Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. is know for its bright-red Mack dump trucks, shown above on a Keystone State road-work site. The fleet’s trademark cleanliness might be unusual in the gritty heavy construction business, and it’s an integral part of the company’s branding. But more than that, the trucks are a representation of everything the family-owned business has sought to stand for over its six decades in business: pride, integrity, efficiency.
GOH was founded in 1952 by current President and CEO Dan Hawbaker’s parents, Glenn O. and Thelma Hawbaker. They started out with a half-dozen employees, a few dump trucks, a track loader and a tag-along trailer. The small excavation company drew well below $1 million in revenue, but the wheels had been set in motion, and the gains grew rapidly.
Today, Hawbaker continues the family legacy by running the company with his sons, Michael and Patrick Hawbaker, who began each at age 11 sweeping the shop and washing the trucks. Eventually they joined the men who laid pipe in the ditches. Michael and Patrick credit their father with not only teaching them about the family business but also how to treat the men and women they lead. “There are no amateurs within the ranks,” Michael Hawbaker says. “My brother and I believe that every employee serves a critical function, and we respect them for the professionals they are.”
GOH offers an assortment of services, from asphalt paving and road and bridge construction and rehabilitation to site excavation, gas well service and construction, and engineering design. The company now employs 1,200 people and has annual revenue of more than $250 million.
The company operates 24 quarries and 8 asphalt plants in Pennsylvania, southern New York and eastern Ohio. Customers include the Pennsylvania DOT, Penn State University and a lengthy roster of municipalities, colleges and corporate entities. GOH’s larger projects run up to $60 million and include everything from working on interstates to renovating the runway at University Park Airport in State College, Pa., and performing the site work and excavation for Penn State’s $89 million Pegula Ice Arena.
With success comes challenges. Several years ago, budget cuts to Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation resulted in a 30 percent decrease in the company revenue. Dan Hawbaker took it in stride, pushing for new customers, particularly in the energy field. The timing was right for the Pennsylvania-based company — there was a mad rush for companies to tap into the lucrative Marcellus Shale, which stretches 104,000 square miles across the Appalachian Basin into Pennsylvania, West Virginia, southeast Ohio and upstate New York. What came along with that rush: new roads, new site excavation and a new revenue source for GOH.
Costs remained a concern, however. To help address them, he turned to his Legacy Truck Centers dealer. Hawbaker’s 225- to 250-vehicle fleet is comprised predominantly of Mack trucks, including Mack Granite dump trucks. A big reason for that is the dependability of the trucks and the service provided by Legacy. Hawbaker finds they don’t need to be retired as soon as others they’ve tried.
“We’re getting long years of service,” he says. “We can have them hang around for a pretty long time.”
The older trucks are averaging 5 to 6 miles per gallon, but Hawbaker believes his recent 30-truck order of 2015 Mack Granites will improve those numbers significantly.
The company operates a limited number of Allison automatic transmissions that have been favorably received by drivers but are heavy. GOH also field tested the new mDrive HD, expecting the lighter weight will help the payloads, which average more than 24 tons.