Hal Hockema grew up in Newport, Oregon and discovered his interest in vessel design when working summer jobs on the docks and on fishing vessels. In 1997, after 18 years working as a naval architect and planner at shipyards and another naval architecture firm, he founded Hal Hockema & Associates, in Seattle.
Aside from his basic design and business philosophies, Hal’s initial vision was to work from a home office, so he could avoid an urban commute in Seattle and have more time with his family, contribute to less traffic congestion, and to improve his overall productivity as a naval architect. He sought to integrate his professional and family values as a unified lifestyle so one would not suffer at the expense of the other. Soon after the company was founded, Julie Hockema became Business Manager.
In 2004, Hal Hockema & Associates Inc. purchased the assets of Fisker-Andersen & Whalen Inc. and the company name was changed to Hockema & Whalen Associates, Inc.
Although Hal Hockema & Associates was founded in 1997, the Fisker-Andersen & Whalen side of the company dates back much further. Jacob Fisker-Andersen founded J. Fisker-Andersen Inc. in 1974 in Seattle. Jacob was a Danish immigrant who came from a family with historical shipyard ties since the early 1900s in Denmark. In Seattle, Jacob worked throughout the 1970s and 1980s in fishing vessel design, tug design and barge design. Michael Whalen purchased the assets of J. Fisker-Andersen Inc. from Jacob in 1992 and the company name was changed to Fisker-Andersen & Whalen Inc. Mike has remained with Hockema Whalen Myers Associates as a Senior Principal until 2020 when he retired. Mike is responsible for designing some of the most fuel-efficient deck cargo barges in the world. We affectionately call them our “sexy barges”. Although Mike is retired, we call upon his design expertise regularly.
In 2013, Hockema & Whalen Associates purchased the assets of venerable electrical engineer John “Jack” Gerke’s consulting firm. Jack’s marine electrical engineering work was well known throughout the industry for decades and many of his projects paralleled those of Hockema & Whalen Associates, so this purchase was a natural fit for us.
In 2018, John Myers became a part owner after 13 years with the firm, and we changed our name to Hockema Whalen Myers Associates, Inc. (HWMA).
In January 2021, we changed our name again to Hockema Group, Inc. with John Myers as President. Hal and Julie stepped back from their daily management duties of the company, devoting about 20 hours/week to the company. With the recent addition of Shannon Potter as Business Manager and Rick Hunt as Principal Projects Manager, Hal and Julie have further scaled back their daily management duties and are focused on their Owner/Board duties providing support and direction to the Management Team. Hal also continues to selectively provide his design skills and mentorship to the company.
Today, Hockema Group maintains our central office in the Ballard district of Seattle, but each of our staff professionals continue to work from their home offices as their primary workplace. For motivated professionals this type of working arrangement has now spread across the nation and, for those who choose this work/life style, it can provide increased quality of life in general while also providing more choice in where we live. Members of our staff reside/work in five states and their mobility allows them to travel to a variety of project destinations. Hockema Group continues to pursue the philosophy and industry improvement Hal founded the company on while incorporating new ideas and the ability to adapt to current industry trends, market conditions and technologies.