Reader Profile: Jerry Harness

July 3, 2014

Jerry Harness loves California and the fact that within two hours, depending on the direction he takes, he can be at the Pacific Ocean or the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “I have the best of both worlds here,” he says. The love he holds for California underscores the work he does as an erosion control and stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) consultant through Harness Consulting in Folsum, CA. His work takes him through the Central Valley region north to the San Francisco Bay area, the Sierras, and the Oregon border. He provides services to the residential, commercial, and public works sectors, mostly as a one-man operation, hiring and overseeing labor crews as needed as to avoid overhead costs. “I take a lot of pride in my work,” Harness says, adding that his business practices reflect that. “I make sure the job is done right, and if it’s not, we will remove it at my cost and make sure it’s put back together the correct way,” he says. “I’m available 24/7. In the event of an emergency or question, my phone is always on except when I go out of town on vacation. If I don’t have an answer to a question, I’ve got access to a team of people that I can call for an answer. I make sure everybody’s covered.” Harness says he loves that California is on the cutting edge of a lot of the newer development and erosion control and construction practices.

What He Does Day to Day
Harness starts off the morning heading to job sites and conducting weekly inspections. He also looks at projects of potential new clients on which he can bid. “That’s my day right there,” he points out. “Trying to get work estimates, taking care of clients I have, and making sure that everybody is in a good position and free of any fines!”

What Led Him Into This Line of Work
Harness served in the US Army before starting his own company. He came into this line of work inadvertently in 2000 when a developer for which he was working was about to get a fine at a construction site after a bad patch of weather. Harness got trained in running treatment systems to help mitigate the problem. “It was fascinating, because I loved chemistry in school, so it’s cool because you’re working with chemistry all day. It was by accident that I got into this, and I’ve done it ever since,” Harness says. He’s continued his education by taking online courses and participating in various seminars and webinars through the International Erosion Control Association. He’s also taken courses in water quality at Sacramento State University.

What He Likes Most About the Work
Keeping the outdoors looking beautiful is what Harness likes most about his work, he says. He’s an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing and hunting. “I like seeing habitat being well taken care of,” he says. “We all need to live somewhere, and I don’t mind people building wherever they want to build as long as they make sure they don’t destroy the habitat around it. It’s been here for a long time, and I hate to see it disturbed.”

His Greatest Challenge

As has been the case with many people in the industry, getting residential work has been a challenge for Harness given the downturn in the housing market. Like others, he’s learned to diversify-for him, that’s meant taking on more commercial work as well as getting into the public works market. “That seems to be where a lot of the work has been for a while,” he says. Getting his feet wet in the public works sector has entailed the challenge of learning about the art of paperwork as well as other dynamics. “I prefer private jobs where I have more say to take care of the clients at any time-I have no problem going out on a job site with light lamps working all night long if it means getting them taken care of, whereas with public works you’re limited to the hours they’re allowed to work on a site,” he says. But whatever job site he’s on, he’s grateful for the work…anything to keep his beloved state in a state that’s awe-inspiring.

About the Author

Carol Brzozowski

Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to resource management and technology.