Doing What ‘Can’t Be Done’

HHI Corporation
Written by Claire Suttles

HHI Corporation is ready to take on any challenge. “We are experts in doing things that have never been done before,” says Project Manager Matt Gehring.
The Ogden, Utah based business specializes in tough, out of the box design-build projects and metal manufacturing for a variety of clients. “There is really nothing that we can’t tackle, nothing that we are afraid of,” states Mr. Gehring.

Physicist Don Hokanson left a lucrative university job in 1971 to launch a construction company and fulfill his dreams. Over the decades, Don found an ideal niche working on government contracts, drawing on his unique background to solve tough problems and deliver leading edge solutions. The company expanded along the way, adding fabrication and specialized equipment installation to its list of services. Don’s son, Cliff, came on board in 1994 and he has continued to propel the company forward since his father retired in 2011.

HHI’s team of engineering and construction professionals frequently team up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have completed multiple projects across a number of military establishments throughout the country including Hill Air Force Base, Dugway Proving Grounds, and McConnell Air Force Base. The company also delivers turnkey services, quality construction, and innovative solutions at a competitive price to commercial and industrial clients.

One of HHI’s most notable recent projects was the construction of the first indoor firing range for 20mm and 30mm guns, which are used on military fighter planes and Apache helicopters. “There is really nothing else like it in the country,” Mr. Gehring says. In fact, prior to the project’s completion, a 30mm gun had never even been fired indoors before.

Before HHI and the Army Corps of Engineers stepped in, personnel at Hill Air Force Base had to drive three hours to an outdoor range in the desert to test fire the powerful weapons. 20mm and 30mm guns are incredibly loud and create a powerful shockwave, which is amplified inside a building, making indoor shooting a near impossibility. To add to the challenge, the build had to stay within a strict budget. Undeterred, the team developed an ingenious design that funneled and broke apart the sound and shock waves when the guns are fired. The end result has been a huge – and groundbreaking – success.

In a very different example of challenging projects, HHI has worked throughout the United States on chemical and biological laboratory design. The team worked closely with scientists to create facilities that would be able to safely handle dangerous chemical and biological agents as well as be pleasant, efficient work environments.

A combination of factors helps HHI tackle tough projects, starting with its people. “We have a very strong team within HHI,” says Mr. Gehring. “We have a combination of engineers and other specialists in construction who are very proactive in [their] approach to construction. We don’t sit back and wait for answers to come; we actively seek them. We actively seek solutions to problems.” HHI is also a team player, and partners effectively with outside personnel. “Even when we are working with other design teams, we are constantly looking at ways that we can improve the design and offer suggestions so that we can keep projects moving forward and provide a better product to the customer.”

Integrity is a core value that team members share. “Honesty is very much at the forefront of what we do. We take a lot of pride in, and put a lot of focus into, being a company that stands behind doing what we say we will do.” This commitment even extends to deadlines. “In the 40 years that HHI has been in business, we have not brought any project in behind schedule.”

In the construction field, HHI specializes in design-build, bid-build, LEED, renovations, specialized equipment, and precast concrete. The team has carried out these services across a remarkable variety of sites, including advanced testing facilities, aircraft hangars, ammo and missile facilities, bio-containment facilities, blast booth facilities, commercial office buildings, child care centers, government administration buildings, maintenance and wash facilities, medical facilities, paint booth facilities, plating facilities, radar facilities, research centers, restaurants, schools, shopping centers, industrial shops, and warehouses.

HHI is just as skilled when it comes to exterior improvements and site work. The team has carried out a wide variety of civil engineering projects, including those involving airfield construction and paving, bridges, parking lots, hardstands, paved roads, security fencing, steel storage tanks, timber bridges, and water tanks, and is eager to continue moving forward in this area. “We would welcome the opportunity to complete even more complex projects,” asserts the company’s website,

HHI also boasts advanced fabrication capabilities. The team specializes in designing and building state-of-the-art equipment that will streamline maintenance processes for their customers. The team places a particular focus on designing and building specialized, leading edge equipment for military use. The company also takes care of any kind of steel or aluminum fabrication. Some specific items completed in the past include an aircraft wheel transport trailer, an aircraft wheel maintenance stand, B-52 tail maintenance stands, bridge cranes, C-17 engine maintenance stands, C-130 maintenance stands, a Chinook helicopter testing stand, F-16 blast/paint booth stands, steel buildings, a containment facility, fall protection systems, fuel systems, and hydraulic chambers.

In addition, the team has completed a wide variety of industrial projects, from warehouses to clean rooms. Some specific industrial projects include advanced testing facilities, bio-containment facilities, blast booth facilities, industrial shops, industrial tech equipment installation, industrial ventilation system, LEAN facility transformation, maintenance and wash facilities, plating facilities, and research centers.

Increasingly, LEED has become a company focus across all areas of expertise. HHI’s first LEED certified project is the Child Development Center at Hill Air Force Base, which involved a single story (35,697 square feet) concrete slab, steel frame, masonry exterior walls, and a standing seam metal roof. There are also multi-purpose rooms, isolation rooms, storage rooms, a kitchen area and equipment, administrative space, a playground area and equipment, fire protection and utilities, and an emergency detection annunciation system and CCTV system. The work also involved the demolition of six buildings totaling 35,731 square feet.

The LEED Silver Child Development Center is the only HHI project that has been officially LEED certified to date, although many more of the company’s buildings are actually LEED eligible. Due to budgetary concerns, the Federal Government will often require that a building meet LEED standards, but not pay the extra costs to officially obtain LEED certification. “We probably have close to a dozen of those projects that meet a LEED Silver criteria [but are not officially certified],” Mr. Gehring reports. Often, the government has its own internal review process to ensure that the buildings meet LEED Silver standards while bypassing the costs associated with official LEED certification, he explains. “In the last three to five years, we have seen a consistent [government desire] for projects to meet LEED Silver so we have evolved with the government and are helping them better understand the process and what it entails.”

HHI is also committed to green building within its own facilities; the company has recently remodeled its offices with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. The company’s fabrication facilities have also enjoyed a massive makeover. HHI recently acquired a new property in Harrisville and built a new, state-of-the-art fabrication facility that is five times the size of the previous one.

The team is eager to use these expanded and updated facilities to deliver even more leading edge solutions to support our troops. “We are going to continue on the track that we have been on,” shares Mr. Gehring. “We really feel that we are supporting our nation’s goals for security and protecting our men and women in uniform. We will also continue to look for new and innovative ways in all sectors to provide construction and engineering services.”



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