Long considered one of Brevard’s most respected and celebrated business leaders, Moses Harvin continues to move forward the company he and his wife Emma founded 25 years ago.
It is widely believed that there is no success without a successor, and it looks as though the Harvins will continue their business legacy through the emerging leadership of son Moses Havin II, along with daughters Cheri and Belinda.
EW: Though you are well known in the community, I can’t assume our readers are familiar with your story, would you recount it for me again?
MH-I (Moses Harvin Sr.): When I retired from the military, I always had the dream of launching a corporation. I think I get my entrepreneurial genes from my mother, who started a beauty salon right in our home, which two of my sisters still operate today. My parents were both inspiring: my dad worked in a furniture factory and, seeing how hard he worked, I decided that the only manufacturing company I would work in was one I owned.
While I was in the Army (as an Airborne Ranger) we lived all over the country and around the world, so my family was able to see how entrepreneurship worked even in different cultures. My last duty assignment was at Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) and, after I retired, Jake Dixon of Creative Management Technology was my mentor, helping me understand business development and planning. He more or less kicked me out the door and said, ‘Start your own business and I will help.’
American Services Technologies (ASTI), evolved into a multidisciplinary support services firm specializing in facilities support, operations and maintenance, logistics support and construction services for military bases and agencies across the country. Believe it or not, our first contract, are you ready for this, was the wedding coordinator at Patrick AFB. My wife Emma was our first project manager, and she has been my business partner for 25 years. And we grew from there. In 2008, she launched another company we own, One Source Office Products, a web-based office supply, technology and furniture business, servicing a variety of clients, including Office Max.
EW: Moses how old were you when the company launched and what made you want to work in the business?
MH-II (Moses Harvin II): I was in high school when the company started. By the time I went off to college, it was really beginning to scale, and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it. I thought about a career perhaps in banking or finance, but what dad and mom were building was a lot more exciting. I think I started working the week after I graduated from college.
MHI:By the way, my kids wanted to go to work in the company right away, but I insisted on them completing their education first.
EW: What do you consider the most challenging and most enjoyable aspect of the business?
MHII: There are challenges every day with a company our size and with multiple locations. My undergraduate degree was in finance and frankly, I would be happy creating and studying spreadsheets all day. Crafting, drafting and submitting proposals [is something] I enjoy. But the transition from winning a contract to sitting with the team to strategize how we will implement the proposal is really interesting. Also, helping to manage the contracts from a corporate level is gratifying.
EW: Same question to you Mr. Harvin?
MHI: In every business the most challenging issue is cash flow. I was fortunate to have a mentor who allowed me to see the inside of a corporation, which my children see now, [and] that was invaluable to me.
I suppose the aspect of my business that I enjoy the most is that we are able to provide jobs; that they can go to family and friends and talk about what they are doing. My wife will tell you that often we try to hire the underserved – the ones that didn’t seem to make the cut but given the opportunity, they are as bright and motivated as individuals with degrees. Plus, they value their jobs, you can see it and share that joy. We take care of them and they take care of our company. Being able to use the creative skills God has put in your hands is so rewarding.
EW: What is the most important business or life lesson you have learned from your father?
MHII: What dad says every day when he comes in is, everything we do is built on honesty and integrity. That is a cliché in a lot of companies, but it was how we were raised, so, how it works here is what we saw modeled at home. Also, the value of hard work and doing it right the first time, giving everything 100%.
EW: What do you admire the most about your son?
MHI: He and his sisters have an incredible work ethic; if things are difficult, he just hangs in there. I have always prayed that they would operate in integrity and honesty. You may be the smartest and the sharpest tool in the drawer, but if you don’t have integrity and honesty, it is all for nothing. That is what I am most proud of in all my children.