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Standing Strong at 70

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Before you can thrive in business you must simply survive, and the same can be said for life. In the last 70 years there have been iconic moments, such as the first moon landing and the Concorde’s first flight. But there have also been moments the world has had to endure: wars, economic recessions, a global pandemic to name a few. Hurckman Mechanical Industries (HMI) has not only existed throughout all of the above-mentioned moments, but it has also evolved to become an estimated 60-million-dollar construction company based in Wisconsin. What began as a simple family business has grown into a technically superior group of associates offering design/build, fabrication, test and balance, commissioning, customer support, and mechanical services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Known for its Commercial, Industrial and Marine, HVAC, Process Piping, Plumbing, Insulation, Refrigeration, and Biogas, HMI provides a trusted service to its many clients.

Chief Operations Officer Jake Warden has been working at HMI for 8 years, and has experienced multiple highlights during his time here. Starting in 2015, Warden has seen the company grow from a 15-million-dollar company to a 60-million-dollar company. As he explains, the company has no intentions of stopping there, either. With a five-year goal to reach $100 million, things are becoming increasingly exciting at HMI. “We’ve had some massive growth over the last five to 10 years and it’s kind of fun and exciting to keep that ball rolling. Four or five years ago we took on our biggest project, which was a $4.5 million project with a local pharmaceutical company. They focus on pharmaceutical gummies and taking on that project at that time was big. Then, just last year, we finished up our biggest project ever which was a $15 million HVAC project for a local high school.”

While HMI may be well known in certain circles, its wide range of services goes much further than its headline offerings. For instance, HMI has been invested in the marine sector for a very long time. In fact, the company is the go-to subcontractor for Fincantieri Marinette Marine, a shipyard just an hour north of Green Bay with multiple buildings across the world. HMI is currently wrapping up the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) project for the Italian owned business and will follow this up with work on another military style vessel for the US Military. By doing this type of work, HMI is able to keep 50 to 60 workers constantly busy at the shipyard.

With such a sizeable company, it goes without saying that safety is paramount with employee safety being of the utmost importance. At HMI, the company’s focus is on supporting employees, enabling them to stay accident free every day. This is achieved by continually implementing innovative programs that provide a focal point for all. At every stage, the commitment to safety is communicated loud and clear.

This message stems from the company’s five core tenets: Planning, Training, Awareness, Communication, and Accountability. It is through these strategic pillars that HMI develops and implements its safety and health policies and procedures. Using these methods, employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility for the safety of themselves and their work colleagues. Safety Director at HMI, Corey Delwiche, understands the important of safety, and how having the correct procedures in place is non-negotiable. “Each person along with their families are important to the Leadership at HMI. Our success with customers, and consequently the overall success of this business, depends upon the individuals working for this company — his or her personal skills, energies, and contributions. Because we are united in achieving success, we are concerned for, and supportive of, each other’s safety and health.” Delwiche goes on to explain that when it comes to safety, a preventative strategy is key to ongoing success and can only be achieved through a process where every single person knows their roles and responsibilities. “HMI believes strongly in the prevention of accidents before they happen. This preventative approach requires participation and ownership from all levels of the company. Management, Project Managers, and Foremen are responsible for executing the company’s safety program within their areas of supervision, assuring proper and positive corrective actions, and communicating with upper management, the safety department, and the work force.”

“Our success with customers, and consequently the overall success of this business, depends upon the individuals working for this company — his or her personal skills, energies, and contributions.”

Incident prevention is not only good for employees, but also for business. This year HMI hit 1 million hours without a lost time incident which means that HMI has worked 1 million hours with an employee missing work due to a workplace incident. This provides the company with strong rates. In the mechanical contracting world, having good numbers in different sectors allows HMI to get work in various buildings. Warden referred to it as a kind of scorecard or resume to other companies. These “scorecards” allow HMI to continue its growth trajectory, one of its most important future plans. The company’s growth plan includes an expansion within its current markets, also placing a strong emphasis on refrigeration and insulation. Protocols have changed in the US on what refrigerants can be used, with historical refrigerants now having to be swapped out for optical ones. With that in mind, HMI has identified significant growth in the area over the next 10 to 15 years.

Another important topic for HMI in the coming years is what Warden refers to as the next generation. Having been in business for 70 years, HMI has a continuous recruitment process that sees employees retiring and new employees lined up to continue the HMI work. This cyclical approach is an important facet of the company’s continuity, which enables it to maintain its high standards across years and decades. “When I started here 8 years ago, I was kind of the first of the next generation. We have a big group of people here that are within 10 years of each other. We were kind of seeing the end of an era of people that have been here 25 to 30 years, and now we have that next group of people that can be here for the next 25 to 30 years.” As he goes on to explain, change will always come with its own challenges. However, as things evolve, a re-ordering takes place which will ultimately put the company on a strong footing for the next generation. “That part to me is kind of exciting. We have experienced massive growth over the last 5 to 10 years. Obviously, with growth that quick there can sometimes be pain. However, I feel that as teams bond and come together, exciting things can happen. I can’t wait to see what this company achieves over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Incorporated in 1953, Brad Hurckman said Hurckman Mechanical has a long history of family lineage. Brad Hurckman, CEO, is the third generation for the Hurckman family to lead the company. “My grandfather, Frank Hurckman, used to be a salesman during his younger days,” Brad said. “He was a cornice worker who made metal molds for buildings where the concrete could be poured into. He learned the trade in Colorado.” “My grandmother, Ann, was a teacher at Webster (Elementary in Green Bay), and they took her savings to start the company – they started with $5,000,” he said. “It was called Hurckman Metal & Roofing.” Shortly thereafter, Frank and Ann got out of the roofing business, Brad said. “They could see heating and ventilation was the way to go,” he said. “St. Vincent Hospital, in Green Bay, was their first big break as a company – that put Hurckman on the map.” In 1967, the business was renamed Hurckman Metal Inc. “My father (John Hurckman) took over the company about five years later,” Brad said. “When the company was founded, my dad was 10 years old – you could say he grew up around the business.” In 1983, the company’s name was changed to Hurckman Mechanical Industries Inc. following the acquisition of Lindsley Plumbing and Heating Company. The company also acquired the Carrier dealership of Hurckman Heating and Cooling and the TAC dealership of ConTech Network – which are divisions of Hurckman Mechanical Industries. The transition into the third generation of Hurckman leadership began in 2005 when Brad took over as president.

What grew from his honest work ethic was the thriving and growing HMI you see today. “The growth of the company has been tremendous,” Brad said. “My father did a wonderful job of merging, buying and acquiring to become a full-service mechanical contractor.” Founded on honesty, HMI embraces its operating principle of “No Empty Promises”, and with diversity, growth and a succession plan already in place, will undoubtedly continue to offer the best possible service long into the future.

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