Published on April 21st, 2016 | by UC&D Magazine0
Under the direction of CEO Richard Hunt and President Troy Gregory, Salt Lake-based Hunt Electric is thriving as it celebrates 30 years of excellence.
Dozens of contractors through the years have started companies by their bootstraps, with little more than a pickup truck and a handful of tools. Few have achieved the level of success as Richard Hunt, founder and CEO of Salt Lake-based Hunt Electric, Inc., one of the largest revenue-generating electrical contractors in the Intermountain region.
Hunt Electric has been thriving in recent years and recently opened an office in Littleton, Colorado to go along with its Salt Lake headquarters. The company boasts seven major divisions and more than 400 employees, specializing in a broad range of services and project types.
Richard Hunt is modest about his firm’s continual growth and overall success, a testament to his vision, leadership, and ability to surround himself with good people. “I’ve always believed in written goals,” said Hunt, 59, who founded his company in 1986 at the age of 29, and is excited about its 30th anniversary. “The bar keeps getting raised. If you grow something organically you’ll be successful. Philosophically, if you’re not trying to grow a company you’re not going to attract top performers. Top performers don’t want to work for a company that is static. Growth has been something we’ve always embraced within our culture. A huge component of our success has been an intense focus on customer service. We go the extra mile for our clients. We pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop.”
Hunt said being diverse – and realizing which markets are most robust at any given time – is a key factor to achieving continual growth.
“Having a culture that is fluid enough to move between different markets is essential,” said Hunt. “It’s about having a wider footprint, which is more difficult to manage. We’re good at a lot of different things. When one market dies, another market is counter cyclical that is flourishing. If a firm were focused on just one market and it dries up, you’re going to be in layoff mode. We’re not oriented that way; we have to be versatile. We have (always) grown, even during this last recession. It’s been modest growth from day one.
“It’s where we’re positioned,” added Troy Gregory, who joined the firm 14 years ago and was named President in January 2011. “We didn’t get into these markets overnight. It’s about being diverse and fluid and adapting to situations and new markets. It’s about having our people adjust and training them quickly to go into new markets. It’s about organically growing and making sure we’re a leader in these different areas. As a company we’re positioned very well moving forward.”
Hunt Electric’s seven main divisions include: Electrical; Design-Build/Engineering; Infrastructure/Traffic; I.T.S./Data Communications; Renewable Energy; Transmission/Distribution; Service.
Hunt is originally from Santa Barbara,Calif., and grew up as a “mining brat” (both his grandfather and father were
geologists), living in places like Chile, Arizona, New Jersey and California. After graduating from high school Hunt met an electrical contractor from Pacific States Electrical in Ventura and was offered an apprenticeship and summer job doing maintenance on apartments.
After gaining valuable experience and becoming a master electrician, he ultimately moved back to Utah and started Hunt Electric.
“I started working in the multi-family arena and was a piece worker – I got paid based on my productivity,” said Hunt. He wired 3,500 units in the Intermountain region for developer Trammel Crow, which led to doing significant work in the resort/hospitality market in Park City, including high-end condos, hotels and other resort-type properties.
Early on, Hunt worked out of his house and wore multiple hats as he slowly grew his fledgling firm into 30 employees. Hunt worked side-by-side with his field workers during the day, while doing estimating and other paperwork in the evenings and on weekends. 80-hour weeks were Early on, Hunt worked out of his house commonplace, but the hard work and persistence would pay off handsomely as the firm expanded its reach by self-performing infrastructure work on high-end residential developments including Deer Crest, The Colony, Promontory Point, Tuhaye, and Victory Ranch. He values the many long-term relationships he’s developed with both employees and clients over the years.
“I get a lot of satisfaction in my employees and their success,” he said. “We have a good mix of experienced workers and young people. Being able to mentor employees, and seeing smart, talented people work their way up in the organization is extremely satisfying.”
Beginning eight years ago, Hunt started selling company stock to key employees. There are currently 10 shareholders, and a plan in place for the next generation to assume all leadership duties once Hunt decides to move into retirement (he’s planning on working another decade into his mid-to-late 60’s).
“My role now is to help with the transition, to be a rudder for risk mitigation and company direction,” he said. “Troy and I have good alignment in terms of value and culture. He’s a smart business leader who makes good decisions.”
Gregory said the firm’s thirst for staying ahead of the technological curve, its stellar safety record (.53 EMR; over 4 million man hours without a lost-time accident), its status as a merit-based shop employer, and its ability to excel in the design-build/prefabrication market are all positive factors looking ahead.
“Being on the cutting edge of technology and how we can best utilize technology is critical to our success,” he said. “How can we use (technology) to streamline our processes? That’s really our focus… improving our ability to take projects as schedules get condensed and expedite them quicker. We’re focused on supporting our partners in their growth. In the last five years we have really invested in our employees – it’s helping us sustain the growth and quality initiatives we’re going through.”
“We not only believe strongly in educating our employees, but also educating our clients and other partners in the industry,” added Ibi Guevara, Marketing/Business Development Director.
Hunt said the firm’s design-build or design-assist abilities have been a huge boon to current growth.
“We feel strongly that we can bring the most value to our customers with design-build or design-assist delivery methods,” he said. “It’s a focus on customer service. Prefabrication is another area of focus. In every job there is some prefab – up to one-third of an entire project. It benefits the customer with cost savings, quality control and speed of delivery.”