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Outstanding Business Leader Award - 2005

As president and CEO of Hunter Industries, Richard Hunter directs a company that is among the worlds leading manufacturers of irrigation equipment for turf, landscape, and golf courses.


Richard holds a BA in math/physics from Whitman College and a MS from Columbia University in Aerospace Science and Engineering. From 1967 to 1974 he was employed by Bell Telephone Laboratories. He worked first on the Apollo Program at NASA headquarters followed by the Safeguard ABM project, and later on communication equipment.

In 1976 Richard became general manager of Toro’s Irrigation and Power Equipment Division in Greeley, Colorado, where he developed and marketed agricultural irrigation systems. But a turn of events in California presented a more interesting challenge.

When Ed Hunter retired from Toro in 1981, his “retirement” consisted of assembling his young, educated family and starting up Hunter Industries. Richard joined brother Paul and sister Ann (Hunter-Welborn) at the fledgling company, where they worked closely for 12 years building a very successful business. Richard directed all manufacturing operations until 1993, when he assumed the leadership of the company.

Hunter Industries is one of the best-known names in the irrigation industry. Hunter products are sold internationally through an exclusive network of professional irrigation distributors.

Under Richard’s leadership, the company’s product line has expanded into the most comprehensive range of rotors, sprays, valves, and controllers in landscape irrigation. Many industry firsts have been introduced by Hunter Industries, known as “The Irrigation Innovators.”

Active in trade associations, Richard Hunter is a former president of the Irrigation Association (IA) and is a member of TEC, an international association of CEOs. He is a trustee of his alma mater, Whitman College, and also serves on the Foundation Trust Board and Business School Advisory Board at California State University, San Marcos. Richard was honored by the American Society of Irrigation Consultants’ Roy Williams Memorial Award in 2002 for industry achievement.