Contractor, builder and developer Harvey Singh didn't think he'd spend much time in Billings. But, after being here for work, he fell in love with the place and its downtown. From there, he's launched a successful business, restaurant and put together a vision for an around-the-clock downtown.
What made you decide to call Billings home?
Originally, when I first came to Billings for work, I simply was passing through. After being here and working for some time, I noticed that Billings was in a transition from the old to the new. Having traveled to many larger cities in the U.S., and even other cities in Montana like Bozeman and Missoula which have already begun developed their identity, I realized I was in a place that was changing, but was yet an open canvas for what it could be. Billings is still not decided. We have so many good people here and such a great sense of community. All of this, and also the fact that I now have a son whose future I am very invested in. I want to do my part to ensure a bright future for him. That is why I love this place. We can take the good and the bad from all other places and, together, we can make Billings a great new place for future generations, mixing the old heritage, and fusing it with new progressive and modern ideas. I feel blessed to be here in this very important time in Billings' growth.
Is it hard to keep all of your businesses going simultaneously?
It is very stressful and difficult at times, trying to run so many different operations. But, they also work together in many ways. I also have a great group of people with the same vision and passion that do an amazing job helping manage and shape the future of all the different businesses. It’s really a big family. I could not have reached this level, and where we plan to go, without these wonderful souls.
It seems like folks know you and associate you with your son. Tell us about your relationship with him.
Taj and I had some very tough beginnings. I have been raising Taj almost completely on my own since he was about 10 months old. He is the one that gave me purpose. His spirit invigorated me and gave me the courage to do the things I have been able to do. We are very close because of it. We do everything together. You will often see Taj and I at business meetings together; board meetings, social gatherings, events that we sponsor. He is very integrated into my business life to the point that our personal life and business life have no separation. It has proven to be very fruitful for him. He is very wise and well-rounded. One minute he is socializing and laughing and joking at a very sophisticated level with adults, and the next moment he is running and playing; being a kid. It’s a wonderful experience. Especially being able to expose him to so many things that I did not have available. And we get to do it all together. We have a father-and-son relationship, but also a very great friendship.
You developed a downtown property into a very successful restaurant. What inspired you to do that?
One of the things I noticed most about Billings when I first arrived in 2010 was the lack of fine dining and music. I also noticed that downtown was not a popular place. It has changed quite a bit, even before we opened Seva Kitchen in 2016. But I still saw a gap in the options available. I have always wanted to have a restaurant, and I have always liked the feel of a great downtown. I truly believe that any city is only as strong as it’s center. After three years of hard work, I finally had the means to do it, and I jumped right on it. The next step will be tackling the music aspect and adding some missing influence on that end as well.
Where do you see Billings going in the next decade?
I see Billings growing so fast. I think our downtown will be a 24-hour experience. I know it will. I do have future plans to expand outside of downtown as well with much of the future expansion that is already underway in the Heights and West End. Our city is becoming so much more diverse and creative. I look forward to seeing a bridge between the old heritage of this area, which I do not want to lose, and the new ideas that are coming to fruition currently. I think we will not only see continued growth, but accelerated. It is a very exciting time for Billings.
Why have you chosen to get involved in downtown Billings?
When we first started seeing success, I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude because of the amount of support from the community. When we first began, we donated money to local non-profits and other organizations and causes, and we began sponsoring almost every event you can think of. Since then we have decided to divide our giving in bringing new experiences in food, music, and art, and dialing our donations and sponsorships to focus more on our younger generation. We want help add great new amenities to improve the quality of life, but we also want to make sure the next generation has greater opportunity and a safer environment to continue the growth of Billings in the most positive direction possible. It is hard to say what causes and organizations are close to our heart, because it is everything. We want to support the community completely as best as we can and help build a strong foundation in every area.
Downtown Billings has attracted me the most because I believe any city is only as strong as it’s downtown. Much like a cell, it is only as healthy as it’s nucleus. I love the idea of being able to live in a place where you can walk down the street and have everything you need. I have always loved older architecture as well. There is a certain feeling downtown that I just can’t completely explain.
What is the most rewarding part of your professional career?
The most rewarding part of my professional career is how much it has allowed me to help others. I have always wanted to help people, and for most of my life, I could only do what my two hands could physically do. But now, I have been able to give to so many charities and causes and have also been able to help so many individuals chase their dreams and passions. It fills me up and energizes me, and it makes me want to do more. I believe energy attracts like energy. So the more we are able to help others, the higher the level of giving we continue to experience. We give to others, and they support us right back, which allows us to do even more, and it keeps snowballing. It’s very exciting.
What word best describes you?
What is one thing you detest?
The one thing I detest is competition. Whether it be among people, or business. It creates so much ugliness and negativity in the world. This is why we don’t compete with others, we create. And by doing so, we are adding something new.
What's one habit you're passionate about?
The one habit I am most passionate about is visualization. In 2006 I watched a documentary called the "Secret." I learned how important our thoughts are; namely, the images we hold in our minds. This is one thing that I practice every day. It is how I have manifested everything I have been able to do. And this is how my deepest passions come into fruition.