ST. ALBANS –– James Guilmette is a big, friendly guy with a big, friendly business motto: “No job is too small.”
Translation: He is not above any task. So just ask.
“And when my work is done, it’s done right,” James said recently, over lunch with his wife, Shanon, in St. Albans. “I don’t cut corners.”
In July 2013, James, 39, opened Guilmette’s Handyman Services, which he runs out of the Swanton home where he and Shanon are currently raising their two children: Carter, 8, and Jillian, 5.
Almost a year later, James, with his solid work ethic, is quite busy, but always willing to take on new clients. He is fully insured and offers free estimates, and the list of services he offers runs the gamut, from interior painting, remodeling and all aspects of flooring, to apartment clean-outs, light electrical work and general home or office repairs.
James’ self-acknowledged specialty, though, is driveway repair and installation – a service he started offering about 20 years ago, through his previous business, New England Landscaping.
“I’ve already worked on so many driveways this year, it’s crazy,” James said. “Some of it is regular maintenance, and some of it is from the winter we just had.”
James is available to residential and commercial customers, and he discusses pay – by the hour or project – individually, with each one. He is building a steady base of regulars.
“I have people calling me back,” he said.
A Swanton native, James graduated from Missisquoi Valley Union High School, where he earned a certificate from the school’s reputable horticulture program. Right out of high school, he started building his on-the-side landscaping business, while working a string of full-time jobs.
“During some stretches, I’d work around the clock,” he said.
That included the period in his mid-20s, when he battled and beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. James scheduled work appointments around his daily radiation treatments in Burlington and has been cancer-free since 2001. He and Shanon, a federal government employee, married three years later.
James absorbed many lessons from having cancer, but slowing down wasn’t one of them, and he’s good with that. He likes – and lives – to be busy.
From 1999 until last year, James held full-time work, while building his business on the side. Leaping to working for himself has excited him.
“I wasn’t going to, but it all just exploded,” he said. “It was either turn down the work that was being offered to me – the work I wanted to do – or make the other choice. I learned at a young age that there isn’t a lot of room for ‘no.’”