidentally, Jeanine danced at Mrs. Rosemary’s Dance Studio for the late Rosemary Cappozalo, the founder of the studio and theater. The landmark theater was so grateful for the assistance, it honored the Tardys during its annual Laughs on the Links: Golf, Tennis, & Bocce Outing in 2018.
“We became more involved with them. After that, we became more proactive in going to the theater. It makes you start doing some things that you normally wouldn’t have done on a regular basis,” said Jeanine.
The duo was also honored in 2019 by the JCC of Staten Island for the support of that organization and the Sunrise Day Camp, which is operated by The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island. The camp is the world’s first full-summer day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, provided completely free of charge.
“Along with Michael Caridi, we helped the JCC receive new computers during the pandemic. We donated money toward that. Over the years, we’ve helped them out a lot,” said John.
With nearly 20 years in business, creating an all-encompassing list of those who have benefitted locally from their generosity is difficult.
“We overspend our donations. That much I can tell you. Our budget is blown off the roof,” laughed Jeanine. “John is worse than me in that he can’t say no. I tell him we need to go over this because he just says yes to everything.”
John explained: “It’s all about giving back to the community. I believe in karma. If I can do it, I’ll do it. Even if I couldn’t, I’d still try and do something. And that’s how we are.”
Many will say a key to a long marriage is believing in and trusting your spouse. But, for Jeanine and John Tardy, they prove the same can be said for a solid and successful business.
It’s that admiration and respect for each other that could explain why the couple has been married for 34 years and is ready to celebrate 20 years together at JVN Restoration Inc.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for her,” said John.
Jeanine added: “We work well together. We argue and fight here, but we don’t take it home. That’s why we’ve lasted so long. If it wasn’t for all of my hard-working, dedicated employees and great teamwork, JVN Restoration Inc. would not be celebrating our 20th year anniversary.”
Recipients of the Louis R. Miller Awards are recognized as effective business leaders and for their outstanding contributions to the local community. Awards are given out in four categories: Emerging, Established, Master, and Not-For-Profit. The honorees will be recognized during the annual Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Awards Breakfast on Wednesday, Feb. 16. For tickets, visit www.sichamber.com or call the Chamber at 718-727-1900.
Current occupation and title: Jeanine Tardy, owner of JVN Restoration Inc.; John Tardy, senior project manager of JVN Restoration Inc.
Hometown: Pleasant Plains
Community involvement: The Environmental Contractors Association; the Bucks Business Network; Staten Island Economic Development Corp.; Staten Island Chamber of Commerce; Jewish Community Center; Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund; YMCA; Northwell Health
Some of my life goals include: To be young enough to retire to enjoy life together and travel with family and friends.
The best part of my job: Helping everyone in a favorable way.
The most difficult part of my job: When disaster strikes and people are devastated, trying to convince them that things will get better.
My life philosophy: It is what it is, stay positive and deal with it.
I am most proud of: Our family and the growth of JVN Restoration Inc., one of the largest WBE environmental companies in New York.
The quality I like best about myself: Always trying to find the positive side of people.
Personal interests and hobbies: Playing golf together and traveling.
I laugh at: When my family gets together and how the grandchildren bring out the best in them.
I am really good at: Trying to find solutions to everyday problems.
I admire: When people can actually communicate verbally and not be stuck in their phone.