One of the great joys I have in writing this column is that I get the opportunities to meet a wide variety of leaders. Some have been leading for decades and are in a stage of life where they are mentoring others while others are in the building phase of their career. Having studied the lives of so many leaders, I like to think that I am able to spot leaders on the rise. My interviewee this week, Tyler Harrison, is one of those young leaders that I believe will be making his mark. Harrison, a native of Monroe, Louisiana, is the owner of Harrison Homes, a residential construction company in Madison, Mississippi.
A talented athlete, Harrison played junior college baseball before continuing on to Delta State where he played his junior and senior year and graduated with a degree in business. Following a dream to be in the construction industry, he went on to earn a second undergraduate degree at the University of Louisiana at Monroe in construction. For the next 12 years, Harrison worked as a construction project manager with Brasfield & Gorrie, a large Alabama based construction firm and Mid State Construction, a Mississippi based firm. During this time, he had the opportunity to work on large scale projects such as expansions at Baptist Hospital, St. Catherine’s Village, and Jackson Academy. He also worked on a large condominium project in Houston, Texas. Harrison noted, “B&G and Mid State both approach business relationships with honesty at the top of the priority list. That’s something that’s ingrained in their culture, and is also ingrained in me. They also provided me many opportunities as a young leader to learn and develop as a leader.”
Pre-2008, it seemed like everyone I knew was trying to get into the construction business whether qualified or not. Most of those people have returned to their old jobs or moved on; however, Harrison decided to follow his passion and step out of his fast track trajectory as a commercial construction industry leader and start his own homebuilding company. He explained, “My initial interest in construction rooted from an interest in homebuilding. This seemed like the right move for a long time. I enjoy time at home and love thinking about the aspects of a home that can make it better or more enjoyable for a family.” As any entrepreneur knows, it is never easy launching a new business, but Harrison’s experience, leadership style, and commitment to excellence have allowed him to develop a thriving business quickly.
Harrison shared that his baseball days have been influential on his character and leadership style. He shared, “Playing college baseball taught me to be a team player, to take constructive criticism, and push through tough times.” He also emphasized the life lessons he learned from his family that have prepared him for this journey. “My dad has a work ethic that is contagious. He will not cut corners and always finishes what he starts. While my maternal grandfather died when I was young, he was a colonel in the air force and was regarded highly because of his achievements and humble nature. My paternal grandfather was a successful small business owner in southern Arkansas, who was very diligent, yet quiet and humble.”
Harrison is a humble “hands on” leader. He explained, “I have always been impressed with people who lead by example, and I strive to lead by example rather than by portraying myself as better than, or above someone else. I strive to help those around me succeed, but continue to work hard and stand firm to ensure my own success as well.” For other aspiring leaders he emphasized the importance of learning from others and becoming a working “not only a leader but also a teammate.” I am always encouraged to be around talented leaders who have the courage to follow their dreams. I expect we will see Harrison making an impact in the community for years to come.[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, September 19, 2014.]