How The Hunton Group grew

How The Hunton Group grew from a modest HVAC company to one of Texas’ leading providers

The tight-knit feeling of family permeates Hunton Group today.

The Hunton Group started 59 years ago with one man, Richard “R.O.” Hunton, Sr. Today, the company has over 500 associates and more than $400 million in annual sales and is ranked by Houston Business Journal as one of Houston’s Best Family-Owned Businesses and a Top Place to Work locally and nationally.

From sailing to sales

R.O. earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Virginia and then was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served on the USS Shangri-La CVA 38 as an engineering officer. He used the discipline and knowledge learned during his naval years to grow a modest HVAC company into one of Texas’ leading climate control solution providers. It all started with the Trane Company when, in 1964, R.O. joined Trane in New York City as a sales engineer. In 1969 he earned his MBA at night from Fairleigh Dickinson University and eventually became Trane’s district sales manager. R.O. purchased Pacific Trane in 1979, and then the Houston Trane franchise in 1981 shortly before oil prices tanked and crashed Houston’s economy.
R.O. Hunton was an officer in the U.S. Navy.

R.O. refocused the company on the existing building market, a measured strategy that had an enormous impact as the businesses grew. He added industrial service, building controls, and industrial fabrication companies. This created a larger base so when the economy recovered, the business platform expanded both horizontally and vertically. It resulted in a synergistic business much larger than traditional HVAC competitors. In 1990, Trane offered R.O. the residential distributorship, which created an extremely well-balanced business plan including industrial, commercial, and residential business units. The Hunton Group became a true one-stop-shop for HVAC needs.

Bold business advances

Over time the Hunton Group evolved into six companies: Hunton Trane (commercial equipment & controls sales); Hunton Service (commercial & industrial HVAC service, contracting, rental equipment, and energy management); Hunton Distribution (residential equipment sales); Convergentz (a building technology company including controls, security, and fire/life safety systems); TSP (a HUB company focused on minority participation contracts); and Vical Financial (dealer financing and boutique financing for qualified owners).

As a proponent of energy efficiency since his days in New York, R.O. always looked for ways to improve energy and energy usage. In the 80s and 90s, the Hunton Group developed such groundbreaking methods for large-scale commercial systems as saltwater condensing systems for chillers, and turbine inlet cooling for peaker power plants, which later grew into the company Turbine Air Systems.

The long-standing Hunton-Trane relationship has dominated the HVAC industry in Southeast Texas. The Hunton Group now operates out of nine sites encompassing three distribution centers, two offices, a manufacturing plant, two service facilities, and a rental equipment depot. Hunton’s plans include construction of a mixed-use facility on 11 acres they recently purchased in College Station.

Value from the inside out

R.O. founded the Hunton Group on principles that endure today:

  1. A company is only as good as its people.
  2. Treat everyone with respect (customers and associates alike).
  3. Be aggressive in marketing but conservative with finances.
  4. Never expand beyond your support resources.
  5. Treat Trane with corresponding respect and loyalty.
  6. Rewarding your associates for a job well done is the best investment one can make.

 

With this approach, the Hunton Group has earned the respect and loyalty of its associates; the company has been on the HBJ “Best Places to Work” list for the past 11 years. Hunton ranked on the “National Top Places to Work” list the past two years.

The ultimate goal of all the family of Hunton Group Companies has been seamless service and 100% customer satisfaction. R.O. structured the organization to better coordinate its considerable knowledge and people resources to make the customer’s jobs easier and bring real value to the table. It is summed up in Hunton’s purpose statement – to radically improve where people live, work, learn, and play.

The ultimate goal of all the family of Hunton Group Companies has been seamless service and 100% customer satisfaction.

All in the family

R.O. created a legacy to successfully manage and grow the business. His three sons began their careers at Hunton and held various positions to learn the intricacies of the business. Perhaps most importantly, they each earned the respect of their fellow associates.

In 2018 Richard Hunton, Jr. was promoted to CEO of the Hunton Group with a vision to holistically address the larger environment through decarbonization, energy resiliency, and sustainability. An innovator who started Convergentz in 2010, Richard is currently overseeing the incubation of two new Hunton Group companies: one focused on AI for HVAC and the other focused on indoor air quality.

Charlie Hunton became president of Hunton Group’s largest company, Hunton Distribution, in 2015. The company has won Trane’s Pacesetter award (Top Trane Residential Distributor) in eight of the last 11 years.

Robert Hunton became president of TSP (Texas Specialty Products) in 2013. He leads efforts on governmental projects requiring minority participation.

The tight-knit feeling of family permeates Hunton Group today. A multi-talented team of 20 senior managers and dedicated staff support the Hunton brothers, cementing the company’s position as one of Texas’ most trusted building climate solutions providers.

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