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Last Update: Monday June 21, 2021

Key Idea: Think Big-Think Heavy Metal

Darlene Jeter, owner of Jet-A-Way, demonstrates wisdom and courage in how she learned and runs her business.

Key Question:


Consider Darlene Jeter, one of the wealthiest self-made women in Boston.

And the answer is, own assets.  She owns trucks and other heavy equipment. These are hard assets. Just changing the tires on one of the big roll off trucks costs $10,000.

Well-run "dirty" businesses make plenty of profits while the sweetly stocked gift shop struggles to eke out a living for its owner. In his book, The Millionaire Woman Next Door, Tom Stanley says it takes $16.25 in sales to make a dollar of profit out of a retail store. He notes that one dollar of profit can be made in construction from just $5.45 in sales.

While doctors, dentists and various types of professionals doing consulting type work make decent profits on sales, these kinds of companies are dependent upon the knowledge worker. Often they are dependent upon the talent of the founder. We want to encourage women to go into the types of businesses that will give them the best chance to build something substantial. We want to see women in businesses that will make it through the test of time and that will make them wealthy in ten to twenty years.

Darlene is surrounded by heavy metal and she is not afraid to buy more. When a customer asked her to do a big job, she had to go out and buy a new truck. The sticker price didn't put her off because she knew her company could deliver the promised service and that she could win more customers to make profitable use of the new equipment. 

Think about it

Does a business owner have to know how to do the things their employees are doing? What "dirty" businesses could a woman clean up in?


Clip from: Women Shatter Glass

USA: One out of three businesses in this country is owned by a woman.  That's  approximately 9 million businesses.  Yet only one out of ten of those businesses does more than $1 million in annual sales or about 900,000 businesses.

These two statistics prompted the production of this episode. We researched women who do millions in annual sales and found most were in male-dominated industries.

There are many resources to help women start and grow the right kind of business beginning with government agencies like the US SBA and their Small Business Development Centers. There are programs promoted by women-friendly banks, economic development offices, trade associations and industry groups, and women's associations in every state.

With so much help and information around, why do women so often migrate to tiny ideas? ...more inspiration? ... better role models? One of the women studied here asked rhetorically, "Why should I polish nails when I could be polishing steel?"

All business owners can learn valuable lessons from these women. They are the small minority who are making a huge difference in their industry and in their communities.  By moving to the top of the game where there are mostly men, a woman's influence can make the greatest difference.

Jet-A-Way, Inc.

Darlene Jeter, CEO

47 Kemble Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:
transportation, waste management, recycling

Year Founded: 1968

Think Big-Think Heavy Metal

HATTIE (In the Studio) What are the common qualities we find among women who operate in traditional male dominated industries? Number one, they think big and they, unlike most business owners, put their plans in writing.

DARLENE JETTER: (Voiceover) Take risks. We were willing to take whatever savings we had and put it at risk and just invest in the business and try to make it work and see what happens after that.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Darlene Jetter is the owner of Boston based Jet-A-Way. The company is a full service recycling and waste disposal firm offering waste collection services, containerized removal of construction debris and paper recycling.

DARLENE: (Voiceover) The idea then was to move forward away from the dump trucks, and that was a new thing for us.

HATTIE: But to get the funding for the roll off. I've seen these roll off trucks out here, they look expensive.

DARLENE: They are. I had to work and I worked hard, but I love to work. And it was a learning situation I think that prepared me for things later on in my life, so I'm grateful.

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