Hunter Auto Group in our Community

Founded on March 1, 1940, the Hunter Automotive Group has been serving Hendersonville for three quarters of a century and has cultivated deep roots in the community over the years. Randy and his cousin, Tom Hunter, are the owners and operators of Hunter Auto Group which encompasses Hunter Subaru, Hyundai, Hunter Volvo, Hunter Powersports and 1st Choice Auto Centers.

“Like my father always said, you have to give back to your community what it gives you,” said Tom Hunter. “We are so blessed to be part of this community and to be able to give back to the place that raised us.”

Tom and Randy have always been active members of the Hendersonville community. Randy has served as Chairman of the Salvation Army advisory board. He has been involved with the Merchants Association Board and has been very active within the Boy Scouts organization. Randy also served as a Board member of the YMCA. Randy and Tom are both extremely proud to be part of the team involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County.

The following is a list of civic activities and projects, Thomas D. Hunter III, “Bud Hunter”, was involved in that have impacted Henderson County.

1. Board Member and President, The Salvation Army

Key Activist in the construction of a Salvation Army facility:

In the mid-60s the Salvation Army was operating out of a small office on 3rd Avenue. Bud Hunter was serving as a board member at that time and was in charge of the Army’s Boy Scout troop. Bud saw a need for a better facility if The Salvation Army was going to be a really effective force in the community. The President of the Board, Bob Winkler, agreed to lead a capital campaign for a new facility. With Winkler’s leadership, his generosity and the hard work of the board, a new facility was built. Since that time, the Salvation Army has been a vital part of our community.

2. President, YMCA Board

Spearheaded the campaign to pay off the YMCA debt:

In the late 60s the YMCA Board had a capital campaign to build a new facility. For various reasons, the campaign came up short of the goal. The YMCA was in dire straits and needed the money immediately. The Board hosted a one-night campaign to raise $50,000.00 to pay off the creditors.

The Board, under the direction of Bud Hunter, invited businessmen, doctors, lawyers and politicians for cocktails and dinner at the Country Club. Kermit Edney was the Master of Ceremonies, and after dinner, he announced that no one could leave the room until the money was raised. The necessary funds were raised that night to pay off the creditors. This saved the YMCA.

3. President and Board Member, Henderson County Chamber of Commerce

In the late 1960s, The Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce, the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and the WNC Industrial Committee formed an industrial park on the site of the old Asheville Hendersonville Airport. With this asset, these organizations, working together, began aggressively searching for companies that would relocate here in Western North Carolina. Steelcase Corporation was one of their first successes, and others followed Eaton Corporation, Wilson Plastics, etc.

They also formed the Mt. Home industrial Park, and brought into this area (among others) the Mars Corporation – an apple juice company.

Bud Hunter was one of the key players in the development of downtown Hendersonville.

In the late 60s and early 70s big chain stores were starting up all across the country, drying up retail trade and the tax base for many city centers. With strong leadership from our City Commissioners, Joe Wright, R.B. Shealy and Frank Todd, The Henderson County Chamber of Commerce was able to create our serpentine Main Street. This greatly enhanced retail trade and allowed our downtown to thrive.

Some years later, but with the same thought of enhancing downtown Hendersonville, The Chamber of Commerce saw a real need for good restaurants and entertainment venues. Bud Hunter and some of the chamber members, along with the great support of the pro-active commissioners at that time, developed an Alcoholic Beverage Campaign. This proved to be very successful in the revival of downtown Hendersonville, which today supports many outstanding restaurants.

4. Vice President and Board Member, Henderson County Community Foundation

Bud Hunter served as a board member and ultimately as Vice-Chairman of the Henderson County Community Foundation in its very earliest days. Kermit Edney was Chairman, and the going was slow. Edney insisted that the foundation hire an Executive Director, even though they could not really afford to. Everyone at the foundation had to all chip in to pay the salary of Priscilla Cantrell, who took the job. Duane MiKibbin, one of the founding members, and Bud Hunter told Priscilla if she could get our Foundation to $5 million, the foundation could do some real positive things in the Community. The Foundation now has assets of $67 million.

5. President and Board Member, North Carolina Nature Conservancy; Director

North Carolina Heritage Foundation

Bud Hunter was involved in the early days of the North Carolina Nature Conservancy as a board member, then later as President in the 1980s. He served as a Director, with the North Carolina Heritage Foundation in the 1990s. The accomplishments of these organizations in this area of the state include the creation of DuPont Forest, Chimney Rock State Park, Panthertown Valley (headwaters of the Tuckaseegee River), Green River Gorge, Grandfather Mountain State Park and the National Heritage surveys of our country. They also purchased additional lands for the Carl Sandburg National Park.

In June 2012, Bud received a life-time recognition award from the North Carolina Dealers’ Association.

In February 2013, Bud was recognized by the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce with a lifetime achievement award for his service to the community.

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