At Horsfield Companies in Epworth, Iowa, treating people like family doesn’t stop with the ownership group. Founded in 1984 by Pat Horsfield, the company is furthered today by his daughter Maureen, son Matt, and nephew Rod. Under their diligent eyes, Pat’s legacy is alive and well, and proven by the family-like relationships extending to employees, vendors, and even customers.
“I’m supposedly the retired individual of the company,” starts Pat, as good natured as a guy can get. “But I hang around and help them out for what they need. Finding good help seems to be the biggest issue these days. I always say, ya gotta treat them good, treat them fair, and they’ll follow you.” The effectiveness of this management philosophy is apparent when interacting with the Horsfield crews. Everyone’s engaged and focused, yet lighthearted and happy — obviously content in their work.
“One of the things that truly makes me go home happy every day is our people feeling fulfilled in what they do,” says Matt, president of Horsfield Companies. “The best way to success is to surround yourself with great people. We’re very fortunate to have some of the best in the industry.” Based on the company’s expansion of offerings throughout the years, Matt’s statement has merit.
GROWING WITH THE WORK
What started as a single crew performing sewer and water work has grown into a one-stop shop for subdivision developments. “We’re a little different from our competitors because we do everything from start to finish,” part owner and superintendent Rod explains. “We’ll start with dirt work, lay the pipes for water and sewer, then finish it with paving. There are plenty who do one or the other, but not many can do it end to end.”
Matt elaborates on the company’s major milestones, “At the start, my dad had a pipe crew and an asphalt crew. That grew into a concrete crew, which was one of the best decisions he made. It led us to the ready-mix concrete business, which required us to expand in dredging and quarries so we’d have the materials needed for the mix. Now we have four retail ready-mix plants, one mobile high-capacity paving plant, two rock quarries, and two sand-and-gravel locations. It allows us to deliver projects to our customers in a very safe, efficient, and cost-effective way.” Based on the amount of repeat work they get from satisfied customers, you don’t have to take Matt’s word for it. In fact, it appears there’s another secret ingredient.
For a company that started amid the recession of the mid 1980s, Pat’s relentless focus on quality over profit is admirable. “I’m proud of the people we have out there because I always tell them, “Do the work as if it was your own.” And they’re doing it — the callbacks prove it. That makes me very proud.”
Another unique tie Horsfield has with the community is its close proximity to the John Deere Dubuque Works factory. “For one thing, Deere employs a lot of people in this area. In addition to quality work, they appreciate seeing that machinery outside their homes,” explains Rod. “We also have a relationship with the experimental group at the factory. My dad worked there back in the day so he’d tap my uncle Pat for testing equipment. We still let them use our quarries for demonstrations and running equipment, and they have us shake down new models — they’re all great to work with.”
FAST AND OLD FRIENDS
Truly, the roots of the Horsfields’ relationship with Deere run deep. Pat’s first purchase when starting the company was a wheeled John Deere backhoe. They’ve had so much success they’ve never looked back, and now some of their excavators have up to 13,000 hours and are still regularly used. “They have done awesome for us,” says Pat. “We’ve had very, very, very little lost time because of those machines, and it made us what we are.”
Matt has never known anything other than a positive relationship with Deere. “As long as I can remember, Martin Equipment has been synonymous with Horsfield. Just great people — the sales and field staff, the techs — it really does seem like family because you know everyone. Not only that, but the Martin family themselves. Just very good, hardworking people who care about what they do.”
So while Matt foresees continued growth and new challenges for the company, there are certain things he wouldn’t change for the world. “Waking up every day doing a job you love with great employees — and doing that with your family… it doesn’t get any better.”