Nearly five decades ago, Westfield fire chief Ron Hittle started cutting grass and doing landscaping as a side gig. Much like healthy grass, his business grew and grew. Now Hittle Landscaping, a second-generation, family-owned company, is serving both residential and commercial customers while staying true to its core values of honesty, innovation, thankfulness, teamwork, leadership and excellence – all of which make up the HITTLE company acronym.
“We try to instill those values, and translate those values into behaviors for our employees in the company,” says Scott DeNardin, company president.
Under the leadership of Ron’s son Jeremy, who serves as owner and CEO, Hittle Landscaping runs six separate divisions – production homes, commercial construction, outdoor living, traditional ground maintenance, irrigation, and in the winter, snow and ice.
Production home projects involve design and installs for new home construction. Regarding commercial construction, the company has worked on a local hospital as well as the IKEA store in Fishers. The staff handles designs for outdoor living installs for high-end custom homes. Traditional ground maintenance for commercial properties includes many homeowners associations throughout the northside of Indianapolis.
The Hittle Landscaping leadership focuses not on the leader, but rather on employees.
“I tell my employees that I work for them – they don’t work for me,” DeNardin says. “My role is to serve them, and help them build their careers and their skills to serve our clients.”
The faith-based company also cares for employees by looking after them spiritually. For instance, once per week, a corporate chaplain drops by to chat with the staff.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a believer or a non-believer,” DeNardin says. “Our chaplain is simply a resource to them and is there to love on them if they need it.”
During its peak season, Hittle Landscaping, the largest privately-owned landscaping company in Indiana, employs 250 people. During its down time, however, the faith-based company is committed to serving in several outreach capacities. For example, the company supports Hearts & Hands of Indiana, a ministry similar to Habitat for Humanity that builds homes in the near west side area of downtown Indianapolis.
“When we have a house that is handed over to the new owners, we are the ones doing the landscaping and taking care of the yard,” DeNardin says.
The company also supports Shepherd Community Center on the near east side of Indianapolis to help break the cycle of poverty. Each year the company sends 12 to 15 of its employees on a mission trip to Puerto Rico for five days to build a house with Homes of Hope, which builds homes for needy families.
“It brings our employees together from different divisions of the company to enjoy a shared, life-changing experience,” says DeNardin, who has participated in 14 home builds throughout the past ten years. “It’s a humbling experience. You come back with an incredible heart of gratitude because you’re impacting a family and a life, really for generations, when you build this house for them.”
Just as the rest of the world has adjusted to life in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hittle Landscaping has done the same. From the start, DeNardin took the time to navigate his heart and concern for his employees while running a business.
“It’s a different life right now, and who knows where it will be in the next few weeks,” DeNardin says. “But we responded rapidly within our company to adhere to the CDC’s safety protocols for our employees.”
For example, the company immediately shifted from putting four people in a company truck to just one. In addition, employees cannot set foot on a property without going through a health check. Landscape designers and architects have replaced face-to-face client meetings with online consultations.
“It’s just getting used to the logistics and protocols to keep everyone safe,” says DeNardin, adding that he is thankful to be part of a company that gives back to the local community in so many ways.
“A lot of companies say things and display their mission and vision, but once you get inside of it, you find it’s not the truth,” DeNardin says. “Hittle is such an authentically true company, and the mission of the owner and what he’s trying to do with the business is so pure. We’re really just trying to build a company so we can provide careers for people, and give them a culture and environment that helps them grow as individuals and as professionals.”
Hittle Landscaping is located at 17778 Sun Park Drive in Westfield. For more information, call 317-896-5697 or visit hittlelandscape.com.