Hughes Brothers in Seward, Nebraska, is a family-owned company forged out of hard work and reliability. Three brothers turned their carpentry skill – handed down from their father – into what is now Hughes Brothers, known for creating wood, steel and fiberglass components that are manufactured to hold-up electric power lines.
Shortly after forming in the early 1920s, the brothers’ hometown was faced with a crippling ice storm, leaving the city in the dark and residents without power. Hughes Brothers (HB) was called in to help replace the town’s crossarms, a necessary structure that support’s the power lines, and a critical piece used to restore the town’s power. This milestone was a major moment for the brothers and their business – not only did they help restore the town’s power – but they also became known for crafting the best wooden crossarms available.
HB is now a 3rd generation family-owned company that honors hard work, reliability and resilience. Forklifts are critical to HB’s operation as they are used daily in an indoor/outdoor application to move material weighing up to 4,000 lbs. “A lot of things we handle are very large, so having a real reliable material-handling fleet and material-handling operators is a pretty big deal for us,” says Matt Stryson, HB’s maintenance supervisor and plant engineer.
Previous forklift brands were not meeting the needs and values of HB, so they reached out to their local MCFA forklift dealer, NMC, to re-evaluate their operation’s forklift usage and needs. “Since we moved over to Cat (forklifts) we just haven’t had a problem with them,” says Stryson. “
They’re reliable; they’re easy to work on,” maintenance mechanic Bob Tempel adds. “I would recommend Cat forklifts…they’re just a good all-around truck.” Reliability and serviceability were a huge part of the purchase decision, and HB landed on Cat forklifts to replace its existing fleet. Forklift operator Mick Shepard also commented, “I have probably one of the oldest (small IC pneumatic forklifts) here – still runs like a top. I have no problems with it.”
HB has several buildings, including a manufacturing plant, across its 43 acres with rough terrain throughout. “I’ve got to get in a lot of tight spots in a lot of different areas – and that’s all day long,” says Shepard. Comfort was also a major concern when choosing Cat lift trucks. Shepard continues, “I can control everything without a whole lot of movement. I can see around me good, and it doesn’t shatter my spine like a lot of (other forklift brands) do. A lot them are so rigid it hurts to hit bumps, and we hit plenty of bumps here.”
Shepard has more than 20 years as a forklift operator under his belt. “I do prefer Cat (forklifts) over all the other ones," he says. "I just like the way they handle. I think they turn better.” He adds, “We do talk about it a lot among us forktruck drivers – how mad we’re gonna be if they don’t stick with Cat (lift trucks). If I’m going to drive a forktruck, I want a Cat.”
Hughes Brothers employees take pride in manufacturing the tools that power America and it shows. Reliable equipment is an important part of keeping this mission going and driving their team to deliver on their commitment every day. Stryson says, “My overall impression of Cat is that they’re investing back in the company. They’re progressive. They’ve got a great design, and they’ve simplified things. I’d definitely recommend Cat forklifts to other people looking to buy a forklift.” Shepard comments, “If you ain’t driving a Cat, you ain’t driving nothin’.”