Karla Wall Wednesday, December 4, 2013 0


When 77-year-old Lesley Jacobs, better known to his numerous friends as “Jake,” came to Lake Charles in August of 1956, he didn’t have much.

“Everything I owned I carried in a brown paper sack tied with string,” he says.

That’s not surprising, given that Jacobs, a Godeau, La., native, never received a formal education (in fact, he can’t read).SWEEPER1

But what Jacobs has lacked in education, he’s more than made up for with a positive attitude, and a willingness to work as hard as necessary in order to earn a good living.

“I was just determined to make it. I’ve always worked,” he says with justifiable pride. “I’ve never drawn unemployment. I’ve always believed that if you want to do something badly enough, you can do it. I’ve just always had that get-up-and-go attitude.”

Shortly after Jacobs arrived in Lake Charles, a friend, Jim Smith, wrote a letter to Manny Royer, then the manager of Weingarten’s on Hwy. 14, recommending Jacobs for employment. Jacobs was hired in December of 1956, and worked at Weingarten’s for 25 years “in charge of the baggers.”

Jacobs’ strong work ethic, his sunny and friendly disposition, and the contacts he’d formed while working at Weingarten’s played a key role in his next venture: starting and running his own business, All Area Sweepers.

Jacobs’ business provides parking lot sweeping services, bushhogging, and dirt service, including leveling, for a residential and commercial clientele. That client list ran at 30-40 when he first started the business. It now numbers about 60.

“I’ve never wanted to have so many clients I couldn’t do a good job,” Jacobs says. “And I’ve never wanted to set the world on fire. At this point, I’m just looking for enough business to keep me busy.”

His client list includes the City of Lake Charles, Reinauer Real Estate (He’s worked for four generations of owners for the business), and IberiaBank.

For the first 17 years he was in business, Jacobs swept parking lots by hand with a push broom. He now owns two sweeper trucks, purchased in 1975, and also has two tractors for use in the bushhogging aspect of the business.

Along with his strong work ethic, Jacobs also prides himself on the fact that he’s debt-free.

“I don’t owe anyone anything except respect,” he says. “I don’t owe anyone money.”

Jacobs’ hard work supported a large family — six daughters and five sons. And, he says, he’s made it a point to pass on his work ethic to his children, and now his 33 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren.

“I raised all of my children to work hard,” he says. “And, as they say, when they left home, I broke the plate and buried the spoon.”

Some of Jacobs’ children now have careers in healthcare. One daughter, Grace, works in a Houston-area school district as operations specialist.

“He was a wonderful father,” says Grace Jacobs. “I thank God every day for my father.”

Jacobs has built his business, and earned quite a good reputation, based not only on hard and highly satisfactory work, but also on his positive attitude and friendly demeanor.

“At IberiaBank, they’ve changed my name,” he quips. “They call me ‘Sunshine.’”

Spend any time with Jacobs at all, and it quickly becomes apparent that he’s not just friendly, but a true people person. And he’s quick to help out those in need.

“I do work for free when and if people need me to,” he says. “I’m always trying to help people. And I try to give to the needy.”

Jacobs says, though, that more than the strong work ethic and positive attitude, sheer persistence has played a role in the life he’s made for himself.

“I was just determined to make it,” he says. “And I stuck with it. I never gave up.”