Brian Harrison was determined to start his business, even with unemployment on the rise and the economy continuing a downward spiral in the early months of 2009.
Since 2001, he had worked for audio and visual companies, and by 2009, he had learned enough to realize he could do the same thing, but better.
His company, Intense Home Technology, has now grown to service homes and businesses throughout Denton County by installing audio and visual equipment such as speakers and televisions and specializing in custom-built home theater systems.
“I learned from the mistakes I saw, and I wanted to do it in a different manner and a little bit of higher quality,” Harrison said.
He had planned to start the business and set aside portions of his paycheck, and he decided to move forward in a rough economy without any financial backing or business loans to help jump-start the business. This made it hard to get new customers in a niche market, he said.
“All we had was word-of-mouth customers, which was good, but we weren’t really able to go out and get any new customers because at that time it was really difficult to get anyone to spend this kind of money,” he said. “There were really some down times with it, but I just never gave up on the goal that I set for myself.”
Between 2010 and 2011, however, he networked with custom homebuilders who put him in touch with clients who wanted specialized home theaters. Those theaters now make up about 70 percent of his business, he said.
Adding a home theater can take a few days or up to multiple weeks, and begins with a free consultation. Harrison listens to what the customer wants to get out of the theater and comes back with designs and an itemized list of what equipment needs to be purchased.
“We do a full engineering design for them so they can see what all the equipment does, and how it does its job,” he said.
They also show a design of the entire theater room, featuring the seating chart and size of the screen.
If a customer wants it, Harrison and his three other employees will figure out a way to get it done. Whether it’s adding a wet bar into the room, roped lighting from seats to the door, or installing a popcorn machine, they will make it happen, he said.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had to turn down any request,” he said. “If someone wants it done, we figure out how to get it done. You live and learn, and we’re always open for new experiences and trying to reach new goals.”
Other portions of his business include installing speakers throughout homes and installing televisions and audio equipment for outside patios.
Eddie Rodriguez, president of Landstar Exteriors, partners with Harrison on outdoor projects. Rodriguez’s company focuses on high-end pools and outdoor living areas, and he said at many of the jobs he has worked, the customers also need audio and visual help. While the two have been friends for a while, Harrison said once he started the business, he began suggesting IHT to his clients.
“It seemed like an awful amount of money to pay, so I started suggesting Brian, saying he’s reasonable and fair, and that’s all I’ve ever heard from customers,” Rodriguez said. “He’s fair, he’s priced well and does a good job. And as long as I have that to tell my customers, I feel good about [recommending him].”
Through partnerships with builders and other companies such as Landstar Exteriors, Harrison’s business has continued to grow and slowly build infrastructure. He still refuses to take out a loan but constantly reinvests profits into the business. Last year, they went through a rebranding where employees got new uniforms and had the work vehicles wrapped with the right logos.
The next step in the growth is adding a storefront in the next two years, Harrison said. He hopes to find a decent-sized space in Justin where he can fit a few showrooms to showcase different home theater and speaker set-ups, as well as thermostat, air conditioning and lighting systems they know how to install.
“We can handle several things, and we’d like to be able to display all of those things for the consumer to find them, see them and play with how they work,” he said. “I think it would be a lot easier for the consumer to make the decision for purchasing that for their home or business.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.