My Life - The Whole Story
HILLBILLY AT HEART, FROM THE START.
I was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. Our family farm is literally part of the Cherokee National Forest, and "as the crow flies", we're about 10 miles to Virginia, 20 miles to North Carolina, and 40 miles to Kentucky. As I have travelled the world, I've come to appreciate my homeland far more than I'd ever have expected.
Still a mountain boy, I declined some running scholarships to big schools and attended East Tennessee State University. After 4 years of Pre-Engineering with an Architecture focus, I hopped over to the School of Business and got a Marketing Degree (B.S.) and possibly had the most mathematical and engineering electives of any Marketing Major in the history of the University... electives such as Calculus 4, in which I was the only student in the class. I like math. I also focused a lot of time on the Sales Force Management classes, which did indeed come in handy, as you'll read below. During my entire college career, I also managed a boat dealership: Shadrack Watersports, in Bristol, TN. So most of my classes were at night. This really helped me stay focused, and I didn't join any fraternities and such that could distract me. Heck, I didn't even taste alcohol until I was 21, which is actually shocking to me.
Although I grew up without a ton of money, I always had a thing for cars. By the time I graduated college, I had owned no less than 13 Datsun Z cars. This will come into play later on in the story too.
THE START OF A CRAZY RIDE.
After graduating, I moved to the Knoxville, TN area and opened another boat dealership of the same name, sort of a satellite store. It went really well for 8 months, and I sold a boat to a man in the land business who made me an offer for a sales position that I couldn't refuse. I packed up and moved to St. Mary's, GA and started a new life.
That went well, and I quickly rose to be a (if not THE) top producer for the entire company, selling over $7,000,000 in raw land a quarter acre at a time in my first two years. One night after a real estate class on St. Simons Island, GA, a buddy called me in as his wingman, trying to convince these girls to let him (us) tag along as they went to the beach to drink champagne. One of the girls had just found out that she was accepted to a six month Discipleship Training Session with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) in Italy. All her friends were taking her to celebrate, and my buddy wanted to nose in on the party. He succeeded, and I found myself in a gorgeous place with a far more gorgeous woman named Erin Baker. In no more than a month, the two of us were in love. In less than three months though, she flew off to Italy. We stayed in constant contact for the first three months, and I flew over with a ring and proposed near the shores of Lake Lugano, which is just beside Lake Como. She accepted, I flew back a happy man, she went to Brazil for three months, returned to the States and we got married in a few weeks time.
Over the next three years, my career only boomed in the resort land business. I was promoted to Project Sales Manager, then to Project General Manager, then to Regional General Manager. In this time period, my name was on roughly $250,000,000 in real estate transactions in the South. Unfortunately, the owner of that company proved corrupt (not just making an accusation... he's in jail now for shooting his wife in the face). He fired me and four other men at the same time to avoid paying us a very large amount of money, and Juddy Arnold, my best friend since 3rd Grade, and I started Vision Producers, Inc. to do the same thing that we were doing, but even better.
VISION PRODUCERS, INC.
This was my first experience at owning a corporation, and boy was it an experience! This was 2005, and I was only 27 years old. But in the next two years, our company had grown from a "pipe dream" to a behemoth with almost a quarter BILLION in revenue.
Quickly, here's what we did: Let's make a scenario. You just inherited 4,000 acres of land in a fringe area to a booming area. You have no idea what to do with it. We then come in to help you find and implement its highest and best use. You supply the land and marketing/development funds (typically gotten through loans against the land, since you own it free and clear) and we run the show from there. We guide all land planning and design, architectural design, engineering (these are actually the responsibily of the landowner, but we make sure it's getting done), develop the brand, market it, hire a sales force, train them, set up a sales office and sell the land. This is a drastic oversimplification, as you might imagine, but it's important for me to relay how entrepreneurial I am, as well as how well I can execute. I also know what it's like to have employees (as I've had over 100), and how to get the attention of the desired consumer.
SWITZERLAND, THAILAND, A BABY AND RACECARS
When the crash of 2007 happened, I needed a reset... a break. Erin and I still didn't have children, and there was much more that I wanted to live out other than being a rich marketing guy. We took 2008 off and went back to Youth With A Mission, but this time to Switzerland. I needed to grow my "inside man", and really focus more on my relationships with Jesus and my wife than I had in the previous years. After three months there, we found ourselves with a team in Thailand rebuilding homes and a preschool for Burmese refugees who lost everything in the Tsunami of 2004. This was such a good time for me. I was starting to feel whole. The mad rush from happy but sheltered mountain boy to wealthy business owner had really knocked me back a bit. Before going to Switzerland, I had skills and I had favor, but I didn't know how to handle it all while still being "me".
We found out in Switzerland that we were having a baby. We found out in Thailand that he was to be a boy. I cannot express my joy... Upon returning to our home in the Historic District of Asheville, NC (which is such a beautiful city), Erin had about 3 more months of pregnancy to go through. Before the real estate/banking crash, I had bought a new Porsche 911S and modified it a LOT. I had gone to some track days at road courses throughout the south, and dropped it off at Synergy Racing in Alton, VA for a full tear down and rebuild into essentially a street legal (not really) race car.
When we got back to the States, instead of going back to work, I went to work at being a better driver. I got countless hours of one-on-one professional instruction and my skills as a driver were really increasing. Plus, my car was amazing. The build online had a couple MILLION followers. It was a big deal. On top of that I had also bought a 1972 Datsun 240Z (number 14 for me, but now I had the money to do it RIGHT) and dropped it off at a restoration shop to be fully taken down and made awesome. That build took years, but it eventually became known online as the nicest 240Z on the planet. It actually was just on the cover of the November 2011 issue of Modified Magazine.
In August 2008, I was invited by Excellence Magazine: The Magazine About Porsche, to ship my car to Northern California for a performance shootout against some of the nation's strongest modified Porsches. I shipped it and flew out to meet it in LA, then drove up the entire coast of California to the test site. What a drive that was, all on Pacific Coast Highway. My car and I won, and the ensuing 11 page article's first words were, "This hillbilly hauls ass!" I can't wait until my son is old enough to appreciate that... The editor of the magazine liked me, as well as my driving skills, and asked me to write one page called "Owner's Perspective". I did, and he really liked that too.
My son was born in September 2008: Elias Kindle (as in, "to light a fire") Cullop. Erin and I wanted to give him a name that spoke passion into him. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from the Porsche Magazine asking if I'd be interested in flying to Germany for the first exposure of the new Porsche Panamera to journalists worldwide. "Well YEAH!" As possibly the first American journalist (odd to say) to ever get to take a Panamera on a racetrack, I got to write quite a fun article. That one has now been followed up by a dozen or so more articles. I'm so honored.
NOW, BACK TO THE STORY OF MY "REAL" JOB.
My land-marketing partner, Juddy Arnold, and I didn't want to end up being 40 years old and only knowing about resort land sales and marketing, and nothing was really "grabbing" us, per se. So we formed a business advisory company with two other men and moved to Knoxville, TN. This company, VPI Business Advisors, has a huge menu of services, including but not limited to: Business Advisory Services, Angel and Venture Capital Fundraising, Merger Facilitation, Quickbooks training, Accounting and Bookkeeping Services, Human Resource Guidance and help with the hiring and management of employees, and so much more. We also own a print shop and a commercial real estate brokerage that just developed a shopping center in Southern Pines, NC. Gosh. It makes my head spin.
THIS is why I started JCI Marketing. In my time at VPI, I learned that I am far more interested in working with small business owners (very much including doctors and such) than I am the larger and more cumbersome clients. It's just my passion. I'm very much a patriot and a conservative, and I believe that you really have to have your "A-Game" on to do well in this business/economic environment. Nothing makes me happier than when I help a business owner WIN. I've focused my menu of services to those that most efficiently spend the business owner's money, and at the same time increases their traffic and revenues the most.
JARED CULLOP - 2017 EDITION
At the same time, Erin, Elias and I have moved to Redding, in Northern California. We attended the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Neither of us feels any calling to stand behind a pulpit, but we do both want to know how to best take love and light and the goodness of God to those in our personal and professional lives. If you choose to work with JCI, don't be afraid that I'll be slapping you over the head with a Bible. Don't get me wrong, I love the Bible, but my ministry is serving you in excellence, always having integrity, and being a happy guy who you enjoy doing business with.
In addition to that, I am a family man who loves his wife and children. Since Erin, Elias and I moved to Redding only four years ago, we have literally doubled the size of our family. We adopted a beautiful boy from here in Redding that we named Joseph Valor. He's four now. We had a little girl three years ago, Madeline Hope, and another in 2015, Scarlet Sophia. So yeah. If I'm not at the office home's where I am. If you get anything out of this page, I hope you get this: I'm a good honest guy from a good honest family in a good honest place, who learned quickly what it was like to build a company to 100-some employees and hundreds of millions in revenue. I also learned that money doesn't make you happy, but if you're happy AND have money (and earn it honestly and steward it well), you're in a great spot. I'm not your average "Marketing Guy" or Web Designer. I'm different, as are those I've chosen (and have been chosen by) who make up the team here at JCI. We know how to use all the tools too, but more than that, we understand where you are in your business growth and what you need. We have a passion for you to succeed, and we take pride in what we do to make that success more likely. We treasure the testimonies that our clients have given us over the years, and hope that you can take the time to read some of them. I have not only been able to hire like-minded people, but each one is far better than I am in the area of their specialty.