Steve Spratt: A Passion for Preservation
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter
LOS ALTOS — As owner of HPS Palo Alto, Inc., Steve Spratt has made a livelihood of maintaining Bay Area residences. However, when it comes to putting a label on his company’s service, he’s quick to distinguish it from the contiguous field of property management. “Our name stands for Home Preservation Services, and we like to think we provide a ‘stewardship service,’” he explains. “Unlike property managers, who tend to wait until things break before fixing them, we promote the ongoing health of our clients’ homes through regular maintenance visits. By proactively identifying potential problems, we can bring them to a homeowner’s attention and address them before an expensive catastrophe occurs.”
Steve hasn’t always been in the home preservation business; rather, he began his professional life behind a desk. “I graduated from college with a business degree and went into accounting, but I didn’t really enjoy working in an office setting every day,” he says. “So, when my wife’s father, who was a general contractor, asked me to work for him, I agreed. Later, while I was building custom homes, a couple of my clients said they wished they had my expertise when it came to taking care of their homes after the fact. That got me thinking about a way I could make a business out of home maintenance, and pretty soon, HPS Palo Alto was born.”
As a resident of Palo Alto (where he lives with his wife, Italy), Steve says he appreciates the wide range of people his work brings him into contact with. “I have clients who are involved in all kinds of fields, from professional athletes and coaches to renowned authors and Nobel Prize winners. Getting a chance to meet and get to know these people is very fun and inspiring.”
Outside of work, Steve is an avid audio enthusiast who spends much of his time enjoying his sizeable music collection. “I love jazz music, and I collect records and vintage Hi-Fi equipment,” he says. “I recently sold a collection of more than 14,000 records, which is about the same size as the collection I kept.” When he’s not at home listening to music, Steve often accompanies his wife in her livelihood as a rodeo rider. “Italy is a professional rodeo participant, so that keeps us pretty busy on the weekends with all the traveling and competing.” Additionally, Steve takes time to keep in touch with his four grown daughters, one of whom works at HPS Palo Alto.
When asked about a personal philosophy, Steve cites a phrase coined by writer Joseph Campbell. “One of Campbell’s famous quotes is, ‘Follow your bliss,’ and I think my whole life is a result of doing just that,” he says. “When I got out of school, I was trained as an accountant, but that didn’t really excite or stimulate me—I just happened to be good at numbers. However, it did lead me to relationships that eventually got me into the building business, which then led me to where I am today. So, I feel like my whole life is an example of following your bliss and allowing that energy to draw you to where you can perform at your highest level.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Steve says he’d spend more time listening to music—that is, after tackling a long-deferred building project. “My wife wants me to build her a new barn, and I haven’t had time to get to it yet, so I’d probably do that first. Then, I’d set up a permanent listening room for my jazz records, as well as get connected with other audiophiles and just share the enjoyment of music.”
Q: Do you have a favorite jazz artist?
A: That’s a tough choice. The history of jazz is full of innovative figures like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, but I think I’d have to go with Louis Armstrong. Besides being one of the great musical innovators, he was an unbelievable guy, with a sense of humility I wish more performers would emulate.
Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: I really admire trumpeters and how they can make such a wide range of sounds simply by blowing through a piece of metal. However, I’d probably go with piano, just because it’s so versatile.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Throw on a record and make some chamomile tea.
Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My dog, Bella. My wife got her for me, and she’s been my buddy and traveling companion ever since.
Q: What are your favorite TV shows?
A: “Dancing with the Stars”—which I watch with my wife—and “Ancient Aliens.”