Hunt, founder of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. as well as several other
successful business ventures, was an original member of The PINNACLE GROUP
of NW Arkansas now known as HUNT VENTURES.
Johnnie Bryan Hunt was born in Cleburne County, Arkansas during the
depression and like many men of his generation was forced to sacrifice his
education in order to work for his family’s survival. He left school after
the 7th grade to work in his uncle’s sawmill. In the years that
followed he picked cotton, sold lumber, worked as an auctioneer, drove a
truck, sold lawn sod, invented a rice hull press, designed and built a
specialty poultry truck, started several businesses including a rice hull
company, lost thousands of dollars yet made millions more.
Johnnie Bryan Hunt and the former Johnelle DeBusk brought a new definition
to the term “life partners.” Married for 55 years, they were blessed
with two children, Jane Hunt Meade and Bryan Hunt, as well as seven
grandchildren. They also shared an extraordinarily successful business
partnership for nearly as long as they were married.
Working together, J.B. and Johnelle founded J. B. Hunt Transport Services,
Inc. The company was founded in 1969, with just five trucks and seven
refrigerated trailers. By the end of 2005, J.B. Hunt
Transport had grown into the second largest publicly held truckload
carrier in the U.S., with $3.1 billion in revenues, with nearly
12,000 trucks, 50,000 trailers and containers and over 16,000 employees.
Always modest, the Hunts were always quick to give all the credit for their
business success to their former and current employees.
In 1990, Mr. and Mrs. Hunt were chosen as the Arkansas Easter Seal Arkansans
of the Year, the first couple to receive this prestigious award. Also in
1990, Mr. Hunt received the coveted “Hall of Fame Award” from the Arkansas
Motor Carriers Association. The Arkansas Chapter of the March of Dimes
honored both Mr. and Mrs. Hunt by choosing them as the recipients of the
1996 Citizens of the Year Award. In 1999 he was presented with the Salzberg
Practitioner Award from Syracuse University in New York for his
distinguished service and contributions in the field of transportation and
logistics. Mr. and Mrs. Hunt were one of three recipients inducted into the
University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business Hall of Fame in
February 2001. They were also recipients of the Washington Regional
Foundation Eagle Award in 2005.
Retired from the trucking business in 1995 but still remaining on the board
until 2004, J.B. could more often than not be found making the rounds to one
of his many new businesses. Foreseeing rapid growth, Mr. Hunt was
instrumental in bringing together area business leaders forming what was
originally "The PINNACLE GROUP" today
is known as “HUNT VENTURES”. HUNT VENTURES co-owns with General Growth
Properties of Chicago, Illinois, the 1 million square foot Pinnacle Hills Promenade lifestyle shopping
center. HUNT VENTURES "Shoppes at Pinnacle Hills" is site for
the Arkansas WORLD TRADE CENTER which is located within one of their 5
multi-story Class-A office buildings. The J.B. Hunt
Tower, a 96,220 square foot Class A office building on Pinnacle Hills
Parkway anchors this ambitious project and it was there that J.B. had his
In December 2006 after his passing,
family, friends, employees and business associates alike remarked that it
was always evident that for J.B. Hunt, the real joy in life and business was
not so much in winning but in simply playing the game and making the deal.
His optimism was consistent throughout his life and was contagious to all
around him. He never altered his values or priorities and always exhibited
a willingness to take on new business risks. Despite his personal fortune
and his enormous corporate influence gained over the years, friends will
tell you he was the same genuine caring person with everyone he met.
They called him “J.B.” or “Johnnie” or even “Mr. Hunt”. Wherever he went he
could light up a room with his positive outlook on life and his trust in the
Lord. In doing so he holds a special place in the memory of all who met
him. The cowboy hat, the cowboy boots, the mile-wide grin, the hug and the
handshake….that was J.B. Hunt
Foreseeing rapid growth, Hunt was instrumental in bringing together area
business leaders to participate in the assemblage and acquisition of land
parcels in the western portion of Rogers near Interstate 540 and Pinnacle Hills
Parkway. Today, much of the vacant land
now commonly referred to as PINNACLE HILLS is being developed by HUNT VENTURES.