By broadening its customer base, HHI will be able to grow and add new staff members. When Hercules started his company, it was with a vision to benefit the community. Adding more people from Detroit will further strengthen HHI, but also its hometown.

“It’s not about what we can put in our pockets, but what we can do for the community,” says Belinda.

Sticking by the community has led to its share of compromises. Air conditioning units have been stolen off the roof to be sold for scrap metal. And despite the beautiful new building and impressive training center, customers are hesitant at times to visit.

“We get calls asking, ‘Is it safe,’” Belinda says a bit astonished. “Do you call the guy in Dearborn asking if it’s safe? And he’s less than a mile away from us.”

Belinda points out that these challenges aren’t exclusive to Detroit; they could happen in any urban area. And besides, Belinda likes a good challenge.
“I like to think of us Detroiters as scrappers,” she says. “You want to challenge us? You’re on. Put up your dukes.”

HHI fights the challenge head-on. They donate to nonprofits to clean up the city’s blight. Hercules is a founding member of Men Who Dare, an organization that helps fund underprivileged youths’ college education. They volunteer with the Girl Scouts and mentor high school students.

Above all, the company perseveres. Instead of leaving, they stay to contribute to the local economy. They are positioning themselves to be a third generation family business with a niece that is getting more involved. Perhaps in time, more businesses will come or return for new opportunities — just like Hercules did all those years ago.

On HHI’s website, Belinda tells the story of one such client. A manufacturer just opened down the street, the first manufacturer to open in Detroit and hire city residents in 20 years. Belinda and her team couldn’t be happier to supply them their office and janitorial supplies.

“My father’s premise was to employ from the markets that we serve,” says Belinda. “We want to hire Detroit-based people so they can afford the products made here in Detroit.” 

By continuing to serve its clients and employing city residents, HHI can support Detroit through its darkest time. Perhaps someday, Detroit will return to greatness once again. One thing is for certain — if that day comes, Hercules & Hercules Inc. will be there ready to lend a hand and supply the products.

Dan Weltin is the Editor-in-Chief of Sanitary Maintenance and Contracting Profits. Additional contributions to this article were made by Stephanie Beecher, former Associate Editor of Sanitary Maintenance.

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