Meet the Driving Forces Behind JKS Incorporated: Christy and Will Spencer

In celebration of JKS Incorporated’s 40th year in business, we’ll be introducing you to the team that got us to this momentous anniversary over the course of the next twelve months. What better way to kick off this series than with an introduction to the driving forces behind JKS?

In 1984, Will Spencer officially founded JKS on Liberty Street in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Since then, he and current JKS President, Christy Cox Spencer, have worked diligently to expand the company’s services and clientele by working with local companies, advertising agencies from all over the U.S., and big brand names.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Christy and Will to ask them about how JKS got its start, what an average day at the office looks like, and some of their favorite projects from over the years.


Christy and Will Spencer celebrating JKS Incorporated’s 30th anniversary in 2014.


Rachel: To get started, can you tell us about the primary motivation for starting JKS and how you were introduced to the industry?

Will: It was all by accident, totally not planned. I was at a dead-end at Modern Chevrolet. There was a guy there, Avery Hartman, who told me that ‘if you don’t get out of here now, you will be here for the rest of your life.’ That inspired me. I had been trying to get a job at Sports Marketing Enterprises (SME) driving a show car because stock car racing was my passion—but that show car job never happened. My good friend, Danny Lawrence, came to me in June or July of 1983 and said that he was leaving Modern Chevrolet and was going to work for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). From there, I went looking for a building where I could do something other than sell cars. I found the building at 876 N. Liberty Street. It was in bad shape, but affordable. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew it was definitely going to be something different. My dad came to me with some screen printing equipment from a guy who had gone bankrupt. Then, a guy named Bruce Bowers with L’eggs, a pantyhose and hosiery company, showed up at my door asking about a screen printing job that he needed to get done and wanted my help with. I knew nothing about screen printing or the equipment I now had, but once Mr. Bowers told me how much he would pay me to print on each individual pantyhose bag—and there were millions of them—I said to him, ‘Mr. Bowers, I’ll figure it out.’ The rest is history.


Christy, you became President of JKS Incorporated in 2019. When did you first start working for JKS and how has your role evolved since then?

Christy: I started working for JKS in October of 1989. My first job was to answer the phones and my first big project was to paint some work tables white. I literally sat on the floor of our shop and painted them in between running to get the phones. Not much has changed over the past 35 years—I still do whatever needs to be done in the moment and have to be a multi-tasker. I don’t work out in our vinyl shop anymore, though I do love to help in that department as it’s actually quite rewarding and fun to put together vinyl and signage. I literally started out as a laborer at JKS and moved up into the office staff and then to an executive capacity. I believe that by working my way up it gave me an understanding of all the intricacies of the business and I’m grateful for the hands-on experience.


What do each of your responsibilities look like day-to-day?

Christy: Day-to-day is constantly changing for me. Some days are mostly sitting at my desk doing paperwork and strategizing with my team. But then some days I am out in the community meeting with clients on specific projects or participating in community organizations like the Rotary Club of Winston-Salem and REACH Women’s Network. The best part of my job is when I get to meet with people, learn about their jobs, their interests, their history here in town, and be a part of solutions—whether for their business or for the overall community.

Will: Since Christy has taken over the role as President, my day-to-day responsibilities have luckily changed. I don’t have to be there everyday at 9AM and then stay until 8PM like I used to. I missed a lot of dinners and holidays over the past 40 years. It’s been a huge change, but a change for the better. I do still give advice on special projects and input when we face a big issue or hurdle—I make sure I’m available when they need me.


There is no denying that JKS has seen some incredible projects and milestones over the past 40 years. Can each of you share some of the ones that stick out as the most memorable?

Christy: I think one of my very first and most impressionable memories at JKS was working at an event we did for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) and SME at Charlotte Motor Speedway called “The WinXXXn.” It was May of 1990—I believe—and it was a huge project. I think we spent three to four weeks non-stop creating signage, graphics, and painting at the track. My second-most memorable experience would be getting to build out the vision trailer for RJR and SME in 2002. I got to design the interior lounge. Will basically designed a 30’ TV screen to pop out of the trailer after he drew out the idea on a napkin one night at dinner. He was able to convince the SME team that it would be a game-changer for their sponsorship, and it was. This was before there were large enough screens at each track and this trailer was like nothing anyone had ever seen. I’ll never forget how the crowd responded to it when we arrived in Daytona that year. It was amazing.

Will: I’d have to agree with Christy on the vision trailer—it was a game-changer for JKS and for the sponsorship overall. Next would be opening the WinXXXn Cup Museum in 2005 because it was such a personal project for me. It was really rewarding to purchase the old Nash car dealership from the City of Winston-Salem and then be able to restore it and give it new life. Another great memory from recent years is the renovation of the Liberty Street building and being able to move our offices back to downtown Winston-Salem. Liberty Street has become a second home to both Christy and myself. Coming back to Liberty Street in 2019 after operating JKS in Welcome, NC for twelve years was a homecoming of sorts. And with Christy becoming the president and taking over the day-to-day operations, it needed to be in a space that she loved and could manage on her own.


Will and Christy Spencer at the Daytona Beach “No Bull 5” event in July of 2001.


Finally, what is your favorite thing about JKS?

Will: My favorite thing about JKS is that it has enabled me to preserve history and create multiple businesses in the same neighborhood that my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all had their businesses. I feel honored to be able to continue to grow this area and be a part of the rehabilitation of Industry Hill.

Christy: My favorite thing about JKS is the heritage of our business and that we operate from a place of integrity. Celebrating our 40th year is a big accomplishment—one that most businesses do not get to celebrate. I am incredibly proud of our ability to welcome change, be agile, and stay true to our core capabilities.