Chief Executive Officer
HN Holdings LLC
Zimmerman, MN, USA
Field: Cellular Concrete Production and Distribution
Growing up in the concrete business, Craig Alan Hrkal’s decision to join the ranks came as no surprise. Previously a salesman at his father’s flagship company, Lightweight Distributing Co., Inc., Mr. Hrkal helped establish Midwest Cellular Concrete in 1992, which is now doing business as Cellular Concrete, Inc. He worked within and acquired 49 percent ownership of both companies in 2001, and purchased the remaining holdings for both in January 2007. He also started another company called Highway Safety Zone, which distributes highway work zone safety equipment as well as permanent safety equipment for highway safety. With 25 years of experience, Mr. Hrkal currently serves as the chief executive officer of HN Holdings LLC, which owns and operates Cellular Concrete Inc, Lightweight Distributing Co., Inc., Hwy Safety Zone LLC and its newest acquisition, Concrete Chemicals Inc.Cellular.
Mr. Hrkal is skilled in the production and distribution of cellular concrete, lightweight aggregate applications, lightweight concrete and construction materials. Heading three companies simultaneously, he oversees credit monitoring services and production and concrete construction, manages finances, and builds relationships with customers. To keep himself updated in the field, he remains affiliated with the National Utility Contractors Association, the Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the Aggregate and Ready Mix Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Utility Contractors Association. He attributes his successful career to his hard work, industry knowledge and financial discipline, and looking ahead, Mr. Hrkal hopes to expand his reach nationwide and offer consulting services internationally.
Conversation with Craig Alan Hrkal
Worldwide Publishing: On what topics do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Craig Alan Hrkal: I consider myself to be an expert in lightweight structural concrete as well as cellular concrete in the geotechnical applications.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
We are “old school” when it comes to our customers. Trust, service and relationship-building with our clients as well as our vendors is very important to us. Many of our customers are our suppliers as well, so maintaining a strong relationship is important.
What motivates you?
The industry — it’s in my blood. I grew up with my father in the concrete industry and I owe my success to him since he was the original founder of Lightweight Distributing Co. Growing up with many of today’s industry leaders has made the business enjoyable.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
Call it like you see it. In the business, you have to be able to talk to your customers and suppliers about the good and the bad. Communication is vital in operating smoothly. You need to speak with understanding and with the openness to work it through both sides — good and bad.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
Short term, we want to work to be the best with what is on our plate and do our jobs well and as efficiently as we can during the working months in our [seasons of operation]. Long term is to define the growth platform which best suits our goals and expand our presence in the marketplace.
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
With the short term, we plan to do what we have always done and identify areas where we can do it better. In the long term, we will be working on some ideas to expand all areas of our businesses with new technology, and expand our market areas.
What are some questions that an individual interested in your services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
We are very diversified in many areas in lightweight concrete, road construction, highway safety and concrete products. All questions are important, so we will answer any question to determine if we are a good fit or if we can recommend someone who is.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
Taxes and regulations. Those two issues are very time-consuming. There are many hours lost in productivity addressing and understanding things when they are changing so fast. It affects the bottom line by a considerable amount.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
It gives me the ability to provide for my family and many others. Our businesses are only as good as those who work for them. We do our best to provide to the best of our ability for our loyal employees.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
Value engineering projects that provide a value to the client as well as the owners or taxpayers. Roll your sleeves up and be ready to work hard.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
My father for sure — he started our flagship company, Lightweight Distributing. Together, we started Cellular Concrete, both of which provided our growth with diversity in the highway safety zone, and today, my brother helms Concrete Chemicals Inc.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
Technology and the growth of specialty products — they’re becoming more common now.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
There will be growth opportunities in areas which we have been a part of for many years, but were not considered the norm then and are now.