Johnelle Hunt: Continuity Key for Growth, Culture at J.B. Hunt

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Apr. 29, 2013 12:00 am  

Those holdings are worth more than $1.4 billion.

She is still very active in the northwest Arkansas business community through Hunt Ventures and is asked on occasion by J.B. Hunt leadership to share with current employees her recollections of the firm’s hardscrabble beginnings.

“It didn’t just all fall from the sky one day,” Hunt said, laughing. “People need to know the struggles. And it should give them hope when they do hear the stories from the past. It shows them what is possible.”

Stockholders received a joint letter from President and CEO John Roberts and Chairman of the Board Kirk Thompson earlier this year. In it, Roberts and Thompson celebrated the success of the previous year, while outlining their hopes for the future.

“We are pleased with the journey so far,” Thompson and Roberts wrote. “Still, there is ample room for improvement on many fronts. ... We remain confident that we will find the right blend of assets and services to present a compelling and viable answer to the asset-based truckload needs of our customers.”

Both men have helped map out significant portions of the J.B. Hunt journey so far. Both have grown into leadership roles from low-level jobs.

Roberts, 48, joined J.B. Hunt in 1989, working as a manager trainee.

From there, he worked as a services coordinator, marketing manager for intermodal and vice president of market strategy for the company. He was named president and CEO two years ago.

Thompson, 59, has a long history with the company.

He was hired to help in accounting in 1973, eventually working his way from vice president of finance to executive vice president and CFO and then president and CEO in 1987.

Johnelle Hunt described hiring the then 19-year-old Thompson as one of the most significant moments in the history of J.B. Hunt Transport.

She explained that she interviewed him primarily as a courtesy to a friend and, prior to meeting him, had her doubts that Thompson would be a fit for what she needed.



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