Hunt Burke | Chairman of Burke & Herbert Bank
About This Episode
In this very special episode John sits down with the Chairman and former CEO of Burke & Herbert Bank Hunt Burke. Mr. Burke discusses what it’s like to run a large bank like Burke & Herbert, what life was like growing up in the Burke family, and some of the important lessons he learned along the way. Hunt shares some interesting early history, stories about his father, and what he likes to do for fun, you don’t want to miss this one!
[00:00:02] Speaker 1 Welcome to another episode of the Go with John show today I am sitting with Hunt Burke and I am very grateful that you’re here. Thank you for coming in. Pleasure. So so, Hunt, you are the chairman of Burke and Herbert Bank, the oldest continually operating bank in Virginia. So what do you tell? Tell us a little bit about what you did. You know, I’ve heard some of your podcasts and read some of your bios, but tell us a little bit about how you kind of grew up in the Burke and Herbert Bank. And what is it like to be the chairman of this great institution?
[00:00:37] Speaker 2 Well, it’s funny. People would always ask me questions as a very young person about the bank or banking or mortgages. And I didn’t know they were asking me that when I was a kid, as though that was dining room table talk at home. But of course, it wasn’t. What happened is my dad had five kids, and when we got to be 12 or 13, he said, you’re not hanging around the pool with all those derelicts. Everybody’s got to get a job. And I chose the one where I had an automatic ride to work with him. So that was smart. So I started really running errands and in the bookkeeping department, we used to look at checks to make sure they were properly endorsed and high level stuff like that. And it took me a couple of years to become a teller. And then after that it was, you know, branch management and operations. And I pretty much jumped in anywhere. Whether it was a promotion or a raise, I do move laterally just because I learned more and more about how the bank runs and right. And Herbert Bank was great because it’s small enough that you get to see all the pieces. If you work for a larger bank, you might only be in one department and never connect the dots as to how it all how it all gets put together.
[00:01:49] Speaker 1 Mm hmm. Mm hmm. So was it so as you were going through and working through the various positions, was there any period of time or were there any positions that you enjoyed more than others?
[00:01:59] Speaker 2 I guess the operations part was enjoyable because you got to see the nuts and bolts. But I really missed the the public, the personal contact with people. So I really enjoyed coming up through the branches and becoming a lender because you could see the difference you made in people’s lives. For instance, I was talking about being young and not knowing anything. I just told people some common sense stuff. And they’ve come back to me 40 years later and said, you know, I lived my life by what you told me and, you know, made all this money and been successful. And I was like, wow, because I didn’t I didn’t really know what I was talking about at the time, except, again, you know, common sense.
[00:02:37] Speaker 1 Right, right. Well, yeah, maybe you were repeating things you heard and but. Yeah, that’s good. So so that you know, your time. So your time as a teller, you got I guess you had a little bit of time with the folks right there coming and making their deposits. And you have a minute or two of chit chat. I actually worked at Sovereign Bank in Old Town Alexandria. I don’t know if you remember that short that was there. I think it was on Washington Street and I lived on Duke Street. So I would walk to work every day. And I did that for about a year. And that guy that got old. But yeah, I could I can see, you know, you have your regular customers that come in and you get to meet him for five minutes at a time, and then you move on to the being a loan officer and you get a little deeper with him. So that is it really is all about the people. And I think we were talking before the show. That’s one of the reasons why I like to do this podcast, because I’ve met so many interesting people along the way and you like to spend time with them and share the stories. So moving on to chairman. So what’s your what’s your what are your thoughts on your on your industry today and what’s happening with Burke and Herbert Bank today?
[00:03:43] Speaker 2 Actually, it’s very exciting. We’ve got a two year now CEO David Boyle, and he has brought a tremendous amount of knowledge. I think he’s a CFO by training and an accountant. And we’re really looking at numbers, trimming cost, getting getting ready to expand. We just opened two offices in Fredericksburg, right? Once. Once upon a time, I said we won’t open any offices, any place named Berg, Harrisonburg or Leesburg or Fredericksburg. But that’s a market very much like Alexandria. You’ve got the old town and, you know, sort of a sprawling suburb out from there. Right. And we’ve hired some folks that are bankers from that area. So they have a lot of clientele already. And we see that is a nice step from where we are, where you have some branches in Prince William County. So that’s a little further down. We are all banks chase the same things at the same time. It’s just it’s what we do. So we’ve gotten into C and islanding and want to, you know, be part of the community more so than making large. Commercial loans, which is our bread and butter, but we really need to supplement that with the hometown stuff, you know, loans and deposits from from local businesses.
[00:05:13] Speaker 1 So as chairman, are you spending a lot of time in the branches or are you now more kind of behind the scenes, you know, focusing on the big picture for the bank
[00:05:23] Speaker 2 sort of behind the scenes? I do like to go around to the branches. Somebody recently said, you know, when you go into a branch, you’re like a rock star and that’s a little overkill. But but they really enjoy seeing Mr. Burke come in. And if they know I’m coming, the wife will bake cookies of the branch manager or whatever. And, yeah, I don’t know. It’s really fun. I’ve been working there for 42 years now, so I used to be able to say I know everybody, but with 400 employees and some turnover, I try to keep up and write Keep in touch.
[00:05:56] Speaker 1 Yeah, it’s got to be tough. Have you ever worked anywhere else other than Burke and Herbert Bank?
[00:06:00] Speaker 2 One summer I worked for I think it was called United Bank in California. OK, was just as a teller, I was goofing around out there. I got a good lesson. I was applying for jobs out there and I applied for a savings and loan. And the guy said, you know, you just here for the summer. And of course I lied and said, oh, no, I you know, I want to work here. And he said, you know what? I want somebody that wants my job. I’m not going to hire you because I don’t think you’re serious. And I was 19 years old. Right. Right. And I remember that obviously to this day, I want to hire people that want my job, that have potential and aren’t there to kill time or, you know, yeah. Get a paycheck every two weeks.
[00:06:40] Speaker 1 So how did you end up out in California?
[00:06:42] Speaker 2 I have a brother that graduated from UVA and he was the one when we were growing up that didn’t come to work for the bank he works for, worked for Lightman’s Porsche Audi as a mechanic. He sold Bibles one summer. Very interesting guy. So he went out there and got into banking. And one summer I just went out and spent the summer with him in San Francisco. It was pretty fun, I bet.
[00:07:08] Speaker 1 Yeah. Yeah, I bet. So you ended up working at a United Bank as a teller, did it for the summer. And then you came back and put put your roots down at in Old Town. Yeah. So so of your five you have four brothers, right, because your dad had five sons,
[00:07:22] Speaker 2 three brothers and a sister, three
[00:07:24] Speaker 1 brothers and a sister. So anybody any of your other siblings involved with the bank?
[00:07:31] Speaker 2 My brother Taylor, older brother, was very involved in the bank for 40 years and he’s retired. My brother Jim in California, he’s he became a banker out there and was very successful. But the the other two have had one runs a cemetery and one’s an artist, so. Well, that’s interesting.
[00:07:52] Speaker 1 What kind of an artist?
[00:07:54] Speaker 2 All kinds. He’s really good with his hands and woodwork. And for a long time he’s worked for an antique dealer out in Middleburg, restoring things and doing it right. And Fantastica. Is this pretty cool guy? Yeah.
[00:08:11] Speaker 1 So what was it like growing up in your in your household when you guys were all young? What was what was so so your dad was running the bank and what was the the dinner table talk if it wasn’t banking
[00:08:27] Speaker 2 bickering and noise. No family stuff. Exactly. Yeah. You know, he just hid his piece under his potato skins or you took all the chocolate milk. I mean.
[00:08:38] Speaker 1 Yeah, I got it.
[00:08:41] Speaker 2 My dad was very community oriented and he would come home about in time for dinner. So there wasn’t a whole lot of back and forth on weekends. We’d hang out with him and either go somewhere or my brother Jim, and he would work on cars. And we had some fun cars in the driveway. But it was it was not a whole lot about banking. It was, except that one time when I was about ten years old, he said, I want you to run the bank someday. And I said, well, I’ve got two older brothers, you know, what’s up with that? And he said, You think like I do. And so, you know, when people say something like that to you, it sort of right. They plant that seed sort of you mull it over and mull it over, even if not consciously. Right. Right. So I didn’t know what else to do. Right.
[00:09:29] Speaker 1 Well, I mean, the interesting thing is you have genetics and then you have your your dad who could obviously see his genetics in you and the way you think. I mean, it certainly it certainly makes sense. So so, yeah. From a very young age, you were chosen to be Mr. Burke, holding my fingers up in quotation marks. That’s fantastic. So so what’s your favorite part about your job now? What do you do on your on your daily routine?
[00:09:55] Speaker 2 Well, it’s great because I’m not in charge of the operations I. Work closely with Mr. Boyle, and we’ve brought on some excellent talent, which that’s I’m not that smart myself, but have been lucky enough to find some really good bankers over the years. And so I deal with the board of directors education and looking at new directors. My favorite thing is coming in going to lunch with high dollar prospective clients or people who bank with us for 100 years. And I listen to a lot of complaints about how we’ve changed. And, you know, if Mr. Burke and Mr. Herbert were sitting at a desk like they did in 1852, nobody would bank this. You know,
[00:10:44] Speaker 1 right now you’ve got to
[00:10:45] Speaker 2 change. And our our focus, in addition to small businesses, has been about 10 or so years ago, we did a study of our customer base. And first of all, they were there was a huge return because people like to open a letter from Burke and Herbert Bank and do a survey as opposed to every survey in the world that you come across on a daily basis. But what we found out was that and I don’t remember the exact numbers, but half our customers were over 50 and half of that was over 65. And so, you know, we scratch our heads and said we better know we write to the future. So, you know, we’re all about now mobile banking and Internet banking, and we just got to make a new website. So we’re really trying to appeal to that younger demographic and doing a good job of it. I mean,
[00:11:37] Speaker 1 I wonder if they understand the, you know, the kind of the history of the bank when they come to Burke and Herbert. You know, for me, I’ve banked with Burke and Herbert for decades and I really enjoy you know, that’s just my little piece, my little connection to a piece of history. You know, it’s but I wonder if the youngsters know.
[00:11:59] Speaker 2 Well, I meet all the new employees. I meet the new tellers when they’re coming in. So they’re, you know, 20 years old, something something in that era. And one thing I tell them is that don’t let anybody at this bank ever say we always did it that way. Right. Because, again, it’s where we are now, the history’s fund. If you ever want to come waste an afternoon with me, I’ll tell you all kinds of great stories. Yeah, but, you know, in terms of who we are, it’s you all and it’s it’s your customers and where we’re going from here.
[00:12:31] Speaker 1 Right. Right, right. All right. Fantastic. So we are going to take a quick break. And when we come back, I want to hear some of those stories that you would tell me if we were wasted an afternoon together. Can we do that? Cool. Fantastic. We’re here with Honberg, chairman of Birken Herbert Bank. We’ll be right back. All right, we are back with Honberg, chairman of Birken, Herbert Banks, thanks again for coming in. I really appreciate that you’re here and willing to share stories with us.
[00:13:04] Speaker 2 It’s my pleasure.
[00:13:05] Speaker 1 So so tell us some of the so tell us some of the historical stories about Burke and Herbert Bank. I’ve heard a few of them hanging around the branches. But tell us a little bit about the characters that that ran the bank, some of your your dad or your grandparents. What stories do you have for us today?
[00:13:25] Speaker 2 Well, my great great grandfather who started the bank and Mr. Herbert, we’re in their 20s. They were just, you know, a couple of young entrepreneurs in Old Town Alexandria, which wasn’t the cute old town, Alexandria, and it was a lot of boat builders and dock workers. And a lot of ships came in with goods. And a lot of there was the railroad to take the goods out. So very blue collar, but they couldn’t have picked a better a better place. Historically, when our oldest customer is Mt. Vernon Estate, run by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, and they bought it, they saw that it was in disrepair. This is 1850. So before the Civil War. But they they purchased the estate and we’re fixing it up. But when they purchased the estate, this is this is later 1860 or so, I guess they put the money and they bought it from the Washington family and they banked they were friends of the Herberts from all the way back to George Washington. And so they put the two hundred thousand dollars in Burk and her bank. And when the Civil War broke out, Alexandria was one of the first places that the union soldiers visited. And they knew about those funds and they came to the bank to take them. And we’re told that Mr. Burke wasn’t there at the time. And so he got word before he came back from lunch or wherever he was. And so when the soldiers came back, the money wasn’t there and they went and searched his home and went as far as his wife’s bedroom. And she had a wardrobe there. And the she said, don’t you want to look in my wardrobe? And of course, the the Yankee soldier blushed and said, No, ma’am. And so the next day they took the funds out of her wardrobe. And there was a lady that at Mount Vernon, I think her name was Miss Tracy, and she had permission to cross into Washington because she brought things over to Mr. Riggs like eggs or, you know, fresh baked goods or vegetables. And so they tucked the money in her little basket and she took it over and Riggs held it for the duration of the Civil War. So we brought it back over after the war.
[00:15:46] Speaker 1 That gives me chills to hear that. That’s a that’s a cool story. It is a cool story. So they’ve been banking with you ever since 1860,
[00:15:54] Speaker 2 even before that. But I can’t remember the exact. Wow. So we have a good relationship, I would say, to say and I don’t know, through the years we were involved in the Depression and World War One and World War Two were tough times in Alexandria, and we managed to survive with the help of some very good, loyal customers who, for instance, when 1933 there was a banking holiday at the end of the Depression, all the banks were closed and had to apply to reopen. And one of our depositors came in with 20000 dollars, which in 1933 was a good piece of change. And it really allowed us to open back up again, which we did pretty much right away. The other thing that happened at that time was we went from a partnership to guy shaking hands. We went over to Washington to reopen the bank and they said where your corporate resolutions. And we said, we’re a partnership. And they said where your partnership papers. And we said, we’ve run for 81 years on a handshake. Right. And and it’s just about 81 years. That’s a little more now since we became incorporated in 1933. So now we have shareholders and a board of directors and it’s a little more formal.
[00:17:14] Speaker 1 And that’s amazing. That’s amazing. So so what about some of the previous Mr. Brooks who were running the bank? I’ve heard some stories, I guess was there was there one of the Mr. Brooks who routinely had a parrot? Can you tell us who that was?
[00:17:30] Speaker 2 Sure. That was my dad, OK? And it must must have been after a martini lunch that he went up to JC Murphy’s The Five and Dime. And I can’t imagine this, but apparently they had a parrot for sale and he thought that was a good idea. So, yeah, I bought this parrot and got as far as our front door at home. And my mom stood there with her arms crossed and said. You better not in this house, so the bank came to live. I mean, the parent came to live at the bank and it just became a hit. You know, whenever there was a slow news day, one of the local papers, they’d come over and interview the Nuti Bank president with a parent or if, you know, school kids were on tour or something, they they’d all come in to meet the parent. And it was pretty fun. And it is worth, you know, a billion dollars in free advertising. Right. So my dad was on the or the bank was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal one time because we didn’t have computers and it was the late 70s and any new bank would have computers. And we still, like I did my bookkeeping department, we still looked at checks. We’d have checks where the person wouldn’t even have signed it. There was no account number. But we knew from the handwriting who, you know, the guy was. We call him up and say, you need to sign this check. But anyways, the parrot was a lot of fun. And one time dad went over to testify in front of a Senate hearing on banking regulation. And he went over to say that, you know, the regulations are killing us. And as he got over there, I guess it was Jim Moran, the congressman, that said, where’s the where’s the parrot? You know, so he said that back in the staff car and got run and came back with him on his shoulder. And that was a hit and was in every paper I got. We got copies of papers from Hong Kong, I mean, all over the world, Amsterdam, you know, of copies of this where they took the AP photograph and you know the story. So I’m lying in bed one night on a Saturday night late, partially asleep, and my wife elbows me. And it was Dennis Miller’s last night on Saturday Night Live. And he had a picture up of my dad and the bird on the oh, my goodness, this is Taylor Burke, you, Burke and Herbert Bank. And the bottom line was, would you trust your money with this man? And so, you know, we thought it was great. And I told my dad about it and he said, is that a good thing? Yeah. But anyway, you know, it’s fine. And yeah, a lot of people saw it.
[00:20:05] Speaker 1 Yeah, well, you got to have fun if you can’t, you know, and I think that’s the key to being successful in business. You got to have fun. You got to love what you do. You got to love your you got to love the consumer of your of your product and you got to be willing to be yourself, you know, and I think that’s that’s pretty amazing. So, yeah, I guess the days of the three martini lunches, those are all in the rearview mirror, aren’t they?
[00:20:25] Speaker 2 I’ve just started to watch the show Mad Men. That, you know, is a great show. Yeah. And it’s so reminiscent of that generation, you know, my father’s generation. And yeah, we probably my kids see a lot more of me, for better or for worse, you know, than we saw of my dad. But he was out mixing and mingling. And when he died, there was you couldn’t there weren’t enough seats in the church, you know, because he knew everybody. And that’s when I learned that he wasn’t my dad. He he belonged, you know, to everybody in the town. And as we would drive through town, he would look at a building or business and say, you know, we built that building or, you know, we held that guy start his business or whatever it was, is pretty cool. He brought personality to the bank. I think my grandfather was fairly stodgy. He didn’t believe in branches. You know, we didn’t make many loans. We wouldn’t make an unsecured loan to somebody. But when my dad came along, sort of came roaring in through the 60s and 70s and of course, 80s and then, you know, really made put put us on the on the map as far as a fun place. And then I’d go to banking conventions or whatever, and people would all say, oh, you know, I really love your strategy and you know what you all are doing. And I’d say, I didn’t know we had a strategy. Know.
[00:21:50] Speaker 1 Yeah, well, you guys, I mean, it’s pretty amazing. So, you know, one question that comes to mind. What what what lessons did you learn from your dad? Did you learn some did he have some wisdom that he instilled in you throughout your years working together?
[00:22:09] Speaker 2 Yeah. As you were saying about working with your mother, it’s tough working with a parent, because when we would speak about something, there’s that. It’s like learning to drive a stick shift automobile with your father in the seat next to you. Right. You’re just nervous that you’re going to make a mistake or whatever. I don’t know. He he taught me about relationships with people and how important that is and just the local feel of, you know, being in a small town and whatnot. And then the people that knew him as we would have lunch or walk around the streets together or whatever, it was just it was maybe. We feel like this is something I could do, this is this is fun.
[00:22:56] Speaker 1 Mm hmm. Almost like you’re the mayor.
[00:22:59] Speaker 2 One time I was walking down the street, I’m in the two hundred block of King Street and landing isn’t. And the 100 blocks when I was walking down with somebody and after a block, she said, wow, do you know everybody in this town? I said, I’ve been working on this corner since I was 13 years old. If I didn’t know somebody.
[00:23:19] Speaker 1 Yeah. Yeah. Well, you certainly know where to get a good Italian lunch. Yeah. There’s no place better than landladies. Yeah, that’s true. Fantastic. All right. Well, we’re going to take another quick break. And when we get back, we’ll talk a little bit about you and what life might look like in your future. Honberg We’ll be right back. Welcome back. We are still chatting with Honberg and again, thanks for coming in and really enjoying our conversation today. It’s just one of the highlights of my life to be able to sit here and chat with you. So let’s talk a little bit about your passions in life. So what do you enjoy doing with your with your time when you’re not working?
[00:24:07] Speaker 2 I’ve got four daughters, and since they were young, we have tried even when we didn’t have any money, we’ve tried to travel as much as possible and go to Cancun or fun places like that. Or my wife’s from California. One summer for a month, we rented a car and just drove around the entire state of California from the redwoods and from the wine country all the way down to San Diego. And it was a fascinating state. It’s got everything. But from there on, we have traveled. Recently, I’ve decided to take one daughter with me on a sort of bonding trip. And we’ve been to to places that are bizarre and interesting to me,
[00:24:55] Speaker 1 such as
[00:24:56] Speaker 2 Kathmandu. OK, Bangkok, yeah. The south of the Philippines. There’s an island called Palawan, which is very low population and lot of beaches. So, oh my goodness. My wife and I last year went to Ethiopia, which it was amazing. The country is very diverse and we saw a lot of it. I mean, Ethiopians and they ask where I went and then they say, wow, I never been all those places. We went to Botswana a couple of years ago, which was the most stunning trip of my life, being out in the middle of the plains. And this delta where you would sleep at night and you’d hear lions roaring or you’d go out there in the day and see leopards eating warthogs or just it was just bizarre.
[00:25:47] Speaker 1 So now were you sleeping in a secure location?
[00:25:50] Speaker 2 It was a tent, but it was a pretty nice tent. Yeah, it had big wooden doors and a brass tub kind of kind of tent. We weren’t roughing it, but one entire side was just screened, just a screen.
[00:26:03] Speaker 1 So I would be worried about becoming someone’s dinner.
[00:26:07] Speaker 2 Well, yeah. And, you know, I said, you know, should we be worried? And they said, oh, no, you’re a few meters off the ground and, you know, an elephant could have just bowled over. Yeah. And there were of course, I want to call them crocodiles. Yeah. Crocodiles everywhere. I always confuse it with alligators. My my fault. Anyway, they were everywhere. And I’d learned that the most dangerous animal is a hippopotamus, which I never thought of. I think of Disney and hippopotamuses and pink tutus dancing around, but apparently they’re very aggressive and they’ve got giant teeth and. Right. They kill more people a year than anything else. Anyway, it was it was just fascinating being out in the middle of of nowhere, very low volume tourism there. So they’re very protective of the land, the animals, you know, the whole nature scene.
[00:27:01] Speaker 1 Mm hmm. So on your annual bonding trips with your daughters, where else have you gone?
[00:27:06] Speaker 2 I took one daughter to Tokyo and actually my wife has come along on some of these because she couldn’t stand the fact that I was going to really cool places. Right. And that was fascinating. Tokyo and they were getting ready. This is a couple of years ago. They were getting ready for the 2020 Olympics. And we know what happened with that. But it was great for us because they were making all the signs into English because they’re not really interested in learning English or speaking English. They’re sort of an insular society. And there’s certain restaurants we went to where we didn’t feel welcome at all. You know, we were we were at somebody’s table, you know, somebody in the neighborhood. But it was a fascinating trip. And we got out of the city and it was one of the fascinating things was that the trains all ran on time and that all the different trains and metros and everything were all coordinated and it was beautifully done and there were no horror stories of accidents and whatnot. So they had that. They had that down pat.
[00:28:09] Speaker 1 So do you have any bucket list places where you still want to go?
[00:28:15] Speaker 2 I want to go to Morocco. Really. We’ve been to a few countries in Europe. But first of all, when I say go someplace, I mean for two weeks, I don’t mean we drove through ten cities in ten days ago and had lunch in Verona or something. That doesn’t count. Right. You have to really get to know a place.
[00:28:35] Speaker 1 So you like to go and open your suitcase and kind of stay in one place for two weeks.
[00:28:40] Speaker 2 Yeah, my wife is a planner, so she likes to read the book and. We have to go here and we have to see this right when I go somewhere, I book a plane ticket in a hotel room in Bangkok and I just I just go figure it out and I says, go here. And, you know, you ask people that live there, where do you eat? Or, you know, yeah, where do you get a ten dollar massage exactly.
[00:29:00] Speaker 1 You got to go out and mix it up with the folks that are you.
[00:29:03] Speaker 2 Yeah. Yeah. I’ll just get on the the equivalent of the Metro and get off at a stop where where everybody else gets off and you know.
[00:29:10] Speaker 1 Yeah. Try to figure out where it goes. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the way I like to do it too. It’s fun. You don’t know where the day is going to take you. Yeah. So it’s funny I just jump in and tell one quick story. So a couple of years ago we took a road trip to see a friend of mine in New Jersey and we were in the hotel and we had a couple hours and my wife was getting ready to go out. And I have twin kids. My my son Alexander was ten at the time. So I said, well, let’s go out and mix it up with the folks. Right. And let’s go see what we run into. And we went out and we were in Asbury Park and we started walking down the boardwalk and there was a TV crew that had set up and they had lights and all this stuff. And we’re like, let’s what’s going on here? And so we started hanging around and asking people what’s going on. And finally we got somebody who who told us, oh, the governor’s coming, right? And I’m like, OK, well, where are we? We’re in New Jersey. OK, Phil Murphy. Right. So five minutes later, Phil Murphy walks up, gets out, it drives up, gets out of his car, comes walking straight over to me and my son shakes my hand and he goes, Oh, you’re out with your dad today. What are you guys doing? And we’re just going for a walk. And obviously, he was working for votes. He had no idea we were from Virginia. So but yeah, when you go out and you just look for stuff, things happened. So my son still talks about that today, the day we ran into the governor.
[00:30:30] Speaker 2 So the opposite side of that coin is you meet people that become friends for life, especially with Facebook and the Internet and whatnot. Right. But we’ve met people all around the world that we’ve stayed in touch with, and that’s pretty cool. Of course, they all want to come stay with us, you know. Yeah, but immigration being what it is, it’s really hard for people to get over here.
[00:30:50] Speaker 1 Yeah, well, you know, I think that’s more of a European thing, you know. So, you know, we have a lot of, you know, originally born born in Denmark and we have a lot of friends in Denmark. And my wife is French. And, yeah, the Europeans, they love to come visit, I’m sure. So so let’s talk about. So what is next for you? So you’ve been with the bank for 42 years. It did strike me when you said a few moments ago when you were young and you didn’t have any money, because I made the assumption that you were just living off of the along with the wealth of the of the Burke and Herbert legacy. But but it’s I think it’s good to be young and not have money. I think it makes a successful person out of you. But so you’ve had your career. Forty two years, obviously, you’ve been very successful. So have you had any thoughts about what you want to do for the next chapter of your life?
[00:31:48] Speaker 2 A lot of thoughts. Very few answers. I’m 64, so I hope I don’t have to. I hope they don’t kick me out at age 65 on my birthday. What is really fun for me now I could continue doing is have a little office on King Street and go to lunch with folks and sort of come and go as I please, and meet people who want to meet Mr. Burke. Sometimes you get clients that that just gives the extra edge for them to want to come back with us because they you know, they know the fifth generation of the founding family. So. Right. It’s kind of fun. And, you know, just puttering around and being Mr. Burke and getting doing things like this, which is real fun meeting people. Right. I’ll never get tired of, you know, meeting new folks and hearing their stories and whatnot. So as in terms of what I want to do, that’s worthwhile. I’d love to do something that goes back to the community. I’ve been involved in a number of non-profits over the years, but if I could find a passion teaching English to younger folks or, I don’t know, just helping people develop, helping younger folks, college graduates that don’t have a direction, you know, get a direction or people that live in the inner city of Alexandria that don’t have the same opportunities. I’d love to explore possibilities for them and make a difference in some lives. Doesn’t matter if it’s a ton of lives, but if you make a significant difference in one or two lives, that’s tremendously rewarding.
[00:33:34] Speaker 1 Yeah, I would I would agree with you and I feel the same way. And that’s one of my drivers here again on this on this podcast, because when, you know, I think back when I was younger, it. It just seemed impossible, you know, when you’re when you’re 19, 20, 25, even even in you’re in my early 30s, you know, you’re looking around and you see all these people that have, you know, cars and houses and gray clothes and you’re like, you know, what am I doing wrong? You know? And you’re just and you just feel like you can never get there. And no matter how hard you work, you’re never going to get there. And then as as you get older and you start having some success and now I’m fifty six. And, you know, looking back, it’s like it really wasn’t that hard. If I had only known I was going to actually reach this, this, this place in my life by continuing to work, it would have made it a lot easier, you know, to work so hard when I was younger. So how do you how do you, you know, share that with folks and how do you teach it? And I feel strongly about that as well. And I think that’s a noble cause. And, you know, you know, it’s funny you talk about Alexandrea. When I lived, I lived in the 1100 block of Duke Street and I used to walk down Route one to go to work at a competing bank back in the day. I worked there for a year and it was in the 80s. It was not a great place in the 80s. And it’s really evolved a lot. And, you know, and I think when you say the inner part of Alexandria, there’s there’s there’s probably still a community that could really use your council, you know, and your and your and your stories that would would show them a way forward. So that would be that would be a good, good way to do it. So any any thoughts about how you would actually do that? Would you form a foundation or would you just do it on your own?
[00:35:22] Speaker 2 I think you would either do it on my own or through some of the organizations that are already already function in Alexandria to help kids. You know, there’s so many in fact, sometimes I ask, why don’t you all get together, you know, and cut the bureaucracy and, you know, you you’re all doing the same thing, you know, the Boys and Girls Club or the companya center or, you know, there’s all those all sorts of organizations. I’m not a certified teacher or anything like that, but something less formal, I think, or. Yeah, a group of people that wanted to to make a difference. Not really anything as formal as a foundation besides that takes money, from what I understand. Yeah. Anyway, so, so something along those lines, my girls, young ladies are all in different states. I’d love to go see if there’s something there, you know, something cool in Colorado I could do or Montana that I could do to be helpful.
[00:36:23] Speaker 1 We all want to be helpful, right? Yeah, that’s good. So. So what business lessons have you learned along the way? So real early in the episode today, you said that you had given advice to some folks and they have come back forty years later and said they were able to have success based on the advice that you gave. So what kind of tips do you have for maybe the young entrepreneur out there that’s that’s trying to find their way in life and they need just a little bit of guidance? What would you say to these folks?
[00:36:59] Speaker 2 The first mistake I see people make is, you know, wanting to open a big office and buy a nice car and, you know, hire a secretary and all that sort of stuff on a new business where they don’t have any revenue yet. So I’m just kind of stodgy and old fashioned and say, you know, I work out of your garage, basement, whatever you have to do till you get up and running and you can afford all this stuff. You know, they come in to get a loan to launch this this idea, this dream. And that’s, you know, some dreams come true and some don’t. Right. So, you know, I guess the lesson of starting small and reasonable and what you can handle and then building the building from there.
[00:37:44] Speaker 1 Yeah, no, I think that’s good advice. And that’s exactly what I did. Right. I mean, when you have nothing except for yourself and your brain and your body, it’s it’s it’s actually probably my favorite part in the business cycle. So I’ve bootstrapped several businesses and it’s always fun and exciting when you start and when you’re by yourself and you’re in your home or you’re in your garage. If you have a bad month or if you have a bad quarter, it’s really no big deal. But when you start hiring people and you’ve got an office, like you said, and you’ve got maybe you have some staff and you have that overhead, you have a bad month, it’s a big deal. You have a bad quarter. It can put you out of business. Right, if you don’t have that cushion of cash in the bank to fall back on, it’s so it’s so important. That’s really good advice. So what other what other advice might you have for entrepreneurs out there that want to to to grow their businesses relationship building?
[00:38:44] Speaker 2 And that entails just getting involved in community projects. If you’re in business, the Chamber of Commerce, you just get to meet a lot of people who are willing to help you and, of course, want your business as well. So there’s a lot of give and take. Any any social networking and whatnot you can do is usually good. I mean, you you make friends and they want to come and do business with you and you want to do business with them. All things being equal. They’ll come they’ll come back with you in my case. So really, just getting involved, whether it be in your church or nonprofit organizations, there’s always people hungry for fresh blood, right?
[00:39:28] Speaker 1 No. And I’ll I’ll tell you what. I’m just thinking back. I’m reflecting on my own, you know, career, my own history. The Chamber of Commerce. When I when I had my company marketing mania, I got involved in the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and I got on. I think it’s important that you get on some committees. Right, because I think if you just joined the chamber and you just show up at their, you know, kind of regular everybody’s their meetings, you’re not going to build a relationship. So I got on a couple of committees and the relationships that I built during that time. This is back in the late 90s, maybe early 2001 to era. I still have those relationships today. And when you get on a committee with somebody, you build just a much deeper relationship with them. And that really will last a lifetime. And you don’t really. And at the time, I didn’t realize that. That’s one of those things where it’s easy for us to sit here and say, oh, yeah, get involved in the chamber and all this. But when you’re doing it at the moment, you’re like, am I wasting my time? And, you know, you don’t realize how important it really is. So those are those are really good tips. So, Mr. Burke, anything at all that you want to add to this conversation today?
[00:40:40] Speaker 2 Have fun. Bring people along, enjoy the experience. If you’re not having fun, you’re you’re doing something wrong. You don’t have to have a lot of money to have fun. Some of the happiest people in the world are some of the poorest people in the world. And some of the most miserable people are all fighting about, you know, the family business. I agree. Yeah. So looking back, I could have relaxed a lot more and, you know, become less wrapped up in and things and spent, you know, hours working late hours at night and things like that. You know, when you when you ask yourself, was that really necessary? Yeah, in a way. But is it more important than spending that time with your family and getting out a little bit more that it’s these are all cliches, but the work life balance is huge for me. I you can you can take time off and be with your family and still get your get your job done.
[00:41:38] Speaker 1 Fantastic. And on that note, Will, we’ll end our conversation today. Hunt Burke, chairman of Burke and Herbert. And again, I’m grateful that you came in to chat with us today. Thank you. Thank you, John.