By Betsy Reason
Growing up, Westfield’s Josh Hittle always had an overwhelming desire to be able to say that he made his own way and didn’t take advantage of his parents, who owned their own landscaping business.
Early on, he started working at Hittle Landscaping, which his father, Ron Hittle, founded in 1973, with a truck and tractor.
Josh Hittle started working there as a kid, in 1986, mostly mowing and taking care of nursery stock in the summers and on school break. As he got older, he started going out on install jobs and planted trees and shrubs.
“We did other jobs, like raking the rocks out of yards, spreading bales of straw … on soon-to-be lawns,” he said.
Josh Hittle worked a couple of other jobs during his teenage years, as a cart boy when Hanging Tree golf course opened and worked for his oldest brother, Chad Hittle, who started Hittle Construction. They were building decks and timber walls. He also worked for McQuicks Oil Lube and Castle Clean car wash.
When Josh Hittle was 15 years old, he was on winter break from school, hanging out with brother, Chad Hittle, who was also a firefighter, when a fire call came in. It was a serious, head-on motor vehicle accident on Indiana 32 in Westfield that claimed the life of a girl he attended school with. He watched his brother remove the victim from the car.
“At this point, between the adrenaline that I was feeling and being in awe of what my brother was doing, I was hooked and wanted to become a fireman. I found that the next step at my age was to become an Explorer Firefighter at Carmel Fire Department. I did that until I was old enough to become a volunteer fireman at Westfield Fire.”
He said most of the fire departments around you had to be 21 years old to qualify for the state pension. “I was only 18 years old, so that wasn’t going to work,” Josh Hittle said. “That’s when I heard about the firefighting program that the Air Force had to offer. I went down to the recruiters office and signed up.” But Josh Hittle was told that his vision wasn’t good enough to be a firefighter for the Air Force.
After attending Westfield Washington Schools since kindergarten, Josh Hittle graduated from Westfield High School in 1993. He then went into the U.S. Air Force and became a security police officer in April 1995 and was stationed in Germany for two years.
His next duty station was Macon, Ga., where he met his wife, Billie Jo. They married in May 1998. “I was lucky enough to marry into two kids (Justin and Jordan Culverhouse),” he said. Josh’s wife is from Lizella, Ga., a small town just out of Macon. After she graduated high school in 1990, she decorated cakes for a living, then became a vet tech for VCA when they moved here.
“At that time, they (the kids) were 5 and 4 years old.” After fulfilling his four-year active duty commitment, he moved the family back here to Westfield to help at the family business, returning to Hittle Landscaping.
His wife has similar talents. Billie Jo used to operate the seasonal annual program there until their kids got to an age where they were constantly needing to be taxied around for sports and other school events. (She is currently the floriculture superintendent for the Hamilton County 4-H Fair in Noblesville.)
But despite being happy working the landscaping business, Josh Hittle still couldn’t stop thinking about another career that he still desired. “I wanted to become a fireman, like my father and brother.”
His father, Ron Hittle, is a 35-year veteran of the Indianapolis Fire Department and retired as a battalion chief.
Josh Hittle got his dream and was hired on at Noblesville Fire Department in July 2000.
Sadly, Josh Hittle’s brother, Chad Hittle, who was a 14-year captain for Westfield Fire Department, died just five years later, at age 36, in 2005, when his truck ran off a rural Hamilton County road striking a utility pole. Chad Hittle’s son, Tyler Hittle, is also now a firefighter for Westfield Fire Department.
To this day, Josh Hittle is still a firefighter and is now stationed at No. 74 near Morse Lake.
While Josh Hittle’s not working at the firehouse, he does landscape design for his family business, Hittle Landscaping, which now has more than 250 employees and is operated by his brother, company president Jeremy Hittle.
While Josh Hittle didn’t take advantage of his parents, who owned Hittle Landscaping, he still learns from them, and he and his wife, Billie Joe, co-own Hittle Floral Design.
After Josh Hittle was hired at the fire department, he started shadowing his mother, Nancy Hittle, now 71, Cicero, who still helps out at his flower shop once or twice a week.
She did all of the design work for Hittle Landscape back in the day.
He still enjoys the family business. He said, “She has such an artistic talent which I must have picked up a little of that during the time of shadowing her.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the second part of a story (about Josh Hittle) that was printed Oct. 16 in The Times about Josh Hittle’s Floral Design work beautifying the City of Noblesville.