Veterans in Construction: Stephanie Prosser

Veterans in Construction: Stephanie Prosser

The owner of a home renovation and construction firm joined the military to ‘see the world,’ but came away from the experience with invaluable business skills

It was a little more than a decade ago when Stephanie Prosser decided she needed a change.

And this wasn’t the first time. Growing up in a tiny North Carolina town, Prosser had graduated in a high school class of 32 students, went to community college and then, wanting to see the world, joined the United States Army.

Stephanie Prosser

Prosser spent the majority of the next four years deployed in Iraq, coming back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord—more commonly referred to as JBLM—near Tacoma, Washington. After her stint in active duty, Prosser spent two more years as an Army contractor, also stationed in Iraq.

In 2009, Prosser decided to retire from the military and join civilian life. In between deployments, she’d purchased a condo in the Tacoma area, hired people to do a few renovations and rented it while she was overseas.

Now back, Prosser was looking at her next chapter.

And watching a lot of HGTV.

“I loved the [renovation and house flipping] shows, and thought, ‘Wait—I can do that!’” Prosser remembered. And so, for the next few years, while holding down a day job as a project manager at a local painting company, Prosser managed a side job of buying properties, renovating them and renting them out.

Going full throttle

Prosser’s side gig was going so well that she created Prosser Construction as a separate company. Her ideal project: taking homes that looked to be on the verge of decay and turning them into palaces.

“I love real estate and old houses. The older, the better; it’s a sick addiction,” Prosser said jokingly. “We would take old, rundown homes and fix them up and flip them. These are homes that were usually the eyesores of the neighborhood. I love bringing them back to life. When me and my team finished a project, often the neighbors would come over and thank us for helping their community.”

In 2017, Prosser decided to quit her full-time job and dive into running her construction company. The decision wasn’t taken lightly.

Signs of motivational slogans in Prosser’s office.

“It was terrifying to leave a good-paying job with exceptional benefits and take a gamble, but the market was good and I decided to go for it,” said Prosser, who added that she’d been thinking about doing so for at least two years before taking the leap of faith.

Business continued to take off, with Prosser and her crew busy doing residential flips until mid-2018, when the market began heat up too much. “The market was so good here in Washington that I couldn’t find enough houses to flip,” she said. “I thought, ‘How am I going to keep my crew busy?’”

Clients frequently asked Prosser and her team to do bathroom and flooring renovations, and with the gap in business, she realized it was a low-hanging opportunity. Business picked back up and, while she still flips houses today, Prosser Construction does a variety of other work, including handyman services, a service she launched a few months ago as an hourly offering.

“We just go out and fix things really fast,” Prosser said. “I’ve found that it is easy to build a process to create efficiency and internal infrastructure that is smooth, and I’m all about that because eventually I plan for my business to run itself.”

Military experience at heart

Prosser’s military experience is always close to her heart, and she is committed to hiring veterans as well as military spouses. This included her company’s office assistant, Beth Hunley.

“It’s hard for military spouses to find employment because we move every two t three years, which doesn’t look good on a resume even if you’re educated in a particular field,” said Hunley, who met Prosser in 2019 through a mutual friend. Prosser was looking for someone to do marketing and business development and, although Hunley didn’t have that exact experience, Prosser hired her on the spot.

More motivational signs featured in Prosser’s office.

“In the interview, I told her that I’m a good worker and trustworthy,” Hunley remembered. “We had a connection and she hired me right there.”

Hunley now helps out in many aspects of Prosser’s business and loves the job. When her husband, an Army chaplain, was relocated to Honolulu from Tacoma, Hunley started working remotely without a problem.

“I’m amazed at how positive Stephanie is in every situation,” Hunley said. “She is always seeing the best in people, even in stressful situations.”

This proclivity for the positive is something Prosser actively cultivates. This is evident upon walking into her office, which is decorated with a wall of positive affirmations: “Believe You Can,” “Life Isn’t a Race … Find Joy in the Journey,” “Today Is a Good Day” and “Strive for Progress, Not Perfection.” “I give myself pep talks all the time,” Prosser said. “Before I go walk into a room, before I get out of my car, before a big meeting. And I love all of those affirmations, which is why they are all over the office. I put them in my face constantly because it keeps me positive. Life is hard. Construction is hard. So it is even more important to surround myself with positive words and positive people.”

See more stories of how veterans are making an impact in the construction industry.