When Dustin Hughes started with Kimbel Mechanical Systems he was a plumber apprentice making $10 an hour. Now, he oversees two divisions, seven locations, nearly 250 employees and about the same number of subcontractors for the growing $76 million company he owns along with CEO Brad Smith.
Hughes started with the company almost 14 years ago when it had about 30 employees and quickly progressed after becoming a journeyman plumber and master plumber.
As assistant superintendent, he oversaw small projects, including 20 to 30 homes in a subdivision. Two years later, he become head superintendent, overseeing Kimbel’s first military housing project at Columbus Air Force Base and a more than 500-unit project at Barksdale Air Force Base. The $5 million project took two years to complete and was the largest air force base project the company had completed at the time.
“That was really the job I got to get out there and spread my wings,” he said.
In 2011, he became market manager overseeing 15 to 20 workers handling the company’s residential business in central Arkansas. In 2013, he started as director of market housing, leading a division with $20 million to $25 million in annual sales and expanding it into northern and southern Colorado and Kansas City. He became chief operating officer in 2015, and in 2016 became a partner in the company with Smith.
The Alma native attributed his success to making the most of opportunities, and for Smith and former owner Rob Kimbel believing and investing in him.
Hughes is a volunteer for Pack Shack, leads a boy’s life group at Alma First Baptist Church and serves on the Northwest Arkansas Home Builders Association Board of Directors. He spends his free time bow hunting deer, coaching and at Lake Tenkiller.