When Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® Franchise Owner/Operator Jacqueline Gathers arrives on inspection day, the people seeking her expertise before committing to what will most likely be the biggest purchase of their lives are focused on having her get down to business, so they don’t ask about her life story and how she came to the industry.
That’s unfortunate, because if they did, they would breathe easy knowing they had hired a gem, personally and professionally. There can’t be many who have overcome what she has to succeed in a field where there are few women, and even fewer minorities. And while she’s happy to be an inspiration, truth be told, she’s even happier building her business.
The road to success: Embracing the journey
“I retired from the New York City Housing Authority after 30 years of service and bought the Pillar To Post franchise with my husband, Joseph, in 2016,” explains Gathers. “He was going to run the business, and I was going to do odds and ends. But he was diagnosed with cancer, and I lost him in 2017. I contacted the company, and they told me I could sell the franchise back. I thought about it, but decided to launch the business myself…and here I am.”
Originally from the Bronx, and a graduate of Fisk University in Tennessee, Gathers lives in Staten Island, working mainly in Brooklyn neighborhoods, inspecting houses, co-ops and condos. One of her children, Timothy, is in the business with her.
“He’s the main inspector,” says Gathers. “I spend a lot of time teaching the home inspection component throughout the nonprofits in New York City and for small real estate groups when they host first-time homebuyer seminars.”
Having first experienced a home inspection as a homebuyer when going through the process with her husband, Gathers notes that she was less than impressed.
“When we first bought our home 20-something years ago and had the inspection done, we didn’t know what to expect,” she admits. “The inspector came, he stood outside, he looked around, he had a clipboard, he wrote a couple of things down. He came in and said he was done. That’s not the way it should go, so my goal is to ensure that first-time homebuyers get a quality home inspection done, and that they understand the process involved.”
Gathers admits that it was hard for her to get started once she decided to make a go of it on her own. She trained with Pillar To Post and was the only female in attendance, though Pillar To Post has several other female business owners. Next was a home inspection course at Baruch College to qualify for state licensing in New York. Pillar To Post provided her with a top-quality approach that continues to serve her well.
“What’s unique about Pillar To Post is that we are there for the client before, during and after the inspection. We always encourage our clients to ask questions about what to expect on the day of the inspection. We like them to be there for it so they can ask questions as we’re moving through the property,” says Gathers.
“When it’s over and they review the report, we encourage them to contact us, and we go over it with them line by line, picture by picture, page by page so they understand everything that happened during the inspection,” she adds. “Afterwards, we archive all our reports, so we continue to have a relationship with clients. They might call us six months later to talk about a renovation project, and we can offer them some ideas and advice.”
Challenges faced as a woman and a minority
When Gathers first started working as a Pillar To Post home inspector, she faced challenges as a Black female. But being able to succeed on merit was never going to be an issue for her, and she loves working with first-time homebuyers.
“Your first home is usually the biggest purchase you’ll make in a lifetime, and you want to be sure the property is in good condition. If it’s not, there must be full transparency. You want to know the issues so you can make an educated decision whether or not to buy. We always tell first-timers that no house is perfect. Cosmetic stuff we don’t care about. It’s the functioning of the main components that’s super-important,” she says.
“We compare a home to the human body,” adds Gathers. “If my nail is broken, I can go to a salon and they can fix it and it’s no issue. But if my heart isn’t working properly, that’s going to affect the way my body operates. It’s the same with a home. We don’t care about poor paint jobs and missing doorknobs. We’re concerned about the major components like the roof, the electrical system, the plumbing, the HVAC. Those are what you want to zero in on. Major components are the things that will cost you a lot of money in the long run if you purchase a home and they’re not in good working order.”
Gathers is hoping that more women can find their way into the home inspection industry. She admits that she never even knew it existed until she went through the process herself.
“I knew nothing about it,” she says. “And I had no idea that it was a white, male-dominated industry. It surprised me that I’m the only Black female inspector in a place as diverse as New York City. I’m a really visible person on social media, and try to encourage more women to get involved. It’s not a complicated job, and there’s not really a lot of hard physical stuff involved with home inspections.
“If you want to build your business full time but still have flexibility for family, this is an ideal opportunity.”
Gathers turns reflective when thinking about her late husband, Joseph, whose idea it was to buy a Pillar To Post franchise. She knows that he would be proud of what she’s accomplished.
“I think he would be very happy,” she says. “You know, my family tells me all the time that Joe is smiling down, knowing that I got the business up and running, and that our son is a big part of it.”
For more information, please visit https://pillartopost.com.