My father, David Harris, started as a Painter in the industry when he was just 18 years old. At 20 he started his own Painting Company, David Harris Painting. His dedication to providing high quality craftsmanship and ensuring customer satisfaction kept him in business for more than 30 years.
I first started working for my father in 2012 as a minimum wage employee. After my first two years, my father "threw me into the lion's den" as it were, meaning I had to figure out how to manage and complete projects all by myself, rather than working under another Crafstman. It was a very difficult experience for me at first, as I had never had to handle so much responsibility before. Needless to say, this caused me to grow and mature quite rapidly.
By 2016, I had finally successfully convinced my father to branch out from painting. We already had to do a lot of drywall repair and finish carpentry as painters, so we were familiar with that. I also happened to have some additional knowledge of carpentry and tiling from previous years in schooling, and I wanted to provide more services to our customers.
We finally started taking on larger Remodel and Renovation projects. It was a painful growth period. Estimating Remodel and Renovation projects is a lot more complicated than a simple paint job, or trim replacement. My father made a lot of mistakes that cost us a lot of money, and needless to say there was some internal conflict as a result.
Finally, in 2018 we faced our most painful learning lesson. We took on an Insurance Renovation project where a tree fell through a house which went south half way through. The reason was due to our inexperience in working with an insurance claim on a property that was still mortgaged. The involvement of the Mortgage Company caused a lot of delays that we weren't prepared for.
We hit a snag when we needed to supply a change order for additional work. It's been so long I forget the details, but we discovered additional damage in the lower floors from water damage due to the roof being open that wasn't originally accounted for. I wasn't in control of management back then, so all I know is that the Mortgage company too forever to issue the second check so we could finally finish the roof, now that the framing was completed. And there was no indication whatsoever about a third check, or the change order being approved, even after weeks of no productivity due to no funds.
We finally had to issue them a cease and desist notice for nonpayment which gave them one more week to pay us in order to continue the job. But they still failed to pay us, so we had no choice but to pull off the job. This was the first time we ever had to deal with nonpayment. And this happened in the dead of winter, during the slowest period of the year for Contractors.
It's a growing pain not unlike anything my father had ever experienced before. The difference this time was that he was older and his health was declining, and also, his son was now poised to take over the company. So, as a result of this latest growing pain he decided it was high time for him to retire and leave the company to me.
This was, once again, my father "throwing me into the lion's den." We were planning on a slow transition where he could train me in all the various details of sales and management, but instead he decided I would be just fine figuring it all out myself.
So, here I was with no money in my pocket, no website, no idea how to market a business, and finding out that I can't even inherit my fathers business because it was a Sole Proprietorship. Legally, I had to start my own business. So I settled on the name "Harris Home Improvement" in order to tie into my father's legacy and continue his tradition of High-Quality Craftsmanship at a Fair Price.
In retrospect, what I really should have done is sold myself as a Subcontractor to other Contractors so I could learn more from other Contractors about how they run their businesses. That said, I have learned just as much, if not more over these past five years starting and running my own business.
It certainly wasn't easy. I only made $25,000 in revenue my first year in business, which amounted to about $10,000 in income for the year, most of which was spent on failed marketing attempts, so I really didn't make anything that year. It was just one big long educational experience. My second year wasn't much better. With about $50,000 in revenue that year, I was able to help contribute a few months worth of bills to the household. I was very fortunate that the rest of my family was able to pick up the slack for me these first couple years.
In order for me to start and run my own business, I had to cut back to what I was more familiar with. I couldn't learn how to run a business, manage a business, market a business, and do the accounting for the business, while studying business and tax law to maintain compliance for my business, while also figuring out how to estimate projects and excel in sales, while working full time doing all the labor on my projects.
I had to take everything one small step at a time. So, I decided to go back to being a painting and restoration company until I got better at the business side of things. I knew how to estimate these projects with ease. Along the way I hired a few employees here and there. That was my next learning experience. Having to learn how to be a good leader. Needless to say I failed at that at first, too.
First I had to learn that hiring friends and family is a terrible idea because they will always be the first to disrespect you and betray you. Then I had to learn that just because someone says they are a professional with 20 years of experience doesn't mean they actually produce high quality results. Finally I had to learn how to teach people who think of themselves as professionals without offending them. This was most certainly the hardest lesson that took the longest to become even somewhat good at.
After those first 2 grueling years of scarcity and education, I became much more familiar and comfortable with the business side of things. It was time to begin expanding my services. I wanted to break into Kitchen and Bathroom remodeling.
However, my third year was the year COVID hit in March of 2020. I had 5 customers all lined up, some of them getting ready to sign, one of them already scheduled and ready to go. All 5 of them cancelled on me because of COVID. Understandable, of course, but certainly to my detriment.
March turned into April. April turned into May. Not a single phone call for business whatsoever. Three whole months of no income, no prospects, and no sense that anything would come. I finally sat down and began contemplating shutting down my business in order to take a hobby of mine more seriously.
This hobby of mine consists of promoting the co-creation of Alternative Global Society based on the Service to Other's Principles of Freedom, Equality and Sovereignty for all People. It just so happened that COVID-19 was making this idea much more popular. It was actually beginning to take root as a real possibility in people's minds for the first time as a result of all the obvious Government Corruption.
So, I literally sat and meditated making a decision to move ahead full throttle on my hobby instead and ended the meditation with affirmations that the Creator would provide the funds. As soon as I finished that affirmation, I got a phone call.
The phone call happened to be from a customer who wanted their Kitchen and two bathrooms remodelled. He kept me busy the whole rest of the year until Thanksgiving, and would have kept giving me work if A) he could have afforded it and B) I didn't FINALLY have another customer who wanted my services.
It was at this point that I figured I needed to completely surrender into the idea of really running and growing Harris Home Improvement as I simply couldn't deny the synchronicity between my meditation and that phone call. It seemed to me as if the Syncrhonicity was saying that growing Harris Home Improvement would eventually help me fund my hobby. So I decided to take it that much more seriously than ever before.
Perhaps it was a combination between my newfound determination and the fact that now, most people have been working from home and saving money not having to commute anymore that my fourth year became my busiest year so far. Still not quite busy enough to fund my hobby, but busy enough to pay most of my bills for the most of the year.
At the end of that year, I was blessed to go down to Houston, TX for the winter and do some work for some friends down there while also working with them towards the co-creation of our Alternative Society. Since then it's become a real serious thing that some very intelligent and talented people are participating in. First and foremost, we are working on the new Social Architecture as all the wheels of society have to be reinvented.
I am now at the end of my fifth year in business as of the latest re-writing this article. Again, my business has doubled its revenue finally allowing me to pay all of my share of the household bills, but still not abile to fund my hobby yet.
I have finally learned enough to know exactly how I wish to expand my business from here, insomuch that I can expand slowly, but surely, while maintaining the same high-quality level of Craftsmanship my father taught me so well. The only thing I have left to figure out, is how to double the number of phone calls I get so I can actually begin to expand.
Thank you for reading my story. Now that you know me a bit, why don't you go ahead and give me a call so I can get to know you a little? 860-817-7191
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