Harth Builders, Spring House, PA.
Year Founded: 1996
Number of Team Members: 19
Industry involvement: Past president/chairman of the Board for the Bucks-Mont National Association of Remodeling Industry; current president of Lower Gwynedd Business Association; Certified Remodeler, Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler; Certified Aging in Place Specialist; Eagle Scout; has won several Regional and National CotY awards, as well as two national Chrysalis awards
What would be your ideal project to complete? It’s not even one room anymore. It’s a multiroom addition that we’re reconfiguring using special planning such as a master suite or a first-floor remodel of merging a kitchen and dining room into one large space. What we don’t do is take down cabinets and put new cabinets up.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Learn how to delegate. It’s really tough. As you grow a business, effective leadership is really learning how to delegate to other people and then checking in with them to make sure that they’re doing things on task, on time and on target.
When and why did you join Remodelers Advantage? My dad started the business 18 to 19 years ago as a retirement project. He finished working for people and started his own company. I went to University of Delaware, earned a civil engineering degree, ran out of gas in Colorado and fell in love with Colorado for about 10 years. I worked for a heavy civil engineering company that did a fantastic job of teaching a young engineer how to run a construction project. Ten years ago, I joined my dad. He was owner/operator with a part-time office manager and a bunch of subs but no employees. They were doing $700,000 per year; we ended last year at $3.1 million. When I joined him, I said he had a lot of great thoughts and nothing was on paper so we started documenting all of those processes and putting them on paper. As we started doing this, I realized we can’t be the only ones doing this shift from an individual approach to a business approach. I looked around and found Remodelers Advantage. They do a great job teaching the fundamentals of business. We joined the peer review group. Sometimes people look at it and say, “Gosh it’s expensive.” My answer to them even today is: “You’re spending that already; you just don’t know it.”
What has been the most important lesson you’ve taken away from your peers at Remodelers Advantage? Share everything you know. Be an open book. The more you can share, the more transparent you are, the more trust is built in your internal employees, clients and trade partners.
If you could change one thing about the remodeling industry, what would it be? Teach people not to sell on price, particularly young guys and gals. Sometimes we get so concerned about price, but it’s usually the third most important factor when a client chooses us. If you’re selling only on price, it’s not sustainable. Be cognizant of costs, keeping them down and keeping a sharp pencil, but you have to build a healthy company, which means a profitable company, so you can serve your clients two or four years from now.
What does your gut tell you about our current economic situation and when it will improve? It seems like there’s a lot of pent-up demand and a lot of clients who realize they can’t replace lot size, community, neighbors and school district in their current home. They like where they live so they look at remodeling and how to make their home the place they want it to be. They don’t want to move.
As you were growing up, what did you want to be? I wanted to be an environmental engineer and save the trees. I was frustrated at the development around us, and they’d clear the trees. I went to school as an environmental engineer, which means working sewer treatment plants, which doesn’t seem like fun.
What do you most treasure? My girls. I have two little girls and a wife, all of whom I love dearly.
What motivates you every day? Fear of failure.