Love in the Workplace: The Hukills
We depend on each other and trust each other. Duane Hukill
By Kathleen Swift
Q: How long have you been married and working together?
Holly: We’ve been married 20 years and have worked together for 19 years. That first year of working together, I thought we had made a horrible mistake. I am a nurse by profession and didn’t know anything about the flooring business. Duane had grown up in the business, and I had to learn it. I am detailed oriented, and I had to learn a lot of specifics and had to ask Duane the same things over and over.
Duane: We figured out we had to have some separation of duties. We decided to have a “you run your part, and I run my part” type of an arrangement. We each have our own daily stuff to do. I run the day-to-day operations with sales, employees and installers. Holly handles the financials, human resources and marketing.
Q: Do you talk about work at home?
Holly: We try not to, but if we do need to discuss business at home, we try to keep it to 30 minutes or so, which sometimes works. Thank goodness, I can work remotely from home. I didn’t want to come in everyday, and that was especially true when I had 5-year-old twins at home. I still have a flexible schedule, and that works out well.
Q: What is it like working together?
Duane: We depend on each other and trust each other. And having someone by your side you can depend on and to have your back is what makes it work.
Holly: We work for the common good. Duane is the entrepreneur, and I am the detail person. We really have different styles of working. I am slow and steady. I am about not taking risks. In fact, the kids call me safety mom. Duane works like his hair is on fire.
Duane: I look out for the business. We are entering our 26th year in business, and we are still looking for ways to grow. We’ve recently expanded into Northwest Arkansas, and we serve communities from Tulsa to Springfield. We have both residential and commercial services.
Holly: Duane is willing to take some risks, which I don’t always agree with. The running joke is that when I get upset with Duane, I ask my assistant, “Where’s my bail money – in case I kill him today” and she says, “Right here in the desk.” Duane and I both laugh, and that is part of working together. We can’t take ourselves too seriously, and we know how to laugh together. Anyone who knows us, knows we joke around with each other all the time.
Q: What do you do for some personal down time?
Duane: I like to do competitive shooting, although, I haven’t been able to do that for a couple of years. The business takes up a lot of time, but I am hoping to get back into it this year.
Holly: I like to do creative things like scrapbooking and taking photos. Together, we will binge watch a series on Netflix over a weekend. We also like to cook. My illnesses make it hard for us to eat out, so we cook together. Duane is quite a good sous chef. He can peel and cut up a butternut squash in record time.
Duane: We were able to take a week away a couple of years ago and went to Hawaii. We still took calls and checked email daily, because that is what you do when you own your own business. It is part of you 24 hours a day/seven days a week.
Holly: We have an office manager now, too, which has helped free us up to work on new projects and issues that arise in the business.
Q: Would you recommend working together?
Holly: I think it is the rare couple that can work together, but we’ve worked out a way to do it that works for us. And, I always have that bail money!