Elon University Student Newspaper /
Nov. 19, 2008, edition 1 /
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 / Page 19
From Saudi Arabian oil refinery to a Burlington biice shop
Jones-LeGros lives out
her life-long dream as a
small business owner
On Nov. 9, Tara Jones-LeGros got on
a plane to Saudi Arabia to meet with
her husband. The occasional visits and
daily video chats before she goes to
work are the only contact she has with
Two years ago, Tara Jones-LeGros
was living with him in Saudi Arabia
while he worked as a safety engineer
for Saudi Aramco, a Saudi-owned oil
company. Today, she runs their bicycle
shop, the J&L Bicycle Company, in
downtown Burlington. Her husband
still lives and works in Saudi Arabia.
While she didn’t intend for her
life to end up like this, the business
opportunity didn’t give her the time to
“I landed here in Burlington, didn’t
know a soul and started my business,”
Jones-LeGros said. “It’s crazy but this is
how it worked out.”
For Jones-LeGros, owning a bicycle
shop fulfills a passion for cycling she
has had since an early age.
“1 got my first job when I was 15 to
be able to buy my first real road bike.
From that point on I was always really
into it,” Jones-LeGros said.
Fler passion for cycling was quickly
“Two weeks after 1 bought the bike
that I worked so hard for, I was riding
it home and this guy had Just robbed a
house and was running away” Jones-
LeGros said. “He saw me, tackled me
and took off with my bike.”
Even though she got her bike back,
it still took away from the cycling
“Riding a bike is such a sense of
freedom. When something like that
happens, it takes that away,” Jones-
LeGros said. I was really pretty
traumatized by the event and, until I
was in college, 1 never rode by myself.”
The Tennessee native started
college at the University of Tennessee-
Chattanooga. She later transferred to
Louisiana State University and got a
degree in environmental science, a
career path that led her to her husband
While living in Baton Rouge, La., the
couple considered opening a hobby
shop and even went as far as to line up
suppliers and buy a storage unit for the
shop. But when a headhunter contacted
her about a job position in Saudi Arabia,
they put their plans to ow’n a business
In August of 2004, Jones-LeGros and
her husband relocated to Ras Tanura, a
small beach community on the Persian
“When we moved to Saudi Arabia,
I wasn t allowed to work there in my
real profession,” Jones-LeGros said.
“They didn’t let women in the refinery,
and to do my job I needed to be in the ’
Having free time, Jones-LeGros
bought a bicycle in Bahrain and got
back into cycling.
“I started training and lost a bunch
of weight and just totally fell back in
love with riding again,” Jones-LeGros
Living in Saudi Arabia as an
American, Jones-LeGros found a
different reality than the news-media
“People here, based on FOX News or
CNN or whoever, have the impression
that Middle Eastern Muslims hate
Americans,” Jones-LeGros said. “This
is not true. I can sit around with some
Saudi friends and they will tell you they
hate the terrorism that has mangled
Still having the dream to own their
own business, Jones-LeGros and her
husband started looking at business
How to: Set a table
Learn how to properly set a table and impress family members
at upcoming holiday dinners.
1) Place a large service plate directly on the table between the
arms of the chair. Place a folded cloth napkin on top.
2) The forks go to the left of the plate in order of use. In most
situations, the small salad fork would go on the outside and the
larger dinner fork would be closest to the plate. If a fish course
will be served, a smaller fish fork would be placed between the
3) The other utensils go to the right of the plate. The dinner knife
will be to the immediate right of the plate, with the blade facing
inwards. If needed, a fish knife would be placed to the right of
the dinner knife and a soup spoon would be to the right of the
4) The water glass should be placed directly above the dinner
knife. Any other glasses (wine, champagne, juice) should be
placed to the right of the water glass in order of size, with the
largest on the left and the smaller ones to the right.
5) A bread plate can be placed above the dinner fork, in line with
the glasses. A small butter knife should be placed across the
6) Dessert utensils can be brought out when dessert is served, or
placed horizontally above the service plate.
DAN RICKERSHAUSER | Photographer
Tara Jones-LeGros opened J&L Bicycles Company in Burlington in 2007. She must balance
running the shop with visiting her husband, who is currently working in Saudi Arabia.
During an online search, Jones-
LeGros discovered that the Elon Bike
Shop was for sale.
“So we decided, ‘Yeah, that looks
pretty good,’” Jones-LeGros said.
“North Carolina is just prime bicycling
country, so we flew over [to Burlington]
from Saudi Arabia for three days to
meet with the owner of the Elon Bike
Although the deal fell through,
Jones-LeGros decided to stay in the
area, eventually finding the store where
they are located today, in downtown
“So here was Burlington and
Alamance County, with no bike shop.
The opportunity kind of slapped
me in the face, and even though my
husband was not finished working in
Saudi, we couldn’t pass up the business
opportunity,” Jones-LeGros said.
In May of 2007, Jones-LeGros moved
to Burlington to start up her bicycle
company. Moving to Burlington, where
she had no connections or a place to
live, was daunting, but she soon fell in
love with Alamance County.
J&L Bicycle Company opened for
business in 2007. According to Jones-
LeGros, one of the things she loves most
about the location is the walk-in traffic.
“Where we are, we get walk-in traffic
all the time. Being near the public
library is fantastic,” Jones-LeGros said.
Elon senior Whitney Waters has been
working at J&L Bicycle Company since
the beginning of the school year. While
working there. Waters has come to
consider Jones-LeGros a friend as well
as a boss.
“I’ve gone out to dinner with her and
stuff and just talked to her,” Waters
said. “She’s really easy to talk to, really
friendly, really funny.”
“I really respect her for being able
to run that business when her husband
is far away,” said Waters. “She’s having
to go back and forth and live in two
Until her husband is able to retire
in the next few years, Jones-LeGros will
continue living her life in two places,
running her business while she’s at it.
“Ever walked in on a conversation and wish you hadn't? Overhears
comment that made you wonder just how rigorous Elon's admission process
is? Here’s the place to share."
Junior Nick Massa created “Overheard at Elon U," a Facebook group that
highlights ridiculous comments made by Elon students.
The group features daily posts and hosts more than 850 members.
Boy with heavy backpack: “I just wish I had boobs so they could
help me stand upright.”
—overheard by Shelley Russell
An alum at Sandy’s: "Hey Jose! Would you feed chicken wings
to transsexuals? Jenny Craig would not feed chicken wings to
—overheard by Julie Halm
“I didn’t even know there was a Delaware!”
—overheard by Daniel Harwell
“You guys are nice ... I'm sorry I pooped on you.” fe, -
—overheard by Carolyn Baumgarten IS**
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