Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Persevering Against the Odds
June Brown of Roswell, Georgia recovered from a horrific accident that could have ruined her life but instead she was able to recover and now oversees a multi-million dollar company called MEA Certifications. However, things were not always this good for Brown and looking back, she is grateful for how everything has turned out.
Brown was a typical housewife back in the late 1960s. "I was an average 28-year-old housewife rearing three young children on a limited income and limited time with their father," Brown said. She was living a normal life in when one incident would change her forever.
"On a sunny October afternoon in Roswell, several friends gathered for a picnic and afterward a horseback ride through the countryside. Although I had very little experience with horses, I joined in the fun. About an hour into the ride, something spooked my horse. He reared up, and I went off the back and hit the ground. This was a long time before cell phones, so a friend rode back to the house for help. He returned with a car and drove me to the hospital," Brown said.
She was rushed to Northside Hospital and placed in the intensive care ward for several days. Instead of doing the normal surgery to repair her broken vertebrae, the doctors decided to try a new treatment. She spent eight weeks in a body cast flat on her back in bed. After the bed rest and countless hours of physical therapy, she continued to wear a back brace for several months and was able to function fairly well. It is hard for anyone to imagine the intense pain and recovery it took for Brown to regain a somewhat normal life.
"Things continued to go downhill. Before the accident my marriage was on the verge of divorce. A few months after the accident, the children and I moved to an apartment and made it official. I spent the next 10 years working two jobs and bringing up three children on my own. Thankfully, they are now mature, responsible adults,” Brown said.
Longtime friend, Sarah Barber, says before the accident Brown lived a very busy life. "She was very active. We are only a year apart in age, and I can remember us playing on a basketball team. She was one of the quickest girls on the team. We always got together on the weekends and had a good time" Barber said. After the accident, things were difficult for Brown. "She had a very hard time adjusting for the longest while."
Childhood friend, Pat Matthews, added "During the 60s, June was a very outgoing, busy young mother of three devoted to her children and home. She was also busy in community and church activities. Having to slow down was not easy because she was a woman of action. Being single and caring for three children while working a full-time job certainly changed things.”
“I can remember coming over to visit her one day at her home, and she was raking the leaves in the yard. I walked up and thought she was crazy. I begged her to go lay down since it had only been six months since the accident, and the doctor had told her to take it easy for at least the first year. She just giggled at me and kept on with her business. She can be such a stubborn person, but she made a believer out of everyone after she fully recovered,” Matthews said.
"My faith and trust in God kept me going through the hard times. Also, I was blessed to have parents and family members living nearby for help and encouragement," Brown said.
Being a single parent was not an ideal situation. Struggling to raise three kids on her own was beginning to take a toll on her. Then someone special came into her life.
"While attending a singles group at my church, I met a dear man named Frank Brown, and we became friends. Over the next three years that friendship grew and became a deep love and respect. We have been married now for almost 30 years," Brown said.
“We both had jobs and putting two salaries together made it possible to buy a house and help put children through college,” Brown said. Barber was concerned when they began talking about buying a business that was in financial trouble. She knew it was a big risk for the new couple and did not want to see them fail in this new venture particularly with the financial obligations they would have.
"My husband's job took him to Dalton, Georgia where his company worked with several large carpet mills in the area of quality control. When we had the opportunity to purchase our own business, MEA Certifications, we became business partners. Because of my husband's textile engineering education/expertise and my business experience, we were able to sign several clients including Shaw Industries which is the largest carpet manufacturer in the United States, Mohawk, and several others," Brown said.
MEA Certifications is a licensed Administrator for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for their carpet certification program. HUD has established minimum property standards for carpet used for any construction including nursing homes, single and multi-family housing that has HUD money, Federal Housing Administration, and Veterans Administration loans. “It is our job to sample and test the carpet from the manufacturer to insure compliance with the HUD Directive. We issue a five digit number that must be back-stamped on the back of the carpet every six feet as it is manufactured to show that the carpet complies with HUD minimum property standards. The costs of the program are paid by the individual carpet mills. We do not pay HUD, and they do not pay us,” Brown said. The company has flourished and is the largest HUD carpet certification business of its kind in the country. "We are now in our 25th year and still enjoy working together. My role is chief financial officer/office administrator," Brown said.
The company, combined with their partners and associates, grosses over $ 2 million in billings annually.
"Through the years several family members have worked with us during college breaks, employee vacations, etc. Hopefully, when we do decide to retire one of them will take over and keep it a family business," Brown said.
Despite the problems that she encountered, Brown has always been up for the challenge. Her sheer determination and strong will has helped to guide her through the pain and helped shape her successful career today. Even in her early 70s now, she shows no sign of slowing down. When asked if she will ever retire, she just laughs and says she does not have time for that.