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Tom Hurst

The Legend that is Tom Hurst

Posted on May 03, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Tom Hurst is a charming man.

His charm comes from his big smile, warm personality, kind heart and from his insatiable interest in everyone.

He loves meeting people, talking to people, and he’s a good listener – and all these things make him so good at the job he does.

When he retired, after 37 years with a turf distributor in Kingsville he knew everyone in the business. He also knew Bernhard Grinders inside out. “I sold a lot of grinders in my time.”

After two years of retirement, a bit of travel, boating and hobbies, Tom got itchy feet, so when Stephen Bernhard invited him – not for the first time – to join the sales team – with the promise of looking after the top 100 golf courses, Tom jumped at the chance.

“My wife was fed up with me around home all the time. She said I talk so much I must go to bed with a coat hanger in my mouth.

It was great coming back. The young guys keep me going. The job has grown – and I work far more hours than I intended to, but then I know so many people in the North East territory – so it was easy to be back.”

Tom does things his way – and his way works. His big personality and rich laugh are good to be around, he knows his stuff, so you listen to him, and you’d be wise to take note because he is as straight as they come, honest and open.

“Age does have its privileges” Tom says modestly. “I think the young guys have a harder time because I think my customers respect my age. They give me the time. They don’t do that for the younger guys.”

Maybe it’s not so much his age that everyone respects, as his dignity and his old fashioned good sense and caring.

Asked about the changes in the business after all these years, Tom said, “The industry got a bit more technical and we don’t have the time to do things the way we did, but you still have to go that extra mile. Our business is all about relationships so we need to show some good common sense and compassion.”

You can’t be a smart cookie with a crummy attitude. I read that somewhere, and it touched a chord.”

Born in 1937 in Westchester, Pennsylvania, Tom met his wife Charlotte when they were both 17 and still at school. Tom says it was love at first sight. They married in 1956 and have 2 sons and 3 daughters. The Hurst empire now has 10 grandchildren – 9 of them boys. “There’s always a birthday somewhere to celebrate.”

Tom and Charlotte are family people, and along side their own, they fostered troubled children and have been devoted to the charity Fresh Air Kids (An organisation that takes inner city kids to spend a couple of weeks each year with a family in the fresh air of the country). Over the years the Hurst household had several children to stay with them. “Everyone would muck in. We’d all pile into the van for trips out. I wonder now where we put everyone.

Another big part of Tom’s life was his role, for 27 years, as Scout Master to Group 14. “It was great and very gratifying, and an opportunity to help shape a lot of kids who’d come from tough backgrounds. Scouting is one of the best fraternities there is.

Tom can’t imagine retiring although he would like the time to do a bit more travel – preferably in the direction of Bermuda.

“The biggest thing is to get through life without any regrets.”