Grit and toughness. Dedication and hard work. What types of people come to mind when you hear those words?

A few that pop into my head: athletes, business owners, builders.

How about the biggest of all – our nation’s military. Veteran business owner Jon Thir embodies all of these qualities and more.

Thir established his Philadelphia-area company, JDT Construction, back in 1993. Prior to this, Thir spent five years proudly serving our country as a rescue swimmer with the U.S. Navy. The lessons he learned during his time with the military have not only made him a stronger person internally, but it instilled a powerful mentality that he uses to help his business succeed.


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Here are a few leadership lessons to inspire you.


Thir started his company with just himself and one other employee doing roofing and siding. Now, boasting over 40 employees, JDT specializes in everything from installation, renovation, repairs, and remodeling throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The catch – Thir had no experience running a business when he decided to open JDT Construction. But he leaned on this one critical skill to help him toward his goal.

“It was a lot of trial and error. What was huge was the communication factor with other colleagues. I asked a lot of questions on how they did it and learned from their mistakes and successes,” explained Thir.

This concept of strong communication carries through to his customer service mantra.

“I communicate with my supervisors to make sure they know how to get job done efficiently. One of the reasons I love being a small business owner because I can control the quality and satisfaction and keep up the communication,” said Thir.

Strong communication is critical not just in the military, or in owning a business, but for being successful at really anything you do.

Entrepreneur has a great list of simple, yet effective ways to improve your communication skills and become a more effective leader:

  • Learn the basics of nonverbal communication.
  • Over-communicate.
  • Ask for honest feedback.
  • Engage your audience.
  • Start and end with key points.
  • Master the art of timing.

In what ways can you improve your communication skills?


This. If you have children, you might be very familiar with this word. However, the discipline that we’re talking about here is a different kind - A kind that Thir experienced in the U.S. Navy and credits as his most powerful lesson that translates into business success.

Thir recounts, “I was in the military for five years. As a rescue swimmer, I had great duty and got to work out and jump out of helicopters. It’s what gave me the discipline that I needed to be able to run a business and run a team. I was ahead of some military squads where I was at. It helped out tremendously.”

As Dwayne Johnson says: “All success begins with self-discipline. It starts with you.”

Having this quality allows you to make important decisions and stick to them, enhances your awareness, and gives you the power to take action. The real difference between a dreamer and a doer is the discipline to transform those dreams into reality. It’s an invaluable attitude that Thir will continue to take pride in.


According to a study by Ajilon, more than 80 percent of workers are either actively looking for a new job or are open to one. Let that sink in for a moment.

Are your employees happy?

For Thir, instilling a true ‘team’ mindset is mission critical for keeping his employees happy.

As he puts it, “you’ve got to be willing to do anything you ask your team to do. From picking up trash to writing a check, to doing accounts payable, etc. It’s nice for them to see that I’m out there snow plowing or shoveling sidewalks with them. Whatever I ask my employees to do, I’m willing to do as well.”

If you’re not willing to jump in and help out your team in any way possible, you’re not embodying what it means to be a true leader.

Thir goes on to explain how he also likes to let his staff know he cares by doing a little extra for them when he can.

“I’ll come in early and cook everyone breakfast occasionally. We also have a happy hour every two weeks. You have to let them know they matter, because who would I be without them? I’m no one without my employees, and if you don’t have good people working for you, it’s not even worth doing,” said Thir.

Treating your employees right doesn’t have to break your small business bank. But a little does go a long way.

With efficient communication, discipline, and teamwork skills, Thir has been able to take these powerful lessons from his time in the military to operate a successful company.

To learn more about JDT Construction, click here.

Oh yeah, did we mention JDT Construction is a PrimePay client?

Here’s a bit about what Thir has to say about using our services:

“PrimePay has taken the burden of the payroll off of our office staff which has helped tremendously. They house all our information. They help us on board all our new employees. It's been a great resource to help minimize what we need to do in our office.”

Want to join the PrimePay family? Learn more about our online payroll services.