"On the Job" with Richard Huggins

Richard Huggins is the owner of Huggins Outboard Inc.

Richard Huggins is the owner of Huggins Outboard Inc.

Q. If you were fresh out of school, what would you first do in searching for a job?

A. I would definitely seek out something I enjoyed doing. I would research them to the make sure they were solid. Healthcare is important. Also, I'd realize it was was time to actually get a job. I'd clean up, and I'd know who I was talking to. Most of all, I'd try to get something I enjoyed doing.

Q. What was your first job?

A. Here at the boat shop. When I was seven or eight years old, I got to come down here to work. Every Saturday morning I picked up nuts and bolts from the floor. There probably weren't many motors that didn't get dusted. I swept the floors too. I was probably in the way, but I thought I was helping. I got 50 cents every Saturday.

Q. What was the first thing you bought after you got your first paycheck?

A. I bought an alarm clock. My daddy would come in and wake me and give me one chance to get out of bed. If I didn't get up I didn't go to work. We went down to Four Points Drug Store and picked one out, but it was $3.50 and I didn't have enough money. I paid the druggist 25 cents a week until I got it paid off.

Q. Who was your role model or mentor in your current job?

A. My parents. My dad taught me the work ethic, and my mom taught me that any job is worth doing well. She took me and my brother to all the school functions, ball practice, scouting activities -- all that on top of her full-time job. She showed me that no matter how tough things got, things were worth doing well.

Q. How has the recession affected your business?

A. We deal with recreational dollars here, so many of our customers are really pressed. It costs so much to buy the boats, and for gas -- both for their vehicles and the boats. It's hard to go fishing on the the weekend when you don't know if you'll have a job on Monday or if you'll be able to provide food for your family in the coming weeks. The recession has changed everything.

Q. If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology (e-mail, Internet, cell phones, etc.) what would it be?

A. Automatic phone systems. I can't stand the fact that when you need to talk to someone, all you can get is a recording. I'm from the old school. I want to talk to someone when I have a problem or a situation. It's a real turnoff.

Q. I am up and going by . . .?

A. I get up at 6:30 every morning. My youngest daughter catches the bus at 7 a.m. At least I can make sure she gets something to eat and we have a a little father-daughter time. I enjoy that time together. I'm at work usually by 7:30 or 7:45 every day, six days a week during the season.

Q. What is your favorite hobby or activity outside of work?

A. I do enjoy my "Fall" times, when things get slow. I'm a hunter. I hunt birds as well as deer. I'm really not that much of a fisherman. That surprises some people. I have customers who are plantation owners who don't like to hunt. I like to cut grass. I have a friend with a farm in Terrell County and I cut his grass for him for free. I can unwind and clear my mind. He has a cab tractor with an a/c. That really makes it fun.

Q. If you could take back one business decision in your career, what would it be?

A. I took on a line of boats that was known to be a lower quality. I was assured at the time that the engine company who had bought the boat company would raise the quality, but they didn't. If anything, they lowered the quality. It took years and a lot of repair work to get out from under that. It was a nightmare.

Q. What is the best thing about your job?

A. Every day is different. I love the fact that I work outdoors. I love to hear the happy stories of children learning how to ski or how to catch a fish. I take pride in knowing I'm a small part of a great family outing, and that I did my part in creating an enjoyable weekend for someone.

Q. What is the worst thing about your job?

A. Working on Saturdays caused me to miss a lot of opening ceremonies at football games. I missed a lot of school functions and dance recitals I should have attended. I missed a lot of awards presentations, even though I was blessed that my children won a good many of them.

Q. What was the most beneficial course you took in school?

A. Accounting. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree. They taught us the most important number is the bottom line -- that you always have to look at the big picture. It's a lot more important than the little picture.

Q. What would be your dream job?

A. Doing anything outdoors, preferably something to do with the hunting profession. I love taking other people hunting, or just getting the land ready, so my dream job would be something related to hunting and the outdoors.

Q. What is the one trait a business leader cannot be without.

A. Patience. Rome wasn't built in a day. Any time you're trying to complete a change in your business you have to realize that it can't happen overnight. You got to take the good with the bad and hope the good outweighs the bad. You just got to have patience.

Q. What do you see as Albany's biggest economic challenge?

A. To replace the jobs we've lost in the past. We need to sell incoming businesses that we have the facilities and the work force to man their businesses. But I'm not sure the work force is quite ready. I know our leaders community leaders are working on this but I think there's too much black versus white, east versus west, Dougherty versus Lee kind of bickering going on. We need to bury some hatchets here.

Q. What are the biggest changes you've seen in your business over the past several years?

A. The EPA involvement in our industry. Everybody is concerned about pollution with outboard/inboard boat engines, so EPA has required engine makers to reduce their emissions. Everything is moving for a 2-stroke engine to 4 strokes. We're about to see more changes in fuel tanks, too. Most everything will have has to be pressurized, as well as leak-proofed. All these changes make boat motors more expensive and more difficult for customers to afford.

Q.What was the best vacation you ever took?

A. By far, the best was our 25th anniversary. Our kids sent the two of us to the Virgin Islands for a week. But we didn't know we were going without them until the morning we left. We woke up thinking we were going on a family vacation together. They had packed along with us and everything. They arranged for tickets and room and the snorkeling trip. And then they announced that they wanted us to have the time together. They even paid for it. Even though they weren't there, it just made it more special. The whole time, we were thinking about them and what they'd done.