During World War II, the shipyards of Portland, Oregon were a vital part of the war effort. Thousands of workers migrated to the area, in search of work at the bustling shipyards. They all needed places to live.
Harder Mechanical, then a small plumbing company, reinvented itself so it could quickly join the effort to build housing for the workers. As it would do many more times over the years, Harder saw a need and scaled to meet it, providing quality and reliability to projects that demanded both.
Today, that legacy continues as the company continues to grow and serve industries new and old.
For over eighty years, Harder Mechanical has continuously refined its processes, creating safe environments from which our skilled staff can focus on the quality craftsmanship we demand. As the needs of industry evolve, we apply our expertise to each new challenge. When industry needs to build a new process, Harder is ready.
Born in 1885, James Michel Harder was indentured as a plumbing trade apprentice. Making $1.25 per day when he started in 1903, he advanced to journeyman in 1906, then superintendent in 1922, and ultimately a stockholder and officer in charge of estimating and operations in 1929.
In 1934, he stepped out on his own to be sole owner and founder of J.M. Harder Plumbing.
As the post-WWII era brought continued economic growth to Oregon, thanks in large part to the timber industry, residential construction was similarly on the rise.
Under the guidance of the second generation, J.M. Harder Plumbing moved their headquarters from Astoria to Portland and completed plumbing projects for new construction homes that are still around today.
After 31 years in business, the company was incorporated and changed their name to Harder Mechanical Contractors, Inc.
The ensuing time period brought a shift from residential plumbing into the large industrial projects–dams, paper mills, and steel plants–that remain a cornerstone of the company's work to this day.
With its close proximity to Mount St. Helens, Spirit Lake felt the full force of the 1980 volcanic eruption. The blast and debris from the avalanche displaced much of the lake from its lake bed, blocking the outlet and forcing waters up into the mountain slope.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built an outlet tunnel to maintain safe lake levels and prevent flooding of the communities downstream. Harder Mechanical designed and built floating pump skids as part of this effort, leading the way in early prefabrication techniques.
Advancements made in silicon wafer technology ignited a boom in the personal computer market. Many companies found themselves investing in expanded research and production facilities in Oregon, creating the "Silicon Forest" as a counterpart to California's Silicon Valley.
Harder Mechanical embraced the semiconductor market, translating its skill in industrial process piping to the high purity process piping systems and clean room environments required for chip manufacturing.
The company's success in the semiconductor industry created a new opportunity for growth when a client asked Harder Mechanical to help build their next manufacturing facility in Arizona.
The Phoenix, Arizona office opened in 2003, quickly followed by the Richmond, California office in 2004 and the Salt Lake City, Utah office in 2005.
Eighty years after the company's founding, Dustin Harder transitions to president of Harder Mechanical Contractors in 2014.
As the fifth-generation of Harder leadership, Dustin continues the legacy his great-great-grandfather began nearly a century ago. With an eye towards the sixth generation, Dustin's leadership is positioning the company as the mechanical contractor of choice by top clients across the country.
As Harder expanded across the Western U.S., another state caught the company's eye.
After years of thoughtful planning, the time was right to hang some (hard)hats in Texas. Starting with an office space in Austin, the company now has both an industrial and clean room fabrication facility in Austin as well as an office in Dallas.
Having such a strong foundation of past success, it would be easy to continue leaning on the old way of doing things. But we think bigger than that. We believe in continuous improvement, in trying new techniques and developing new processes in order to meet the demands of our innovative clients. That's The Harder Way.
Successful projects do not complete themselves. Our team of curious and passionate people build on Harder's reputation every day through their actions. We offer professional development opportunities, industry-leading benefits, and the chance to work on projects that will change the built environment forever. Read more about what it's like to work at Harder and join us as we continue building the legacy.
We get to work on some the most technically challenging projects the industry has to offer.