In Port Jefferson there is an innovative architectural firm that has been changing the face of our schools for over 38 years. JAG Architects has become an integral part of keeping the face of academia on Long Island vibrant.
John Grillo, JAG’s president, is a man whose work ethic and dedication to his business and family is apparent. He speaks proudly of how his father started JAG and how the business has grown.
What is your background?
I grew up in Lake Grove and attended Sachem Schools, going on to study architecture at Catholic University in Washington, DC. My father started JAG in 1977 and the firm seemed to be waiting for my arrival. I graduated college on a Saturday in 1992 and began working at JAG that following Monday. This is a family business; my mom is the office manager and it was a given that my career would start and remain here and I welcomed that. My father started the business in his bedroom as an architectural consultant to Nassau and Suffolk school districts. I began my five-year draftsman apprenticeship under him immediately after college. We have grown the business exponentially as a team but have kept the infrastructure very family-oriented. Everyone who works here, which totals 12, is part of our extended family. We eat lunch together every day, celebrate milestones with one another and enjoy each other’s company immensely. My wife also works here now.
Who inspires you?
My father is a given but there is another person who has had a tremendous impact on the way I live my life and how I conduct business. My cousin is a dwarf, standing only 33.5” high but he has the strength of a giant and so much integrity. Growing up I watched him undergo over 30 surgeries, never losing faith. Experiencing that with him put everything in perspective. And of course, my beautiful wife Tasha, whom I have been with since high school. She has given me four incredible children and keeps me grounded, especially when stress levels at work are high.
What is JAG’s mission?
Our objective is to provide the best possible services at the best possible price. When you are dealing with publicly funded monies, you want to serve not only the taxpayers but the schools and make sure you are giving them exactly what they need and deserve. Ninety percent of our business is working with schools; today JAG services over 30 districts. There is no typical day and the projects are diversified. People are migrating off Long Island at a rapid pace so new construction has taken a back seat to renovation, albeit designing a new science lab or repairing a roof; we do it all. The upkeep of these buildings, many [of which were] built in the 1950s, is crucial. We are fundamental in assisting the districts with The Capital Improvement Program, which is a mandatory five-year plan that prioritizes these types of renovation projects.
How involved is JAG in the Port Jefferson community?
We are extremely involved in the village our business calls home. We love it here and do our best to donate our services to keep the small town spirit alive—whether it’s rebuilding playgrounds or helping to repair local structures or courtyards. Port Jefferson is a vibrant place to live and work. All of the business owners know one another and there is something warming about walking down Main Street and saying hello to familiar faces along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing about Port Jefferson or the Three Villages.
What does the future hold for JAG?
That’s easy. To continue to grow our business and develop our firm, never losing sight of what is important and that quality and our customers’ needs remain paramount.
For more info, visit jagarchitect.com.