At 5 years old, James Tucker would diligently follow his stepfather, Jeff Tabor, from home-repair job to home-repair job throughout the Jackson metro. Seeing Tucker’s eagerness to help out, Tabor let him assist in whatever small ways he could. Tucker ran back and forth across job sites retrieving whatever small items he could carry for his stepfather and even tried his hand at sanding down wooden surfaces with a small piece of sandpaper.
When he got tired, Tucker pulled up a metal bucket and set it up in a spot he could sit and watch Tabor work until he caught his breath. His choice of seating earned him the nickname “Bucket Boy” from Tabor and other workers present at various jobs.
Home repair is an industry Tucker’s family has had careers in for decades, starting with his grandfather, Jim Tucker, who operated his own business called Great Painting out of Jackson during the 1970s. Tucker’s biological father, Chris Tucker, followed in his own father’s footsteps as a self-employed painter.
James Tucker often spent his summers visiting his father Chris, who lived in Vicksburg at the time, and helped him with his home-repair work as well. When Tucker entered second grade, he decided to move in with his father in order to spend more time with him. Over time Tucker took on more complex tasks such as painting or working with shingles whenever he visited one of his father’s job sites after school.
This background inspired Tucker to eventually open his own Jackson-based home repair business, J & T Home Remodel & Repair, in 2020. However, before he took the plunge into self-employment and carrying on the family business, Tucker actually spent a number of years trying to move away from it all and go in a different direction.
Life on a Riverboat
After graduating from Vicksburg High School Tucker initially took a job as a house painter with Bragg Drywall, a Madison-based paint and drywall company. He only remained in the position for a year before he decided to take a dramatic departure from the family tradition of home-repair work and take a job with Ergon Marine and Industrial Supply in Vicksburg, working as a deckhand on a riverboat called the Synergy.
“At the time I just thought that I wanted to take a different course in my life from the rest of my family,” Tucker told the Mississippi Free Press. “I didn’t see myself starting my own business when I was 20 years old and was thinking more about pursuing future retirement and a 401K rather than working in home repair.”
As a deckhand on the Synergy, Tucker helped tow supplies out to other boats going up or down the Mississippi River through Vicksburg, such as groceries, grain, oil or toiletries. He and the rest of the crew pulled up alongside boats and unloaded pallets filled with items that Ergon brought in via truck from across the state. The Synergy’s crew also did search-and-rescue work for damaged or sinking ships around Vicksburg. After five years of working as a deckhand, Ergon promoted Tucker to captain of another riverboat called the Big Valley 379.
Though he had been trying to distance himself from the industry he watched his relatives pursue during his time with Ergon, Tucker still found himself spending his days off doing home-repair odd jobs in and around Vicksburg with the help of local relatives who worked in construction. After six years with Ergon, Tucker determined he wanted to open his own home-repair business after all.
“I found that meeting new people and fixing things for them under my own banner just felt good,” Tucker says. “Being out there independently doing repair work made me long for the freedom that only being my own boss could bring.”
Tucker primarily serves the Jackson metro and Meridian through J & T Home Remodel & Repair. His business offers home-repair services such as rotten-wood repair, fence construction and repair, painting, sheetrock repair, flooring installation and restoration, and more. Flooring and wood repair is particularly in demand in the metro, Tucker says, to the point that he says many of his customers now associate the sight of his truck with floor remodeling and repairs.
“I might get three or four fence jobs a year, but wood repair for people’s houses is just something you constantly hear about around here,” Tucker says. “I love watching what I do for people come together for them whatever it may be, though. It feels good to be able to get up every day and enjoy going into work.”
Tucker lives in Byram together with his wife, Tamera Tucker.
For more information on J & T Home Remodel & Repair, call 601-451-2442.