Six years ago, Janey Angelo of Tyler was lost and unsure. After a short battle with cancer, David, her husband of 34 years, died.
He had been the breadwinner. Janey says not a single day went by when he didn't make her feel loved.
She was happy being his wife and raising their three children.
When David died, Janey's world fell apart. She wasn't sure how she was going to carry on without him much less what she was going to do for a living.
"I gave myself one year to figure it out," she says. "I prayed about it every day for one year."
She knew that God would provide her a path forward, she just never dreamed it would be in the male-dominated world of home building.
Janey owns Angelo Construction, which specializes in remodeling projects and building custom homes.
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Although only in business a few years, Janey has more work than she ever imagined. Last year, Angelo Construction had a home on Tyler Area Builders Association's Parade of Homes tour, a showcase of some of the best work in the home construction industry.
She attributes her success to three things: the ability to bond with clients, working with the best contractors and paying relentless attention to details.
"When potential clients interview me they don't know it but I'm also interviewing them," Janey says.
She pays attention to how the husband talks to his wife.
"If he talks harshly to her, that's a bad sign," she says.
It is often a clue that the man doesn't respect women and may not be a good fit as a client. "If it doesn't feel right to me, then I'm moving on."
Janey says a good relationship between a client and builder is essential.
"I do a lot of listening to find out what they want but I also contribute to what I think is best," she says.
Janey sees her job as doing more than transforming ideas into reality. "We build with the intention of exceeding our client's expectations for quality, functionality, and aesthetics to create their dream home."
She doesn't have much patience with contractors who are uncooperative or not willing to correct problems.
Mitch Woolard, who does work on Angelo projects, says sometimes contractors assume that Janey's soft voice and calm demeanor means she doesn't know what she is doing and that they can get away with something.
"During the final walk through (before a client moves in) she will go in and spot something that's not done right," Woolard says. "Nothing gets by her."
Woolard said she has a reputation among contractors for having high expectations but also being easy to work with. "She doesn't lead with an iron fist. She talks to people. She treats people with respect. ... She's really a good lady."
Janey also attributes her success to paying attention to details and being innovative.
"No two of my houses are ever the same," she says. "I'm always thinking outside the box. What can we do to give the homeowner something different?"
Janey once specifically designed a space in a room to show off one of the homeowner's favorite antiques.
She has been known to spend weeks searching for the perfect set of hardware for kitchen cabinetry or an antique door knob. She has put beautiful wooden planks on a living room's pitched ceiling.
In her own home, decorative frosted glass panels are in the doors to her pantry. "Who does that?" she says with a laugh.
Distinctive light fixtures that convey style and personality is another opportunity to make a home unique.
"Light fixtures are the jewelry of the home," she says.
She insists that attention to the small things always pays off. "I am a perfectionist. I can't help it. It is just the way I am."
Sitting in her living room on a fall morning, Janey frequently brings up her late husband.
"He was the love of my life," says Janey as she looks over at a photo of him on a wall. "He was so good, so kind and gentle."
They met and fell in love when they were living in Oklahoma. A love for the ministry brought them to Tyler.
The Angelos worshiped at Tyler Gospel Chapel in Tyler. Over the years, he served the congregation in many roles including as youth leader. Janey taught Sunday school.
Janey says nothing gave her husband more joy than helping others with matters of faith and getting through hard times.
"We often had people (from the congregation) in our home."
In 2012, David was diagnosed with cancer. He died a year later. He was 53.
David had also been an electrician and worked on home-building projects. Janey says sometimes they took older houses, fixed them up and sold them.
She sometimes cleaned and staged homes being put on the market.
Beyond that, her knowledge of home building, was limited, to say the least.
Eventually she decided she wanted a new home as part of the process of moving on and began working with a builder.
"I asked for something special and he said, 'No, we won't do that,'" recalls Janey. "I thought, OK, well I'm going to build this myself. I told myself, 'You can do this.'"
She said she was at peace once she made the decision to become a builder.
"I know it doesn't make any sense (to launch this as a career) but I was determined. You educate yourself. If you say that you're going to walk by faith that is what you have to do. I walked by faith. I completely walked by faith."
Janey says that in the beginning it often was not easy. "But the Lord sent me exactly the right people who I needed."
The more she did as a builder, the more confident and knowledgeable she became.
She gives God the credit with getting her through the tough time. "I am nothing without God."
Although she is in a better place in life, she still misses her husband every day.
"David would be amazed (at what I'm doing)," says Janey with a smile "He would be very proud of me."