Mid-States Concrete Industries CEO Charles H. Harker remembers what it was like when he first started working for the company.
He would arrive at 7 a.m. and find himself hard at work. Oftentimes, he would later spot his father Charles V. Harker – who started the company – pulling his Mustang into the parking lot. Hagen Harker, Charles’s son, also took his turn at the early shift. And now it’s Hagen’s sons pulling that same shift.
Charles Harker III, 19, and William Harker, 16, are both in their fifth summer working for Mid-States. The two started out painting the original Flexicore building (the same one Hagen also painted in his early days), cutting down weeds and doing other maintenance, but have since moved on to other roles. William currently works in the yard and Charles is a member of the road crew.
“I like seeing them do the same things I did,” the elder Charles said. “My dad had me digging a ditch I’ll never forget.”
Both the elder Charles and Hagen also spent time working in various roles for Mid-States, before earning leadership positions. As Charles put it: “It’s not a birth right.”
Hagen said there is something special about working in a multitude of positions within the company. He added it is great to work side-by-side with the team and “hear what really makes people tick.” Time spent as teenagers at Mid-States also helps to give the next generation some credibility, he added.
“It makes me proud,” the elder Charles said. “… The sky’s the limit.”
William said spending his summers working for Mid-States has helped him think about the future. Working alongside the team everyday has taught him things he wouldn’t otherwise know. Plus, in addition to learning how he likes or doesn’t like things done, he is able to listen to what others like or dislike as well.
“It’s also important you don’t go straight to top dog, you work your way up,” William said.
The younger Charles agreed it is important to “pay your dues” and work your way up through the company.
“It’s cool to see the business from all different angles,” he said.
Charles said when he worked in the plant, he got to see the product created and now, out in the field, he gets to see how the pieces come together to make a building.
Hagen said learning the business from the bottom up is in the Harker blood.
“In any business, no matter where you start… those initial days are very formative to how you think in your future,” Hagen said.