HERD Member Spotlight: Dennis Richardson
Sr. Engineer/Safety Director/EEO-AA Officer
R.G. Huston Company
Established in 1975
Headquartered in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
As a 25-year employee of R.G. Huston Company in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, Dennis Richardson has trusted Hitachi since the early ’90s. With 36 Hitachis in the fleet ranging from compacts to production-class excavators, it’s clear that Hitachi is a company favorite. We recently caught up with Dennis to learn more about R.G. Huston Company and why they rely on Hitachi equipment.
Tell us about your company.
“R.G. Huston Company is a family-owned construction firm located just east of Madison, Wisconsin, in Cottage Grove. We specialize in heavy civil construction – earthwork, sewer and watermain and bridges. We were incorporated in 1975 by brothers Dale and Dwight Huston who took over their dad’s (Rolland G. Huston) landscaping business. Now, Brad and Wade Huston (Dale’s son and Dwight’s son) are in charge of the family business – but still under the watchful eyes of their dads.”
What’s your role at R.G. Huston Company?
“When I started here 25 years ago, we had just five employees. Now, we run about 165 employees during the construction season. My engineering job has changed from bidding, running projects and sometimes operating equipment to now helping with complicated bids/specs, developing and overseeing our safety and training programs, reading contracts and working with our HR department. The running joke here is that I am our ‘in-house attorney.’”
What’s your Hitachi lineup look like?
“We have 36 Hitachis in our fleet ranging from ZX35U’s to ZX800’s. We purchased our first Hitachi backhoe (270 series) around 1992.”
Why did R.G. Huston Company first choose Hitachi and why do you continue choosing Hitachi machines?
“After two different 270s, we bought a 400 series backhoe that was used for everything. It was so versatile and reliable that it sold us on Hitachi backhoes. Hitachi seems to be on the forefront of innovations and our Hitachi fleet always seems to have the latest and greatest when it comes to engine horsepower, fuel efficiency, cab comfort and safety features. We have tried other brands of backhoes and still have a few around, but the Hitachi brand is the overwhelming majority in our backhoe fleet.”
What’s your favorite Hitachi machine in your lineup and why?
“The big boys (800s) are hard to ignore with their impressive bucket sizes. The minis are hard to come by here because every crew wants one on their project. But my favorite has always been the reduced tail 225 models. They do a lot of work in tight spaces. We do a lot of city street rehab projects and there is not a lot of room to maneuver. These machines can get in there and move around with ease. Plus, as a safety director, I love that the machine rotates in its ‘own space’ – no big counterweight swinging outside of the tracks potentially hitting something or someone.”
Who is your Hitachi dealer and what is their support like?
“Brooks Tractor in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, is our dealer. Their support is great. The last year or so has been hard on them working through COVID stuff, shortage of supplies, etc. – all the same issues just like the rest of us, but they always seem to want to do things right by us in the end.”