Ernie Hoch with Draper Aden Associates

Ernie Hoch with Draper Aden Associates

Title: manager of solid waste and environmental services for Draper Aden Associates, a Henrico County-based engineering, surveying and environmental services firm

Born: February 1959, New York

Education: Ocean Technical School, 1976

Career: director of public works, Harrisburg, Pa., 2010; Madison County administrator, 2012; Culpeper County administrator, 2015; chief operating officer, Jarrell Properties, 2016; Draper Aden Associates, December 2019-present

Where do you live? Fredericksburg

Best business decision: “To never shy away from the difficult decisions and to face every problem head-on. A challenge always provides the opportunity to exceed expectations and build lasting friendships. Mentor your team and always allow yourself to be mentored by every person in your organization.”

Worst business decision: “One of the most enduring lessons I’ve learned from a mistake is to avoid making hasty decisions. I had a project that required a plumbing contractor and a very tight deadline. I rushed my decision in selecting a contractor and instead of solving the original problem, I created another one. Now I had to fire this contractor, find another one and ensure the work was redone properly. Fortunately, we were able to complete the project on schedule, but I didn’t need the additional stress that I caused myself for acting too quickly. The importance of making thoughtful decisions has stayed with me through my career.”

Mistake you learned the most from: “Although I cannot point to a single mistake specifically, each mistake or miscalculation that I have made has improved who I am as a person and as a leader. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Recognizing the mistake, owning it, fixing it, learning from it and not making it again has been my continuing improvement plan.”

What is the biggest challenge/opportunity in the next two to five years? “Both the biggest challenge and opportunity revolves around environmental protection. Communities throughout our region and the world face a changing climate and a number of environmental challenges. Both the public and private sector must adapt and better position themselves for a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

First job after school: “I spent a summer with a circus group, the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion show. I traveled across the country working for one of the foremost riders in the world, Albert Ostermaier. I was responsible for the care and preparation of his performing horses. I grew up that summer and have been a black coffee drinker ever since.”

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? “I have no regrets because if I tried to do it over, I would not be where I am today, with a wonderful family, incredible career and a lifetime of good friends and acquaintances. I might try to squeeze in flying jets for the Air Force or Navy.”

Movie that inspired you the most, and why: “ ‘Top Gun,’ of course. Big responsibility, big risks, big rewards.”

Favorite/least favorite subject in school: “Mechanics and engineering have always been my favorite. I have always been on a quest to understand how the world works and how I can make it better.”

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