You’ll want to meet Dave Hunter …
In his 25-year career, Dave Hunter has been in the development of; commercial, multi-family, land entitlement, single-family and raw land development for single-family detached housing. In addition, he has been a general contractor for 17 years.
His career in Provo, Utah, started with developing student housing. In a matter of five years, he became the single largest developer of student housing in Provo. Moving the operation to Rexburg, Idaho, he continued in the multi-family housing market. The next expansion went west, where Hunter was successful in entitling, developing, and building projects in Idaho, Nevada, and California while continuing his work in Utah. The new, state-of-the-art, company headquarters is in Orem, Utah. SMG currently has over $200,000,000 of projects in development
Dave has seven kids that all love being together, whether racing things with motors or sleeping in the dirt of the Utah and Mexican deserts.
We hope you enjoy this discussion between Dave Hunter and our host Charan Prabhakar!
All about Dave Hunter
Dave Hunter is a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a successful entrepreneur and businessman, with 10 years of experience in real estate and development, in addition to his instrumental role in Halestorm Entertainment.
In 2001, Hunter and long-time friend Kurt Hale, both of whom who studied film together at BYU, stepped away from their successful businesses and formed Halestorm Entertainment, with the intention of producing and distributing comedic feature films primarily for the Latter-day Saint audience.
As the grandson of a prophet in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hunter felt called to serve his religion and community through his work and to provide material to uplift other members of the church of all ages.
In his role with Halestorm entertainment, Hunter helms the financial and business end of the company and serves as producer for all of Halestorm’s productions. Hunter is also currently working in development on two television shows.
Halestorm Entertainment is a film production and distribution company based in Provo, Utah. Halestorm specializes in the development, production and distribution of feature films, children’s television programming and family-friendly entertainment from a Latter-day Saint perspective and created primarily for the Latter-day Saint audience.
The company was founded in January 2001 by long-time friends Kurt Hale and Dave Hunter and exploded onto the scene in 2002 with its first feature film, “The Singles Ward,” a well-received romantic comedy shot on a shoestring budget of $400,000, depicting the life of a divorced Latter-day Saint living in the middle of one of the most Latter-day-Saint-populated areas of the country: Provo, Utah.
Having virtually no means of distribution at their disposal, Hale and Hunter set out to distribute the product themselves. In so doing, they quickly created a sister company, Halestorm Distribution, and released the film to a theatrical market on February 1, 2002. The film was released one state at a time, utilizing the major chains and Megaplexes. “The Singles Ward” eventually went on to play in over 100 first-run theaters and was wildly successful within its niche market; grossing just over $1.25 million at the box office.
Continuing with their self-distribution model, Hale and Hunter distributed the film on video, thereby forging invaluable relationships within the home video market.
With one film under their belt, Hale and Hunter entered production on their second feature, “The R.M.,” following the same production model and budget and utilizing their experience from their first release. “The R.M.” opened in theaters with the highest opening-weekend gross of any Latter-day Saint-themed film, and the sixth highest per-screen average in the country.
Halestorm followed “The R.M.” with “It’s Latter-day Night!,” “The Home Teachers,” “The Best Two Years,” “Sons of Provo,” “Baptists at Our Barbecue,” “It’s Latter-day Night Biscuit,” “Suits on the Loose,” “Mobsters and Mormons,” and “Church Ball.”
The music division at Halestorm, also known as HaleYeah! Records, has a continuously growing library of albums and artists. Utilizing its home distribution model for its feature films, Halestorm has been able to successfully release soundtracks, albums and audio CDs to its prime markets.
Encompassing a unique rocked-out style of traditional Christian music, Halestorm has built a large and loyal audience for the soundtracks of each film and each additional album. Halestorm is also the main distributor of music for the Utah-based band, SweetHaven, as well as They Might Be Elders!
In May 2005, Halestorm broke ground on a full-service production and post-production facility in Provo, Utah. The studio will feature the only commercially available studio soundstages in the state since the Osmond Studios.
Dave Hunter Podcast Transcript
Charan: All right, welcome back to the Lemonade Stand podcast. I am here with my good buddy, Dave Hunter, who— It’s kind of funny because Dave and I, we’ve crossed paths in this world. I was kind of brought up in the film space, which is where I knew Dave initially.
Charan: He was doing, like, the Halestorm movies, like “Singles Ward.” Those are some of the movies you worked on, right?
Charan: “Singles Ward” and “Home Teachers,” “R.M.,” back in the day when those movies that went to theaters and just killed it. It was amazing. So I kind of knew Dave back then, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s the dude.” But then we really connected at Bajio’s as it turns out, and we—
Dave: It was right down the street from our office, and it’s in the [crosstalk 00:02:20].
Charan: Yeah. And the weirdest thing is, we never plan when we’re going to go. I just happened to go, you happened to go, but it was always, like, the same time. We’d just show up there. I’m like, “Of course. Of course, Dave Hunter’s here.” So, that’s how we befriended each other even further and talked more about business and stuff, but part of the Lemonade Stand podcast is discovering the Lemonade Stand Story, and we’re asking everybody, “Hey, how did you become a business person? What was your first venture into business?”
Charan: Dave, you were just mentioning to me a little bit about how you did grow up in a very poor environment. It was that area and how you wanted to change that space that you are where you’re at right now. So, can we go back in time a little bit?
Charan: And let’s talk a little bit about when you grew up and how your family life was back then.
Dave: I grew up in South San Jose. It’s so funny to hear other people’s horror stories, because I know that I can compete with anybody’s horror stories.
Charan: Okay, yeah.
Dave: I think there’s eight of us, so I had seven brothers and sisters. There’s eight of us total. We had a 15-passenger van growing up, just a big old, 15-passenger people mover, and the joke down in San Jose with all the friend groups, and everything was, “How many times did the Hunters run out of gas? Hunters and Hunters of times.” I remember always being so embarrassed about— We were always broken down on Almaden Expressway, and me and my brothers would be pushing that van everywhere. That’s why I—
Charan: Where did you fall in your… Are you the oldest? Are you the youngest? Are you in the middle?
Dave: No, I was right smack in the middle. I was the forgotten middle child. I was number five of eight and really just the stereotypical fifth child.
Charan: Got it.
Dave: Parents loved the little ones. They tried to parent the older ones, but me and my younger brother, we were just the forgotten ones, and we did whatever we wanted.
Dave: But coming up in that environment where— There’s some very specific examples. I remember we had dollar theaters back in the day in San Jose. For a dollar you could go see two movies. I remember one time asking my dad for a dollar. Everybody’s going to the movies. I was probably 13 years old. “Hey Dad, can I have a dollar? We’re going to the dollar movies.” He looked at me like I had just lost my mind, like, “You want me to take a dollar out of my pocket, and just give it to you? You’re not going to go wash my car? You’re not going to…? You just think that I’m just going to give you a dollar?” and he literally rolled his eyes like, “That’s not going to happen now. It’s not going to happen ever. If you want a dollar, you better go earn a dollar. Then you can go to the dollar movies.”
Dave: In the family issues that come out 30 years later when you’re sitting around family reunions talked about how we all grew up, and brothers and sisters crying because we never had shoes that ever fit, and all our shoes always had holes in them, and your mom would always buy you shoes two or three sizes too big, so you could grow into them in a year-and-a-half period—
Charan: Are you kidding? That’s crazy. You were just probably wearing hand-me-downs, right? Like most of your life then I’m assuming.
Dave: Yeah, all that stuff, but also in our family when you turned 14 years old you were pretty much independent. You had to buy all your own school clothes. You had to do all your own wash. Once you turned 14 you were kind of on your own.
Charan: Wow, okay.
Dave: [crosstalk 00:05:45] my brothers and sisters, they were totally fine, and just not being motivated, and wearing, and doing whatever they got, but I hated it. I truly hated it, so when you talk about a “lemonade stand” moment, I remember I was 14 years old. This is back in high school. It’s different in Utah, but you went to all four years in high school, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th.
Charan: That was me, yeah.
Dave: So, when I was 14 years old I had a paper route for the San Jose Mercury News, and back then you had your own business. The Mercury News would sell you your papers, and they didn’t care if you collected or not. Then you had to go out and collect all … Every month you had to go knock on all 75 doors, and get your collections.
Dave: So, that was a huge thing because I talk about growing up super poor. We actually lived in a very affluent part of San Jose, but we just didn’t have anything, so this paper route was great because the bill was $8.75 a month for the San Jose Mercury News, but everybody just always gave me a $20.00 bill. I think the paper charged me like two or three bucks, and you made the spread. By the time I was 14/15, I was really, for me, I was a rich kid. I always had a wad of money in my pocket.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Dave: Like a drug dealer, banded roll of money because… But I did that all through high school. I had a paper route all through high school, but the real business I started was, every summer I had about 20 lawns, which every other kid in the world does, but I had the big lawn mowing business, and I hired a friend to help me out, but it was my business. We’d go out and do lawns for 20 bucks a lawn, so every week we were making 400 bucks on top of my paper route money, so I was, for a high school kid in the ’80s, I was truly a baller. I always had money, and you’re always going good.
Charan: It’s great you think like that. A lot of people, myself included, just don’t think like that. They think, “Okay, let’s go get our, I don’t know, hourly wage, or something.” You’re doing whatever job you’re doing, and I don’t think I got my first job until I was 17, and it was like seven bucks an hour, or something like that.
Charan: The fact that being in that environment of being just poor, or not having enough, or feeling embarrassed really motivated you to be like, “There’s no way I’m going to live like this,” right?
Dave: It’s motivation, and outside of— I framed houses for a guy right after my mission, just because I had to get back and get a job, but that’s the only person I’ve ever worked for in my entire life. Knowing, starting at 14 years old, I was like, “I’m never going to work for somebody.”
Charan: Yeah, no—
Dave: I think when you’re talking about what you guys talk about on the podcast, I knew from a very young age that I was going to be an entrepreneur, and I was going to figure it out, but I was never going to work for anybody. I knew that very young.
Charan: And see, that’s awesome that you had that, and you stuck with it, and you’re still going. It’s amazing.
Dave Hunter Talks About Real Estate Development
Charan: Now, we were talking about as you’ve gotten older, you got into developing right? Like real estate development, and stuff like that first.
Dave: [crosstalk 00:09:03]. When I got off my mission, I started framing for this guy. My dad sat me down one day and said, “Dave, I’ve never met a rich framer,” because I was married, going to school, and working full-time framing, and it truly was killing me. I just thought, “You know, there has to be a better way.” The guy I was working for, I’m like, “He’s a sharp, good guy,” but I said, “I know I know as much as this guy. I could probably go do this.”
Dave: So, I’d saved up every penny we had, and I bought a lot in Payson, Utah. This was in the early ’90s, and the lot was $15,000, built a spec home, and [crosstalk 00:09:39] it sold, and I literally pocketed probably $40,000 off of that deal. At that point I knew that this was what I was going to do.
Charan: So, just flipping homes, right? You were flipping homes and all that stuff.
Dave: Well, build from the ground up, and that experience, a couple things it taught me, but the lady for about a year called me every week like, “Dave, there’s nail holes showing in the floor boards, and there’s this— and my faucet is clogged because there’s hair in it.” I was driving out there every week fixing things. I said, “This is terrible.” So, the next thing I thought, “I’m going to build condos. I’m going to build them, put the carpet in them, paint the walls, and if somebody wants to buy them, they can have it. If they don’t because they didn’t like the color of the carpet, then they don’t need to buy it.”
Dave: The next thing I did was I built a nine-plex south of BYU.
Charan: You did?
Dave: Yeah, and I was driving this old, dumpy Jetta, that had, like, 400,000 miles on it, was blowing blue smoke out of the back—I bought it for $1,000. Convinced a banker that should have never given me a loan to give me this loan—it was $450,000. That was the total cost of the project, the land, the building was $450,000, and I sold the nine units. I sold them for $100,000 apiece. That’s $900,000. I’m 24 years old at this time. I go in. They all close. And I remember the title lady giving me this cashier’s check for $450,000—like, paid off the bank. I was this young kid driving this Jetta that barely ran. I remember driving down University Avenue, like, my hand on this 15-year-old Jetta that just was about to fall apart, going, “I’m the man. I’m the man. This is the greatest thing of all time. This is what I’m going to do.”
Dave: Kept that Jetta for about five more years, and every penny I made I rolled back in. We didn’t take anything off the table, didn’t buy new shoes, didn’t get a fancy watch, just [crosstalk 00:11:35] it all back into the business.
Charan: That’s awesome. Well, see, and I think it requires a lot of discipline to do that, right? I think the fact that you came from an environment where you didn’t have much, you didn’t go overboard in buying excessive stuff. You learned to budget already from a young age, so you’re like, “Hey, this money that we’re getting right now, it’s going to be reinvested. Let’s just keep doing this over and over again.”
Dave: I think from an early age too, learned about— Like my paper route: if you threw the paper on the guy’s roof every week, he’d come out and yell at you, and say, “Dave, my paper’s on the roof every week,” so you learned about customer service. You learned how to make people happy. You learned how to have conflict resolution. You know, “Okay, sir. I’m sorry that I threw your paper on the roof. I’m going to put it on your porch from now on.” I learned a lot of lessons that I still have today, is from my— And this was all through high school, and it was a seven-day-a-week thing. We were LDS growing up, and we had early morning seminary in San Jose, so I was waking up at 4:30 every single morning all through high school to go deliver papers, get to seminary, and then get to high school. So, a lot of lessons.
Charan: Dude, that’s unbelievable, and the thing was not just lessons but a lot of lessons in discipline, I’d say, and focus, for sure, and that’s awesome.
Dave Hunter Talks About Halestorm Entertainment
Charan: So, let’s fast forward a little bit. From real estate you got into making movies. You got into Halestorm, and you partnered with Kurt Hale, I believe. So, how did that relationship come about, and—
Dave: So, I went to film school, started in ’88, graduated in ’98, took me 10 years to get through film school.
Dave: At that time I started this development business and in the ’90s became the single biggest developer of student housing in Provo in that, probably, five-year span. Then we went up to Rexburg. Then we started branching out all over the western United States.
Dave: When we started the company, that was in 2001, I was super young, super dumb, and thought, “You know what? I’m retired. Now that I’ve put in these 10 hard years of work, I just want to go live the dream and be passionate about film with my film degree.” It was one of my best friends, Kurt, that kept— He’s actually the one that convinced me to go to film school. I called him up one day, and I said, “Hey, Kurt. Quit your job. I can pay you a salary. Come over here and let’s now live the dream the rest of our lives.” Then spent the next seven years losing my fortune and figuring out the film business was not as great, not as glamorous, not as anything that I had hoped it to be. In fact, when a downturn happened, I started the real estate again because I thought that was a great time to hop back in, get in on that downturn. We went and started acquiring a lot of distressed things, and so for the last—and I can’t believe it’s been 13 years,—but 13 years ago we really cranked up the development company again.
Charan: And you’ve completely given up on film, or do you still do film stuff?
Dave: No, doing film probably every— In the last couple years I did “Nitro Circus: The Movie,” which was a really big action–sports film, big 3D action–sports film, and then Jared Hess, the guy that did “Napoleon Dynamite and “Nacho,” we partnered up on a film called “Don Verdean,” and that was one of the premier films at Sundance a couple years ago. So, we still do it because it’s passionate, and passion, but I’m not in the film business trying to make a living, send my kids to college.
Charan: Yes. Yes, and you know what? It’s interesting, because I’ve had some buddies of mine that they’d come up to me and be like, “Hey, can you help us raise money for films?” I’m like, “Dude, here’s the thing. Unless you find an actual distribution plan to net, like, profit for the investors, I just don’t feel good about raising any money at all.”
Dave: It’s such a hard business. It’s crazy. It really is. The reason I keep doing it is because after all those years of doing films, and learning all the mistakes, and all the pitfalls that we hit, it’d be almost disingenuous to myself … by quitting. Just because I have the Rolodex—and now if there’s any film I want to do, I make my two phone calls; the film is financed with distribution and everything in place, and we go do it—I just think it’d just be a disservice to myself if I ever just burned that Rolodex and got out completely.
Charan: Yeah, exactly, no. But now you’ve gone back. You still have that, the film stuff, but you’ve gone back to development for the last 13 years, you were saying.
Charan: And you’ve been developing, I guess, just apartment complexes? What do you do?
Dave: Student housing, market housing, single-family detached stuff, storage units. There’s a big company in Utah called Qualtrics in—
Dave: … [crosstalk 00:16:35] great big corporate campus, and we own the corporate campus over there. There’s—
Dave: … [crosstalk 00:16:42] we do. So, we do all sorts of stuff.
Charan: That’s awesome, dude. That’s amazing you’re doing that, and you’re investing and dipping your toes in other waters, and—
Dave: [crosstalk 00:16:50] then when opportunities come up, we’re sideline investors, but we don’t operate businesses. Any investment we go, we’re always just silent, in the background.
Charan: That’s awesome, man. That’s super great.
Dave Hunter Talks About How to Succeed in Business
Charan: I want to shift the conversation a little bit, and I want to talk a little bit about the mindset that you need to get into to get involved in business and to see what’s a good deal versus what’s a bad deal or whatnot, right? Now, there are a lot of people I know that have very much, like, a victim mindset. They may have grown up poor, and they still remain poor in their minds. They’re just like, “No, I will never amount to anything. I can’t do it. I’m the product of my environment, and this is what I’ll be.”
Charan: But then I love hearing the story like yours, where you’re like, “No, I hate this. I hate being in the situation, and I want to change it. So, what was it, about you, I guess, that made you say, “Let’s flip the mindset a little bit, and let’s change it,” and yeah. What would you do there?
Dave: Well, first of all, I just hated being poor, hated it. I truly hated not ever having anything, and I hated wearing crappy clothes, and I hated feeling like, “Yeah, you’re a poor kid.” So, that was huge in my development, because if I wanted it, I had to go get it, and there was no backup plan. There was no plan B. If you wanted a new pair of Air Jordans, you had to go find your $70 to go buy Air Jordans with, and it was not going to come from Mom and Dad.
Dave: Paying for school, that was also a huge thing. I always knew I had to pay— If I went to college, I was going to have to pay for my own college. I think just having that mindset that if you wanted something you had to go get it. You couldn’t rely on anybody else. I truly love how my parents, whatever their circumstance was, it was such a great way to raise kids, but there wasn’t an expectation. The only expectation they had is if I wanted to go further and continue my life, you had to go do it yourself. I truly think this next generation, my kids— I hope they all turn out to be great people, but I think sometimes the struggles that people go through, it actually helps them, and I think I’ve probably done my kids a disservice by not letting them struggle a little bit more.
Charan: What would you say other than the fact that you were going through those struggles of being poor and whatnot— What were some of the struggles you went through as an adult, like doing your business and pitfalls and stuff you were talking about?
Dave: It’s like the movie business now. Now we have a Rolodex that’s deep enough that if we ever have a project that’s a good deal, we can just make phone calls in our Rolodex, and the deal gets funded, and we’re off to the races. The hardest thing—it’s just like in the movie business, like any business—everybody thinks, like, in the movie business, the script is really important or the director or the actors. No, the only important thing in the movie business is money. Everybody in the world has a great idea. Everybody in the world has a connection to a great actor or great director. Nobody has access to money. Money is the barrier to everything.
Dave: So, looking back on myself—and it was, as a kid, as a 12-, 13-, 14-year-old—I had a really easy time talking to adults. So, when you’re talking to this younger generation you have to… A couple things. You always have to be kind. You’ve known me for a long time. I’m always a happy, kind human being.
Dave: And people have to realize that film school at BYU didn’t teach me anything except it gave me a network of people that now are relying on movies and real estate and everything else. Everybody I do business with now usually has roots back to my college days.
Charan: I can relate, yeah.
Dave: Not that I don’t know if this is the time that … the advice time on your podcast here.
Charan: No, whatever, yeah. It doesn’t matter, just go.
Dave: You have to network, and you have to be genuine with your networks. You have to build the relationship with trust. You have to have commonality. You have to have personalities that mesh, and underlying you always have to be nice. I think that’s one of the things that, now our Rolodex is really big— Because good deals, bad deals, no matter what’s happened, we’ve always, genuinely been nice to people. [crosstalk 00:21:14] network.
Charan: That’s such good advice. It really is such great advice. I don’t know. I would say— I grew up in Utah, but I was born in India. Growing up in Provo, I was the only Indian in school, and so for a long time I would feel insecure about that. I grew up very, very shy. I didn’t like being shy. I went to Timpview High School in Provo, and I remember having this feeling of “I want to be popular this year. I want to make a lot of friends and stuff.”
Charan: I started seeing what some of the popular kids were doing, and they were too cool for school, or whatever. I remember thinking, like, “Man, I just don’t like the way they treat people sometimes.” I just didn’t like it. It was just too cliquey, so I stopped thinking like that, and I just started being nice to people. I was like, “I just want to be nice. That just feels good to me. That’s just what I want to do.” In the end, I ended up having a lot of friends when I left high school. I was like, “Wow, I didn’t even … I wasn’t …” My goal shifted from, “Oh, I want to be popular” to “I just need to be nice.”
Dave: Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish with just being nice? And it always comes around. We’d go pitch somebody a deal 10 years ago, and they didn’t want to do anything, or have anything to do with us, and you circle back 10 years later, and because you were nice, and there’s a relationship there … It’s always funny how things usually circle back.
Charan: Yeah, it’s such good advice, and it’s so simple, but it is good.
Charan: The other thing I was going to say—
Dave: [crosstalk 00:22:58] struggle was, it was always money. Once you can figure out how to start getting institutional financing on things, and private equity through things—that’s one of the things—so any advice you … It doesn’t matter what your great idea is, if you can’t talk money with people, your great idea’s going to stall, because the only way your great idea’s going to get off the ground is if there’s money, and the only way there’s going to be money is if you can actually have a literate conversation about money.
Charan: And feel calm about it, right? And feel relaxed about it, right?
Dave: Yeah, then it goes back to my lawn mowing business and paper route business. I had to deal with money at a very young age, and knew how to run a business, and make sure my vendors got paid, and made sure my little helpers got paid. You have to be able to have conversational knowledge about money or else you’re not going to go anywhere.
Charan: You know, it’s interesting, because there’s a lot of people that have genuinely psychological fear regarding money. It’s that fear, I think, that actually stops them from getting money in their lives, or maybe the fear of not being good enough, or not feeling they deserve things even though they’re working really, really hard. How would you give advice to people like that, that have some of those fears regarding money?
Dave: I don’t know what that advice would be, but you should not be an entrepreneur if you can’t have those discussions, because literally every conversation for people that are going to be giving you money, they want their money back. If they’re going to sit there and talk to you about it, they want to have a very clear plan on how they’re going to get their money back or else the conversation’s going to be very short.
Dave: So, become literate in terminology, what it means. When somebody wants to start talking about cap rates, you better know exactly what they’re talking about or else you’re going to look really dumb really quick, and it’ll be a short-lived relationship.
Charan: Exactly. Well, it is interesting. I’ve talked to several of my filmmaking friends, and they always talk about this great film. I don’t even consider myself a business guy, but I just keep saying, “Great, what is your path to distribution? What is your end game? How are you going to do it?” It’s always like, “Yeah, maybe some film festivals.” I’m like, “That’s not … No. That’s not … It’s got to be better than that.”
Dave: “The film is going to be so good that …” and you’re like, “Yeah.”
Charan: Yeah, exactly.
Dave: That’s fine, because that’s always … Whenever people hit us up on those things, it’s what is our clear path to getting our money back? When they don’t have an answer, that’s always a fail.
Charan: That’s always a … yeah. Exactly. That’s the tricky part.
Dave Hunter Talks About What Brings Him Joy
Charan: So, let’s talk a little bit about joy right now. What brings you joy in life, would you say?
Dave: Harvard did that 75-year study on happiness and joy. After 75 years of following these Harvard grads, and this is a 75-year long study, across the board the only thing that brought people joy was family and friendships. That was it. These were titans of industry. [crosstalk 00:26:15] people.
Dave: Across the whole board, all these Harvard grads, and across the board the only thing that was lasting was family and friends. That’s it. So, what brings me joy is family and friends and relationships.
Charan: Yeah, no, that’s awesome, man. The thing is—
Dave: It certainly plays a part in that— George Dayton, you know George, Lyman Dayton, one of the great Utah filmmakers.
Dave: Lyman’s probably 75, 80 years old. He did a film called “Where the Red Fern Grows.”
Charan: Oh, yeah.
Dave: He was one of my mentors growing up, but one of my favorite sayings from him is, “Dave, I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable,” which how that pertains to this I don’t really know, but yeah. Money for sure plays a little bit into your happiness, because then you can go do family things and activities, and go to Lake Powell, and do this and that, but overriding, as long as the bases are covered, family and friends is really what brings me joy.
Dave: Then the second layer of that is deals. I love deals, and I love deals that work out, and I love the chase of the deal. I love doing successful deals. I love that, but my lasting joy is my family and my friends, for sure.
Charan: Yeah, no, that’s great. Well, I think what’s cool about that is you just labeled out some priorities. You said family and friends are first, then deals second. Deals are still very exciting for you, and if you make a deal work it’s, like, a thrill to that. There’s an excitement level to that, but long-lasting relationships with just your friends …
Charan: I remember one of the things I always loved about you is we’d go to … When I’d see you at Bajio’s—and you’re always there with your son, probably—I freakin’ loved it. I’m like, “Dude, I love the fact that you go grab food with your son, and you guys are just hanging out, having a good time, and you’re just, like, buddies.”
Dave: [crosstalk 00:28:13] growing up, and I’d say probably 95% of everybody’s growing up’s experience is the same. Your dad never took you to business meetings, or never talked to you about money, or any of that stuff. It’s one of those shocking … Like, I have my 12-year-olds come to big, 50-million dollar business meetings with me just so they can listen and start learning how the language of the world is spoken, and we talk about money. They ask me, “Dad, what did that guy …?” I tell them. In our family it was always a big secret what the finances were and everything else. We’re an open book, and I love that I drag my kids around, and they get to be part of what we’re doing.
Charan: Do they like it? Do they like being a part of that?
Dave: They love it.
Charan: They love it?
Charan: [crosstalk 00:28:59]
Dave: My oldest son, he’s doing a spec home down in St. George right now. He’s in construction management at BYU. [crosstalk 00:29:08].
Dave: You’re going to learn more doing your own spec home than you are going to school, so he’s off to the races. He’s built it, and it’s sold, and it’s one of those things that I think, I am who I am because I was so poor, and I didn’t have any of that guidance, but because of where I am now, I love that I get to mentor my kids and give them that. Hopefully, I don’t lessen too many of the hard knocks for them, because I think hard knocks is where you learn a lot, but also I want them to be happy and successful, so I’m all on board with whatever they want to do.
Charan: Dude, that’s amazing. I love that you have that mindset, and that you’re going to pass it on to the younger [crosstalk 00:29:53].
Dave: Did your dad talk to you about money?
Charan: Not really.
Dave: He did?
Charan: I mean, a little bit, but not really, because the thing is, yes, we had … My dad has built a little bit of money over time for sure, and a lot of the money that he’s done, he’s put towards investments, if you have mutual funds and stuff like that. So, that’s helped us grow money, but he’s a very, very conservative investor, I would say, very conservative. That’s totally fine. We talk about putting money into CDs or stuff like that. The interest rates are pretty low, but that’s kind of where his comfort level is, right, which is totally great.
Charan: But as far as really going aggressive with it, really figuring out these cool deals of real estate and whatnot, I never learned it. The truth was, I never was overly passionate about real estate. I just never was, and so for me, my whole thing is I want to make money doing the things that I love to do. If I can figure out a way to make that work, that would be amazing.
Charan: It’s film, but I’m like, “Well, we all know the film business is pretty fickle, and trying to make money in that world, it’s pretty difficult and … like you discovered.”
Dave: [crosstalk 00:31:23] the real estate company, it would have been a way too stressful life for me and my family to try to make a living in the film business.
Charan: Yeah, and it’s crazy, because there’s a lot of people that only do that that I know. They work in film, and that’s all they want to do to make ends meet. I’m like, “Dude, I don’t know how you guys do it. I don’t know.”
Dave Hunter Shares Some Advice
Charan: But I guess, last question would be, what would be the advice you’d give your younger self or just the future generation, as you said?
Dave: Well, future generation, because younger self, I think I ran a pretty good playbook, but we’ve already talked about most of it, but you have to work hard. There’s no quick way to being rich. We’re surrounded— You’ve been up to our offices, but we’re sitting here in my offices. We’ve got Bob Peterson right here, Ryan Smith—all these guys that have been mega-successful, and everybody’s like, “Oh my gosh. They made so much money overnight.” No, they’ve worked their butts off for many, many, many, many years.
Dave: I think there’s nothing they can— If you are afraid of super hard work, then you should not be an entrepreneur. I’d say hard work, being honest, and being kind, and having an okay idea, I think, okay. You don’t need a great idea, because everybody in the world has these ideas, but nobody has the hard work or the follow-through to go take their little idea and make it something big, so follow through. You have to … Everybody has an idea, and it’d be shocking to see how many ideas actually worked that people went and put 100 hours a week into them for 10 years. They would probably work out.
Charan: Yeah. Yeah, that’s the thing. You gotta, like— It’s boots to the ground, right?
Charan: You have your idea, but then it’s like, “Great, cool, how do you execute on that idea?” [crosstalk 00:33:18]—
Dave: [crosstalk 00:33:17] like, back to the movie business. I explained that we’re talking more about the movies than the actual- the real business we have.
Charan: No worries.
Dave: But when we started our distribution company it’s, like, that’s so daunting. How do we take a DVD and sell it to somebody? Well, I drove to the local WalMart, and I said, “How do these movies show up on your shelves?” “Well, we have a regional buyer, and he buys them, and he sends them to us.” “Well, can I have his number?” Call that guy. He says, “Well, we get them out of Arkansas.”
Dave: So, call that guy. Just persistence. Eventually I got to the guy that actually buys films for the local WalMart, just sheer tenacity to get to the bottom of that. Then got a vendor agreement with him and started selling videos to WalMart. It was probably a half-year process of going through every hoop, but you had to be persistent, and just … It’s shocking how many great ideas I hear that people give up on really quick.
Charan: Well, the thing is, you have to have the will to succeed, because if you get rejected too many times, or whatever, then you’re like, “Nope, I’m done. I’m gone. I’m out.”
Charan: For me, even as an actor, it’s like, “Oh great. Another chance for me to get rejected,” but I don’t even care. I love acting just for the sake of acting. Even going in the audition room and just having fun acting is great. If I get the part, that’s just the bonus, but for me, I just like it.
Charan: However, that attitude, even though it has gotten me through a lot of life, has not really been financially viable. But it’s okay, because I’m learning all kinds of other ways to make some great finances, but, dude, I really appreciate your time.
Dave: [crosstalk 00:34:57]. My last thought, too, is that always, always, always put relationships over money.
Charan: Ooh, I like that.
Dave: I think that that’s a big, important thing, because whether that relationship works out on this deal or the next deal, if you have solid, good relationships, like genuine relationships, the money will come.
Charan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dave: It always has. Because we’ve always had really good relationships with people, we’ve always had— People always had money for deals.
Charan: Well, that’s really good advice, man, and the thing is, with those relationships, make sure that those relationships are authentic, I would say, right?
Charan: 100%. Make those relationships not about, “Hey, how far can you get me?” or “Where can you go?” But more, like, just like, “Dude, let’s just chill. Let’s just have fun.” You know? Then from there we can kind of go on and do the next thing.
Dave Hunter Talks About Upcoming Projects
Charan: So, what’s next for you, man? What’s the next step?
Dave: We’re finishing up an 1,100-bed project at UVU right now. We’re about to start one right next to BYU’s campus. We’ve got—
Charan: Is that the one with Mike Bennett? Is it the one, that was one of them?
Dave: Yeah, Mike Bennett. You know Mike?
Charan: I do. He’s a good dude. I don’t know him super well but, remember, his brother’s a really good friend of mine.
Dave: Oh yeah. Good.
Charan: Yeah, so he’s a good buddy of mine, but I did go and pitch Mike something, and he was just the coolest, so yeah.
Dave: Cool guys of the earth. So, again, what’s next? We do a lot of deals. We do them all with people we like. That really is the joy of my life, I guess.
Charan: Yeah, that’s awesome, man. Well, dude, thank you so much for taking the time. And by the way, are there other people you think I can talk to that would be stoked to give the younger generation some advice? Anyone that’s, like, … I know you’re in the entrepreneurial world.
Dave: Sure, I can pitch you some text to some guys that … You just give me the box of what you’re looking for, and again., Utah is a very small pond, and so—
Charan: Oh, shoot, Dave, I think you cut out. Wait, say it again. You cut out.
Dave: I said Utah’s a very small pond, but I know a lot of the fish in our pond.
Charan: Yeah, that would be awesome. I mean—
Dave: [crosstalk 00:37:17] talk to, and I can force her to put some people in that box for you.
Charan: That would be amazing. I would love to … I know we’re doing this through Zoom. I’m going to be getting a camera, like a video camera. I’m going to actually drive over and set it up with people, so it’s more one-on-one. But I know some of your partners, or some of the dudes in your office, also pretty well, like, they’re well established. They’re entrepreneurs and stuff, so would love to come by your office again and do another interview and just pick up.
Charan: Awesome, dude. Well, you’re the best, man. I really appreciate you taking the time, and let’s go grab some Bajio’s. We’ve always met up there, but we haven’t actually eaten together there.
Dave: [crosstalk 00:37:58] Bajio’s on me whenever you want.
Charan: Okay, sounds good, dude. I’ll totally do it. All right, man. Have a great one, okay?
Charan: Take it easy.
Charan: Okay, bye-bye.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews, and if you, or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand Story, please reach out to us on social media, and let us know. Thanks so much, and have a great day.