Chairman of Hunt Ventures
Johnelle Hunt, from Heber Springs, is credited with helping her late husband, J.B. Hunt, build one of the largest publicly traded trucking companies in North America. They began working as a business team in Stuttgart in 1961 with the founding of the J.B. Hunt Co.: He was the entrepreneur and salesman; she was the organizer, manager and tough businesswoman who made sure the debts were collected and the bills were paid.
In 1969, the couple started J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. in Lowell with five trucks and seven refrigerator trailers. The company now employs some 16,000 people. Mrs. Hunt recently retired from the company’s board of directors. Since the passing of her husband in 2006, Mrs. Hunt has taken a very active role in projects developed and managed by her company, Hunt Ventures.
Johnelle Hunt has led or served on numerous state, university and philanthropic organizations, including the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the University of Arkansas Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. She and her husband were instrumental in the creation of the J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. Center for Academic Excellence at the University of Arkansas.
Hunt has received many honors for her work over the years. She was named to the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, received the Eagle Award for Outstanding Health Leadership from the Washington Regional Foundation, March of Dimes Citizen of the Year, and in 2008 was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the University of Arkansas.