While it is mere chance that Dan Hartsough’s and Richard Hart’s surnames both begin with “Hart,” it is no coincidence they are in business together — and that their business, Harts Services in Tacoma, Washington, is thriving.
“This is year four, and we’re at about 32 employees this year,” Hartsough says. “We’ve basically doubled every year.”
Hartsough and Hart, now in their mid-30s, have known each other since junior high.
“We were childhood friends,” Hartsough says. “We grew up together in California.”
Their paths drifted apart for several years after high school graduation, however, with Hartsough heading to Colorado and Hart making his way to Hawaii. Hartsough honed his skills as a businessman while Hart established a successful career as a plumber.
And then, nearly 15 years later, a chance meeting brought them together again.
“Rich was down at his parents’ house for Thanksgiving, and I had happened to drive by because I was at our other best friend’s parents’ house,” Hartsough says. “I just saw him outside, stopped in, and said, ‘What’s up?’”
Hart, who had recently relocated his family to Washington and was unhappy where he was working, convinced Hartsough, who had just returned to California and was searching for his next adventure, to come help set up a plumbing company.
“I said, ‘I’ll give you six months, man,’” Hartsough says. “That was the beginning of something really awesome.”
Now, Hart manages the plumbing side of the business while Hartsough manages the business side.
“We built our company with the motto ‘We care more’ because every job we go to, we want to create a lifetime customer,” Hart says.” That means taking great care to hire and train the right people, which they take very seriously.
“Great people make great company,” Hart says. “Our culture is key. You have to have great people to make an awesome company.” “They feel like it’s their company,” Hartsough adds. “At the end of all our company meetings, we ask, ‘Whose company is this?’ And they all yell back, ‘Ours!’ They all know that we couldn’t do it without them.”
THAT’S A WRAP
Harts Services is almost exclusively a residential company that performs about 60% sewer work and 40% plumbing, though they have been working on ramping up the plumbing side more and recently completed a company-wide rebranding effort. They are members of best-practices organizations Nexstar Network and CEO Warrior.
“Mike [Agugliaro] from CEO Warrior helped us come up with the wrap design,” Hartsough says. “He had us go around and take pictures of all the service vans of all our competition in our market, and everyone was blue, and red, and white, and some guys who were yellow. But nobody was orange.”
Harts Services wrapped its services vehicles — primarily Mercedes Sprinters and one Dodge ProMaster — in the new design, as well as their install vehicles, pump trailers, and excavators.
“Everybody loves them. We’re like a big huge orange UFO driving down the street. Everywhere I go now, people say they see our trucks around,” Hartsough says. “The guys really like driving it, too. It does differentiate us.”
As they enter their fifth year in business, Hart and Hartsough hope not just grow but also give back to the community through continuing involvement with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Adopt-a-Highway.
“Our guys actually go out and clean the highway themselves,” Hartsough explains. “They take a lot of pride in it.”
As for the company’s financial growth, “We’re shooting for the moon,” Hartsough says. “You can ask anyone in this company — we’re going to $20 million by 2025.”