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Against All Odds: Interview with Harmony Brown
By Kendra Budd, Editor
It is no secret that in the home inspection industry there aren’t many Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, nor are there many women. In a landscape where diversity and representation are still making strides, Harmony Brown, a remarkable woman of color, the visionary CEO behind GreenWorks Inspections & Engineering, stands as a shining example of resilience and achievement who has broken through barriers with unwavering determination—a true success story.
Always striving toward innovation and excellent service, GreenWorks Inspections & Engineering has carved a distinguished niche across Texas, spanning more than 45 cities and conducting over 18,000 inspections annually. Renowned for their pioneering spirit, the company’s portfolio encompasses comprehensive structural engineering services, with an impressive collective of experts on-staff, including Structural Engineers, Engineers in Training, and Drafters.
As evidenced by her company’s five-star reviews, Brown’s journey stands as a testament against adversity, bolstering her GreenWorks legacy for an impressive thirteen years.
In an interview with Harmony Brown, we delved a little deeper into her motivations. Here’s what she told us:
Question: What drew you to home inspecting? How did you get started?
Brown: My journey into home inspections was accidental. I was in college—22 years old, in my fifth year of school. I was lost, bouncing from place to place and struggling to find a major that I could truly enjoy. I knew it was possible—that I could find something where I could be both happy and successful.
I found a course on Google that basically said, “Hey, here’s the way to find your passion!” I went through this course, and it turns out I’m incredibly passionate about houses and real estate (and I love watching HGTV). The course was designed to help me find the things that I most liked and enjoyed. That led me to real estate school, which led me to a lot more research.
I spent a lot of time picking up the phone, calling appraisers and asking them what they did. Then I called the mortgage brokers, and the real estate agents, and so on. I found different reasons for why each of them wasn’t a great fit for me, but then I got to the home inspectors and I asked what they did for a living. Their days consisted of going out, meeting Realtors®, trying to build a business and if they were lucky, they got to do inspections for half the day. They had to build a pipeline of marketing in order to get those sales. I listened to their whole spiel, and I asked, “Do you guys enjoy doing this?” And they said, “No, I hate it.” That’s when I knew, “That’s it! That’s what I can do!” The realization struck me like a lightning bolt. I was certain I could get work for these guys.
I began walking down that path: going out and trying to get that work. Starting out, I was terrible at it. I had the drive and the will, but it took me a very long time to figure out the process. I had no money, no connections, and no real skill. However, it was something that I wanted to do so I kept at it. 16 months later, I finally got my first customer. Once I hit that milestone, I had to grind another four months to get my second one. I was working at it full-time, and it was a huge challenge, but I didn’t give up! I knew it was something I could figure out if I just kept going. Luckily, that second customer was very satisfied and told other people about me, which led to more customers, and I just kind of built my business slowly. One customer a week led to one a day; one a day led to one an hour, and now we are one of the top two largest privately-owned inspection companies in the nation! We’ve been doing it for 13 years and I’m always looking forward to growing and doing more.
Question: What inspired you to start your own company? Can you tell me a little bit about GreenWorks?
Brown: I wasn’t really looking to start a business per se. I was looking to find a place where I could add value and make a difference. I couldn’t find anyone who saw my potential and was willing to take a chance on me. GreenWorks’ entire business in the beginning was just me trying to connect home inspectors to clients, and back in 2009 that was a very difficult thing to do.
Today, we have a full suite of services—we offer just about any service you might think of relating to home inspections. We can service most needs in the commercial realm as well—multifamily properties and skyscrapers to small warehouses and everything in between. Our environmental consulting department has been very successful; we don’t do any remediation, but we do all the testing and consulting for lead paint, asbestos, and mold. Our structural engineering department has grown exponentially, and the services they offer include any sort of plans or design work that someone may need for renovations or new construction. Those, along with residential and commercial property inspections, are our main areas of focus, though we are always brainstorming for services that will add value for our clients.
Question: Are there any challenges you have faced as a BIPOC woman when you first started in this industry or even today?
Brown: Absolutely. I think there’s always a feeling like you need to prove yourself. You need to go above and beyond. I think that some people really excel at that. They come into it with a great mindset of, “I’m willing to do more to prove that I’m the best because I know it’ll help me become the best.” That’s the kind of attitude that I’ve always had, even though it can be frustrating to feel like you have to do twice as much. You have to build a team, build culture, and convince clients that you’ve got the absolute best service for them—and not looking like everyone else does make a difference. I just embrace standing out and providing great value.
It hasn’t always been easy getting work as a person of color. I mean, no one was openly saying “I’m not going to work with you for this reason,” but some of the people I met didn’t have to say it, I just knew why. But I always tell myself, “Well, I’ll just keep doing a great job and eventually, you’ll hear about us and we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to stay around and we’re going to keep doing our thing.” And here we are.
We’ve got nearly 30 inspectors within the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Our team boasts 60 inspectors across the state and 13 skilled engineers. In total, we’re proud to have 85 dedicated field members, which includes our engineering and environmental technicians. Our company has a total workforce of 119 team members, and we’re supported by a fantastic network of partners who add value to every transaction.
Our aim is for every home inspector in Texas to be familiar with GreenWorks. Most Texas inspectors have at least heard of us within three years of launching their career—an achievement we take great pride in. Our grand ambition is to serve millions of homes across the nation. Currently, we cover the entire state of Texas and we’re going to continue to grow our capabilities and eventually extend our services beyond Texas when the opportunity arises. It’s really about having that mindset, leading with integrity, and being willing to work harder than others to get ahead. When you do the work, you reap the benefits of it.
Question: There are not many BIPOC individuals or women in the home inspection industry nowadays. Why do you think that is?
Brown: I think people tend to get drawn to industries and businesses where they see people that look like themselves. Positions in the home inspection industry are predominantly occupied by white men, which might discourage diverse people from entering the field. I also think there’s a lack of understanding of how many different types of opportunities exist in the home services industry, because the home services field is often perceived as a self-starter business, which can be intimidating.
I’m really proud of my achievements and the incredible team that has come together over the years. There’s no question: I could never have done any of this without them. We encourage each other. We challenge each other. We cheer on all the innovators in our company striving to build something really special together—that’s what has led us to this level of success. With what we’ve achieved, I hope others can look to my example and know that there are opportunities for them in this field. Over the 13 years I’ve been in the industry, I’m proud to say I see it becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive.
Question: Do you have any advice for those who want to get started in home inspecting?
Brown: Call us! There are different ways to get into home inspections or even the home service industry in general. We are open to hiring people with zero experience who are interested in getting into the business. We can help you build your career from the ground up and show you how to get started so you can go to school, earn credits, do the schooling while working with us, and see if it’s a good fit. We have a lot of friends in the industry, plus we have an abundance mindset. We’re trying to help the industry grow and thrive and succeed.
Becoming a home inspector can be difficult due to the cost of schooling, which can cost up to $3,000. Not everybody has that kind of money or time to invest, but if you can be working for a company in the career that you want while going to school then it can be an amazing opportunity. We take pride in being able to offer that. We can lead you to the right path and help you pick a good school with great instructors.
Question: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
Brown: If you’re interested in the field of real estate, the best thing you can do in my opinion is to actually talk to the people who do the job. Talk to as many people as you can. Ask questions. I think it’s important and helpful in the decision-making process. We will be completely honest with you about what it is like to work as a home inspector, so you can make an informed decision whether that’s the path you want to go down.
There’s a lot to consider; if you want to get involved it’s going to be an investment like any great career. It is an awesome career though! If you love it, and you love houses, and you love people, then you can definitely succeed. If you are looking to join a team that really pushes you to succeed, check us out at GreenWorksInspections.com.
We guarantee our inspectors a minimum of four to five home inspections per week, offer a wide range of benefits, a flexible schedule, and we are always growing!
About the Author
Kendra Budd is the Editor of Working RE Magazine and Marketing Coordinator for OREP Insurance. She graduated with a BA in Theatre and English from Western Washington University, and with an MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. She is currently based in Seattle, WA.
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