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Meet Mike Hart of Titan Contracting Services in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Hart.

Mike, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Titan Contracting Services is a family owned General Contracting business between me, my brother-in-law (Eran) and his Uncle (Avi). Avi started a structural steel business in LA almost 30 years ago that Eran is the General Manager of. Almost exactly 12 years ago my sister met Eran in New York City, they fell in love, she moved across the country to be with him, converted to being Orthodox Jewish, they got married and now have three awesome kids.

While all that was going on, I was getting a degree in Civil Engineering with a focus in Construction Management from Penn State. I graduated in 2009 and went to work for Clark Construction in Washington DC. At the end of 2012 I quit my job in DC and moved back in to my mom’s place in the small town of Indiana, Pennsylvania where I grew up in order to start a different business with my dad. The initial idea behind this business was to get involved in the natural gas boom that was happening in Western Pennsylvania, but in order to produce income my dad started doing computer programming consulting for the company he used to work for. We ended up staying on this path and I still operate this business with my dad today.

Around the same time my dad and I were starting our business, I made a trip to LA to visit. Me and Eran started talking about business ideas and we were actually going to start a fruit basket delivery business (kind of similar to Edible Arrangements). We even had the fruit vendor and business outline drawn up, but then the vendor fell through so we started talking about other ideas. We settled on a Deputy Inspection scheduling company and called it Titan Contracting Services. I actually filed for the business entity documents from my old bedroom in my mom’s house and made arrangements to move to LA. I moved out in early September 2012. I actually drove solo cross country and stayed at campsites all the way out. So when I got out here we weren’t having that much luck with the deputy inspection business (which I quickly learned was pretty boring anyway) so Eran’s uncle had a few houses that needed built and said we could do them to just to keep the business going. It ended up being an amazing idea!!! With our backgrounds we we’re actually perfectly suited for being a General Contractor for high end custom homes.

We just had one of our houses sell for $6.5mill and we have another on the market for $16mill!!! We’ve come a long way from where we started. One of the biggest points I’d like to make is both of the businesses I’ve started changed from our original plan. At some point, we very organically pivoted to a new idea. We also never wrote a business plan, hired consultants or had outside invest. We just started, worked smart and bootstrapped everything.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Absolutely not!!! There have been more challenges than I can count…I remember the first day I started my business with my dad he wouldn’t talk to me. He just got in a bad mood and shut me out. I basically told myself “Well that’s it. Call your old boss and ask for your job back”. But I didn’t. I slept on it, got up the next day and when back at it. Perseverance is so key to success.

There’s challenges every day in the construction business. Just last year we had to sue one of our clients just to get paid. It was a year long ordeal that hung over our heads like a black cloud. It turns out the client was running a Ponzi scheme and we even got subpoenaed by the FBI!!! We eventually got everyone paid and it ended up building a lot of trust with our subs.

I’m actually right in the middle of dealing with a major challenge where a project we just started wasn’t engineered correctly (not cool!). There are challenges everyday but we just preserver through them.

Please tell us about Titan Contracting Services.
For the business with me and my dad we do computer programming consulting primarily for water treatment plants. We do business all over the country from Pennsylvania, California and Hawaii.

For our General Contracting business, we currently specialize in high end custom residential single family home construction. Most of our houses are for spec developers, but we do have some high-profile clients where we work on the homes they live in. Our homes sell from $3 million all the way up to $20 million!!! For this business, we specialize in quality over quantity. We set ourselves apart by paying attention to detail and the system we implement to track the projects progress.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I wouldn’t have worried so much. Some worry is good because it keeps you on your toes, but having been in business for myself for 6 years I realize that a lot of the things I worried about worked themselves out.

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