Episode #013 - Granbury Mayor Nin Hulett joins us for our third Community Highlight Episode! Just Southwest of the DFW Metroplex lies a small city with a big personality. Join us as we get to know Mayor Hulett and the city “Where Texas History Lives”. (https://youtu.be/G_4JZRZtupw)
Mayor Hulett’s Bio: Growing up on a farm in Bethany, Missouri, Nin learned about hard work and responsibility. When Nin finished high school, he joined the U.S. Army paratroopers so he could afford an education through the G.I. bill. After the Army, Nin graduated with a BA in Business from Park College in Missouri after which he led a successful career in General Motors. After expressing concern for some of the city operations his peers challenged him to run for City Council. Now Nin is two years into his first term as mayor and working hard to make Granbury a greater community!
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Episode #013 - REN Podcast Transcription - Nin Hulett
Jason: All right, good afternoon everybody this is Jason Reynolds with the real estate now podcast and I am excited today to have mayor of Granbury Nin Hulett today with us, how are you sir?
Nin: Yes, actually I'm doing well, how you doing?
Jason: I'm doing great, so mayor Hulett has been the mayor for seven years now, got one more year left coming up in the term, and so we're just excited to have him on we're going to talk a little bit-- get to know him a little bit through just asking some questions and then I really want to talk about Granbury and just you know learn more about it and also the growth that we're seeing here, so to start off how long have you lived in in town? (0:47)
Nin: Actually Jason I came to Granbury like everybody to enjoy the lake and I worked for General Motors Corporation and I spent two times twice I was transferred to Texas and my second time around I looked for a lake community because I like boating and this and that and everybody said go to Granbury Texas, and so I moved to Granbury Texan in a 1999-
Nin: - built a house here and was still working for GM and I commuted back and forth which was-- I also had a place up in the Metroplex there in Arlington that I'd stay when I was doing project work or flying out of town and this and that but, I landed in Granbury and actually knew nothing about Granbury and the fact that it had a lake, a body of water here that I could put my boat in and that's exactly what I did for many years, so, I come to Granbury in last part of 1999 first part 2000.
Jason: Okay, so then I did a little bit of research, and there's a really cool article in one of the Matt local magazines that kind of goes through your history, so you're from Missouri is that right? (1:52)
Nin: I grew up in Northern Missouri as a child and then we moved to-- my parents were farmers and-
Nin: - and farming you know wasn't one at all-
Jason: That it’s cracked up to be.
Nin: Cracked up to be and so they had an opportunity to move to the Metroplex, I call it the Metroplex Independence Missouri home of Harry S Truman-
Nin: And they did-- they ventured into factory work-
Nin: - and kept the farm co-opted you know, and share co-opted and kept most of the farm going also, so we still had that going on-
Nin: - but my lad-- my senior years, my high school years, I spent up in the-- what I call the Metroplex and graduated from a high school there in Independence Missouri which was a little bigger than where I was from up in northern Missouri which was a small community similar to Granbury, it was the county seat but it was a farming community and that was it basically.
Jason: Okay, I also saw in there that your family had a knack-- had a musical inclination is that correct? (2:55)
Nin: Yeah we-- when we sat around and had family reunions we didn't talk much but when we drag out the guitars and the pianos and all that, then we started communicating so we-- and I still continue to do that around Granbury actually, I played a-- it's good that I can just-- when I'm downtown or I'm around and I walk in somebody's playing music they would say hey Nin, come and sit in or hey give me-
Jason: Or start playing
Nin: - a bathroom break so I can sit in so, I will end up playing with most of them out here because I have done it all my life and probably something I enjoy doing but it was one of those things that you couldn't-- I couldn't make a career of it because everybody's-- there's always somebody better than you so-
Nin: - but I enjoy—yes, my whole family we played the instruments and sang and did all that, my dad would enter us in the hometown fairs, and we won a few of those and everything so it-- i grew up doing that.
Jason: Wow! Okay, so then what was the transition between you graduating and then eventually working for GM, how did that kind of line? (4:01)
Nin: Well, like I said, we went to the Metroplex there and I graduated high school, my sister was already going to college and I could tell my parents were kind of struggling with that and I wanted to continue my education and go to college but-
Nin: I joined the Ma-- I joined the army, I joined the army, went in the army, served three and a half years in the army, and when I got back out of the service, I wanted to continue my education there and Uncle Sam was going to be paying for it naturally.
Jason: Very good.
Nin: And as I was doing that I was looking for work and I landed-- I was actually playing music on a country western show up in the Metroplex there in Kansas City.
Nin: And one of the guys I was working with ran the show and I was going to have to quit the show because I was going to take on another job and continue to get my education too, and I mentioned that I had applied at General Motors and this, and he said was General Motors hiring? And I said yeah, they were but they were a big long line of people and he said well could you continue to play music for me if you worked for GM, and I said probably so, because it was like a day shift thing, you know.
Nin: And he said let me make a phone call, I was the chief engineer at the plant [laugh] I said Wow, so sure enough I got a call the next day to come in and fill out another application, I don't know what happened to my original one but fill out another application and they had hired all the assembly line workers but he said I see that you're going to school would you consider being a co-op student for GM, and that's what does that do, and they said well, a co-op student we will sponsor you, we'll send you to school, we'll pay for your schooling and we'll also pay you to work here at the plant-
Nin: and so at that time I was working in labor relations so I was going to be working with different managers and going to school too so I always tell people that was my two scholarships, was GM as a co-op student and Uncle Sam was also-
Jason: The other GI bill right.
Nin: - The GI bill, so I said you know absolutely I'll do that and so that's what I did and the rest was history, I started traveling around with GM and so one of the things that brought me to Granbury too.
Jason: Okay, great, so then you're married correct? (6:20)
Jason: How long have you been married?
Nin: My wife and I we've been married now for eight years and I have two kids on my side, she has two kids on her side and between us we have five grandkids-
Nin: And they're stretched all the way from Odessa to League City-
Nin: - the city, let me give a shout-out to my grandkids-
Jason: All right!
Nin: - yeah Bryson and Jimmy and Taylor and Brooke and Jenna-
Jason: I love that.
Nin: - Say hi to all of he's out there.
Jason: That's great, that's great, so you know I read in that in that article, did you try and woo your wife with the song but you didn't know-- you made up lyrics?
Nin: Yes, that was-- and they still talk about that year, but I made up some-
Jason: You pretended to know the— (7:08)
Nin: - I pretended to sing it in Spanish and I made up the Spanish words which went okay up in Missouri, because people thought I was speaking but I wasn't you know actually and so when I tried it here, I was criticized severely and said you are not speaking in Spanish.
Jason: She caught you.
Nin: She said don't ever do that again, you're in Texas now-
Jason: You can’t fake it.
Nin: - you can’t fake it, so i have-- i don't try that song anymore.
Jason: [laughs] So you know, now you're the mayor, what led you to want to be mayor, you know what was the chain of events, because this was your kind of getaway community for a while and I assume you retired here? (7:38)
Nin: And I went through actually my wife and I and you know a lot of people hold a divorce but we separated the-- my previous wife and she continued to work in the corporate world I want to stay right here in Granbury and there's a kind of a mutual agreement and I was-- I was around town here and still working and getting ready to retire actually and sitting around with some folks and they got to talking about the different things going on in this community, now you know I mentioned to you earlier when I moved to Granbury all I thought about was the lake and here again I had-- I don't even know that I'd been downtown yet.
Nin: And so I'm sitting around with some folks at the golf course that I live on now, and they've talked about these different things and I said-- why don't-- sounds like some of you guys ought to be one of these council members you're talking about that could make a difference, and you know you need to serve and be one of those and they said well, why don't you do that Nil you're fixing to be retired and you know, you got the time to do that, and I said well is there an opening, they said no you'd have to run against someone. I said I don't want to out somebody or run against somebody, if there's an opening yeah.
A couple weeks later they come to me and said you're in luck, one of the council members is not going to run this next term and there's an opening, now are you going to run? and I said well I'll tell you what, if you all get out and support me, I'll get out there and run.
Nin: So I did that and it was basically to serve the community because that's what it was all about and as I listened to them and I said you know, I can serve as a council member and have a have a voice-
Nin: - and I'll have a voice for these folks.
Nin: And so I did that and I won the election, and the following year they made me the mayor pro-tem, now here again I thought well you know, I have look, the mayor pro-tem doesn't do anything, than take over when the mayor's not here, and the mayor's here every day, you know he is here all the time, so that’s no big deal, well a month after I've got selected as the mayor pro-tem the mayor that was currently serving had some healthy-- he had a severe stroke and-
Nin: - and was not able to serve out and so the next thing I know they're calling me City Hall, says you need to come up here and put your name on all the documents because you're going to be signing these for a while until what time he either comes back or we have a special election.
Nin: Well he never did come back and—matter of fact I go talk to him on occasions, he lives in Dublin but he was never able to fully recover and come back how to do that job as mayor, and his term was up and so I've been serving on as a mayor on training as you might have said for one whole year, and so they asked me to go ahead and run for the mayor job.
So I had to give up my seat as a council member.
Nin: And I ran for the mayor that year and was selected as merit for the community so, it's kind of how the chain of the events happened and then since then I've really gotten involved in it and really understand what the importance is of serving your community basically, and being able to be the person to take this town, to take these things, these issues that the communities have and to do something with them.
Jason: I think that's great, so then, when I've done my research you know the last census in 2010 the population of Granbury was around 10,000, you've got updated number so if we have a new one in a few years what is the population of Granbury roughly now would you say? (11:00)
Nin: I would have to say-- and you know a lot of people say it's-- you know, even when you brought-- driving to town I think it's what 97, 79 something like that, so it's, I'm sorry 79, 79 it's something somewhere in the range of 10,000 from the last census, now the last census was closer to 8,000 in my State.
Nin: So I would say that we are above-- I've sat down with the county judge and we've talked about this a lot I would say that we're going to reach over the 10,000 mark okay and that's a growth of over a thousand people and you know just that short five year or two-year period of time.
Jason: Yeah, and are you seeing a larger influx, you know because here we are we're driving on 377, before we're going into town and there's just tons of development, so when businesses are coming in they're doing their research, is that-- are we seeing an upswing now and in people coming into Granbury? (11:55)
Nin: There's definitely an upswing in the residential,
Nin: And there's-- if we do it way on up the road here there's a huge one going on up there, there's-- we've got probably five big developments going on right now.
Nin: And of course as you well know that takes-- that takes a lot of infrastructure, that takes roads, that takes water-
Nin: - that takes you know, the different things that they need to make it a quality of life here in Granbury, and so we want to make sure we have that form, especially the water and we've taken that challenge on, but yes I do see a large increase even in the area that I live at there's a-- it's taken under-- taking on a lot of construction out there and there's a lot of new homes being built, and as I talk to builders around town most of these homes are sold homes, so people are coming to Granbury to live.
Nin: And before it used to be considered a tourist community and it still is, it's-- that's one of the biggest industries probably here in Granbury is to tourism,
Nin: But people are coming here the first time to visit Granbury, the second time to live Granbury.
Nin: Because they just-- they fall in love with that quick as I did.
Jason: Yeah, yeah, so then in terms of what's driving the economy are there certain-- what are the largest employers in town that you would say in Granbury and in some of the bigger businesses? (13:25)
Nin: Some of our bigger businesses in Granbury and a lot of communities have these but our school is a bigger opening employer, we have a hospital that's is growing, and it's a-- it's a large employer, we have a the HEB outside of town, HBN, Kroger both are big employers here in Granbury, Granbury itself, the city Granbury employs a lot of employees, and Hood County, the county does, and then we have the United co-op which-- the United co-op supplies the electricity for probably over half
Nin: Granbury also has their own Electric Company and we supply within the city limits a certain amount of electricity for the community also, so we have that ourselves, so those are some big employers that here in Granbury that are pretty major, and then we have our big box stores, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, all Mart's big, they're probably big employer also here in Granbury.
Jason: Yeah, one thing I noticed recently too, is there a new gas power plant that came in a couple years ago? (14:38)
Nin: Yeah, that's a wolf hollow, they built two new ones out there, I'll connect in the county they're actually, but they have-- Exelon has increased that out there, and there's two big one, that was a big project, that was a major project out there and the county worked with them really well to get them-- to help them out there with some incentives and stuff so it's a big one.
Jason: Okay, so then I know how has Granbury changed, you know there was a period of time, was that about three years ago that the lake was really low? (15:14)
Nin: We went now about three years without it being low, and you know I guess I was-- I want to say I'm fortunate to experience that.
Nin: Because you always want to-- you always wonder what would happen if something significant like that would happen and it happened on my watch you might say, but—
Jason: Why'd you empty the lake?
Nin: Yeah, and I got accused of that.
Nin: No, but there were several things that went into that and you know, but the thing that was really positive about it, the community came together and to continue to do the things they needed to do, and actually our sales tax number did not decrease hardly at all during that time.
Nin: And that I credit the community coming together and knowing that they didn't have that Lake to lean on but they also-- they continued to do extra things with the community as far as events and things like that, that they could do with the downtown area in the outskirts of Granbury and not have the lake to rely on.
Nin: The lakes back, and I think that's a big driver of people coming to Granbury, but you know there's so many different lakes around as I know, around Texas that if you live close to one you're probably going to put your boat in the closest one, so we're trying to make some unique things with our lake that would draw people that do like to go to lakes to Granbury-
Jason: To this lake.
Nin: - to this lake, and so you-- and I think you have to do that to get the people to come to a certain light, because like I said if you're just going to get in the water and float your boat-
Jason: It doesn’t matter.
Nin: You going to go to the closest one, you know so.
Jason: So what are those things that you guys are working on to make it more appealing? (17:06)
Nin: Well we're working on more restaurants.
Nin: On our lake where people can come and have what they call poker runs and different things like that, we're actually working on our conference center one of the things that I'm supporting is that we have a really beautiful conference center and if you went by it or not, but the conference center is right on the water and a lot of people at the Metroplex they have their meetings conventions and whatnot there because it's a great place to have a meet, and it's a great view of the lake, but we-- it's right on the water and we want to put some additional docks there to where we can have more like boat shows and things like that, small ones have the fishing terms and have things that are involved in the lake there and have some vendors that can set up on our docks, there on our balcony you might say out there of our conference center.
Nin: And so we're working on that and we're actually working to encourage other businesses on the water you know, like the restaurants and things like that, and there is still some property that's available to do that kind of stuff so, there again that takes a lot of time but those-- a lot of the folks say they choose to build their homes on the lake and that's good too because those are really-- those homes are pretty expensive homes, but you went on a main body or canals and this lake has a lot of canals on it, but we do encourage-- you know we do want to make sure that we don't lose fact that we need to do some things that would draw people to Granbury too, and we’ve started to get them, we have a new restaurant just up here, it's called right across the bridge here, and they just opened this year and it's really a nice restaurant and they have live music in it and they rent boats, they rent kayaks, they rent different water works-
Jason: Oh wow! okay.
Nin: and things like that, and so you know you'd think that would be odd-- just a give me for the lakes, but you got to find those people that are willing to-
Jason: It takes a bit of effort.
Nin: - bring out some money to do that.
Jason: Yeah, right, do you know off the top of your head how many folks that live in Granbury, work and live here, versus live and then commute to the Metroplex? (19:14)
Nin: You know I don't know the exact number, but I will say that there's a-- there's still a large percentage because if you get on the road early in the morning, and I'm one of them I commuted back and forth for general motors that plan up here for probably five years and I have seen all these people, I've seen people-- my neighbors, I've seen people driving to work every day and then coming back home, and so I would say-- and to put a percentage on it, I-- you know, I hope it's not over fifty percent and I say it's below that, but there's still a lot of them that are leaving, because here again you know I mentioned our tourism is a big industry here, we don't have big-- we don't have any big factories but we have some industry here but let's face it they don't pay the wages that they pay up in the Metroplex, and when you've got big places like General Motors, that you'll never compete with that one because it's huge and they pay a big-- nice big wage, but we're working to get something that fits Granbury and we've had the leads on several factories and we've even had an opportunity to look at what their pay scales were, and the pay scales were above what maybe the average is here in Granbury
Nin: And so we were hoping to get some of those and some reasons you know some of them they didn't fit Granbury totally, you know as you know, you rely on the governor's office to give you some of those feelers or-- and you do some of your own with your own EDC and try to capture some of those, and try to entice them to come to your community and stuff, but we want them to be a community based company, we want them to be a part of the community-
Jason: Yeah invest in the area.
Nin: - and I think we’ll get that.
Jason: Yeah, okay, we are the thing is too for people that live here, you can live and work in Granbury and have everything you need, you guys have all the major stores, you have all the major amenities, and so that's a great thing.
Nin: And that's what I tell people when they talk about our sales tax was, well how is your sales tax keep growing? I said well we far enough from the metro place that people don't want to drive to Fort Worth to buy a refrigerator.
Nin: And if we have we have that here so you're right, we have accommodated all the different needs, I mean all the way to building homes, we have all-- we have lumber yards, we have Home Depot, we have lows, we have the Walmart's, we have the furniture stores, we have all those things that people need for-- to start their home
Nin: And so we're getting that sales tax right here, and then naturally we have the restaurants, and the retail, and we have the stores that people want to do, so if they go to the Metroplex it's just because they want to venture out or they're there and they want to you know, just have a change-
Jason: Just go out.
Nin: Yeah, exactly.
Jason: So then you know, I'm not sure if you plan on running again, but you know so I'm sure you'll decide at some point-
Nin: Just a shout out to my wife right now.
Jason: Yeah, but just based on you know, you and the City Council now where do you see Granbury, kind of what's the vision for Granbury over the next 5-10 years, whether you're a mayor or somebody else takes over where's the kind of the overall vision going? (22:31)
Nin: Well that's always a tough one and I get asked that question a lot you know, what's the toughest part about being the mayor, and one of the toughest parts about being the mayor of Granbury is that exact thing is getting that vision out and getting the buy-in not only by the council but the community have a vision that is a little further out than two years.
Nin: Because people are in a be like this they're okay with what's happening.
Jason: Yeah, yeah.
Nin: And they're saying hey, just let's, just slow down but you can't slow down, you have to continue to try to do the things that you want for 20 years out.
Nin: And some of our big vision every things is, for instance our Airport, there's lots of folks said what do we need to expand our Airport, you know I don't fly, there's that you know, our airport’s okay. We have already done some research and we're fixing to expand our Airport now and this has been going on for 15 years, but we already know that we can attract corporates, we can attract new businesses, we can attract a lot of things with the expansion of our Airport. So that's a vision right there that we're working on presently and to get these businesses to come to Granbury and we've already got the grant through the Texas aviation and we've got right away to work, we should be turning dirt next year on this expansion and it's going to be great, it's going to be a nice Airport and we've already got people that want to start their businesses out there, they want to-- and these are, these are businesses that have a lot of money, you know because they're into the aviation part, so that that in itself is a vision that I think our Airport is going to expand, we're going to have-- you’re going to see a lot more of that type of business, and that type of people in town, and also you know our water needs we just built a new reverse osmosis water plant-
Nin: - it has probably five phases to it we just opened-- we just started it up phase one, and we're already into Phase two now, and putting the infrastructure in because we want-- we’re trying to provide water for additional customers and to reach out to where we can have these developments come in I mean, I don't want to be turning developments down because I can't provide them with water-
Jason: The infrastructure.
Nin: Right, right, and so we've got that, and now we're looking to naturally what goes in must come out, we've got to get us a new-- a wastewater treatment plant, and ours is up to 65 60 percent and with the TCQ, they say you know you should be at this phase right now, you should be looking at land, you should have your engineers’ studies, we're at that-
Jason: Just so you’re prepared.
Nin: And so that we can get it-- well you actually get penalized, you get fined, if you're not doing them-
Jason: Those necessary preparations.
Nin: Exactly, so we're doing that right now and we've got-- we're ahead of the game there so we're working to get a much better and bigger, and put one on this side of the lake also as a wastewater treatment plant, so, and I want to continue to do all those to where we can get those industries, those factories here and to continue to have the quality of life that the people in Granbury you know are that want.
Nin: You know, and we're-- one of the other things it's sometimes small but it's big to the community, is what we're doing with our parks and our bikes to hike trails and things like that, and we are continuing to improve those and we have a master plan that's out there over five years now that this is what it's going to look like-
Nin: - and so we want to continue to do that also.
Jason: Yeah, just as we’re driving around the square right now, this was redeveloped within the last couple of years- (26:34)
Nin: We just finished it last year and that was a-- this was a long-term vision they started it with some prior Council and stop doing it for what reasons I don't know, and so the council took this back on and basically finished it, we put the new sidewalks, we put the new streets, and it was twofold though, and as we were doing this and we've got- we got some money granted us to do this but, when we did it we were actually able to replace old 75 year old infrastructure that was-- that was going to need to be replaced anyway and wouldn't have got grant money because it wouldn't have fall in the same category as beautification and-
Nin: - and that kind of stuff, so we were able to tear up the old streets, and we did it in phases where it didn't impact the merchants so much and they worked really well with us and the construction people did too, but we were able to do that and put in the new infrastructure that was needed here-
Jason: For downtown.
Nin: - for future growth also and for the downtown areas so.
Jason: Are there any other big projects that are kind of in the works now besides what you've already talked about? (27:46)
Nin: Well, those are some of my major ones right there, we do have-- like I said we've got some big developments that are not only home developments at developments for future homes, but they're also going to have some retail and stuff like that you know with some of the missing hotels, we got some plans to put some developers in there that have the hotel - retail shops and stuff like that in them, and those would be big, we're expanding, they’re expanding the hospital, again we're going to add to that, and the school went through a 86 million dollar renovation just last year, two years ago and there pretty much completed on that, we also have some Weatherford colleges here, and get Weatherford College wants to expand into Granbury also a bigger here, and colleges-- in a college in a community is almost like having a factory.
Nin: It draws a lot of folks here, it brings in the right people and stuff and so we're excited about that, and we work hand-in-hand with Tarleton now Stephenville, we actually have some facilities here that they have donated to the city over there, we operate them as arts and culture things like that. Granbury is big on arts and stuff around you know in this community here, so you have a-- it’s pretty burst you know you have that, and you have when you go downtown you have the Granbury Opera House that we sent over three million dollars on about four or five years ago and it's just phenomenal people come to it and they just think it's great you know, I'm just-- you know I was on the council then and actually I was a mayor pro-tem acting as a mayor then and I was I was concerned about the price tag on this thing.
Nin: But it has paid off and it's doing a great job for the community and people love to utilize that to opera house here in grand area so.
Jason: That's great, that's great well guys we just wrapped up our run and as you can tell there's tons of great things happening in Granbury, lots of development, lots of growth a great area to come to, so if you haven't been, come check it out and it's a great place to just spend a weekend or maybe just it's only a 40-minute Drive roughly from the Metroplex, but we would really like to give a huge thanks to mayor Hulett for joining us today.
Nin: Thank you.
Jason: In taking the time out and we just wish you all the best.
Nin: And I would like to give a shout out and once more to my lovely wife, it's her birthday today and she said really you're going to go ride around with this guy-
Jason: - with this guy
Nin: But I took one for the team here, but it's her birthday and so happy birthday baby.
Jason: Awesome, perfect, thank you sir.
Nin: You bet.