This week’s Shining Light company is J.B. Hunt (Symbol: JBHT). Headquartered in Lowell, Arkansas, J.B. Hunt has served as one of the premier trucking and logistics companies for the better part of three decades. They now dominate over a quarter of the intermodal industry, which involves transporting goods on containers over low-cost rail and then switching to higher-cost, shorter-distance trucks. While the company’s monetary success is appealing to many investors, the company’s focus on operating by biblical principles and having a positive impact on people and the environment makes them a Shining Light Company.
J.B. Hunt’s History
Johnnie Bryan Hunt founded the namesake company in 1961 with five owned trucks and seven refrigerated trailers to support the rice hull business. Growing steadily, J.B. Hunt quickly became the 80th largest trucking firm in the United States, earning $63 million in revenue. Over that time, the company had expanded to over 550 tractors, 1,049 trailers, and around 1,050 employees. Hunt himself remained a fixture at the company until stepping down from serving as chairman of the board in 1995. However, he visited the headquarters frequently until his death in 2006, phoning upper executives daily, asking, “What’s the stock doing, Darling?”
J.B. Hunt made a significant advancement in 1989, forming partnerships with railroads to offer intermodal service. About two-thirds of the company’s revenues and profit come from this service today. J.B. Hunt is now one of the largest freight transportation companies in the country, bringing in revenues of $7 billion through the operation of more than 12,000 tractor trailers along with a workforce over 50,000 strong.
Johnnie Hunt was a man of unwavering faith and built J.B. Hunt on the principles of honesty and integrity found in the Bible. Today, J.B. Hunt headquarters still has scripture passages adorning the office walls, serving as a constant reminder to employees and company leaders the purpose for which J.B. Hunt exists.
Current CEO John Roberts has continued to build upon the company’s biblical heritage using his work as an opportunity to worship God and the Bible to help maintain a godly perspective. John asserts that living out his faith at work mandates he possess a spirit of integrity, honesty, and care for others. It also includes striving for excellence, prayerfully making major decisions about the company, and looking for ways to preserve the health of the organization considering it is the source of living for thousands of employees. In a recent interview with Right Now Media, Roberts remarked that he “does not simply apply his faith to his work, he relies on his faith to lead and guide him.” Roberts mentions multiple ways he maintains a spirit of worship while working at J.B. Hunt including praising God for guidance given as a result of prayer, the gratitude that arises from God’s blessing of the business, and when Roberts envisions a new idea that helps the organization.
Working to maintain integrity and honesty at work means that success and results are often delayed, and may not come at all. However, Roberts covers the business in prayer and enforces to employees the necessity and scriptural support for focusing time and energy on the right way of doing business rather than solely on results and profits. While this method is extremely countercultural in today’s greed-driven society, it has no doubt contributed greatly to J.B. Hunt’s success.
Investing in People
Companies that value their employees and invest not only in performance, but also in personal growth set themselves apart. Promoting excellence and human flourishing contribute to the greater good, and this can be readily displayed through J.B Hunt’s commitment to the personal and professional development of their employees.
The company has received excellent ratings on Glassdoor.com from both current and former employees, with workers taking note of the environment, people, and culture as being strong attributes of the company. One satisfied employee noted that leaders are supportive of employee’s personal goals inside and outside of the workplace. The employee went on to say that the “Culture is family-focused, driven to include and encourages calculated risk.” Multiple employees noted J.B. Hunt’s strong, inclusive, and challenging culture. It is clear from employee reviews that J.B. Hunt is intentional about fostering a positive and nurturing culture that develops employees into who they were created to be, rather than simply workers producing maximum profits.
Socially Responsible and Community-Minded
J.B. Hunt is highly committed to environmental sustainability. The company has served as a pioneer of environmentally-friendly transportation and maintains a long history of innovating creative ways to transport products in a safe, low-cost, and sustainable fashion. This commitment manifests itself in the company’s ability to offer multi-faceted solutions including “hybrid” modes of transportation. J.B. Hunt’s goals for the future sustainability include “creating a more sustainable supply chain for our customers by innovating fleet operations, incorporating more electric trucks, reducing fuel usage, and engineering greener technologies.”
The company is also committed to investing in their host communities and contributing to corporate and social responsibilities. Their website says, “We hope to encourage leadership and advancement in the welfare of our youth, improve health through education and clinical research, protect our animals and environment, and foster respect for all citizens by improving our community through the combined efforts of our actions and advocating programs.” Requests and proposals can be made to J.B. Hunt each December, and the company considers the donation and/or investment.
J.B. Hunt also uses a program called NWA Giving, with the mission of giving back to the Northwest Arkansas community to support, strengthen, and encourage economic growth. The program is intended to unlock the potential of employees at J.B. Hunt and enable the workforce to build and sustain a healthy local community. Part of the way this company carries out this initiative is through NWA Jeans Days. One day each week employees can wear casual clothing and contributions are collected to support a different charity. This generates excitement among employees while also helping J.B. Hunt carry out their mission of improving standard of living within the Northwest Arkansas community.
The founder, Johnnie Hunt, left a tremendous legacy after his death and set the standard for philanthropy at J.B. Hunt. In 2005, a year before his death, Springdale Public Schools opened a brand-new elementary school named after Hunt. His family had donated the land upon which the school would be built, which at the time was valued over $500,000. He remained a frequent visitor to the school after its opening.
Creating a culture that is unselfish and committed to community involvement begins at the top, and J.B. Hunt is a classic example of a founder striving to improve the lives of the less fortunate. The company’s present leadership has upheld Mr. Hunt’s legacy. As a result, the Northwest Arkansas community has been blessed through their presence.
This company’s commitment to operating by biblical principles, providing innovative freight transport service, its valuing people over profits, and its intense desire to make communities more prosperous makes us proud to name J.B. Hunt this month’s Shining Light Company!
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DISCLOSURE: Shining Lights companies are those companies we have identified as exemplary companies living out the Golden Rule and exhibiting the virtues of Integrity, Humility, Diligence, Caring and Courage. This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.