Community//

“Begin to implement the plan.” With Rich and John Harty

We have a truly remarkable friend who was born with muscular dystrophy and was given only a few years to live. Through his determination and perseverance, combined with the love and support of his caring family and friends, he is now 52 years old. He has a customized wheelchair that offers him the freedom to […]

We have a truly remarkable friend who was born with muscular dystrophy and was given only a few years to live. Through his determination and perseverance, combined with the love and support of his caring family and friends, he is now 52 years old. He has a customized wheelchair that offers him the freedom to the motor to his full-time job as a manager of a recreational center. Every day he overcomes constant pain and struggles with an upbeat, positive personality and an ever-present infectious smile. He is a marvel who embodies all definitions of what it means to be resilient.


I had the pleasure to interview Rich and John Harty.

Rich and John are brothers and business partners in two smaller boutique companies — a residential construction management firm and a residential real estate firm. They have a hands-on approach to operating both companies. It is quite simple: when you hire the Hartys, you get the Hartys.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Rich and I were born and raised in Highland Park, Illinois, both attending Deerfield grade, middle and high schools. In 1981, I started John G. Harty, Ltd, a general contracting company serving the Northshore of Chicago. Prior to that time, I had a successful career with Peabody Midwest as a labor foreman overseeing more than one hundred tradespeople. Rich attended and graduated from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb in 1987.

After a short career with Canon Ambassador, he joined me in 1989 to help build the general contracting company. Together, we developedit into the construction management company that it is today. In 2009, Rich and I started Harty Realty Group, a boutique real estate firm. The Harty Realty Group specializes in being a residential buyer agency, working solely with buyers throughout the home buying process.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Throughout our 40-year careers, there are an abundance of interesting stories and situations. A few stand out. For example, one project involved doing a complete renovation of an existing 3,500-square-foot, two-story home in Highland Park, Illinois. The project included adding on three things: 1) several thousand square feet for an indoor pool; 2) a new family room space; and 3) a three-car garage. To achieve all three project goals, it required us lifting the home and reworking the existing foundation. There were challenges from the beginning as one would expect from having to lift up a home. The largest challenge is to ensure that the existing home would remain structurally sound during construction and beyond. In the end, we did it and the client is thrilled with their renovated home.

Time and time again, the takeaway is through our knowledge, dedication, and determination, we can always find a winning resolution. In fact, we believe that the key to achieving success and realizing any goal is to remain resilient throughout any challenge, whether professional or persona.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are brothers and business partners in two smaller boutique companies — a residential construction management firm and a residential real estate firm. We have a hands-on approach to operating both companies. It is quite simple: when you hire the Hartys, you get the Harty’s. We love what we do. Whether we are building homes or showing homes, we create an enjoyable, exciting experience for our clients.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

In 1995, John and I had a booth at the Lake Forest Home & Garden Show. An attendee visited our booth to gather information about an extensive remodeling project that he had in mind for a home in the area. After a brief discussion, he repeatedly excused himself to take cigarette breaks. After several times, John and I looked at each other quizzically and John wondered whether or not this guy “could be for real”. Yet each time he did come back as promised and that afternoon we set up a meeting for the following week. This was the beginning of managing several large scale multi-million dollar projects over 25 years in many of his homes throughout the U.S. Over the years this extraordinary client became a trusted business adviser and more importantly, a very close personal friend.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Rich and I believe that having a positive attitude, flexibility, gratitude, personal strength, and hard work are key components of being resilient.

I also feel that you have to believe in yourself and be committed to your goals. Rich emphasizes that resiliency is also the ability to bounce back from a difficult situation.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

We have a truly remarkable friend who was born with muscular dystrophy and was given only a few years to live. Through his determination and perseverance, combined with the love and support of his caring family and friends, he is now 52 years old. He has a customized wheelchair that offers him the freedom to the motor to his full-time job as a manager of a recreational center. Every day he overcomes constant pain and struggles with an upbeat, positive personality and an ever-present infectious smile. He is a marvel who embodies all definitions of what it means to be resilient.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

In 1991, two very successful and well-respected business associates discouraged us from changing the direction of our company and creating a new business model. We listened and, successfully transitioned from just being a general contracting firm with dozens of employees to focusing solely on a construction management approach. We listened yet followed our own advice. As construction managers, Rich and I act as a liaison between the homeowner, architect, designer, and tradespeople; overseeing all phases of the project. The decision to restructure our company has given us the ability to provide a higher level of service and project management to our clients.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

In 2008–09, imagine owning both a real estate and custom home building business. That took resilience. During the height of the financial crisis, many contractors walked away from their contract obligations throughout the country. Rich and I were not spared setbacks, as some of our project contractors also closed shop without notice; leaving us in economic hardship. At the time we had several projects in motion and our clients were relying on us to finish on time and on budget. Rich and I worked overtime to fulfill the contractor’s obligations for our clients. We were determined to get to the finish line and we were able to complete all projects without financial consequence to our clients. Today, our businesses remain resilient.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

To support our family of seven, our mom worked full time; while our dad worked two jobs. Dad would return home from his day job, eat a quick dinner, and then head back out to his second job. Mom would come home after a full day of work, too, Without issue, she’d prepare dinner, do the laundry, clean the house, and be our tutor, helping 5 kids with their homework. Our parent’s work ethic and approach to handling family commitments and financial strains provided a lasting example of determination and resiliency that we carry with us every day.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are the 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Recognition of an obstacle or stumbling block.
  2. Devise and build a plan to overcome/navigate the obstacle.
  3. Begin to implement the plan.
  4. Seek and foster supportive and positive relationships.
  5. Awareness and pride in successfully navigating any part of the obstacle.

Each step listed above is the way we take action to become more resilient in business. Personally, it reminds us daily of our extraordinary friend with muscular dystrophy and the valiant way he lives life is our touchpoint. He is a true hero to us.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Rich and I both strive to inspire a world that abolishes hatred. The movement we believe would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people would be a campaign to restore respect, compassion, consideration, and kindness for others. The construction and real estate business can be rough. We strive to show respect, compassion, consideration, kindness, and resilience daily with every client.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

We both admire Jimmy Carter for his humanitarian beliefs and efforts. He truly has shown what it means to be resilient through his life’s work. Despite many setbacks, he has bounced back and continues to be a leader even today at 95.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

First, we wish to thank our Instagram and Social Media Strategist Niles Clark and Publicist Carolyn Barth. Fotis Georgiodis, thank you for interviewing us about Rising through Resilience.

Please follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn:

https://hartyrealty.com

Instagram: @Hartyrealtygroup

Rich Harty LinkedIn

https://johnharty.com

Instagram: @jghltd

John G. Harty LinkedIn

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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