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2019 Economic Impact Awards Entrepreneur of the Year: Tim Clegg

Doughnut King

Posted online

Co-founding a multimillion-dollar company centered on doughnuts was never part of a master plan for Tim Clegg.

But since the first Hurts Donut Co. shop opened in downtown Springfield in 2013, it’s been a quick rise to success for the business – much like the pastries it sells. On its opening day, Nov. 18, 2013, the company earned $2,000 in sales. By the end of 2018, revenue hit $20.1 million companywide with 21 stores in 11 states.

It was an all-in venture for Clegg and his wife Kas as the couple invested funds from their seasonal shaved ice business, Sno Biz, in which they were franchisees, to open Hurts Donut Co. On July 11, the Cleggs sold the local franchise of Sno Biz, started by his father Tim in 2003, to focus more on the ever-growing doughnut company.

Clegg says much of what he learned in his younger years of entrepreneurship came from his dad, who died in 2011. Learning how to manage failure was a key component to eventually find success, he says.

“I learned very early from an entrepreneurial father the struggles that it takes to be in business for self,” Clegg says, noting his father had a small accounting firm in West Plains in the 1980s that failed.

“I took a lot away from that, how to fail with grace.”

Unsuccessful business ventures also have been a part of Clegg’s past, such as a Springfield restaurant, Room 4, which shuttered in 2009 after about seven months.

“Having the ability to understand from the failures I’ve made in business along the way are hard lessons, but they’re lessons nonetheless,” he says.

He considers himself a more cautious person today, but admits that opening a 24-hour doughnut shop in downtown Springfield doesn’t reflect that.

“It’s very risky, but I feel like I can mitigate those risks a lot better now than I ever have in the past,” he says. “So it helps us be very cautious entrepreneurs from a growth standpoint.”

Those outside the company might think Hurts Donut shops are opening all over the place, but Clegg says they are very cautious on selecting franchisees. For example, of the approximately 75 applicants now under consideration, he says maybe two will ultimately make the cut.

“Growth, even though it is important to us, consistency of the brand and the people that operate the brand is really important, too,” he says.

Issues with those standards not being met ultimately led to the closure of a store in Joplin – a first for the company.

Last year, the company took a step back from growing locations to work on new product lines and focus more on managing its vendors and pricing, Clegg says. As many as six new shops could open by year’s end, with three more already on tap for the first half of 2020. The planned Memphis, Tennessee, opening next year will mark the 12th state for a Hurts Donut shop.

Venturing beyond doughnuts also is on Clegg’s mind, as a previously announced specialty hot dog eatery concept, Zombie Dogs and Fries, is still in the long-range plan. Trademark issues will likely force a name change. He says 2020 is still a possibility, if the right name and space is determined.

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