Robert P. Hopkins, president of the Delaware Contractors Association (DCA), noted that the purpose of the organization is to assist contractors in growing their businesses.
“It’s to be a resource for government news and labor law information,” he said. “It’s there to provide social activities so that the members can bond and get to know each other better. Most of all, it’s an opportunity for peers to take pride in their work, get recognition, and learn more about each other and their industry.”
Hopkins has been at the DCA since the early ’80s and has been on the board of directors for more than 10 years. He said the DCA is still the same organization it was when he joined.
“It just remains that constant force that helps contractors organize their businesses and programs. It helps them be a benefit to themselves.”
Hopkins was elected to a one-year term as president in December. Reflecting on his tenure with the organization, he said he is proud of having started the annual Crab Feast Raffle, which funds computer development capabilities at the DCA.
“We felt we could reach into everybody’s pocket and take $10 out and do something positive with it,” he explained.
What Hopkins likes best about living in Delaware is that it’s small enough for him to be on a first-name basis with the governor, senators, congressmen, state legislators and other officials.
“You can get to know everyone you choose to know. You’re known for your professional skills, your community service activities, and your involvement with your family.”
Family is important to Hopkins, who lives with his wife Jane in Hockessin, a suburb of Wilmington. They have two married children, Carolyn and Brian, and two granddaughters.
“I’d rather spend time with them than anything else in the world,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins has plans for his term at the DCA. Since he was elected, the DCA has established an Ameritas membership status to keep retired former members active in the organization. Hopkins also hopes to renovate the headquarters building, which is 14 years old.
“We’re reorganizing the staff of the association, and I hope to grow the membership, as well as continue to have the association meet the needs of our membership,” he said.
Hopkins is senior vice president of Joseph T. Hardy and Son Inc. in New Castle, Del., where he has worked since 1994. He manages the construction operations of the 86-year-old mechanical contracting business.
“I do everything from hiring to firing to dispatching our troops and equipment. You could call me an operations manager, a general manager. I really don’t have a title. I just do everything.”
The company works on underground water, sewer, fuel distribution, and storage systems, and also has environmental capabilities. The company employs approximately 50 people and has four locations.
One of nine children with four brothers and four sisters, Hopkins grew up in Claymont, Del., a small town north of Wilmington.
“In high school, I had worked as a construction laborer during the summers, and felt very comfortable in building things and being part of a team that was involved in renovations and construction,” Hopkins said. “I graduated from Williamson Trade School in 1972, and have been employed every day, uninterrupted, for the last 35 years.”
Hopkins started in the commercial end of the business, then went into heavy industrial construction for the DuPont Company, traveling all over the country. Next he did contracting with a local construction business, primarily doing heavy industrial mechanical construction in industrial plants, chemical plants, and refineries.
“I spent seven years there building that business to the largest open shop mechanical contractor in northern Delaware,” he said.
His next stint involved seven years with Tetra Tech, a large environmental engineering and architectural consulting firm. At that company, he worked in marketing, business development, and management. From there, Hopkins went to Joseph T. Hardy and Son Inc.
Hopkins enjoys the constantly changing market of construction.
“Every project is different, and since we’re a niche contractor, we do something that most other mechanical contractors do not do or choose not to do,” he said. “Obviously, that’s water main breaks, sewer collapses, and fuel distribution systems.”
After Hopkins’ term is up in December, he will serve on the board of directors for two more years.