For Donnie Hunt, the road to building and running a successful business park started with gutters.
When he was barely more than a boy, Hunt rode his bike to job sites after school to install gutters for his dad, Don Hunt, whose company was Gutter King. While attending Edgewater High School in Orlando, he took classes in the morning and worked for his dad the rest of the day.
After high school, he went to work full-time for his dad’s company, starting as an installer then moving into operations in the office and then sales.
By the time Hunt was 31, Gutter King had grown into a national franchise that caught the eye of the giant building material supplier and installer Masco. It made hunt’s father, Don Hunt, an offer he couldn’t refuse.
When it sold, the company had 60 employees and 21 installation trucks, all busy installing gutters on 40 houses a day, plus a lot of commercial gutter installation work.
Left with means, but jobless after the sale, the Hunt family, which includes Hunt’s dad, Don, and sister, Darcie, used some of their windfall to develop land for a residential subdivision named Lu Emma in Groveland, near Villa City.
With the development finished and sold to builders, Donnie Hunt got his real estate license and became a state-certified contractor, preparation for his next business plan, one that would use all his acquired skills – developing an industrial park on C.R. 565A in Groveland.
That was 12 years ago. Now Hunt Industrial Park’s three phases are almost completely occupied and its 24 acres nearly built out with 78 companies, many incubated at the site in small spaces only to grow big enough to take over whole buildings.
The Hunts were recognized recently for the Industrial Park’s success by the South Lake Chamber of Commerce, which named it "Small Business of the Year."
The park’s success has Hunt, who will be 45 in April, looking for the family’s next calling, perhaps duplicating the industrial park’s success on more property in Lake County.
“We are looking for our next venture,” said Hunt. “You never know what will come next.”