Meritorious Achievement Award: Joe Harris 

Pittsburg native Joe Harris didn’t set out to become a highly sought-after leader in the world of business, nor a successful home builder. 

Joe Harris

He originally planned to become a doctor, starting his pre-med classes at Pittsburg State and working at St. John’s Hospital in the cardiology unit. Life took some twists and turns, Harris embraced them, and today he’s the CEO of Schuber-Mitchell Homes in Southwest Missouri, one of the top 100 home builders in the U.S. 

His achievements made him a great choice for this year’s Meritorious Achievement Award, said PSU President Steve Scott, who presented Harris with the award in a ceremony Friday attended by friends, faculty, his employees, and many family members — several of whom also are Gorillas. 

Harris (BBA ‘95, MBA ‘96) came to Pittsburg State after graduating from Pittsburg High School in 1991 and while taking pre-med courses, taking all of his electives in business. 

“I had enough to graduate with a major in business management,” he said, “and I seemed to excel at it.” 

He met his wife, Danica, at PSU, and knowing that being a doctor would come with work-life balance challenges, decided to jump into the business world with both feet. 

Offers came rolling in, and he went on to have a career with Koch Industries in Wichita, Sprint in Kansas City, and Leggett & Platt, where he spent 17 years first as an analyst, then an assistant director of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Strategic Planning.  

In 2005, he was promoted to director of Business Development, overseeing new product lines, new technologies, and geographic expansion here and abroad in Europe, Asia, and South America. 

In 2005, while still at Leggett & Platt, he and his wife formed Harris Homes to provide quality and affordable single-family homes to families in Carl Junction, Joplin, and Webb City. In 2015, he purchased a third of Schuber Mitchell Homes and became a member of the company’s leadership team. Now a resident of Carl Junction, Missouri, he serves as CEO and is a member of the board.  

“It’s exciting to have opportunities to serve families, to serve communities, and it’s been an extraordinary growth process,” he said. “For Southwest Missouri in particular, there hasn’t been a large builder focused on this area in as many years as I’ve lived here. High quality, affordable housing is so desperately needed.” 

The company has grown to have a presence in 17 cities in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas and employs 150 people, with another 1,500 trade partners who work on Schuber-Mitchell homes.  

“We’re on track to build about 800 homes this year, making it one of the top 100 home builders in the U.S.,” he said. “We’re also a kingdom company, which means we are guided by our faith and our ministry is part of everything we do.” 

Harris' family are almost all PSU alumni, as well. 

“My family has a long and strong connection to Pitt State,” he said. “My grandma went here; my dad Dr. James Harris, was a professor in IT for more than 30 years, retiring just a few years ago; my wife earned her elementary ed and master’s in administration here; both my brothers and their wives attended; and I now have two nieces at Pitt State.” 

Knowing what PSU did for each of them, he makes it a priority to find ways to give back: he serves on the Kelce College of Business Advisory Board and is a supporter of Campus Christians, among other things. 

“Receiving this award from a place that helped get me to where I’m at today is very special, very meaningful,” he said.