Jennifer Garrett-Hart Builds Successful Construction Company

Kansas City District Office  - June 2022

u s small business administration

Jennifer Garrett-Hart Builds Successful Construction Company

In 2008, at the height of the recession, Jennifer Garrett-Hart was furloughed from a commercial architecture firm. Hart, who graduated from the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at Kansas State University, turned to volunteer work using her “design capabilities.” After a few months, she joined a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company as a project manager. While managing one of the HVAC projects, a general contractor asked her that fateful question, "Why aren’t you doing this on your own?" That sparked her entrepreneurial plan to start her own business. In 2011, she founded Hartline Construction, LLC with just three employees. As a woman-owned, disadvantaged business enterprise certified construction company, Hartline Construction offers services in carpentry, painting, flooring, selective concrete, and demolition in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.

While working on her architecture degree, Hart did not take a single business course. However, since becoming a business owner, she's done her homework. “Since I first opened my company, the one thing I was very concerned about was that we would not last more than five years,” Hart said. “So, I put myself in every business class offered.”

Since 2013, with the help of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) resource partner, the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UMKC, Hart has received the technical assistance necessary to put her company on a sustainable path for future growth. The SBDC staff provides training classes and one-on-one consulting that are key resources for local entrepreneurs like Hart. Additionally, their Certified Business Consultants provide many specialized services like financial analysis, growth acceleration services, international trade, and government contracting.

Hart applied for both rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) during the Covid-19 pandemic. She received total loan forgiveness since 60% was spent on her payroll costs and the other 40% on authorized business expenses. She also received the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the $10,000 EIDL grant administered by the SBA. “Without the SBDC’s timely advice and direction, my business would not have received these loans and grants,” Hart said. “The low-interest loans provided by the SBA were especially helpful for my business.”

Despite the challenges of being a woman in the construction industry and the challenges of the recent pandemic, Hartline Construction demonstrated great resiliency and experienced growth in sales and employees. The company increased sales from $3.9 million in 2019 to $11.5 million in 2021 and its employees from 78 to 287.

"Sometimes it's difficult being a female in a male-dominated business," said Hart. "It's difficult to navigate when you aren’t part of it.” But that did not stop Hart from putting in a bid and successfully winning one of the first projects at the Kansas City International Airport terminal. "It's a great feeling to know we're on such a big project," Hart said.

“One quote I have lived by since opening Hartline Construction, LLC is: ‘She thought (believed) she could, and so she did.’ As a female-degreed architect turned contractor entering the man's world of construction, “I thought (believed) I could, I have been doing it, and will continue to do it, and build it,” she concluded.

Disclaimer: SBA’s participation or support is not an endorsement of any products, service, or entity.

hart

Jennifer Garrett-Hart, Owner and President of Hartline Construction, LLC, located in Kansas City, Mo.

Hartline employees2

Hartline Construction, LLC employees gather with Hart (center) who received SBA's 2022 Missouri's Small Business Person of the Year.   

Hartline employees

Jennifer Garrett-Hart, Owner and President, Hartline Construction, LLC, thanks her employees and others during SBA award ceremony.