BROCKWAY — A Brockway business is celebrating 30 years of providing reliable water services throughout the state.
Michael Holt, a Brockway native, only ever resided “a quarter of a mile” from where he was born.
He grew up on a farm, where he learned welding and plumbing, but didn’t know much about the electrical side of things until taking courses at Jeff Tech, the Jefferson County Vocational Technical School. He graduated from there in 1983 and started Hugh Water Services in 1988.
HWS is a branch of ROMIDA corporation — a public utility company operated by three Brockway brothers. It offers complete water well services, including drilling and cleaning, as well as water pump filtration and supply systems, bottled water service, and pool chemicals and treatment, according to www.hughwaterservices.com.
When the business started, Holt wasn’t prepared for the incredible need he was about to fulfill over the next 30 years, he said. During a time of feeling “overwhelmed,” he partnered in business with his two brothers, Ronnie and David. HWS was started in 1988, followed by Holt Drilling in 1999.
“As brothers, we were growing apart at the time,” he said. “So, we sat down and really meshed together. We manage distinct parts of the business, and it works very well for us.”
Holt acts as the president of the company, while Ronnie takes care of the drilling divisions, he said, and David is in charge of water treatments.
The company drills approximately 200 wells per year, installing around 300 pump systems annually. It has more than 600 customers as a bottled water vendor, Holt said.
Holt is a huge supporter of Jeff Tech and the real-world, hands-on education it provides for high school and adult students. His uncle was in Jeff Tech’s first graduating class 50 years ago.
“You can learn a very valuable trade there,” he said. “I think Jeff Tech is such a huge asset for this area.”
The state license Holt received in attending classes in places like Pittsburgh, Grove City and Clarion allows the company to operate small municipal systems like campgrounds, he said. They’ve built and operated a community system in Brandy Camp with 58 houses, and the deep mine in Mineral Point with 63 employees.
At the start of his career, Holt had the opportunity to move to Ohio, but is glad he didn’t, he said. He always wanted to live in Brockway.
“From a young age, I knew I wanted to start my own business,” Holt said.
Some benefits to living in a small, tight-knit community are recognizing people he’s done business with, Holt said, and making many friends.
“For a small town community, it surprises me how many people you don’t meet or interact with until you’re in business,” Holt said, adding he has made many friends through HWS.
Outside of business, Holt says there is “always something to get involved in.” He serves on the Snyder Township Board of Supervisors, and in the Brockway Area Kaimanns Club nonprofit organization. He said he enjoys attending the Citizens of the Year Banquet and Fourth of July celebration.
In the future, Holt hopes to continue to find good, quality workers in the labor market, and continue serving valued customers.
For more information, visit www.hughwaterservices.com.