At the Helm: Scott Hunt

By Patricia Olsen

A few minutes with the CEO of Hunt Brothers Pizza, Nashville, Tenn.

Generation of family ownership: Second. My father and three brothers started the business, and my brother Britt is our biggest distributor.

About the company: We have over 7,700 locations in 30 states and three foreign countries. We’re a turnkey operation in convenience stores. The business model is a crossover between restaurants and these stores.

Number of employees: I have approximately 56 in my group. Under the Hunt Brothers brand, we have over 480 systemwide.

Years with the company: Years ago I worked for my uncle for 3½ years, and then I worked in financial services for 18 years before I returned. This time, I’ve been here 16 years.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: To be vocal, to be a leader and to speak up or go against everyone else if you believe in something. I have no problem with that. But I’ve got a building full of people who are passive, and they don’t always talk when you get them around a table, so I hired a consultant to work with our senior leaders and mid-management. We try to encourage healthy conflict.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: You can make a difference without making a big deal about it. She was very quiet and gracious and did a lot for people behind the scenes.

Best thing about this job: Watching people grow with the company and enjoy its success. We’re about four times larger than when I came, but not because of me.

One of our greatest successes: In 2001 the first-generation brothers were still selling pizza supplies, and we made the decision to rebrand the company and put our name on it. It took us four years, and since then we’ve been able to raise our profile so much that we’re the largest company in our industry.

Best advice I ever got: You don’t have to know everything. Partner with people and ask for help, because successful people want to help you.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: We have four sentences, but the one that seems to get the most traction is, “Be a blessing.” That can take a lot of forms.

On the wall: On a whiteboard across from me, I’ve written the entire history of our organization. I’ve also got three posters of our family’s successful Nashville businesses behind me.

Best thing about working in a family business: Continuing the family legacy and having the ability to make good long-term decisions that may not make as much sense short-term if you only focus on short-term results.

Worst thing about working in a family business: Working with family can be difficult. Also, the challenges that it brings to non-family members.

My advice for other family business leaders: Surround yourself with great people and get outside help.

On a day off I … hope I’m on the water. I have a boat named Blind Squirrel, and there are a lot of lakes around here.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: We have two pizza vans — not food trucks — that we take to community events. Last year we gave away pizzas at more than 250 pizza events. We also support organizations that are partial to children, including Best Buddies International, which pairs high school students with children who are challenged, and Rocketown, a faith-based youth outreach center in Nashville.
 
I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … I really didn’t. I came into the business late, when my father was having some health issues and my brother asked me to help. I had a concussion after a car accident and I never would have joined otherwise.

Future succession plans: I’ve been actively focused on them for five years. That’s the reason the consultant is here. I don’t have a successor yet. My daughter’s a lawyer and my son just recently transitioned into the business. My brother would have to step in if anything happened to me.

Words I live by: I’ve been blessed, so “Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while.” Also, “Play chess, not checkers.” The world is changing so fast that we need to get ahead of it.

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

 

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July/August 2019

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