Tim Clegg, founder and CEO of Hurts Donut Co., says he’s grateful for previous failures. Because if not for those, “I wouldn’t appreciate what we have. It’s good to win one.”
Winning in this case means rocking the doughnut industry with creative toppings, clever promotions and a playful shop name that spun the punch line of an old joke into a $20 million franchise juggernaut.
For a business startup that left Tim and his wife Kas Clegg with around $7 in the bank, Hurts Donut has not only been a local success with two stores employing 45 and generating $2 million, it’s also brought sweet joy to other communities as it nears its sixth anniversary. By the end of 2018, there were 18 franchise locations across the Midwest, in Colorado, Texas and Arizona. Two more franchises opened in 2019 with four more scheduled in cities including Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans. It’s not unusual for lines to form hours before grand openings.
From inception to the end of 2018, the business has created more than 800 jobs nationwide, which calculates to nearly $4.7 million in taxable wages.
The success is humbling, Clegg says, but he knew within months the team had a winning concept. Today, with two company stores and 20 franchises to date, they work harder than ever: “We rarely take time for ourselves,” Clegg says. “We know the importance of being supportive of our franchise owners who have taken this journey with us.”
One thing he’s proud to know: Hurts Donut brings recognition and tourism dollars to his community. Thanks to scary clown and quirky cupid deliveries, plus their trendy Tide Pod-decorated treats, Hurts Donut has been mentioned by national talk show hosts, including Anderson Cooper of CNN and James Corden of “The Late Late Show,” as well as on the Buzzfeed and Delish websites. The company is frequently listed with Bass Pro Shops and Andy’s Frozen Custard under “things to do” in Springfield.
In addition to doughnuts, the company has added an espresso program, a delivery app and introduced Glitter Coffee – all of which are expanding to franchises to increase revenue, boosting sales tax contributions.
The company gives back in “an irrational way” – as expressed in its mission statement – as a matter of business practice. Its primary partnership is with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society because Clegg was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis the same year Hurts Donut opened. In addition, the business supported multiple local charities in 2018 including The Kitchen Inc., Lost & Found Grief Center, Isabel’s House, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks Inc. and Ozarks Food Harvest Inc.
“This business was built on the back of a diagnosis,” says Clegg, who lost his military job and was unemployed before opening Hurts Donut Co. He’s never looked at the diagnosis as a negative, he says: “It’s been an inspiration to us, to our business. It changed the course of our life.”
The congregation at Crossway Baptist Church is building a children’s wing at the west end of the church, and beginning in 2024, it will be home to a Christian academy.