A contractor with a real turnaround story

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Hector Resto went from an ex-con doing odd jobs to get by to the owner of a building-services company with $800,000 in revenue.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Hector Resto went from an ex-con doing odd jobs to get by to the owner of a building-services company with $800,000 in revenue.
Posted: March 14, 2013

H ECTOR RESTO'S story is one of redemption. Resto, 42, of Ardmore, turned his life around after a 2000 federal drug conviction and eight years in prison. Now on supervised release, he's president of Resto Building Services, a home-renovation and general contractor in Northern Liberties. The firm has worked on single- and multi-family buildings, restaurants and other commercial establishments, and had about $800,000 in revenue last year.  

Q: How did you start the business?

A: Someone was selling a house in my neighborhood and I bought it for about $4,000. People would see me working on it and thought I was a contractor. I picked up jobs, and one thing led to another.

Q: How big is the business?

A: I have six full-time employees, not including myself, plus I hire roofers, electricians, plumbers as needed.

Q: Do you work primarily in the city?

A: Yes, but also in the suburbs.

Q: What exactly does Resto do?

A: We do everything from the ground up. We build about four new, single-family houses a year. I'd say 80 percent of our work involves renovation, new kitchens, bathrooms, windows and additions to homes.

Q: You have an interesting background.

A: In 1999, friends asked me to help them find some cocaine. One of them was being watched by cops, and I got caught in the conspiracy.

Q: What happened?

A: I went to trial and there was a hung jury, but I didn't have the money to fight anymore so I just pleaded guilty in 2000 to conspiracy [to distribute 500 grams of cocaine] and was sentenced to 10 years.

Q: You got out of prison and were able to get a business going?

A: I knew some Realtors I used to do some work for, and they helped me get odd jobs. At the time, Northern Liberties was changing, so the timing was good. It was rough. After I got out, I didn't even have a hammer.

Q: What was most difficult in getting back on your feet?

A: It wasn't so much that I was just starting a business and didn't have the guarantee of a paycheck at the end of the week. I still wasn't comfortable being out [of prison] after being in so long.

Q: What was your first big job?

A: A couple bought a building near a house I was working on, and asked a guy who worked for me if I would give them an estimate to build a cafe. So I ended up building what is now El Cafeito [at 3rd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, North Philadelphia] for them. Later, I learned that the husband is an FBI agent.

Q: What do you say to those wary of hiring convicted felons?

A: I can understand why they feel that way. I've hired guys without records and guys who did time, some who've been in prison and know how bad it can get have extra incentive to show up for work and work hard.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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