News and Tribune


November 25, 2012

Hughes Group carrying on the family business

Jeffersonville company celebrates 75 years



The specialty contracting services the company offers are unique to Hughes Group said President and CEO James P. Hughes.

“It takes four pieces to do this kind of work,” he said. “We’re the only company in the United States to have all four pieces.”

The process is an advanced process to repair asphalt on roads and on bridges. The company first mills the roadway, then the hydro-demolition process uses high pressure water to break away old concrete without damaging the steel underneath, then the company will repour and smooth out the new road surface.

James P. Hughes said the company repaired a bridge in Memphis, Tenn., over the Mississippi River, that took about three months to complete. A conventional repair for the same work could take between nine months and two years, he said, depending on how much of the bridge was closed and how many people were working on the bridge.

He added that the hydro-demolition process is about 10 times faster than using a jackhammer and does the equivalent work of 60 jackhammers. The modified concrete the company uses, that includes a latex material, lasts about 30 years.

The changing technology has changed the dynamic of the company since George Hughes Sr. was at the helm.

“The administrative people and supervisory people are doing twice as much as they did before because of this technology,” he said. “It’s gone from a labor intensive to an equipment intensive business.”

But James P. Hughes added that the company’s focus still remains its employees.

“People make it go, people are still your most valuable asset,” he said.

Spreading it’s base

Because the company has diversified, James P. Hughes said they have been able to thrive in the last few years when many businesses were faced with hardships through the recession.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “The reason why we’ve been very fortunate is we saw a long time ago, and we’ve been doing it for about 25 years, that we can’t operate in just one area doing one thing. The stimulus years were very good to us because we were positioned well.”

And the Hughes Group also works in several different states across the country through its multiple businesses to maintain its revenues.

The company hasn’t been entirely immune to the changing economic conditions.

James P. Hughes said the company has to do more volume of work to make the same money that it has in the past. While the growth in sales has increased and is expected to increase about 15-20 percent next year, he estimated the company’s annual revenues of between $40-60 million annually will remain stagnant or drop.

“I think the reason we’ve been so successful is money has been a secondary goal,” he said.

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