The construction industry is one where vision shapes the landscape and hard work builds the future. And it's an industry that Kevin Hokanson, Vice President of Operations at A.W. Oakes & Son, knows intimately. But his story isn't just about bricks and mortar; it's about family, innovation, and a dedication to building a better tomorrow, one project at a time.
Kevin's construction journey began in his late teens in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Working summer jobs to fund his college dreams, he discovered a love for the outdoors and the satisfaction of creating something tangible. He found that construction wasn't just a career path; it was a canvas for his determination and ingenuity.
But it was at A.W. Oakes that Kevin truly understood the meaning of family in the workplace. Leaving the rigidity of a larger company, he found a home at A.W. Oakes, where the values of respect, collaboration, and open communication weren't just slogans, but the lifeblood of every project. Here, he wasn't just another employee; he was part of a team, treated with dignity and encouraged to grow.
This family spirit is woven into the fabric of A.W. Oakes. It's evident in their approach to safety, their commitment to their employees, and their dedication to giving back to the community. Safety reigns supreme, with comprehensive training, top-notch equipment, and a culture that places every life above all else. Sustainability is a cornerstone, with the company proudly recycling materials and minimizing their environmental footprint.
But A.W. Oakes isn't just rooted in tradition; they're embracing the future with open arms. Technology is no longer a distant vision, but a vital tool used to enhance efficiency, safety, and productivity. Drones scan sites with hawk-like precision, smart equipment communicates on its own, and AI optimizes workflows in real-time. This isn't replacing people; it's empowering them, allowing them to focus on their skills and expertise while minimizing risks.
This dedication to progress shines through in Kevin's eyes as he talks about some recent, local projects he's most proud of. The Racine Aquatic Center (above), a beacon of recreation for families, and the Aurora Hospital, a testament to A.W. Oakes' commitment to serving the community, stand as proud examples of their work. But even the seemingly small projects, like repaving a school crosswalk to keep children safe, carry a deep sense of purpose.
For Kevin, the reward goes beyond the finished product. It's about working with a younger generation raised on technology, integrating new skillsets with seasoned expertise, and witnessing the collaborative spirit that drives each project forward. It's about the shared sense of accomplishment, the quiet satisfaction of leaving a positive mark on the world, and the knowledge that A.W. Oakes is building more than structures; they're building a brighter future.
But when the hard hats come off and the blueprints are rolled up, you'll find Kevin on a different kind of landscape. His love for the outdoors spills over into his hobbies, where he swaps blueprints for clubs on the golf course, trades bids for fishing rods on frozen lakes, and tracks footprints instead of deadlines on hunting expeditions. These pursuits, he says, help him recharge and bring fresh perspective back to his work, reminding him of the importance of balance and the beauty of the world he's helping to shape.
So, what comes next for Kevin and A.W. Oakes? The future is as clear as a drone's aerial view: embracing new technologies, fostering a family-oriented environment, and continuing to build not just structures, but stronger communities. As Kevin says, "The construction industry is going places, and A.W. Oakes is leading the way, building a technological legacy to grow our world one project at a time."