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Digging Deeper

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H & H General Excavating‘s journey to its current incarnation as a dynamic and versatile full-service contractor is a testament to the advantage of diversifying products while remaining committed to excellence across the spectrum of services. This Pennsylvania company, launched with a team of just three individuals, has adapted and grown over the last 55 years to employ more than 160 team members across all the company’s divisions. Led by the second-generation owner, Mike Hartman, and with the incorporation of a third generation, H & H General Excavating is rooted in a family-oriented culture that values stability, longevity, and quality products and services.

The foundation of H & H General Excavating was laid in 1967 when it was created by Charles Hartman and his partner, Mervin Heiner. The company’s origins were simple, just the two founding partners and one employee. At that time, H & H General Excavating focused solely on excavation work, equipped with a backhoe and a dump truck to undertake projects in the burgeoning Pennsylvania construction industry. Mervin Heiner, played a crucial role until 1982 when he exited, opening the door for Charles Hartman’s son, Mike, to take an active role in the company’s growth and evolution. With Mike’s dedicated involvement, the company continued to flourish.

The company’s success may be attributed to its strategic diversity, offering services ranging from excavation and mulch production to sand drying and heavy-duty machinery repairs. This multifaceted approach not only shields it from industry-specific downturns but also fosters resilience, adaptability, resource optimization, and a sustainable local presence, contributing to its longevity and continued growth.

H & H General Excavating operates as a general full-service site contractor with distinct residential, industrial, and commercial building divisions. It has expanded its services to include paving, trucking, heavy-duty mechanics, and fabrication. Beyond traditional construction activities, the company has carved a niche as a prominent multivendor, bagging an impressive 10 million bags of mulch products annually. Its client portfolio includes retail giants Home Depot and Walmart, with the added distinction of a locally recognized house brand, “Country Boy Mulch.” Expanding its expertise, the company owns a specialized sand drying division. This division is instrumental in producing a wide array of golf course-grade sands tailored for different applications. H & H is also involved with dry aggregates and developing new soil mixes, leveraging the byproducts of their sand division to promote sustainable material management. This diversified approach positions it as a comprehensive solution provider in the construction domain and allows it to handle everything in-house, ensuring quality control and efficiency throughout the project lifecycle.

But even with its unique range of products and services, H & H General Excavating will not sacrifice quality. “The fact that we are full service is definitely attractive to customers who want to streamline costs,” says Hartman. “But we have a very robust, loyal customer base. And if you ask any of them, they know that we will not walk away from a job until it is 100%. We have learned over time that you don’t necessarily have to be the cheapest guy to get the job when the customer knows and trusts that they will have a very high-quality product in the end.”

H & H General Excavating’s recent projects showcase the company’s expertise across different sectors of construction. These projects, ranging from demolition and custom construction to crane maintenance facilities and manufacturing plant expansions, highlight the company’s versatility and commitment to delivering high-quality outcomes.

One notable project is the Legacy Apparel warehouse facility, a 120,000-square-foot pre-engineered design-build addition to the existing manufacturing facility. Undertaken over a challenging winter period, the project required meticulous planning and execution to meet stringent deadlines. The Legacy Apparel project is a testament to H & H General Excavating’s ability to adapt to evolving project conditions and tackle large-scale projects efficiently.

In the industry landscape of custom construction, the South Hills Golf Course Clubhouse stands out as an impressive undertaking. H & H General Excavating managed the complete demolition of the existing clubhouse and oversaw the construction of a new 9,270-square-foot clubhouse. The project included importing 350 tri-axle loads of dirt, extensive site improvements covering over 5 acres, and the installation of new asphalt parking lots and cart paths surrounding the new clubhouse. The South Hills project showcases the company’s capabilities in delivering turnkey solutions for recreational and hospitality facilities.

Iron Stag Crane Service’s 16,000-square-foot Crane Maintenance and Office facility is another incredible project completed in partnership with H & H. The custom design-build included a pre-engineered metal building with a mezzanine for offices, emphasizing the company’s ability to tailor solutions to the unique needs of specialized industries. With a job cost of $1,650,000.00, the Iron Stag project reflects H & H General Excavating’s competence in delivering cost-effective solutions without compromising quality.

Iron Stag Crane Service

The Campbell Soup Company project involved modifications to an existing building to accommodate a new tortilla chip manufacturing line, with a job cost of $4,495,000.00. The company played a vital role in preparing the infrastructure, including piping and concrete work, to set the stage for the installation of the new kettle chip line. This project highlights H & H General Excavating’s proficiency in providing essential support for manufacturing facility expansions and upgrades. Recently completed projects like the Bermudian Springs Middle School demolition and the Encompass Health Rehabilitation project highlight its expertise and efficiency in large-scale demolition, clean up, and site prep to facilitate the construction of new builds.

The company’s multifaceted approach allows it to thrive in different market conditions. Due to the cyclical and seasonal nature of the construction business, adaptability is a key factor in the company’s ability to navigate fluctuations in demand and maintain steady operations.

The flexibility of H & H General Excavating’s workforce plays a crucial role in its success. With a workforce capable of handling general labor across construction, factory work, and excavation, the company can allocate resources based on seasonal demands or the specific requirements of ongoing projects. This flexibility ensures that it can optimize its workforce efficiently, moving personnel where they are needed most.

The diversification strategy also keeps the company within a smaller geographical window, fostering a more sustainable base of operations. By offering multiple services within a particular area, H & H General Excavating becomes an integral part of the local construction ecosystem. This local focus enhances its visibility, reputation, and relationships with clients, creating a robust foundation for long-term success and allowing it to maintain stability even when specific sectors experience slowdowns.

H & H General Excavating effectively leverages its diverse services for cross-industry collaboration. During the offseason for mulch production, the company repurposes its trucks for hauling other products, showcasing its ability to capitalize on assets across different business lines. This approach not only shields them from the impact of industry-specific downturns but also fosters adaptability, resource optimization, and a sustainable local presence, contributing to its longevity and continued growth in the construction and related industries.
H & H General Excavating places immense importance on the enduring relationships they cultivate with both customers and industry partners. These partnerships form the bedrock of its success and reputation. The loyalty and continuity in these relationships underscore H & H General Excavating’s commitment to reliability and quality. Its partnerships with suppliers are not merely transactional but are deeply rooted in trust and shared history.

“We have valued partners like Schmuck Lumber. Every project we have completed since 1970 that has a piece of wood is in partnership with Schmuck,“ says Hartman. “We also hold a prestigious position with York Building, another of our valued partners. Their current customer base is over 20,000. When they add a customer to their database you are assigned a number. Our number is 94, and there are only three companies between 1 and 94 that are left. This just demonstrates that we prioritize our trusted partners and we hold those relationships in high regard.”

H & H General Excavating boasts a distinctive and resilient company culture, characterized by an exceptional level of employee loyalty and longevity. The team culture is deeply ingrained with security, especially at the upper management level. H & H has notably low management turnover, attributed to the steadfast commitment of the business’s managers and their deep understanding of the company’s operations.

“I think stability in the upper-level management team makes a company very, very strong,” says Hartman. “Our team learns through the ranks, progressing into leadership naturally. And when they train newer team members, the training is effective. They know how to do the job because they did the job themselves.”

“H & H General Excavating effectively leverages its diverse services for cross-industry collaboration.”

This stability, coupled with the promotion of internal talent, contributes to a robust organizational strength. The practice of promoting from within not only ensures a wealth of experience but also fosters a sense of camaraderie, as team members become mentors, passing on their knowledge to newer staff.

The longevity of employees and minimal turnover speaks volumes about the positive work environment and the strong bonds formed within the H & H General Excavating team. This enduring loyalty is a testament to the company’s commitment to fostering a workplace where individuals find value, growth, and a sense of belonging. The culture at H & H General Excavating is not just about performing tasks; it’s about building careers and relationships that span decades, creating a foundation for sustained success and a united team focused on delivering excellence in their diverse range of services.

H & H General Excavating’s current team reflects a multi-generational commitment to stability and continuity. As the leadership team has developed, and with a growing workforce, a new generation is working its way up through the ranks at H & H. Hartman has brought his son, his daughter, and two sons-in-law on board to support the continuing evolution of H & H. But the next generation of Hartman’s will not expect a free ride; they won’t be stepping directly into leadership or management roles quite yet.

“My dad kept me with a shovel in my hand for many, many years and there was a lot of value in that. When you learn how to work hard, whether it is hard physical work or you grind away in an office environment, you learn. You learn not to quit. You don’t give up. You keep on going. I want to foster that attitude in my kids,” says Hartman.

This multi-generational approach ensures a wealth of industry knowledge but also signifies a commitment to the company’s enduring legacy. The team’s composition reflects a blend of expertise, family values, and a shared dedication to driving H & H General Excavating forward into the future.

And H & H General Excavating is preparing for a future marked by strategic growth. As Mike, the leader of the company, expresses, the focus is on identifying opportunities for expansion and embracing new challenges. The company’s growth strategy involves keeping a vigilant eye on emerging trends and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the industry.

With the third generation actively involved in the business, there is an appetite to take H & H General Excavating to new heights. The goal is to increase the workforce to around 200 people in the next decade, showcasing the company’s dedication to providing employment opportunities and contributing to the local economy. And although H & H values the local landscape, it may consider expanding to new territories through e-commerce. This forward-looking approach reflects the company’s readiness to embrace technological advancements and tap into new markets. And in the spirit of being open to diverse opportunities for growth and success, Hartman acknowledges that acquisitions, even beyond the current scope of operations, could be a viable strategy to expedite the company’s expansion. As its rich history demonstrates, the future for H & H General Excavating is characterized by diversification, adaptability, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of opportunities that align with its vision for sustained growth and success.

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