November 2, 2016

Richard Huestis of Huestis Farm Supply & Hardware

Richard Huestis of Huestis Farm Supply & Hardware grew up in Bridport, VT on a dairy farm, graduated from Middlebury Union HS in 1966 and joined the Air Force for 4 years. He later went on to the University of Vermont where he majored in Economics and Asian Studies, with 1 summer of Japanese Language at Seton Hall University in NJ.

After working the summer at Huestis Farm Supply, my parent’s “retirement business” begun in 1970, I headed to Tokyo, Japan to study Japanese and Foreign Trade Management at Waseda University. Two years of language study and graduate studies later I joined Stange (Japan) KK, a 50/50 Japan/US joint venture firm in the food ingredients & seasonings business. I found that I could learn more there about International business than by paying tuition for grad school. At Waseda, another foreign student from Taiwan, ROC and I met in our language classes, and we were married 3 yrs later.

The work experience and living in Japan for 8½ years was a great alternative to the MBA that I had planned. With a two year old daughter in late 1980, my father called to ask if we would consider moving back to Vermont to help them in the business. After much consideration we decided to give it a try for two years and moved to Bridport, VT in April 1981. The experience that I gained while in the USAFSS and with Stange KK had helped me to learn that I preferred ‘small’ rather than ‘large’ business environments.

Although I never really thought about becoming a business owner, after being in Huestis Farm Supply for 5 years, my parents made it possible for me to ‘own’ the business in Dec. 1986 with a large mortgage payment to them. They had come to enjoy spending the winters in Florida. Six months after retiring my father died suddenly by a heart attack so I no longer had the benefit of his advice and counsel.

Bob & Bill Wetherbee who had hardware stores and a restaurant, invited me to a VRA convention in the early 1980’s at Lake Morey Inn, Fairlee, VT and I joined the VRA. Sometime later John Myhre left the board and I was asked to finish out his term, I do not recall the year. My reasons for joining were that people I knew and trusted invited me, and there was a seminar at the convention about collecting bad debts, which was a big problem when I joined HFS. That alone was worth the first year’s dues.

Continuing membership has been a given for my business as it is the best and sometimes only source of information about government rules, regulations and laws applied to our business with very little or no prior notice from the state Bureaucracy. It appears that it is more lucrative and cost effective for the government to fine and penalize businesses than to make an effort to educate us about the various requirements and changes in a timely manner before a mistake is made.

When looking for a new associate for my business, I follow my “Four A’s Principle”: ATTITUDE, AMBITION, ALTITUDE, & APTITUDE, in this order; the only one requiring explanation is Altitude, meaning: Does an associate think that they are ‘above’ doing any of the many tasks required to keep our business running smoothly and our customers happy with our performance?

I have enjoyed helping people/customers get the products and services they need to run their farms and maintain their homes, and also mentoring young people who have an interest in learning new things and doing more than just what is expected of them. I enjoy reading, researching and genealogy, and my wife and I plan to travel everywhere when I retire.

Contact Information:
Richard Huestis
Huestis Farm Supply & Hardware
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