For Hunter Best, the road to starting his own business began after “being in the right place at the right time.”
After graduating from Russell County High School in 2012, Best attended the University of the Cumberlands on a baseball scholarship, but it wasn’t long before he dropped out.
Best took a year off from school, went to work with Ronnie McFall on his farm, and really thought about what he wanted to do with his life.
“My freshman year, I planned on going into accounting,” Best said, “but after trying that, I quit and realized that’s not what I wanted to do. I had no idea what I really wanted to do.”
“I had a little maturity after taking that year off and wasn’t rushed into something,” he added. “I got to think about it for a year. That year helped me out more than anything.”
So when Best’s second chance at college came, he made the most of it.
He received an offer to play baseball at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Illinois, and after impressing on the field, he received several Division I offers and chose to play for East Tennessee State because of their construction engineering program.
“I always liked building stuff and had grown up around construction,” Best said. “We had a family friend (Lanny Hudson) that was in construction, my grandpa (Greg Stapp) built bridges, and my great-grandpa (Lester Stapp) also worked in construction.
Best graduated from ETSU in 2017, and for three years, he worked for a couple of already-established construction companies.
In 2020, though, he just happened to be in “the right spot at the right time.”
Best jumped at the chance to do some supplemental work on a former co-worker’s project: the Louisville City FC soccer stadium in Louisville. However, he did not yet own his own business, and after arriving there, he found out that he needed insurance and other required documentation that a business owner would have already obtained. At that point, he was so far in he said he had no choice but “to jump in.”
“I had no intentions of going into business,” said Best, who had to look no further than his premier last name when coming up with his business name, Best Construction. “It all kind of happened by chance. I was in far enough where I just had to do it.”
His first job after the soccer stadium was in in Three Forks, Montana. Best was nervous, both with the abrupt pace in which he had jump into business and being 1,800 miles away from home.
His worries subsided once he got into the project, though.
“This was the first bleacher I was building, and it was for a rodeo arena,” Best said. “Once I got there and saw how everything started coming together, though, I really started believing in myself. I thought, ‘If I can do this here, I’m more than capable of doing it when it’s relatively closer to home.’”
Best quickly gained confidence in himself after running into manufacturing problems that he was able to solve more quickly than he anticipated.
“You always have people doubting you but one thing people ask me, ‘Are you sure you can do that?’ If it’s been done throughout history, if someone else has done it, I’m certain I can do it. It’s all about just committing and going for it, and that really makes all the difference.”
From there, despite starting the business just a couple of months before the COVID-19 pandemic, the jobs kept coming.
At Virginia Tech, his company installed nearly 15,000 seats at the school’s football facility, Lane Stadium.
There were also the bleachers of the new soccer field at Charlotte Christian High School, NBA superstar Steph Curry’s alma mater; the indoor track arena in Louisville; a 4,000-seat bleacher in Douglasville, Georgia; and replacing 9,000 seats in the student section at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, among others.
“With bleachers, you’ve always got a deadline because there’s always an event coming up,” Best said.
Recently, Best Construction has started moving away from bleachers and leaning more toward installing ornamental handrailings.
In Sarasota, Florida, Best put in handrails at a hospital that had just been built.
“The company (Dan Clayton, Inc.) that I did the bleachers for, they own a handrailing company as well,” Best explained. “We helped that company out in Florida because the guy who had that contract, he went down and helped him for two weeks and just left the job. We went down there and stayed down there for another month and a half and finished it for them.”
Coming in the clutch for that company got Best Construction “in their good graces,” which led to the most recent job: installing ornamental handrails at UK’s famed Rupp Arena.
“I was lit. It was awesome,” Best said about the opportunity. “I really wasn’t expecting it.”
Two years into owning his own construction business, Best said one of the most rewarding parts of the job has been “just being able to step back and look at what I’ve done, all the places I’ve gotten to work at.”
The other is being able to work with his brother, Jackson, throughout the entirety of Best Construction.
“He’s stuck with me through the whole thing, been my right-hand man,” Best said. “We’ve definitely butted heads, but we’ve gotten closer than we ever have been. We’ve figured each other out, and I’ve gained a lot of respect for him. There’s been a lot of adversity that he’s helped me overcome and has always stuck with me and never given up on me. I’ll never forget that.”
Up next for Best Construction are more ornamental handrail jobs in the northeast, mostly in Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.
But his long-term goal is to start working closer to Russell County.
“I don’t want to build bleachers and handrails the rest of my life,” Best said. “I’ll start building houses eventually, do more residential work, just creating a balance so I can come home more and be closer to home.”
Best is the son of Steve and Allison Best of Jamestown.