Scroll Top
10 S. Roosevelt Ave., Chandler, AZ 85226

Get to Know Hawkeye: Ask Pat Tilton and Pete Trowbridge

Man working a blueprints of a building

Today, we’re sitting down with Pat Tilton, CEO of Hawkeye Electric, and Pete Trowbridge, President of Hawkeye Electric. They’ve been the driving force behind Hawkeye’s success in the industry.

We’ll chat with the duo about the history of Hawkeye Electric, insights, and where they see things headed.

Can you tell us the story of how Hawkeye Electric got started? What was the initial inspiration behind it?

Pete: Hawkeye Electric, Inc. is a licensed and bonded Veteran-Owned electrical contracting company that specializes in electrical service work, remodels, renovations, and new construction in Arizona and throughout the southwestern United States.

Hawkeye has a broad range of expertise including medium and high voltage electrical, LED lighting, solar, and low voltage systems work including fire alarm, security, CCTV, internet/ voice/data, and many other types of special systems.

Since being founded in 1999 by Pat Tilton, Hawkeye has completed hundreds of commercial and governmental projects throughout the southwestern United States and grown to become Arizona’s eighth largest electrical contracting company. Hawkeye offers a comprehensive array of electrical contracting services for new construction, expansion, and retrofitting projects in a wide variety of industries.

What motivated you both to enter the field of electrical engineering or contracting?

Pat: I entered the field of electrical contracting to make use of the formal electrical training received while in the navy.  After parting ways with the Navy, I held jobs with a couple of different large commercial electrical contractors in Arizona. Eight years into my career, I left my employer and launched Hawkeye Electric.

My motivation was to build a team with an amazing culture of teamwork providing the employees with a high level of support to help them succeed and grow and enjoy their career with the company. My ultimate goal was to share the profits with everyone involved.

Pete: I entered the field of electrical contracting in 2014, 10 years after my initial capital investment as a silent partner in Hawkeye Electric and 1 year after selling my general contracting business. My motivation in formally joining the team was to leverage my experience as a general contractor to help Pat continue to grow the business and achieve new levels of success.

What sets Hawkeye Electric apart from other companies in the industry?

Pete: There are a few things that set Hawkeye apart from our competition. First and foremost, we have a more experienced team than just about any other electrical contractor in town. This year is our 25th Anniversary and we have many employees who have been with the company for over 20 years. Once people come on board with Hawkeye, it seems like the good ones stay and make it a career.

Another thing that sets Hawkeye apart from our competition is the diversity of our skill set.  When people ask us what kind of jobs we do, we save them time by responding with a small list of job types that we don’t do.

We are experienced in so many market sectors whereas the majority of our competitors tend to hone in on a more specific type of construction.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of building and growing Hawkeye?

Pete: The most rewarding aspect of building and growing Hawkeye has been the rollout of the ESOP; a process we initially kicked off back in 2018. It’s now 2024 and the stock has risen from about $4.00 per share to just shy of $40.00 per share.

All long-term employees are 100% vested in the program and their annual income from the ESOP shares is on pace to surpass their annual W-2 income in only a couple more years.  The positive vibes created by the ESOP are palpable. It’s promoted a sense of camaraderie beyond anything we could have imagined six years ago.

What challenges did you face in the early days of the company, and how did you overcome them?

Pete: The downturn that started in fall of 2008 was probably one of the bigger challenges we’ve had to face. There just wasn’t a lot of work to go around from that fall until things started to thaw out around 2011 or 2012. The only entity that had any money to spend was the federal government, so during that period Hawkeye paid the bills by looking to federal work in multiple states. We did work at Davis-Monthan, Ft. Bliss, Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ft. Hood, and other places. We still had work going on in the Phoenix Area, but for a few years, most of the work was outside the valley.

Can you share a memorable experience or project that stands out to you in your time with Hawkeye Electric?

Pete: Back in 2015, Hawkeye was fortunate to be selected as the electrical contractor for the construction of the American Campus Communities residence hall for the engineering college at Arizona State University. The project included the construction of four 7-story towers with an elevated bridge connecting them.

It was Hawkeye’s largest job to date as of that point in time and I feel like that one kind of put us on the map here in the Phoenix Area as a solid electrical contractor partner option capable of handling larger projects.

What do you enjoy most about working together as a team at Hawkeye Electric?

Pete: The sense of camaraderie. We’re one of the larger electrical contractors in town, but we still conduct ourselves in many ways like the small “mom-and-pop shop” we once were.  We work hard together but we also play hard together.

Over the years our team has enjoyed tons of extracurricular activities like golf and fishing trips, company softball tournaments, picnics, and hosted lunches out at the job sites to celebrate the new ESOP statements coming out.  We like to celebrate our successes together as a big family: TEAM HAWK.

How does Hawkeye Electric foster innovation and creativity in its projects?

Pete: Hawkeye emphasizes pre-planning on its projects to get the Estimator, Project Manager, Foremen, Superintendent, and Safety Director together in a project kickoff meeting in which they analyze project-specific challenges and brainstorm creative problem-solving opportunities.

We maximize utilization of pre-fab to cut down on man hours in the field and increase quality by fabricating assemblies in a controlled condition. We use state-of-the-art tools for layout and project document control.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own electrical contracting business?

Pete: Don’t do it!  Come join the team here at Hawkeye and you’ll be an Owner of something special! All kidding aside, there have been a number of instances where Hawkeye employees have left to go start their own business.

Each time, we have been supportive and provided guidance to try and help them be successful in their new endeavor. The advice we usually give is to be careful with managing expenses and always remember that safety is never negotiable.

This is a hot construction market and with all of the construction involved in the data centers and semiconductor projects going on here in the Metro Phoenix Area, there’s plenty of work for many years to come.

Looking ahead, what are your goals for the future of Hawkeye Electric?

Pete: I think the executive management team’s primary mid-term goal for Hawkeye is to continue to develop our team capabilities by providing more training and better structure to help set up the next wave of executive management for success in the years to come.

Right now as of May, 2024, we are about 1/3 of the way complete with our new office building located in Chandler, north of Chandler Boulevard on the west side of Kyrene.

When we finish it up and take occupancy in November of this year, we think the new infrastructure is going to foster continued growth and serve as a springboard for bigger and better things starting in 2025.