Harry Berkowitz Custom Homes

Harry Berkowitz began his construction career at the age of 13 working alongside of his father pounding nails as a framing contractor building tract Bungalow homes in Cleveland Ohio. After attending Ohio State University Harry returned to Cleveland and at the age of 21 bought a 50% ownership in the Al-Paul Car Washes 3 locations in the suburban area of Cleveland. He quickly expanded the company to a total of 5 car washes.

Having spent years working to build the business Harry took a much needed vacation to California to visit many of his high school and college friends. He found California breathtaking and made the most important decision of his young life and that was to sell his business interests in Cleveland to move to California with a plan to start a new business in California. Leaving Cleveland with the proceeds from his sale of the carwash locations Harry headed west with success on his mind.

Arriving in Newport Beach

Once settled in Newport Beach it was a short time to realize he was not going to be in the car wash business; instead he bought a small company distributing van conversion custom parts for the do it yourself enthusiast. It was the dawn of utility vans replacing the family station wagon and he was very successful distributing conversion parts nationwide. Since one of the best selling items was a 5 piece fiberglass fender flare and spoiler kit for all makes and models, Harry found a company to make the fiberglass kits. This led him to sell his distribution business for a large profit and bought a 50% interest in IMF, Industrial Molded Fiberglass. Harry spent the next year in the shop learning everything there was to know about fiberglass manufacturing. IMF was doing various job shop manufacturing for customers until one customer ordered fiberglass spa tubs. In 1972 Harry decided that IMF should become a proprietary spa manufacturer and hence IMF became ISLANDER SPAS with Harry designing 30 different spa shapes and developing manufacturing techniques. His partner set up a sales force and managed the front office and by 1976, ISLANDER SPAS reached $30 million dollars in sales and became the largest spa manufacturer in the world. In 1979 he went to Mexicali, Mexico and built a 125,000 sq.ft. state of the art fiberglass factory to keep up with production of Islanders orders. Harry resided in Mexico and became a “ Maquila Dora “ an American company manufacturing for export only as part of the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico along with his neighbors , Mattel Toy Co., McDonnell Douglas, Prince Tennis Racquets, Radio Shack and many other large US companies. With an unpredictable US economy, interest rates hit record highs in 1982 and Islandia Internacional (Islander Spas), Mattel Toy Co. and many oter companies had to shut down their factories , leaving their investments in Mexico behind and returning to the US with nothing, complying with the rules of being a Maquila Dora. This loss caused Islander Spas to file for Bankruptcy in 1983 and the end of a great run for the kid from Cleveland.

Onward & upward

Harry Berkowitz weathered his set back of 1983 and joined Coldwell Banker Real Estate in 1986 and received his Salesman Real Estate license. After a year with Coldwell Banker he met the owners of Seven Gables Real Estate; Ron and Bobby Douglas. In conversation with Bobby, Harry found that Bobby grew up in Cleveland within a mile from where he grew up and she patronized Al-Paul carwashes. Harry immediately moved his license to Seven Gables and within 2 years became the top listing agent for Seven Gables out of 160 agents. With that success, he met Bryan Bond owner of Bond Mortgage Capital (BMC MORTGAGE) and began brokering purchase loans to him. In 1990 he decided to learn the mortgage banking business and joined BMC MORTGAGE. One year later he founded and merged a fledgling mortgage company, American Home Mortgage with BMC and brought in 25 loan officers. As BMC grew to 50 loan officers BMC qualified as a Correspondent Lender and established a $65 million dollar funding line of credit. In 2001 with the boom in the .COM market, Bryan Bond made a windfall profit and agreed to invest into buying land with Berkowitz in Newport Heights for spec development. Immediately successful Harry went on to purchase land on his own and develop high end homes throughout Newport Beach. After a successful run for many years as a developer, Harry had an enormous inventory of land and homes. Unfortunately, being equity rich and cash poor he was caught in the real estate bubble that many real estate investors did and that took a heavy toll on Harry’s net worth.

The rebound

Now that the real estate market has started to recover, Harry has managed to find new investors and has already completed 3 new builds on the Balboa Peninsula along the Pacific Ocean. All can be seen on the portfolio page. In 2014 he purchased a 23,000 sq. ft. lot in Cameo Shores with an investor and is currently building a 12,500 sq. ft. Spec custom home valued at approximately $15 million dollars, you can see the rendering on the Portfolio page. He has also purchased a 26.000 sq. ft. lot in Crystal Cove, some of the most desirable land on the coast in Orange County. Harry has city approved plans to build a 13,500 sq. ft. home valued at $23,000 million dollars in the spring of 2015.

Harry Berkowitz continues to combine his many years of construction and development experience to design and construct some of the finest, quality built homes in Newport Beach California. He invites you to contact him regarding inquiries about current and future construction projects.