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November 25, 2012

Hughes Group carrying on the family business

Jeffersonville company celebrates 75 years

JEFFERSONVILLE — Hughes Group Inc., which started out digging basements and laying sewer lines in 1937, marked its 75th anniversary in Jeffersonville where the family business continues to thrive.

The company celebrated its 75th year in business recently at its headquarters at River Ridge, with Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore honoring former company President George Hughes Sr., who received a proclamation making Nov. 8 “George Hughes Sr. Day.” State Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, also offered the company a Certificate of Achievement from the Indiana Senate.

Passing on the family business

George Hughes Sr., 87, has been retired for years, along with two of his sons that followed him into the family business, George Hughes Jr. and John Hughes. His remaining two sons, Jeff Hughes and James P. Hughes, still work in the family business, with a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The company was founded by Edgar H. Hughes, George Hughes Sr.’s father.

“We don’t encourage or discourage family members from coming into the business,” said George Hughes Sr. “I’m more or less a cheerleader [now],” he said of his role in the company.

But over the years, George Hughes Sr. helped diversify the company, getting into highway construction, and even building gas stations and sewer plants at one time.

For the next generation, they too, have had to work through each rung of the business.

Corey Hughes, real estate manager with the Hughes Group and George Hughes Sr.’s grandson, said like other family members in the company, he started as a laborer and has worked through Hughes Group’s subsidiaries before moving into a supervisory role.

Even if you are family, a role at the top is not guaranteed.

“I think it’s harder for a family member in the business because you’re under a microscope,” James P. Hughes said.

“It’s real important for us as you’re coming up through the company to set an example,” Corey Hughes added.

While he said he always wanted to be a part of the company, he admitted it’s not always easy.

“It’s sometimes challenging to work with family,” Corey Hughes said. “It’s nice to work with family, as well. I have a huge sense of pride in everything we do. Even though I’m not an owner, I have ownership [in the company].”

Ben Hughes, field worker for Hydro-technologies and another grandson, and Anthony Lee Miller, field worker for Hydro-technologies and a great-grandson of George Hughes Sr.’s, are both in college and working toward a larger role in the company.

Miller said by working your way up through the company you get a sense of everything that goes on in the business.

Ben Hughes added, “it’s very cool that all of our companies can do a job without outsourcing it to somebody else.”

Hughes Group, Inc. is now a holding company with 15 construction-related subsidiaries, including general contracting, real estate development and specialty subcontracting services and at full-staffing employees about 250 employees. Those specialty services include asphalt milling, hydro-demolition, modified concrete and utility construction.

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