Mentor Helped Pull Strings for Builder Richard Harp - Southern Business Review


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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Mentor Helped Pull Strings for Builder Richard Harp

Richard Harp is the president of Richard Harp Homes Inc. of Little Rock. He served as a financial analyst at Tyson Foods from August 1993 to December 1995, then went to work as a senior analyst of business development at Alltel from December 1996 to June 2000. He started his homebuilding company in 1994 and is a member of the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board.

Harp earned a bachelor’s degree in financial management in 1993 from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master’s degree in business administration in 1998 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Richard Harp Homes specializes in custom residential construction ranging from 3,000 SF to 15,000 SF with project values ranging from $400,000 to $2.5 million and renovations ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.

What led you to become a homebuilder?
From a young age, I fell in love with building with Lincoln Logs and Lego sets. As a teenager, I built treehouses in my [Little Rock] neighborhood, St. Charles, from scrap building materials that I was given as payment for cleaning up job sites for local builders.

As a college graduate, I could not qualify to buy a home, given my financial position at the time. I started researching the costs associated with building a home, read the “Visual Handbook of Building & Remodeling,” found a banker willing to help me and jumped into building my first home. I had lots of help.

What are some of the hot trends in custom home construction?
Smart home technology is the fastest-growing trend in custom home construction. Clients can control their TV, music, lighting, security, heating and air conditioning and even the operation of their pool from the convenience of their cellphone, tablet, computer or proprietary devices located in the home.

What are some of the most interesting projects or features you’ve undertaken to build?
We have built on a sandy lot in the floodway of the Arkansas River, where an architect and five engineers were involved to handle the designs of the home, which included an octagonal living room with a wood-beamed vaulted ceiling. We have built high-end custom homes, some with six-figure movie theater-level accoutrements and hotel-worthy pools and vistas. A few projects were perched on mountainsides, offering breathtaking 180-degree views.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
That there is no replacement for experience. And that experience takes patience.

When I started building, I was just a kid trying to build a house for myself and maybe earn some money if I could build and sell other homes at a profit. I was just learning as I went 25 years ago and am thankful for the lessons learned that didn’t end my career as a builder.

What is your most important mistake that helped shape your career?
Communication is key in any building project. Over-communication is a key to success in a custom-building process. Assuming that my client knew enough at each turn to make good decisions was a mistake I made a few times years ago. Now, we lead clients through a soul-searching, wish-listing process to understand better what they really feel they need and truly desire. By utilizing over-communication, we have found significant reductions in misconceptions and misunderstandings.

Who are your mentors?
My grandfather encouraged me to follow my passion and desire to build homes in 1994. He loaned me $10,000 as capital for my business. My grandfather always served as a sounding board, voice of reason and source of wisdom in how to deal with clients and subcontractors.

Most of all, my grandfather served as a gentle motivator as he always believed in me.