H2R Corp of Pinellas County
Acquiring a large firm and rebranding it to make it your own can be a huge undertaking filled with many challenges for most business owners. Dan Hart is not letting the challenges discourage H2R Corp, a Geotech materials testing firm that has been around for 50 years.
The firm originated in the 60s as Williams Sciences and Hart and two co-owners acquired it from Gannett Fleming in 2016. Hart said he is determined to keep the same quality and consistency through the ownership changes.
“There are definitely some struggles coming from a large international engineering firm, very multi-service, to going back to being a small business that is really focused on Geotech materials testing and construction work that’s really locally-based,” Hart said. “We had to kind of rebrand ourselves to being a small corporation.”
A name change isn’t the only hurdle standing in the way of branding success. Familiarity of the service is also a challenge. Office manager Debby Salliotte said they often get asked the question, “What do you do?”
“We do drilling and testing of construction materials,” Hart explained. “We do subsurface exploration for foundation design for buildings, bridges, water infrastructure services, engineering and laboratory testing.”
They have a services inspection contract with Pinellas County and were introduced to the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development through their county contacts.
There they have attended many classes focused on construction services, proposal development and disaster recovery. Working with Florida SBDC at PCED business consultant Aubri Shauger-Haley, the duo has also been able to identify opportunities and develop new relationships in the community that has helped them grow their business.
“Since 2016, over the last couple years especially, we’ve almost doubled in size,” Hart said. “We’re still a small business, but we went from about 15 full-time employees to just now a little over 30. So, it’s been very tremendous and very rewarding.”
They were also recently awarded a five-year, $6 million contract with Pinellas County.
Experiencing rapid growth has offered its own set of challenges, but with the help of the Florida SBDC at PCED, they have been able to fill their employment needs with high quality talent.
“Finding quality people in this economy is not an easy task,” he said. “Sometimes you miss the resources of the larger company to help find those people. So, folks along the way that can help us find good quality people are certainly appreciated.”
One of the resources that the Florida SBDC at PCED offers is the opportunity for H2R Corp representatives to network and connect with business owners who may have the misconception that they are competitors. It enables H2R Corp to look for partners to tackle the many infrastructure needs that cities and counties have.