“I never felt like they owed me any more. To me it was like, okay, we did this, it was great, and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of it,” the furniture maker and Wood Work star told PEOPLE at an event for Safety First home safety products in New York City.
He admits he would have loved for his show — which just premiered on DIY Network — and Fixer Upper to air concurrently, but adds that the Gaineses’ announcement in September 2017 that they were leaving HGTV, “really didn’t surprise me.”
“It was five seasons, and they’re driven people,” he says. “It just didn’t surprise me that they might want to go out on top with that.”
In fact, the budding TV star and father of two says he was just grateful to be a part of the phenomenon.
“I never had a contract with Fixer Upper,” he reveals. “So I didn’t necessarily feel like I was losing anything because I didn’t feel like I had anything. All I had was the opportunity that was in front of me that day. And if they called me again, then great. I would go do it and I would put my all into it.”
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Luckily, as fans of the series know, Joanna called many times, and his custom creations graced more than a few of the show’s farmhouse modern makeovers.
Despite growing close to the couple over the years after a chance meeting with Chip at a Waco gas station, Harp only learned the show was ending about 45 minutes before the rest of the world.
“We basically found out when everybody else found out,” he explains. “We were sitting with the web developer who does [Chip and Joanna’s] website and he basically said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to be prepared for their announcement.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, what announcement?'”
Harp, who left a six-figure job in medical sales in Houston to open his own struggling wood shop before finding fame, is hardly out of work, however.
In addition to his DIY Network series, which stars his wife, Kelly, their kids, and the Harp Design Co. team, he’s releasing a memoir, Handcrafted, in September.