The ‘Hardt’ and Passion for Project Success

Hardt Electric
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

For over forty years, Hardt Electric, Inc. has established itself as one of the most reputable and reliable electrical contractors serving the Chicagoland area. Hardt Electric’s exceptional staff of trained and experienced professionals solves all of its customers’ electrical needs. It works closely with architects, engineers, manufacturers and suppliers to deliver on-time and on-budget results.
Hardt Electric’s roots trace back to the 1930s, when Carl Hardt started C & H Electric. His three sons, David, Bill and Richard, eventually joined the family business. David and Bill went their separate way from Richard in 1973, splitting the business, and formed Hardt Electric.

Together, David and Bill would turn Hardt Electric into a $10 million to $12 million a year company with significant growth potential for the future. “It started out with six electricians, two of which are still with us today, so that’s forty-three years ago,” said President David Hardt. “That’s the kind of reputation we’ve had.”

The company has taken its passion and made it a mission to become industry leaders. It brings expertise and professionalism to each project it undertakes across the wide range of industries it serves.

It offers sustainability, commercial, industrial, residential and communications services and continues to find ways to expand the variety of offerings.

Its sustainability services help clients maximize profitability by controlling and minimizing electrical costs. Hardt provides turnkey sustainable energy solutions and give its customers access to financing and all available incentives, ensuring clients have the best return on investments.

Hardt Electric has experience in the design and installation of alternative energy and sustainable solutions with specialties in solar, wind, electric car charging stations and energy retrofits. The company is a Bosch EV charging station dealer, is ICC certified and is a member of the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA), the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), and the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).

The company also excels in all aspects of commercial electric contracting, including new construction, office build-outs, improvement or renovation and ongoing service and maintenance.

As an industrial electrical contractor, it undertakes large-scale industrial and manufacturing projects with installation, maintenance and continued support for the machines that operate its clients’ businesses. Hardt Electric is OSHA-certified and has experience with all aspects of site protocols for laboratories, institutional clients and manufacturing facilities.

Its industrial services include power and controls, backup power systems and facility maintenance. Hardt also has exceptional residential electrical expertise and services for homeowners, developers, contractors and housing organizations. Whether it is new construction, a remodel or maintenance, Hardt is experienced in diagnostics, installations, upgrades and repairs.

The company also performs communications services including installation, service and maintenance of low voltage, fiber optic and audiovisual cabling solutions. Building management companies rely on its riser management services to uphold the communications backbone of their operations. Hardt Electric provides clean, functional, code-compliant solutions and 24/7 emergency service.

Both Bill and David have children who would be prime candidates to continue the Hardt legacy of leadership at Hardt Electric. However, according David, they encouraged them to go out and find employment for themselves after graduating college, with the option to rejoin the company after embarking on opportunities that they secured on their own merits.

“Our charge to them was, go out and find yourselves a job after you graduate from college, and then, if you want to come back into the business, then you can,” David explained. “But if you don’t want to come back into the business, you don’t have to.” Carl, Bill’s son, opted not to join the company, but Peter, David’s son, after several years of success of his own on the West Coast, did.

For the past decade, Peter has participated in what David describes as an apprenticeship, learning the ins and outs of the family business. He has made some necessary changes to the corporate structure along the way. Peter has found new ways to be visible and accountable, improving efficiency and profitability and ushering in a new wave of growth.

Hardt Electric has undergone a corporate restructuring which will enable it to expand its capacity to sustain future projected growth. To complement the leadership and vision of Peter, the company called in the services of Dr. Perry Daneshgari and Dr. Heather Moore, of consulting firm MCA Inc. from Grand Blanc, Michigan.

“We were doing the same thing for forty-three years, and somewhere along the line, it needed to be revitalized,” David described, “They’re doing a wonderful job of recreating Hardt Electric.”

The company intends to expand its service division and reach into new markets by increasing the institutional projects it undertakes, while continuing to provide consistent, reliable, quality output.

“Typically, we’ve always been around a $10 to $12 million company.” David noted that this is purely speculation on his part, but, “from what we can foresee, we’ll probably be growing more in line with a $30 million to $50 million company,” as it aggressively pursues new markets and identifies new opportunities with institutional projects.

David explained that, through its work with MCA, Hardt Electric realized, “In a $10 to $12 million shop, you can operate kind of as a big-small shop, and when you get much beyond that, you have to really start to incorporate more of a relationship with your bonding company, with your banker. You have to reach out and find outside financing.”

Its move toward prefabrication in some areas has reduced overhead and eliminated site-specific challenges such as inefficiencies related to environmental conditions and scheduling overlaps with other trades on site. Prefabrication makes it easier for journeymen to complete their work in-shop to ensure more consistent output in a safer, more regulated environment.

While Hardt Electric is working to develop new industry relationships and professional networks from which it can continue to expand its impressive portfolio, it values its many long-term clients.

“One of our biggest customers, contractor Interior Alterations, is representative of the company that we are,” noted David of the longstanding relationship. “We have been their go-to electrical contractor for forty years. We’ve gone through three administrative changes with Interior Alterations and always maintained that relationship.”

Another repeat client is Groupon. What began as a two-phase project in 2010 has continued into the present, as Groupon brought Hardt Electric to address multi-faceted electrical needs. Hardt installed over two million feet of cable and a state-of-the-art data center, complete with fiber optics.

As industry leaders, Hardt Electric and the company’s leadership are active members in industry bodies such as the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), where David has served as a board member at the local and district levels. He was named president-elect last year and president in January, 2015.

NECA is “the voice for the billion dollar electrical industry”. As such, it represents nearly 4000 electrical contractors from around the U.S. and internationally. It communicates and negotiates with its counterpart, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), lobbies for the industry in Washington, ensures access to state-of-the-art safety and training programs and moves the industry forward.

As his responsibilities with NECA occupy more of his time and attention, David has been relinquishing more control to Peter who is ensuring that Hardt Electric is poised for future growth and success. David is optimistic about the transition.

“I’ll have continued involvement for a number of years, though the heavy hitting will be done by then,” he quipped. “Peter is taking over. It’s going to be a nice transition. I’m not going to ride off into the sunset. I’ll still be a part of Hardt Electric.”

“The long term goal is to be hands off and to let Peter run the place, and I’ll call that a success,” He noted that Peter is ninety-five percent of the way there, having already made changes that could double Hardt Electric’s business in the coming years while maintaining the qualities that differentiate it as Chicagoland’s leading electrical contractor of the past, present and future.



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