Spreading the Word and Reaping the Rewards

Hurckman Mechanical Industries
Written by William Young

Marking over 70 years in business with three generations’ worth of industry knowledge, Hurckman Mechanical Industries continues to serve the state of Wisconsin and neighboring states as a go-to industrial mechanical systems contractor. Founder Frank Hurckman began the business in 1953 as a sheet metal and roofing shop called Hurckman Metal and Roofing that operated out of Green Bay. Shortly after, the company got out of the roofing business and into the heating and ventilation sector. In 1967, the company was renamed Hurckman Metal Inc.

As the business developed, it expanded its services under the management of Frank’s son, John Franklin Hurckman, moving toward heating and ventilation. In 1983, the company’s name was changed to Hurckman Mechanical Industries Inc. following the acquisition of Lindsley Plumbing and Heating Company. It grew in success as it grew in size and has been overseen by President and Chief Executive Officer Brad Hurckman since 2003, the third generation of the family to lead the eponymous company. Brad has played an incremental role in leading the company to its current position.

Hurckman has expanded its services to become a comprehensive mechanical contractor that customers can rely on for numerous services such as design/build, engineering, industrial refrigeration, industrial piping, and insulation, as well as the installation of sheet metal, piping, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems. Specifically, HMI’s insulation services have helped Hurckman stand out from its competitors.

Chief Operations Officer Jake Warden has been a part of Hurckman for nine years, and even in that relatively short time, he has seen the company more than double in size. This boom within the past decade and a half can be attributed to several factors including the company’s growing presence in federal work, biogas, and industrial piping, a presence that has both bolstered its operations and given it the opportunity to look at other types of industrial and federal work.

Mechanical systems work at a federal level often involves a great deal of preplanning, paperwork, and commissioning. This work can have a steeper learning curve and a more demanding timetable than typical opportunities, making the challenges considerable. However, with a few of these projects under Hurckman’s belt, the company has become much more comfortable with them, and has leveraged this experience into further success, making Hurckman stronger and better adaptable to preplanning, paperwork, and commissioning.

Warden says, “With all the lessons learned and our newfound strategies in preplanning and commissioning, it only makes us a stronger mechanical contractor, prepared to take on additional challenges.”

Another factor to which the company attributes its successes has been the emergence of markets related to the biogas sector. Projects involving biogas often come with objectives like turning waste on farms into fuel sources, an endeavor that the company has been involved with since its earlier days. “Helping find ways to turn waste into energy, as well as doing our part in finding ways to be green, underscores our commitment to sustainable practices and the advancement of biogas projects.” Warden continues to say that the broad age range among staff, from newcomers to veterans with over 30 years in the business, has allowed the company to enter more diverse markets like biogas and beyond, as well as keep up to date with new technologies like Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Hurckman has continued to see great accomplishments in the size of its projects; a couple of years ago, a typical large project was valued at around $2 to 4 million, while its biggest project on record from last year was in the $10 million to $20 million range. Warden says this is a big feather in the company’s cap and shows that it can achieve something of that large scale within a client’s required timeframe.

The size of these projects requires a bigger staff and facilities. To meet this demand, the company has expanded from its previous Green Bay headquarters into another building in the downtown area that houses its sales and estimating teams. The official ribbon cutting on the new building is scheduled for later this year. Warden says the company now adds this Broadway location to its existing locations in Green Bay, Marinette, and Weston, thereby expanding its operations into four distinct locations.

A more proactive approach to marketing has been taken recently, especially when it comes to reaching new clients. Additional work with its online presence has allowed the company to further improve this marketing push, which is part of the work for which Marketing Coordinator Peyton Daul was hired about a year ago.

Daul says that a common theme in today’s construction industry is that many companies have outdated marketing practices that need updating, an area that Hurckman identified as one that it wanted to improve. It was able to mitigate this sector-wide weak spot by focusing on its advertising strategy, hiring Daul to take advantage of the online marketing channel by boosting social media engagement and upgrading its graphics and websites. This type of marketing work is simple and self-explanatory, he says, but sets the company apart from the pack.

The construction industry is remarkably busy right now, with lots of work to bid on and consider. Hurckman is winning its fair share of work with no slowdown in sight; however, COVID continues to play a role in both the cost of goods and increased lead time. These issues, as well as a general lack of available and skilled workforce, are a challenge, but Hurckman continues to develop innovative solutions to stay competitive on pricing and to find ways to meet or exceed customers’ timeline expectations.

Broadly speaking, there has been a strong push for young people to obtain a college degree, while workforce development has not received adequate attention, even though skilled trades have historically been an appealing career path for younger workers, offering both financial stability and job security. Warden underscores the importance of regularly building the team by tapping into the younger generation’s talent, stating that failing to do so will put the industry at a disadvantage.

Creating a secure workspace for new team members is part of this effort, and Warden says that, as a business with over 70 years’ experience in the market, Hurckman Mechanical Industries does everything possible to ensure a safe environment for its workers. In fact, just last year, it celebrated the milestone of one million zero-lost-work hours. On the rare instances when mistakes do happen, all levels of the company work together to figure out what and why they occurred to prevent issues from happening in the future. Warden says that communication is imperative. “We do a good job of understanding markets and interpreting feedback from all levels.”

The team wants to continue its growth through the upcoming decade and beyond, building on the avenues it has set up for its success, like its newer locations. There are sectors that Hurckman has yet to find its way into, and an area of interest is to see how company growth keeps up with moving into these new areas.

Hurckman Mechanical Industries has seen the industry grow from its pen-and-paper roots into a field that is heavily computerized, meaning that everything has sped up considerably across the 70-plus years it has been in business. The company is now on the forefront of utilizing artificial intelligence wherever it can in its processes, so bringing in the younger generation that knows modern technology and marketing is imperative to continued growth.

Warden says that current President Brad Hurckman will soon be stepping further away from his management position and allowing new leadership to step up. This is an exciting prospect for many, as there currently are many younger leaders within the business who will have the opportunity to be the faces of the company in the decades to come after Hurckman takes his leave. Warden says that this represents a great opportunity for the entire company to further unite and carry on the work into the future: “New Year, New Hurckman was the motto going into 2024, and what that means is when we all work together well, we see what the future could be, and we are excited for that growth!”

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