Three Hiller Athletes Conquer Zafiro Palma Marathon

Three Hiller athletes from Mobile participated in the Zafiro Palma Marathon in Palma, Spain on October 10 courtesy of Hiller’s parent company, Pon. Pon encourages fun and fitness through their Pon Fit program, and employees often have the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in international events. We caught up with Kristen Miller, Marcus Porter and Ward Faulk upon their return from Spain to see what their experiences were like. Kristen ran the half marathon and Marcus and Ward ran the full event. We are proud of both of them for tackling this endeavor and seizing the opportunity for international travel!

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Kristen – Surprisingly enough the race itself. After a few days of meeting everyone (the rest of the Pon participants), there was such an electric feeling when you passed one of them on the course. People I hardly knew would give me this big smile, wave and maybe an encouraging word and it would just light me up. Then seeing my husband at the finish line right next to the Pon Fit crew cheering gave me this feeling of honor and pride. In that moment, I had accomplished something I never thought I could and had more support than I could ever wish to have.

Marcus – My favorite part of the trip was getting to meet more of my foreign colleagues and learn about what they do for Pon.

Ward – Tough question – As was Amsterdam in 2019, it was awesome! I really enjoy spending time with my PON co-workers and getting to know new people. Pon is a wonderful host to not only put this together but to take us to some unique places to eat and spend time with the other Pon attendees. After the event, I did enjoy handful of days exploring other parts of the island and learning more history of the area.

What is the best thing you got to see/do?

Kristen – That is a hard one! Walking through the Catedral-Basilica de Santa Maria de Mallorca and Basilica de la Sagrada Familia with my husband was a breathtaking experience. But the best thing I got to do was have dinner at the Santuari de Cura the first night with the whole Pon group. The 14th-century monastery was at the very top of a mountain overlooking the whole island. As the sun went down, I got to try new foods, listen to a wonderful little band and interact with people from different countries. I’m usually shy but Ward and Marcus encouraged me to embrace the moment, and it turned into the start of a wonderful trip of learning about others’ culture and life experiences. 

Marcus – The Chapel in Palma was tough to beat. It was an amazing place to finish a race of that caliber.

Ward – The overall experience – interacting and spending time with my co-workers from all over the world is really a great experience. I will keep up with many of them in work and outside of work. And while we all challenge ourselves to do our best in a physically challenging race, doing it together is just fantastic.

What are your thoughts on going on this trip through Hiller sponsorship?

Kristen – To be honest, on the flight over to Mallorca, all I could think was: what have I done to deserve this? Hiller gave me so much support it was overwhelming. There are very few people who would get an opportunity like this from their company. And even fewer that have the support of every single person at his or her company.

Marcus – Representing Hiller is something that our employees take very seriously, even when it falls into the “Make it Fun” category of Pon’s core values.  The variety of PON companies and personnel that were present gives us, as Hiller employees, an opportunity to showcase our professionalism and passion to perform to our foreign colleagues.  Professional presence and a willingness to approach colleagues with an open mind is a major part of these events.  Pon wants its employees to not only meet and have fun, but to brainstorm and find ways that we can work together through these new relationships to benefit everyone associated with Pon in the future.

Ward – I am 100% for it. I have believed strongly that a physically fit body leads to a healthier mind and life, which makes a happier and stronger employee. I have been pushing along for fellow Hiller co-workers to join the triathlon team. But a better fit would be for Hiller and Pon to work together and expand the “Pon Fit” to a stronger presence in North America. Marcus and I have been talking about this for a while and had the opportunity to talk to Rogier Kuiper and many other Pon members who all would love to come to the states to do marathon or some kind of race.

Hiller’s Year Long Celebration of its 100th Anniversary Continues at the Virginia Branch

Norfolk, VA – On October 2, 2019, The Hiller Companies continued its 100th anniversary celebration in Norfolk with a high-energy party designed to appreciate the past while looking to Hiller’s strong future of continued growth and opportunity. Virginia, one of Hiller’s largest branches, exemplifies the strong connection to the marine industry which is demonstrated by the fact that Hiller systems are on every single naval combatant ship in the fleet.

“Hiller is part of the fabric of the Norfolk community,” Vice President and General Manager of the Marine Division in Virginia Mark Herzog said. “Around here, people are very tuned in to what we do. With the massive military presence here, I would say probably 25 percent of our employees are retired or former military members.”

In planning the celebration, Herzog learned of a story of someone who was working as a part of the entertainment for the event. This man was former military, and when he realized that Hiller was throwing the party, he relayed how he was on a ship in the Navy and a Hiller system saved his life.

“It is important to recognize the impact Hiller has not only on the fire protection industry as a whole, but also on the communities we support,” Herzog said. “We were excited to host a celebration that focused on the future and what’s to come for Hiller and for our branch.”

Herzog started the Virginia Branch in 1985 after working with Walter Kidde. He has been a fixture there, and is an ten-time recipient of the internal Manager of the Year trophy. He is known for his effective team development and ability to recognize potential for growth.

Herzog noted that his background is marine fire protection, and he was able to assemble a team to take a hard push at the marine market in Norfolk. The number of employees grew from one to 115 during the last 34 years. Over time, he also added Commercial and Industrial, Special Hazards, Sprinklers, Security and Access and CCTV Cameras.

“Many of these markets developed organically,” he said. “Often, an employee would walk in the door with a specialty or skill and we would make the best use of that. Keeping an open mind to talent that presents itself is a key to growing and becoming more successful.”

General Manager of the Commercial and Industrial Division, Belinda Arthur, was one of the talents Herzog added to the Hiller team in 1995.

“I was brought on as a sales manager, and I was the only one on the sales team,” she said. “I was basically a sales manager of myself. Now, we have a team of seven outside sales people, three inside sales people and 2 estimators.”

Arthur believes the customer base was ripe for growth at the time she started with Hiller.

“At that time, many customers had multiple fire protection vendors they had to manage – one for inspections, one for repairs, one for fire extinguishers, etc. We began to bill ourselves as their one-stop-shop. I think many customers were happy to be able to call one company and get everything they needed. That was really a key element of what helped us grow.”

Herzog credits Arthur, who was just named Hiller’s 2019 General Manager of the year, with the Virginia branch’s ability to grow and become so successful. He said that her strong background in sales and in the commercial and industrial markets helped the department take off.

Both Herzog and Arthur agree, the biggest reason for the celebration of Hiller’s 100th Anniversary is because of the employees.

“We were excited about the party because it was all about the employees and showing them our appreciation,” Herzog said. “We wanted to recognize all of the employees who have continued the tradition and great reputation of The Hiller Companies.”

Arthur couldn’t have agreed more.

“The 100-year-celebration is about our people. We provide value to our customers, and that comes straight from our employees,” she said and then addressed the future. “We are a 100-year-old company, but we don’t act like one. Some companies that reach this point get settled and comfortable where they are. We are not those companies. I am excited we celebrated the first 100 years, but I am more excited about the next 100 years. We will continue to focus on growing while maintaining our foundation of customer-focused service.”