In 1893, John Morse Hughes was a skilled carpenter who came to Seward, Nebraska to work. He built a reputation for painstaking attention to detail and an unwavering adherence to standards. This commitment to quality was passed down to his sons: John, Burr, Ted and Ben. Following the death of John Morse Hughes in 1918, the brothers combined to form Hughes Brothers, Inc.
Electric Transmission and Distribution
In the ensuing decades, Hughes Brothers (HB) became a leader in the electric transmission and distribution industry. The company began by building wooden crossarms and then incorporated steel products into the mix such as the signature X-Brace for H-Frames to add stability and reliability to any structure. Later, HB expanded its product line with steel pole line hardware and customer manufactured steel fittings.
Throughout HB’s history, the heart of the company has always been the small community of Seward. Since 1921, HB has rebuilt Seward’s storm-worn neighborhoods, employed its citizens and invested in the organizations essential to keeping Seward strong. The community and the company forged a strong bond.
Today, HB has more than 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space, employs several hundred people and builds with steel, fiberglass and wood. It produces crossarms, dead end assemblers, braces, pole line hardware, equipment mounts, fasteners, fiberglass products, davit arms, structure reframing, lighting poles, sign posts and transmission design.
Moving Faster With Fiber
While the company’s work ethic and dedication to excellence remains the same as it was in the last century, HB has enthusiastically adopted new technologies as they became available. For example, when Great Plains Communications brought its fiber network to Seward in 2015, HB was more than happy to switch Internet providers.
IT Manager Lee Meysenburg explains, “There used to be no Internet competition in Seward, and with our previous provider, we were getting speeds of 50 Mbps. When Great Plains Communications came to town, we switched to their fiber Internet. Our speeds have quadrupled up to 200 Mbps download and upload. As great as these faster speeds are, however, the number one reason we switched to Great Plains Communications was cost. Great Plains Communications offered HB a better price for more speed. The decision was a no-brainer.”
Why does HB need this much speed? Meysenburg replies, “The main reason is that the files we send are growing in size. We have to be able to quickly send PDF files of our catalogs to customers as well as download large files, such as specification sheets or sample architectural drawings, sent to us by customers. Even more importantly, HB needs very fast and reliable Internet service for our backup. We transfer backup files nightly to an off-site location to protect our data.”
He adds, “So far, we’ve had no real issues with our Internet service. Great Plains Communications is good at letting us know in advance if there will be a brief outage due to system upgrades so we can plan accordingly.”
Customer Service is Key
In the future, HB plans to subscribe to phone services from Great Plains Communications. Meysenburg is impressed with the customer service. “Every time I’ve been in contact with customer service at Great Plains Communications, it’s been an absolutely wonderful experience. When I call, there is virtually no hold time. We appreciate getting local customer service instead of trying to communicate with someone from another state or country. The people at Great Plains Communications understand our company and this area of Nebraska,” he says.
As HB moves forward to meet the changing needs of customers, it will be with a new logo and new website. Meysenburg notes, “A few months ago, we had our sales rep meeting here in Seward. One goal of this event was to talk about new branding and a new website for the company. Based on these discussions and other research, HB has changed our logo to a more modern look and updated our website design. The HB website now allows our sales rep to get access to the inventory system via a password-protected sales rep portal. With this real-time access to data, they can instantly see if we have a product in stock while on the phone with a customer. We also added our product catalog to the website based on many requests for an online version to complement the printed one.”
Clearly, a spirit of innovation and attention to detail continues to guide HB. John Morse Hughes would be proud.