Growing up as the youngest of 13 children on a farm in Glennville, Georgia, Pernell Smith could never imagine how God would broaden his outlook on life and orchestrate his experiences to incorporate a family, a business, and a ministry all in one – right back where he started.
The foundation for Legacy EcoView was laid early. Pernell played basketball and was the drum major for Ludowici High School’s superb marching band. Sitting in the back of the bus on a band trip, he was inspired when a traveling salesman pulled up behind the bus with a rack of clothes in the back seat. At Thanksgiving of his senior year, he was nursing a broken heart when his cousin introduced Pernell to Patricia, a girl he immediately knew he would marry one day.
Planning to join the military upon high school graduation in 1983, Pernell talked with a Navy recruiter when the Air Force recruiter stood him up. He joined the amphibious “Gator Navy,” supplying Marines and special ops forces before becoming an award-winning recruiter of nuclear engineers. He also married Patricia in 1985. As he traveled the world with the Navy, Pernell realized that there was more to the world than the small town where he grew up.
After 10 years of service, Pernell contemplated his next move. A fellow recruiter had commented that Pernell could have no idea of the value of his persuasive communication skills until he saw the money, he could make in commission sales. Remembering the traveling salesman, he had spotted during a band trip, Pernell moved his family to South Carolina in 1993 and joined the sales force of a well-known retailer. Working his way from pest control to windows, doors, and siding, he earned promotions and awards on the way to becoming a section manager for the whole state. Patricia kept Pernell grounded with the success that led to making great money and having a large house, and she kept the family together by keeping them before God.
While still working at this retail job, Pernell became a licensed minister in 1995 and an ordained elder two years later. Although he enjoyed helping others by ushering or singing in the choir or even working with the youth, as he got more experienced and educated in the ministry, an unquenchable thirst told him he ought to do something more that God had gifted and purposed him to do.
During a visit to Georgia in 1995, the family was driving along a dirt road when Pernell sensed that God wanted him to move back home to work with youth and start a school. Although he was willing, he thought he needed more time. Reclining in the seat beside him, Patricia suddenly sat up, looked across him, and reclined the seat again. As they were talking later that evening, Pernell told Patricia that he honestly believed the Lord wanted them to move there and work with youth. Patricia’s response was that, when she had sat up suddenly in the car, it was because the Holy Spirit told her to look where her husband was going to build their house. Clearly, they were on the same page, but it didn’t seem to Pernell to be the right time.
One Sunday night in 2000, a guest pastor stopped in the middle of the sermon, looked out over the congregation, and proclaimed that somebody was called to work with the youth but had told God he needed five years. That evening Pernell and Patricia agreed it was time. In case the message was not clear, Pernell was soon fired from his job after years of awards and promotions. The family packed up and moved back to Glennville, where Pernell started working with the youth at their church. In 2017 Pernell got his spiritual promotion from area manager to business owner when he became pastor of Grace Place Ministry. With degrees in business management and human resources, Patricia runs Grace Academy, the school they started together.
In addition to ministry, Pernell joined a home improvement company and rose to district sales manager before being recruited by a big box store, with whom he worked until 2018. Although he was happy with his good job, Pernell knew it was time for it to end. Over time he had developed an understanding of what customers are looking for in the home improvement industry, and he knew he could do the job better and deliver as promised by meeting customer need with the best product available. In starting Legacy EcoView, he chose the brand because the manufacturer Simonton is the industry leader in quality and performance for vinyl windows. He then added Isaiah Industries for high quality metal roofing supplies because their moral fortitude to stand behind the product is second to none. He is now bringing in Andersen wood windows because their name guarantees a great product.
For Pernell, trust is essential, and connections are made from relationships. Over time Legacy EcoView became a family business as Pernell’s youngest son and daughter-in-law brought their expertise to work with the company. For the Smith family, the business is not their dream, but a part of a ministry built on an unquenchable thirst and a “sense of ought” to do what they do for the benefit of others. The best part of their job is ensuring that every customer is satisfied – the customer who purchases the product, the customer who is employed to install it, and the customer who is hired to contribute to the company’s success.