A Strong Team Built on Integrity and Pride

Jeremy Hiltz Excavating

Jeremy Hiltz Excavating is a New Hampshire-based contracting company providing sitework services such as water, sewer, drainage, roadways, and more on commercial, industrial, and municipal projects throughout the state.
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The company was established in 1996 but its founder has been working in the excavating business for most of his life. “I was born into it,” says company owner Jeremy Hiltz. “I grew up working after school, weekends, and during the summer. Every moment I could spare was with my dad. He was 48 years old when he had me so that afforded him the patience and time to teach me what he knew. At a young age he would take me to work with him nearly every day in the summers. I don’t know how he did it,” he says, “but I’m very fortunate he did.”

In 1996, Hiltz decided to venture out and start his own excavation and sitework company. In the beginning, all he had to work with was the wisdom and experience he’d collected as an apprentice to his father. To complete his first contract, he demonstrated three excavators from different manufacturers, using them equally throughout the job with an understanding that he would purchase one upon completion. It wouldn’t be an easy road, but Hiltz was never afraid of hard work.

After a year in business, the company earned a half million dollars in sales, and began investing in more equipment to grow its capacity. “I think our culture looks at hard work as a punishment instead of a reward,” says Hiltz. “It’s just not so. I’m a success today because of the dedication my father put into teaching me at a young age about this trade, and about pride and commitment.”

Over the years, Hiltz grew the company less on sheer workload than on searching out and hiring good people. Prospective employees are carefully vetted and if they turn out to be a good fit for the company, Hiltz will hire them and figure out how to keep them busy. When work slows down, he improvises, occasionally buying equipment to rebuild in the shop. It’s this commitment to building a team of dedicated and hardworking personnel that has enabled Jeremy Hiltz Excavating to establish a reputation for high-quality workmanship and on-time, on-budget delivery. The company has been built on, and has been successful because of, the quality of its people.

Today, the company employs 49 workers, increasing that to 55 at peak time in the summer by bringing on some part-time workers. Each of those workers is considered a key piece of the company puzzle. Being able to have pride in the company’s people is paramount to Hiltz’s vision. Every day after every shift each worker cleans their equipment. They’re swept and Armor Alled on the inside, washed on the outside, and once a week they’re waxed. The upkeep of the equipment is a direct reflection of the company’s commitment to quality and pride in workmanship. Each and every member of the Jeremy Hiltz Excavating team has been carefully selected because they share this mindset and are proud of the work they do.

As a result, the company has built a loyal customer base spanning the entire state of New Hampshire. The majority of its workload is on commercial and industrial projects, but it also takes on some large infrastructure work for subdivisions, and heavy highway projects as well. The company’s success has been driven by consistently delivering all of these projects on time and on budget; in 23 years, the team has never once missed a deadline, often finishing well ahead of schedule. This is a reflection of the pride the workers have in the company. Jeremy Hiltz Excavating truly believes that the key to its success has been building a culture that its workers can believe in, and never varying from it.

Like all businesses that depend on the skilled trades today, the most significant challenge facing the company is a shortage of tradespeople in the workforce. “The younger generation aren’t interested in the trades,” says Hiltz. “If we recognized it twenty years ago we could have helped, but we’re all playing catch-up now trying to help through trade shows and talking to high schools, elevating interest for the workforce to come into the trades. It’s a great way to make a living and I’ve seen many success stories that might not have been had they gone somewhere else.” For Hiltz, the problem is even more difficult because of the strict standards he has for bringing on new employees.

On every project, at every jobsite, Jeremy Hiltz Excavating stands out from the competition in terms of quality and service. The team is committed to leaving every client with a feeling of comfort and confidence, making every effort to complete the project on schedule and within the client’s budget by working for them and their best interests every step of the way. Achieving this ideal is only possible as a result of the conscientious way that the company has built its team.

In a climate where qualified workers are hard to find, being particular about the people it’s willing to hire has been a limiting factor on the company’s growth. But despite the challenge, this has also fostered a great deal of pride in the people who are brought on. The company’s workforce is made up primarily of people who have been referred by other employees, because those employees understand what is expected and can recommend people they know are suited to the company culture. They have pride in the company and in the work they do, and they share that pride.

“They’re the ones who sell us to others who want to work here and build a future,” says Hiltz. “It’s helped in maintaining the quality and integrity of the workforce. I think of every single person here just like they’re my own family. It’s a ‘we’ not an ‘I’ company.”

The second project Jeremy Hiltz Excavating ever took on as a company was an international center for a key client. That was more than two decades ago and the company just finished a large parking project for them recently. Hiltz’ commitment to providing the best possible service to customers has enabled him to build enduring relationships with key customers like this one. Clients return time and again because they have confidence in the quality of the service and the reliability and integrity of the team.

Clients trust Hiltz and his team because of their track record, and because of their commitment to doing everything in their power to satisfy their budget and timeframe needs. Staying abreast of industry trends is another facet to building a strong client base. “We try to be very open to technology,” says Hiltz. “We’re not a sucker for all of it but we spend a lot of time on research and development, looking for what we can integrate into our company to help us move forward. It’s a great compensator for the lack of workforce.”

Going forward, Hiltz is thinking about succession. “Four years ago I hired a young man named Will Hess who didn’t have a lot of experience,” he says. “He’s evolved into a brilliant General Manager because he works hard every day and has that prideful hardworking approach that we look for here. I’m hoping that he and my son Colby will take this company over and perpetuate it forward.”

The company recently hosted a week-long event, inviting industry peers to visit and evaluate the business. One of the key takeaways for Hiltz was that if anything were to happen to him, the entirety of the workforce would want to stay on, even though any of them could quickly find work elsewhere. Hiltz is now working diligently on designing an immediate plan to protect their jobs as well as a long-range succession plan to have Will and Colby take the company over and keep it going long into the future.

After more than twenty years, Jeremy Hiltz Excavating has developed an approach that inspires confidence and trust among its many clients. More than two decades of experience in the business has given Hiltz the wisdom to understand that the best value an excavating company can offer is a team that takes pride in what they do. He has carefully cultivated that in his own team, and it shows in quality of their hard work.

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 18, 2019, 4:18 PM EDT