This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner the Town of Holly Springs.

Stephen Chan’s career journey, like many other entrepreneurs, is unconventional. Though his nonlinear pathway to where he is now echoes the variant journey of other businessmen and women, what is unique is where he ended up.

As the COO of Rendering House, a technology company based in Holly Springs, Chan assists with staff training, manages day-to-day business operations from art direction to project management, and oversees RH’s client accounts.

Rendering House is a one-of-a-kind company that creates renderings, interactive apps and virtual tours for home builders, architects and developers. Its contributions to an industry-specific vertical have evolved over time and the RH team includes graphic artists, computer modelers and software developers who create “cutting-edge visualization products.”

The work Chan does currently is nothing like what he was doing as mental health advocate for youth and adolescents in Pittsburgh, Penn., before he moved to North Carolina in 2002. Chan’s move to Holly Springs was the result of his friend, John Lee, asking him to join a business venture that was just a year old.

Though Chan has an MBA, his work in foster care and psych pediatrics had little to do with running a technology business. Despite the risk, he said he decided to take a chance on the opportunity because there was no time like the present.

“I was young enough at that point to take some risks and try to start something different. I had earned my MBA and thought I should probably try to apply it,” said Chan, who noted that he was also enticed by the artistic nature of renderings. “I had been in nonprofits for 15 years before that, so I thought, ‘If I want to make any career change, now is the time.'”

Chan’s foray into business wasn’t without doubt. He didn’t want to be the person to “drag down the ship” and even considered pulling out and pursuing ministry. After prayer and reflection, Rendering House received what Chan described as a “huge work order” and joked that his divine answer was that he wasn’t supposed to be a minister.

While Rendering House started out creating more illustration-based renderings, times and tech have changed. RH has created high-tech renderings for thousands of clients, and unlike many competitors, no work is outsourced overseas. With everything done in-house it ensures security, responsive customer service and quick project turnarounds.

Additionally, RH’s Anewgo software is giving residential home buyers, builders and sellers something to write home about. The software enables home buyers to interactively design their custom homes, and builders are able to create interactive renderings to market across various sales channels.

RH is also looking to double its office space — for the second time. Initially at a place that was 1,200 square feet, RH staff is quickly outgrowing its current office of 2,500 square feet.

“Our company has really transformed from a company that was initially into illustrations and renderings and is now more of a software company. There aren’t many companies like ours that are doing what we’re doing. Everything we’re doing, we have to create from content creation to software — it’s not like we just take it off the shelf somewhere,” Chan explained. “There are seasons — seasons where a client spends a long time with us, which help us grow. Then we pick up another big client. Like many things, it comes and goes, but we are definitely growing.”

On a local level, some of Rendering House’s most recognizable work are the renderings and virtual tours it created for the Block on Main in downtown Holly Springs. The three-story, 52,530-square-foot structure is currently under construction and will be a mixed-use building with space for retail, office, restaurants and more.

Chan admits he and the other partners of the Block are not seasoned developers, but their investment stems from their desire to make downtown Holly Springs a place for people to gather and visit.

“We’re here to establish something and we want to create something great for the town to work in. The Block will be something unique,” he promised.

After more than 15 years, with the help of his business partners Jeff McSwain and John Lee, Chan has not only built Rendering House into a nationally recognized company, but also a home for himself in Holly Springs, proving that it’s a place for entrepreneurs and families alike.

“When I first came here, I didn’t know too much about the area. I was envious of other cities because I thought that more things were happening there. I’m so glad I’m actually here in Holly Springs. My office is here in downtown Holly Springs, three miles from my home. My commute has always been terrific,” Chan said. “A lot of companies can be just anywhere — especially technology or software companies.”

Through it all, Chan’s business journey has been about putting in long hours, wearing many hats and always keeping the faith.

“I’m working at least 10-hour days, easily. You have to take risks, you have to have a game plan, and you have to be very flexible,” he advised aspiring entrepreneurs. “I think there are many moments in a company where it’s miraculous. We can look back and say, ‘Wow, that was a God moment.'”

This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner the Town of Holly Springs.