Our Town Seward: Hughes Brothers

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 10:01 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2021 at 10:12 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A manufacturing business continues to provide equipment for the electric utility industry and opportunities for workers after 100 years.

We caught up with John Hughes, who is the president of Hughes Brothers. He is a third generation of the original Hughes Brothers, and the history of the business is extensive. “This is our 100th year in business,” Hughes said. “We started in 1921. The reason it’s called ‘Hughes Brothers’ is there were four original brothers, and one of them was my grandfather. They were house builders, but a storm came through Seward County in 1921, and knocked down power lines. The brothers used some of the materials for building houses to build cross arms that would hold up power lines. So they went from a business that was building houses, to a business that was providing materials for the electric utility industry.”

What does Hughes Brothers make? “We make all sorts of different products,” Hughes said. “We make about 100,000 different end products made up of about 900,000 little pieces and parts. These parts are made from wood, steel and fiberglass, all for the electric utility industry. What that means is if you are driving down the road, and you see a power line off to the side of the road that is carrying high tension lines to deliver electricity, we don’t make the poles or conductors, but we make about everything else on the pole. That could be anything from the cross arms, or the pole line hardware that attaches it into something that can withstand the elements.”

As you might imagine, this is an important business for the city of Seward and the state of Nebraska. “We employ about 280 people,” Hughes said. “For a town of 7,000 we are not the largest employer in town, but we are certainly one of the older ones. We have great people working here. They know their jobs and what they are doing. Our average tenure is 14 years. When people come to work here, they tend to like it and stick around.”

Hughes Brothers is marking the milestone of being in business for 100 years. The company now has a book out that outlines the history of the company. You can get that at the Seward library, or at Chapters books in Seward. “We are also constructing a museum that should be ready in time for our open house on October 15th,” Hughes said. If you happen to been in Goehner, the Seward County Historical Society there has dedicated a portion of the museum to the history of the Hughes Brothers company.

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