Sitting in his office, Jamison Humphrey says all he's ever known is being an entrepreneur. On the way to expanding his business, he's learned a lot about the value of hard work, playing it smart and being in the right place at the right time.
Humphrey, 41, says his education came from the School of Hard Knocks, a place he says might even bestow upon him the alumni vice presidency. His parents' dogged work ethic, he said, has encouraged him in the path to building MCP Enterprises to the company it is today.
"I grew up in a time when both parents worked," Humphrey said. "Their work ethic is second to none."
Humphrey's mother and father came from a working class background. That might be why often he finds himself working seven-day weeks in dealing with matters of his business.
"They would never miss a day's work, no matter what," Humphrey said. "That work ethic, I think, has been handed down to me. It started with my grandfather, my dad's father, who was an extremely hard worker in the mine industry. My mom's mother, my grandmother, raised seven children on her own and worked her entire life."
In just a few generations, Humphrey said, his family has risen to what it is today fueled by the efforts of hard work. He started with a water company that, at the age of 19, he took from zero dollars to $500,000 in sales in just a year — with no other employees.
"I have that drive, and I think that came from my mother, my father, my dad's father and my mother's mother," he said. "They were just incredible in what they done and how successful they were coming from nothing and working and working."
He said at one time his mother might be lucky to get two pairs of shoes a year, tennis shoes in the winter and flip-flops for the summer.
"My kids today probably get 50 pair a year." Humphrey said. "I'm just so blessed by what my parents had taught me and instilled in me to get where I am today. To think of my mother, who less than 55 years ago was extremely poor to what my family is today is not because of me, but what they instilled me and the value of a dollar."
When Humphrey's parents instill a value, they apparently do so in a very lasting way. Today, Humphrey's business does work in Ohio and West Virginia.
"I'm a very driven person," he said. "I get a natural high off growing and selling my business. I don't golf well. I do a little bit of deer hunting. I'm not a great fisherman. Most of my stuff revolves around my family and my business. Everything else is just whatever."
Humphrey said being successful in life is hard work. He believes there are three things that will "truly make you successful."
"A is hard work, and I believe I am one of the hardest workers out there, but there may be other hard workers," he explained. "B is smarts. I believe that I am smarter than the average bear, but I'm not the smartest person out there by no means. The third thing is luck, being in the right place at the right time."
So, when MCP was maybe in the wrong place, working with the coal industry at a time when the market "bottom fell out" overnight, it was time for Humphrey to turn to hard work and smarts.
He used the talented work force he had accumulated to begin transitioning some of his business to focus more on the growing natural gas industry.
"It was really just an easy change for us because we saw the growth in natural gas and started to make that transition," Humphrey said.
Humphrey said his company doesn't take on debt. Everything the company buys, from equipment to land to the offices are bought with money the company already has.
"My company is debt-free, and if we hadn't been, I don't think we could have made the transition from the bottom falling of coal mining to the organizing and going after the natural gas. We had the perfect fit," Humphrey said.
Being debt-free was another lesson from his father.
"One of the things that my dad always really taught me was is that he never believed in debt," Humphrey said. "He believed in the bank paying him money instead of him paying the bank money."
He said he wanted to grow on his dollar, not the bank's.
"To me, that is an incredible feat," Humphrey said. "I'd have to give that credit to my father, who early on taught me the value of a dollar. I believe in it. I still believe in it."
That includes a new 130-acre piece of property MCP is developing near Clarksburg. The company is turning it into a development park for the natural gas industry and it will include a warehouse, offices and property for sale or rent.
"There's a lot of work in that area and not a lot of space to store the amount of equipment and material that they need to have on hand. We think we have the answer to that," he said. "In two minutes you can leave our industrial park, be on Route 50 and any direction you go they're drilling wells in every hollow north, south, east and west of the city of Clarksburg."
The company offers what is essentially turnkey service on its buildings from the purchase of the building to the erection of the building and even including maintenance. MCP will excavate a site and provide right-of-way clearing, painting, vegetation control, welding, equipment operation and a number of other services.
"The thing that makes us unique is that you're a company and we can come to you with one company and basically give you a turnkey compressor station building," Humphrey said. "We can excavate the property, dig the footers, pour the concrete, set the steel, sheet the building, run the electric and turn the keys over to you as a fully equipped, done compressor station."
Humphrey doesn't subcontract much with MCP. He said he puts more stock in his own people.
"We believe in the people that we have and think we can do it cheaper than subbing it," Humphrey said. "We take and build it from the ground up, whatever it might be."
Humphrey is originally from Shady Spring, and he's a hard worker who recognizes the value of other hard working West Virginians. He says he wouldn't be where he was today without the "quality, great people" within all parts of his business.
"We pride ourselves on hiring West Virginia people. We've grown hundreds and hundreds of percent in a recession economy," Humphrey said. "We've done this in one of the negative places to run a business — the state of West Virginia. With the rules and regulations, it's not real business friendly, but the people of West Virginia make the difference."
Humphrey said the West Virginia worker is dedicated and loyal in addition to be hard working. He said being from West Virginia himself has also proven an advantage in attracting business from former West Virginians who have left the state.
"Everywhere I go, I run into people that lived here in West Virginia and they always want to do business with other West Virginia people," he said.
Those former West Virginians are spread about the world and Humphrey's like to work with them,
"We love it when other West Virginians give us a chance and we show them that they made the right decision because we're better than the next guy," Humphrey said.
That competitive attitude is a natural fit for Humphrey, who says he sees the same drive in his children. His daughter aspires to model, and his two sons are star athletes, both of whom participate in wrestling and other sports.
"They are really driven. I don't have to push them," he said. "They want to succeed. They want to be the best. They can't stand to lose. When you can't stand to lose, you're going to do whatever it takes to win. I think they get some of that from me. Obviously, I don't want to lose, so I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can so I don't lose."
His wife of 16 years, Jennifer, is another hard worker in the family and a partner in the company. Humphrey describes his wife as the "perfect partner."
"You just couldn't ask for a better relationship, a better partner, a better friend to not only be in business with, but to raise kids with," Humphrey said. "Obviously we don't always agree on everything, but we have so much respect for each other that we can agree to disagree. That's really what is another factor in the success of this company, no doubt, it belongs as much if not more to her than me."