Jason Boyer an architect developer and founder of Boyer Vertical, a firm that specializes in developing sustainably minded, architecturally significant projects in the Phoenix Metro area. His first development project was the award-winning artHAUS condominiums in Midtown Phoenix, and Boyer is currently working on KARMA, a modern community of 11 homes coming to North Central Phoenix. Learn about Jason Boyer…
Hometown: Rockford, IL
First job: My first job was working for a nursery as a landscaper in high school, and my first assignment was laying sod for a ballpark in Rockford, Ill. I was around 15 and made something like $3.25 an hour. It was hard work. I did a lot of true manual labor at this job throughout high school, which gives me an appreciation for how hard landscapers and builders have to work out in the field. Today, I’m often outside for four hours on a job site. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted, and I didn’t even do anything! It was a high school summer job that definitely served a purpose.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in AZ: As a dual entrepreneur household, my wife and I are always working, running our businesses. The free time we do have we try to spend with our daughter, Kennedy, supporting her in soccer or taking a weekend to travel. For the past six years, we’ve carved out a tradition of spending part of the summer in Del Mar, Calif. That gives us a little time to recharge. We do it as a working vacation because we’re not able to fully unplug, so we typically work half-days and enjoy the time together. We like to go to the beach, and just take some time to enjoy life. We also love to entertain, so we designed our house with that in mind. We’ll often have clients and friends over for happy hours.
Person who has impacted your life the most and why: That would probably be my dad, who passed away as a young man at age 56, when I had just graduated from undergrad at the University of Illinois. I look back on it now and the things we did together and the things he taught me are certainly engrained in me now. He showed me how to take on a project and follow through to get it done. Both my parents were teachers, so they had the summers off. We always had several projects going on. I helped him build out the basement, and we used to work on models and a train set together. As an architect, I now see those projects gave me the ability to understand detail and how things go together. Our time together certainly influenced me and helped to shape who I am today.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes and why: I would say my artHAUS condo development has been my biggest accomplishment so far. This was my first ground-up development project where I was architect, developer and owner. I had no prior experience doing something like this — other than being an architect for almost 30 years, which certainly helped. In part, the sense of accomplishment came from putting my neck out there. I had the opportunity to participate in the Urban Land Institute Arizona Shark Tank event, which is a lot like the TV show. I had to get up in front of a room of 300 people, present the artHAUS project and ask for money. My presentation went well, which resulted in a lot of support from people who reached out and said they were inspired by me getting up there and doing that. The event motivated me to keep going and opened a lot of doors. Notable developers who didn’t know me before were now willing to talk with me when I called – it was an instant credibility boost. A lot of good things came out of that moment and helped propel me to get the project done. Through the process of building artHAUS, I learned that the community around you can be your mentor. If you have a good idea and your intentions are legitimate and earnest, people are generally willing to take some time to help you. I try to do that now. A lot of people reach out to me and say they want to do what I’m doing (often young architects at ASU), and I take the time to meet with them and walk through how I got to where I got. It feels good to pay that forward.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: Starting a small business is not an easy thing. After spending nearly 30 years as an architect, I started partially down the path seven years ago but didn’t continue after completing my artHAUS development. When the pandemic hit, I reset my priorities and made the decision to move forward again. It has taken a couple of years to get everything in place, to get the right business structure and entities together, and to identify the right project opportunities. And while there are a lot of hurdles still ahead, getting through first couple years of my career reboot and going all in on design and real estate development certainly feels like getting over a big hurdle.
Someone who inspires you and why: I read a book a couple summers ago that I really connected with it and found the author to be very inspirational. The book is called Little Black Stretchy Pants and it was written by lululemon founder, Chip Wilson. I read that book in the July period when I decided to go all in on my professional reboot in 2020. I really connected to all challenges he went through — his ups and downs and honesty in sharing those moments. The book delivered a clear message that you either have to believe in what you’re doing or do something else. It’s always going to be hard, and very few people have an easy path. But you have to understand you can create your own story. You just have to commit to it and push through the hard stuff without quitting. You come out of the challenge much stronger. You have to believe in yourself.
Favorite quote: “The next best thing to yes is a fast no.”
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: You have to believe in your own ability to get a project done. It is not easy. You have to have a diverse skill set and strategic thinking ability. And you need to be open to feedback. Meet with as many people out there as you can to learn from their experiences. Take from that and apply it to your own. Networking is a super powerful thing. Make time to build your network. Sometimes it is helpful for who you know who you can refer others to, and sometimes they refer people back to you. If you want to achieve success as a entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to work through the hurdles that come your way. Knock one down, five more pop-up. Nothing comes easy.