My parents moved to Columbia, Missouri so Dad could go to veterinary school at the University of Missouri. (I was born the week his classes started. Great timing.) They moved two months before I was born to take advantage of Lamaze classes. Multiple times a week after class, my parents would get fresh donuts from an all-night bakery.
Maybe that’s why donuts are my favorite food group. Whenever I travel, I look for a donut shop. I love, love, love donuts.
When I worked at Ozarks Literacy Council, I used to hide books in various locations throughout Springfield and tag them “#FreeBookFriday” on Twitter and Facebook. The purpose of the free books was simply to promote literacy and raise awareness of the great work of OLC. One Friday, craving a donut, I went to Hurts and took Kaylea. We hid a book upstairs on top of an air duct and ate donuts together while she told me about her day at school. On that Friday, which has been documented on Twitter, I ate the best donut I’ve ever eaten in my life.
A chocolate old-fashioned donut with key lime icing.
Tim is the owner of Hurts Donut Company which first opened in Springfield, Missouri in November of 2013. But Tim didn’t spend all of 2013 practicing the sacred art of making donuts before opening a store. In fact, he created his first donut the day before the store opened. With a little help from YouTube. And equipment from Craigslist. And less than $7 in his bank account when the doors opened (and never closed. Technically, they have been closed for two days — Thanksgiving and Christmas of that first year. Hurts is open 25 hours a day, 8 days a week).
I met Tim at his downtown office grateful for the chance to connect with a guy who is always on the go. The guy who just got back from speaking to Congress on behalf of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. I’m always fascinated by idea origination, so I asked Tim for more of the Hurts Donut story.
Confession: Tim’s story is absolutely incredible. I got lost listening to him share it and forgot to take detailed notes. Here are some of the notes of his journey. They are accurate-ish. Errors are completely my fault.
On his first official date with his now-wife, they got donuts from a gas station. He claims she ate the majority of them. He moved from Wichita to Cape Girardeau to Springfield with a roofing job. It didn’t last. So, after his dad passed away, he bought his parents’ shaved-ice company and they both worked there.
In September of 2012, Tim and his wife celebrated the birth of twins, although two months premature. In December, he received notification of deployment to Afghanistan scheduled for August of 2013. (I forgot which branch of the services, because Tim served in the Marines and the Army.) That same month while doing an odd construction job to make ends meet, since December isn’t shaved-ice season, he felt something “pop” and lost vision in his right eye. For two months.
Which led to applying for unemployment. And food stamps. And the WIC office. With twins. While his wife was at the WIC appointment, he received a phone call with a reason for the blindness — Optic Neuritis. Two months later, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
In the middle of shaved-ice season number two, he pitched the idea of a downtown donut company to his wife. When she didn’t immediately shoot it down, Tim ran with it.
In just a matter of weeks, they de-constructed and re-constructed and trained six employees in a small shop on the northwest corner of the square. The first day Hurts Donut was officially opened for business, Tim made $2000. Within two weeks, the company was debt-free.
There are now 16 Hurts Donut Company locations throughout the Midwest. Number 17 opens next week. By the end of the year there will be 24.
We played catch behind his office, just across the train tracks in downtown Springfield. He told me that he used to play catch with his staff every week when he was GM of the Ozark Mountain Ducks.
That’s a story for another time.
As we tossed the ball, Tim continued telling me about all of his business failures and that one of his biggest dreams is to give a commencement speech.
“But my college closed its doors last October. I have a degree from a school that no longer exists.”
Through his vast employment experience, Tim developed a passion for philanthropy. Hurts is incredibly generous in giving back to the community and to MS research. They have a national Bike-MS team and their second annual Run HDC event in downtown Springfield will be May 12.
I didn’t make a commitment yet, but I’m strongly considering training for the Run HDC event. It’d be great for my legs for this crazy catch-playing project.
I celebrated Pi Day eating donuts and playing catch with Tim, marking the completion of 20% of the way through the year!