Zac Hilton first visited Eagle Mountain 20 years ago as the employee of a construction company laying natural gas lines in what was just a small town back then. A position with the town opened up, working on utilities, and Hilton decided to interview for the position. He got the job offer, but he said a lot of people encouraged him to turn it down.
“It was actually kind of terrifying because back then it was so small, and there was a lot of skepticism that this place wasn’t going to make it,” Hilton said. “A lot of people told me it was a bad decision.”
Now, as the manager of the streets and storm water department, Hilton said he’s very happy with the decision he made 20 years ago.
“I love my job,” he said.
Born and raised in Pleasant Grove, Hilton bought a home in Lehi around the same time he started working in Eagle Mountain. Now, with a family of six kids, he said the only reason he hasn’t moved to Eagle Mountain is because of the hassle of moving.
“I don’t want to go through the moving process. It’s really that simple,” he said. It may still happen in the future once all of his kids have moved out, but for now at least Hilton is fine with the commute.
“(The commute) gets a little longer now because there’s just so many people. (Eagle Mountain has) just grown so much like I would have never, ever dreamed it would,” Hilton said. “As far as cities go, we’re young.”
It’s easy for Hilton to remember the time when he first began driving to work via Redwood road and there were stop signs instead of street lights. Now lanes have been expanded and traffic is still backed up, he said. He feels he’s grown right along with the city.
“It’s been a mutual experience, I think, in the sense that I was more young and wild and so was the city,” Hilton said. “We’ve both grown a lot ... we both learned from each other, I think.”
Twenty years ago, Hilton said the bulk of his job involved confronting new obstacles all of the time as the town grew and problems grew with it, and there wasn’t enough manpower or equipment to necessarily address all the needs.
“We’re still growing, so we still have that, but certainly not to (the level of) what we did in the beginning,” he said. “We had a streets department for a couple of years before we even had our first snowplow.”
Although it’s been rewarding to overcome challenges and see the city grow, one of the things that’s really made the past 20 years special for Hilton, according to him, is the people he’s worked with.
“The people you work with always make a big impact on how much you enjoy your job,” Hilton said. “I work with a lot of wonderful people.”
Several of those coworkers will also be coming up on 20 years soon, but he’s enjoying being the first for now.
“I definitely take pride in it. I’m happy to be the first,” Hilton said. “It makes me start to think just how quickly the next 10 to 20 years (will) come because it ... goes quick, and it just seems to go faster and faster.”
Things won’t be slowing down for Hilton, as he predicts the city’s population will reach the 50,000 mark in the next few years. At the end of the day, the thing he’s most grateful for is the chance he took 20 years ago on a small town.
“If you want to do something, go for it,” he said. “When I came out here, most people told me I was making a big mistake ... I felt like it was a good opportunity.”
He couldn’t be happier with the decision he made, he said.
“It’s been an awesome ride.”