- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
With an experienced staff of engineers and construction experts, HHI Corporation is a contracting firm that specializes in design-build projects for the United States military. Located in Ogden, Utah, HHI serves a range of clients in 11 states across the country. A unique aspect about HHI is that the company works with designers and scientists to define what is required for each project so it can then be designed and built.
HHI was founded as Hideaway Homes Inc. in 1971 by Don Hokanson, a physicist. Leaving his high-paying university job in pursuit of a dream, Hokanson picked up a hammer and nails and began building log homes. Over time, Hokanson built a team of talented engineers and project managers as the operation shifted its focus to military contracting.
Adapting to a changing industry
In the ever-evolving world of technology, HHI has been at the forefront of applying new methods to construction projects, especially in the government sector. Control over design-build solutions has been placed more in the hands of the contractors who work with government agencies in order to better suit the needs and requirements in each project. “The biggest change is the way that the federal agencies do procurement,” says Robert Smith, vice president of HHI. “Twenty years ago the government would hire designers and sit down with them and design exactly what they wanted and would then put it out for bidding. Now the agencies compose a document describing what they need and the design-build portion is left up to the contractor that wins the bid. That’s where we come in.”
The process that is utilized today has transformed the industry from construction companies implementing the ideas of others, to giving them more creative control in the design and construction of each project. “This puts the responsibility and liability of successful completion and functionality of the project on the contractor,” says Smith. “If they get to the end of the project and find that the design was not the proper solution, then the contractor has to fix it, whereas before the agency would be responsible for fixing the design.”
An example of a project where HHI was called upon to provide design-build solutions involved an indoor firing range for heavy weapons at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah. “The government wanted a facility where they could test 30-mm Gatling machine guns that are used on fighter jets,” Smith explains.
These machine guns are used by the Air Force and once they have been in the field for an allotted amount of time, they are brought back to Hill Air Force Base and are rebuilt. Before they are sent back into service the weapons are tested in an indoor facility. “They used to be tested in the desert but the Air Force decided that it would be more efficient if they could test the guns on base,” he adds. “We were contracted to design and build a facility that contained the sound, and the blast while keeping the environment safe from the smoke and vapors. We successfully completed that project in 2010.”
In a display of the company’s diversity, HHI completed a child development center for Hill Air Force Base. The 35,000-square-foot facility was designed for the care and education of newborns to age 6. The LEED Silver certified project provides a single story concrete slab, steel frame, masonry exterior walls and a standing seam metal roof. The interior includes multipurpose rooms, a kitchen area, administrative space, playground area and equipment as well as fire protection and utilities.
HHI often works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in addition to constructing military facilities. In 2012 HHI constructed a new research and education laboratory for the VA center in Boise, Idaho. On this project, the company served as the principle building and laboratory contractor. Before construction of the facility, HHI organized and carried out the removal of existing sewer and asbestos that were present under the project site.
The center piece of the 18,240-square-foot facility was inclusion of eight fully equipped laboratories with fume hoods as well as vacuum and gas systems. Unique aspects included folding partitions, FRP panels, medical washing and sterilizing equipment and a direct digital control (DDC) system. “This project was very high-tech due to the fact that it’s a research lab and not just for patient care,” says Smith.
As the company progresses into the future, HHI Corporation will continue to distinguish itself as a diverse design-build solutions company, providing high quality, efficient projects for military contracts.
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