Building stronger Blue Devils: Hoeft Builders’ gift of new weights gives back to student athletes

Owners of Altoona-based company, including two alums, commit $76,000 for upgrade to training facilities
​Jerry Poling | November 22, 2023

Around west-central Wisconsin, Hoeft Builders is known for its upscale commercial and industrial buildings. The company also builds community connections, helping sponsor the Eau Claire Marathon and supporting building projects with nonprofits like the Eau Claire Children’s Museum and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley.

When co-owners Peter Hoeft, Jay Rideout and Luke Rykal learned that Athletics at UW-Stout needed new weights in the athletes’ weightlifting room, they didn’t hesitate to provide $76,000 to Stout University Foundation to make it possible.

Hoeft Builders is Stout Proud — helping build stronger Blue Devils at the newly christened Built by Hoeft Weight Room but also with its history of hiring UW-Stout graduates and interns.

The co-owners of Hoeft Builders, from left, are Jay Rideout, Peter Hoeft and Luke Rykal.
The co-owners of Hoeft Builders, from left, are Jay Rideout, Peter Hoeft and Luke Rykal. / Hoeft Builders

“It feels great to be at a point in life where we can start giving back,” said Rykal, a 2005 graduate who played outside linebacker for the Blue Devil football team from 2001-04. He has a degree in business administration with an emphasis in construction.

Rideout, a 2004 construction graduate, agreed. “This takes me back to when I was going to Stout, and I’d see different rooms named for donors. Now that we’re part of that, it’s pretty special.”

They learned about the weight room need from Erin Sullivan, deputy director of Athletics and a friend of Rykal’s. “When I walked in (to the room), it brought back a lot of memories,” Rykal said. “I attribute a lot of my success to athletics and to Stout. I said, ‘We’d love to be part of it.’ Athletics builds character, but you get so much more out of it.”

A Blue Devil student athlete uses the new weights in the Built by Hoeft Weight Room in the UW-Stout Sports and Fitness Center.
A Blue Devil student athlete uses the new weights in the Built by Hoeft Weight Room in the UW-Stout Sports and Fitness Center. / UW-Stout

The gift also was supported by Peter Hoeft. “He understands the company’s connection with UW-Stout,” Rideout said.

All of Hoeft’s new project managers and superintendents are UW-Stout graduates, many of whom were interns with the company. Hoeft typically has two to four UW-Stout interns a summer. 

Rykal and Rideout believe in the university’s polytechnic approach to education. “We both had good internships at Stout, and it kick-started our careers,” Rykal said.

Hoeft Builders has a new office in the bustling River Prairie area of Altoona near Eau Claire. The company was founded in the 1980s by John Hoeft, Peter’s father. It provides construction management services, guiding businesses through projects from start to finish. 

The company has expanded significantly in recent years, now with 40 employees and having done work in eight states.

The weight room gift is a testament to Hoeft Builders’ connection to UW-Stout as well as to an overarching mission to be a company that values the communities and people where it does business. “It’s a natural fit. We’re a construction company, but we’re a people company. We’re relationship-driven,” Rideout said.

The gift was featured in UW-Stout’s 2023 Outlook alumni magazine. The Alumni Association offers on- and off-campus alumni events, travel adventures, opportunities to impact student experiences and more. Contact the association to learn or to connect with alumni: 715-232-1151 or alumni@uwstout.edu.  

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