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Our Founders Story

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

From humble beginnings to where we are today....

Photos of JR Landworks heavy machinery used for  forestry mulching and land clearing.

Since I was a young man, maybe even a toddler, I was enamored with tractors, “backhoes” and “bull dozers.” I amassed quite the collection of toys and models. Most of which would be found shaping dirt behind the house or excavating for sandcastles on family beach trips. My parents generously supported that passion. Later we’d frequent construction sites over the weekends where I was in awe at the size and power of the real equipment compared to my toys. Years went by, I learned more about the technical names and uses for each machine on these jobsites. By now I was in middle school and I was immersed in the Boy Scouts, spending my free time on hikes, or camping trips in the forests of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. (I eventually attained the rank of Eagle Scout.) It was while working on my Forestry Merit Badge that my father taught when my secondary interest of trees and forests came to be. I was amazed at the natural beauty and grandeur of individual trees and fascinated by the roles and benefits healthy forests provide us.

These two interests - machinery and nature finally connected in my high school years. My younger brother, Ross and I fell in love with ATV riding, as most young men do. We were fortunate to have my grandparents farm in Fredericksburg Virginia with hundreds of acres of riding potential. Unfortunately, there were no existing trails to be had. We would work tirelessly cutting trees, dragging brush, and chopping briars – all by hand to make our trails. It didn't take long; laboring and sweating in humid, Virginia summers, enduring constant swarms of mosquitoes, ticks, and occasionally snakes to start dreaming about an easier way to clear these trails. Finally, in my freshman year of high school I found our saving grace advertised in the Tree Care Industry magazine. It was the FECON Bullhog Forestry Mulcher – an attachment for a “Bobcat” that can quickly clear trees and brush while you sit protected away from the bugs in an air-conditioned cab! It was the perfect tool for us and couldn’t others in Virginia use this marvel too? You see, I had an entrepreneurial spirit in me since age 5. I was always finding ways to make money on my own, from pet sitting, to grass mowing, to welding. (I taught myself how to weld.) Looking back, it is comical to see all the old flyers and business cards I made, advertising a variety of my services.

JR Landworks in Northern Virginia - photo of a young Jonathan Baigis using a bobcat to clear land.

However, seeing the forestry mulcher in a magazine and having my own was two different things. For the next four years my time was devoted to researching as much as I could, learning more about the industry, and procuring the necessary support equipment, a truck and a trailer. I started working summers for a local tree company; Donegan’s Tree Service, where I learned even more about trees, business, and saw firsthand there was a need for forestry mulching in the local market. The owner, Jim Donegan, took an interest in me. He took me under his wing and taught me much about running a business. To this day he is still a friend and mentor to me and I owe a lot of my success to Jim.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school, I made the commitment to attend college and lucky for me Virginia Tech had the best forestry program in the country at the time. I applied and was accepted. Funny how life works. At this point my parents could see my commitment to this endeavor and passion for the industry. I was gaining traction. I began classes at VT in Blacksburg Virginia in 2010. During semester breaks I had a full schedule of side jobs using my dad’s small John Deere tractor to bush hog lots, grade driveways and cut down trees. In the summers and spring breaks I would work for Donegan’s and Ross and I would plow driveways in the winter. In between, I would find any industry tradeshow or expo to attend in order to learn even more, network, and looking at the brand-new machines was always fun too.

Then the fateful day finally came, in 2011, on eBay I found a used Terex PT100 Forestry Mulcher unit located in the same time zone for a reasonable price. That same day, I listed and sold that little John Deere tractor of my dad’s and had a buyer coming to get it that evening, unbeknownst to my dad. He was certainly surprised but supportive when I told him I sold his tractor out from under him. With the tractor proceeds and money I had saved and a small inheritance from my grandmother, I made an offer on the Terex machine and they accepted it much to my surprise and excitement. I was overjoyed but also incredibly nervous. It was real now!

Officially, I started the LLC in 2011 and graduated right on time in May of 2013 with an Urban Forestry degree from Virginia Tech. My brother, Ross (also an Eagle Scout now), was graduating high school at the time and It seemed like a natural progression for the both of us that he would assist me on this new business venture. With the help of friends, family, Jim Donegan, and a strong work ethic instilled by my parents, we quickly grew! We were able to keep the Terex busy on small projects, as larger opportunities were presented to us, we bought new machines and larger equipment, always remembering the clients that trusted and believed in us from the start. They remain today some of our most loyal clients and supporters.

The JR Landworks team shown in this photo beside their truck and land clearing equipment.

It has been an incredible journey with a lot of learning, fear, failure, and growth along the way. Now, years later with an advanced fleet of specialized equipment, a vast knowledge base and an incredible team, we are excited and experienced to tackle any land clearing, forestry mulching or land management project you may have.

We look forward to exceeding your expectations.

Jonathan Baigis



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