HHHunt credits diversification for its longevity
Fifty years ago Harry H. Hunt III decided Blacksburg was the perfect location to start a real estate company.
“He and his business partner, Pete Snyder, got a tip that they should look at Virginia Tech because it was going through a growth phase,” says Hunt’s son, Harry H. “Buck” Hunt IV, vice chairman and CEO of HHHunt Corp. “They thought the school would need housing for students, faculty and staff. Our first project was Terrace View Apartments.”
Today, the elder Hunt remains chairman of the company, which is involved in real estate throughout the Southeast. It has offices in Blacksburg, Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., and four primary business lines — senior living, apartment living, homebuilding and land development/communities. (See related story.)
The company’s president and chief operating officer, Daniel Schmitt, credits the company’s longevity to its diversification. “We are a very solid company,” he says. “During the recession, for example, when homebuilding and land development got hit hard, our apartment division benefitted. We kept building through that downturn. Diversification helped us weather the storm.”
The company has 22 senior living communities operating under the Spring Arbor name in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. “That part of our business is growing because of need,” Schmitt says. “We see that as a big part of our future.”
Apartment living is also on the rise. HHHunt owns and operates about 8,000 apartment homes in 16 communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. “We see more people being renters by choice. We think that is a trend that will continue,” Schmitt says.
The homebuilding portion of the business saw 41 percent growth last year. At least 45 percent of that growth is attributed to town homes. “That’s a big shift for us,” Schmitt says. “Five years ago we weren’t building any town homes.”
The company also is involved in land development in Richmond, Hampton Roads and North Carolina. “We do land acquisition and site development for our operations, and we sell lots to builders as well,” Schmitt says. “We manage our planned communities.”
Key to the company’s success is its reinvestment policy. “Ninety percent of our profit goes back into the company,” Schmitt says. “It’s refueling itself constantly. Each year we are setting new record profit marks.”
HHHunt has always had an entrepreneurial mindset. “My dad has a mantra that the best idea wins,” Hunt says. “He knows real estate, but a great idea can come from anywhere. All ideas, no matter from what rank, are welcome and we are open to it.”