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2017-08-25 / Community (County Spotlight)

Glenn O. Hawbaker celebrates 65 years in Centre County


Keeping a community connected is harder than it looks. In fact, if all goes smoothly, people don’t even notice the work that is being done to ensure residents and businesses can get people and products from point A to point B.

Glenn O. Hawbaker Construction in State College is one of the key elements ensuring easy access to cities and towns throughout Central Pennsylvania. If you drive in the area often, you’ve likely seen one of their trucks carrying gravel to a site or one of their road signs telling you to merge left.

The company has been family-owned and operated since it was founded in 1952 by Glenn Hawbaker and his wife Thelma. In 1978 he passed the business down to his son, Dan, who is now preparing the smooth transition of ownership to his sons Michael and Patrick.

Now entering its 65th year, the construction company remains dedicated to both the community and the businesses it serves, but Dan believes more dedication to infrastructure could be seen from the state government.

“Infrastructure is a key economic link to what we need to do to grow Central Pennsylvania. I don’t think that Pennsylvania has a particularly favorable climate for growth. At least they haven’t displayed it. When I look at other states and the ranking of Pennsylvania in various surveys, Pennsylvania is not high on the ladder of states where chief executives want to locate their business,” he said.

Hawbaker’s business is approximately split at 65 percent public projects and 35 percent private enterprise. He sees plans like the recent Pennsylvania Rapid Bridge Replacement Project as good first steps, but not enough.

“[The rapid bridge replacement] is absolutely a step in the right direction. This thing with the rapid bridge replacement program is that it still does not go far enough, because there are still projects to be done after it. We left Pennsylvania’s infrastructure go south for so long that the recovery process is going to take probably decades before we can get it back up to an acceptable level.”

Dan and the company have also cultivated a positive overall reputation with communities throughout Pennsylvania with their dedication to community service.

Now in its 26th year, the annual Glenn O. Hawbaker Charity Golf Tournament has raised over one million dollars for charities and nonprofits throughout the Commonwealth. This past year, the tournament benefited the Ronald McDonald House in Danville, Contre Volunteers in Medicine, State College, Dubois area YMCA, Huntingdon Regional Fire & Rescue, Hearts for the Homeless, State College, The Nicholas Wolff Foundation, DBA Camp Victory and The Children’s House/Children’s Advocacy Center in Towanda.

“The golf tournament got started because way back we had a group of guys from eastern part of the state that would meet on Saturday for golf. Following that there was a gentleman who had a son in Hershey, so the first year was Ronald McDonald House. From there it just kind of grew. We just finished our 26th year.”

Every year, the company receives requests for funding from the tournament that need to be prioritized.

“We move around the communities we worked in and looking for worthwhile agendas that could use the financial help to advance their cause. So we’ve had libraries, YMCAs and a school called George Junior Republic in western Pennsylvania,” he said.

When asked how the company decides, Dan gave an example.

“We have a local group that is looking to buy another emergency vehicle for their community. We look upon that as something that that community needs because they are on the fringes and the outskirts of Centre County and getting from up there to our hospital is a priority,” he said.

Outside of the funds raised by the tournament, the company has also been known to lend a charitable helping hand to community projects when needed. Most recently, Dan and his colleagues directly donated land towards the ACRES Project, a center to support autistic children aimed toward gaining job development skills and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

According to Dan, the company will continue to support educational opportunities for those looking to enter the workforce, focusing primarily on the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, which has received consistent support from Hawbaker since Dan took over as president.

“I’m concerned with continuing the educational opportunities that CPI has to offer. We continue to support Penn State and Penn College with their scholarships. CPI to me is an intermediary step that gives kids right out of the shoot an occupational opportunity, which I think is important right out of high school,” he said.

Most recently the company agreed to match a percentage of funds awarded to the school through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program from the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The $1.4 million dollars will be used to improve and build access roads for the ever expanding CPI campus, according to Colleen Williams, business development coordinator at GOH.

Dan believes that the recognition the company has received for its community service is exactly what his parents hoped to see for his family. In fact, he keeps a picture of his father Glenn in his office featuring the young man working in a farm field and wearing pants fixed with safety pins. He said it serves as a reminder of the working spirit that the business comes from. .

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