Friends and family call Anthony Hunt a “Renaissance man” because he has many talents and areas of knowledge. Still, if you sit awhile with Hunt, it becomes clear that what makes the 47-year-old unique is not that he has so many interests, but that he’s rooted to all of them.
Hunt is best known in downtown circles as a principal of Blue Rock Partners LLC, which emphasizes securing equity positions in investment transactions. Fewer people know that he also serves as general manager at Kapualei Ranch, which belongs to his wife Siana Austin Hunt’s family.
A family medical emergency forced Hunt to take over leadership of the 1,680 acre Moloka‘i-based ranch in October of 2012 just a month before Blue Rock Partners launched.
“I remember going to the ranch about a month later. My wife was with her mother, who was dealing with cancer. The ranch had never seemed bigger,” Hunt says.
The dual responsibility would have brought some men to their knees. But it didn’t break Hunt and those that know him say they aren’t surprised that he stood up to that challenge. Because, they explain, once Hunt makes a commitment, he’s all embracing.
Jim Yates, former president of Par Petroleum, says Hunt is “equally at home out on horseback building fences on Moloka‘i as he is sitting with CEOs negotiating a multi-million transaction—and it might even happen on the same day.”
Yates says Hunt also has got the “highest integrity of anyone” that he knows and that is likely because he’s a “PK survivor,”—a pastor’s kid.
“I met his father, a minister, over lunch. It’s easy to see how Anthony turned out so well; his Dad is a fabulous guy and Anthony is a devout Christian— you see that on a personal level and in his business,” Yates explains. “Clearly, he’s more relationship-driven. It has to be transactional as well in real estate, but at his core it’s about relationships and the community.”
Hunt, who is from Portland, Oregon, Is the oldest child of Monica and Ron Hunt, a pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship in Petaluma, Calif. He says his parents raised him and two younger sisters with a high-level work ethic that was passed down through the generations. Hunt says one of his mentors, his 93-year-old grandmother Margaret Hunt, is so tough that she recently survived bronchitis, a UTI and COVID-19 all at the same time.
“Most of the work that we do is tied to privilege,” he says. “I learned that from my parents and my grandparents and it’s something that I’ve tried to teach my own children. You may not want to wash the car, but it’s something that you have to do. If you look at it as a blessing to own the car, the work takes on a whole different form.”
Priorities also are important to Hunt. He first moved to Hawai‘i 30 years ago to get a bachelor’s of science in nursing. He supported that dream by working as a certified nurse’s assistant to gain practical experience and to graduate without debt.
“I changed bedpans. I did whatever that I needed to do,” Hunt says.
After graduation, Hunt worked as an EMT and a registered nurse. But he reshuffled his priorities because he felt they conflicted with his desire to build a strong, healthy marriage and family.
“The guys that I admired most, who were the best in the business in the field of paramedics, were guys that were all on their second and third marriages,” Hunt recalls. “I started to feel if I was going to stay in it, as much as I enjoyed it, there was a statistically high likelihood that we were not going to make it. I talked to Siana about it. The catalyst moment was that we chose each other.”
Hunt’s first foray out of healthcare was joining real estate investment firm CBRE. He said it took about three years of dogged determination to succeed.
“The way commercial real estate typically works is that you only eat what you slay. They’ll open up a seat and a desk and give you a phone—the rest of it you figure it out on your own. They don’t pay you a salary; you aren’t on the payroll. Commercial real estate is notoriously difficult to break into in Hawai‘i. It’s a small market and people have a lot of precedent relationships.”
When Hunt and his business partner, Fred Noa, eventually left CBRE to found Blue Rock Partners, Hunt says the decision was “less about leaving something and more about going toward something.”
“It was really driven by the fact that there were a bunch of things that we wanted to do on the investment side of the industry that involved putting deals together and picking up equity pieces,” Hunt says.
While larger shops often prefer that their brokers don’t have equity in their deals, Hunt says he and Noa found that investors actually preferred it.
“As opposed to teeing up a deal, they know that they have a partner that is invested in the project,” he explains. “We’ve got skin in the game.”
Hunt is just as invested in preserving Kapualei Ranch for his 19-year-old son Aukina and 17-year-old daughter Ariana. But he’s also preserving the ranch for its historic and conservation value to the Moloka‘i community.
Hunt has joined forces with Kamehameha Schools and Kawela Plantation to protect the ranch’s native forest from feral animals. He’s also partnered with The Nature Conservancy, on the East Moloka‘i Watershed Project and other conservation efforts.
Charles Hunter, an attorney with Kobayashi Sugita & Goda, says he is part of a regular crew of friends and acquaintances that Hunt has enlisted to help him care for the ranch.
“The overall ranch is a testament on its own to him as a person. Without his devotion to it, the ranch would be nothing like it is now,” Hunter says. “I’ve gone on about seven trips over the years and I’ve seen the ranch transformed it’s a very special place.”
Hunter says he has seen first-hand how Hunt has passed his love for the ranch down to his children, especially Aukina, who often joins them on nature hikes.
“Aukina is going to Cal Poly, a well known agricultural business program,” Hunt says. “He has an unmistakable sense that the legacy, now existing over 150 years and now led by his dad, will have to be led by someone else down the line.
“Our daughter Ariana is younger, but there’s no mistaking that the ranch is a big priority for her, and it’s important to her that it not fall apart on our watch.”