Originally, Emmalee Legler was hired to focus on marketing, communications and business development for Sarasota-based Jon F. Swift Construction. But since Legler started with the commercial contractor in 2015, her role has evolved.
Legler saw an opportunity on the operations side of the business, so she seized it, asking if she could split her time between business development and operations. Now she’s the firm’s director of marketing and operations. “One of the best ways I describe my job is I do everything I can to support my team to build the buildings,” she says.
Legler’s role includes putting together request for proposal responses, developing a marketing strategy and guiding strategic planning. “Ultimately, in my experience, if you are doing marketing, business development and communications, and you are taking darts and throwing them at a dart board, you’re not going to be nearly as successful as if you had a plan to get the dart to the center of the board,” she says. “The goals have to be measurable and have a timetable on them. We meet monthly to say, ‘How are we doing associated with our goals?’”
The 16 full-time staff members at Jon F. Swift Construction help the company complete a variety of projects, from schools and commercial buildings to street improvement projects and public parks. “We’re small and nimble enough that if there’s something that creates efficiency — a change in strategy, a new program or hiring people — our leadership team is open to it,” Legler says.
The company has worked on many prominent projects in town recently, among them Siesta Key Beach amenities, the St. Armands Circle parking garage and several schools, from Fruitville Elementary School to Booker High School.
“I enjoy coming to work every single day,” Legler says. “We build landmarks for people, and we build buildings that impact people in our community,” she says. “To build these monumental projects in our community is such an accomplishment to me.”
ON THE RECORD: Emmalee Legler
City of residence: Sarasota
Employer: Jon F. Swift Construction
Title: Director of Marketing and Operations
Birthplace: Key West
Years on the Gulf Coast: Seven
Marital status/children: Married with two girls, a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old
Alma mater/degree: Stetson University: Bachelor or Arts in communication studies; USF St. Petersburg: Master of Arts in journalism and media studies
Where is the best place to network? Non-networking events — fundraising events, small group gatherings, etc.
What's the best business lesson you've ever learned? Failure is not fatal. Trying something, taking a risk and failing gives you an opportunity to learn and try something new. I truly believe that success is built on a mountain on failures, so the only way you will continually achieve success is trying things that may not always work.
What's your top tip for being productive? Start your day with something that focuses your mind — working out, meditating, etc. — and then organize your to-do list every morning before starting into your task list.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Opening act for Busta Rhymes concert
What community group or organization are you most involved with? The Florida Center for Early Childhood
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Strategic marketing and communications for local businesses
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Spending time with my family and friends. I also really enjoy CycleBar.
What's your favorite board game or video game? Jenga
What's the top item on your bucket list? Go on a tour of castles in Ireland
Where is your happy place? Anywhere my kids are laughing. Their laughs bring a smile to my face.
What's your favorite podcast? "The Dave Ramsey Show"
Who/what is your favorite musical artist/band? Foo Fighters
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Isla Fisher
What was your first album/tape cassette/CD? “The Sign” — Ace of Base
What was your first concert? 98 Degrees
What's one song that will get you out on the dance floor? “Don't Stop Believin’” — Journey
What's your favorite karaoke song? “Mary Jane's Last Dance” — Tom Petty
What instrument/role would you play in a band? Back-up dancer
Please describe yourself in three words. Energetic, outgoing and optimistic