Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Huntsman represents the Church wherever he goes
(BYU) NewsNet 6Feb00 P2
By Saralee Huntsman: NewsNet Staff Writer
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Jon M. Huntsman is the CEO of one of the
world's largest privately held chemical companies, a generous
philanthropist and president of Huntsman Corporation, with annual
revenues exceeding $8 billion. Yet with all of his world acclaim,
Huntsman is best known as "Grandpa" to his 41 grandchildren he
generously showers with Beanie Babies. He has been known to keep
the rarest ones concealed in his desk drawer.
In September, 1999, Huntsman bought four major business from Britain's
largest chemical company, Imperial Chemical Industries, for an estimated
$2.8 billion, according to Don Olsen, Huntsman's senior vice president of
public affairs. In order to maintain this billion-dollar business, Huntsman
is continually traveling around the globe, where he is an ambassador for his
work as well as his religion. He is known as a generous businessman, and a
man of his word.
"To many leaders of the countries I've visited, I am the only member of
the church they've ever met," Huntsman said. "You never get a second chance
to make a first impression, therefore, there is a heavy responsibility to be
honest, faithful and a person of integrity to represent the church in the
way that the prophet would."
"Jon has lost many millions of dollars because he promised someone
something at one time, shook their hand, and between the time that they
shook hands and the deal was closed, margins changed. He could have legally
made several millions of dollars more, but because he had given his word at
the time the deal was struck, he stayed with that deal and lost many tens of
millions of dollars that he could have made," Olsen said.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Company) recently aired a 30-minute special
on Huntsman entitled, "The Best Boss in the World." "In my interviews, the
media start out negatively, but by the time I'm finished with them it's very
positive," Huntsman said. "Most of the media around the world, like anyone
else, respond very positively to a warm personality and by just being a good
friend." "Every time I speak, I talk about the church no matter who it is
I am talking to," he said. "Half my talks are always on my faith because
people are always curious as to why a successful global businessman is a
Mormon, and I have to explain to them that it's the anchor of my life."
Huntsman had the honor of being the first member of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints to meet and kiss the cheek of Pope John Paul II.
He has contributed millions of dollars annually to an estimated 105
charities around the world. One of his biggest contributions was the $l00
million he donated in 1995 to build the Huntsman Cancer Research Institute,
the largest single contribution ever made to medical study. The London
Sunday Telegraph estimated that Huntsman has given approximately $275
million to charity.
The major theme in his life has been to end suffering. Huntsman has been
a survivor of prostrate and mouth cancer. His wife, Karen, says, "What you
see is what you get with Jon." "His family values and work ethic just come
Huntsman believes that Utah and the LDS Church are inseparably connected
in the media. "All we can do in the church is have members continue to keep
the faith, continue to reach out to their non-member friends and continue to
be an example. If they do that, the church will continue to have positive
reflection and little by little, we will change the perception of the church
around the world."
Huntsman keeps a toy choo-choo train in his office and calls it his
Christmas train. He says he keeps it there to remind him that everyday of
his life is Christmas because he has been so blessed by his Heavenly Father.