Friends and Colleagues Remember Kent Hutson (1952-2012)

We lost our friend and industry colleague Kent Hutson on August 17th. I mentioned Kent’s passing in my last newsletter editorial noting a few words here.

Not surprisingly, many of Kent’s friends have emailed fond memories and with their permission, I’ve published below.

If you have anything you would like to add, please email me at editor [at] machinecontrolonline.com and I will gladly post.
-Randy Noland


Tom Stevens

During Kent Hutson’s time at TDS/SP-Nikon  Kent was instrumental in providing guidance to several areas of our business but one in particular.  His knowledge of forensic mapping helped Nikon become a preferred provider of field data collection products for the accident investigation industry. Kent’s presentation style and patience while training users not familiar with the technology was second to none.
 
As a person Kent Hutson was a true gentleman. Always a warm smile when he greeted you, and rarely if ever a harsh word about anyone.  Kent was a colleague and friend and will be missed.


Bob Bailey
Of course everyone knew Kent for his trade-marked handle-bar moustache and his southern gentleman manners, but not everyone knows how he came to wear reading glasses. By the way he was buried with a pair of those. When I took over at Nikon as National Sales Manager we had the usual sales meetings and at dinner during one of the earlier meeting (1995) he continued to borrow my reading glasses to read the menu. I said something to him about needing glasses and of course the answer was no way. Now I decided that it was time he had his own pair, so I had one of our technicians slip out and buy a pair from the local drug store. Then I made a big deal of awarding them to him in front of everyone and of course embarrassed him thoroughly, He continued to have a pair hanging around his neck from then on.
 
One of the other thing is that I swear he knew every Waffle House in the Southeast. Kent had a Waffle House coffee cup that entitled him to a free refill at any Waffle House and since he loved his coffee I can’t tell you the times he would pull over and get that refill. I think I have been in most of those Waffle Houses with him.
 
I don’t know if you want to use this one but it was told at his funeral. Kent was taking photography classes at Lem Motlow College when he met Denise, his wife. According to the story she was in her car and he rode up on his bicycle and told her was taking a photography (one of his hobbies) class and asked if she would model for him. Apparently she agreed and subsequently he asked her for a date. Well another one of his hobbies was restoring a Porsche 911, so he took her out on their first date in it. Well as was common at the time some girls propped their feet on the dash of the car, So when Denise did this Kent asked her to take them down and as the story goes she said “If I can’t prop my feet on the dash then you can take me home”. Well that ended that story as they were married for over 30 years.

Mark Contino
Our industry lost a great spirit when we lost Kent Hudson.  Kent was one of my oldest acquaintances in this industry, meeting him in 1990 when he was the Southeastern Regional Sales Manager for Nikon.  Based out of Syracuse, New York at the time, I flew down to Atlanta to travel with Kent.  As a young salesman, it was a week I will never forget, and many of the lessons he passed on to me have helped me throughout my professional career.  On that trip we mixed business with pleasure and I felt I got to know Kent as a person and colleague.  Over the years, we had several opportunities to work together, or just catch up at a trade show or sales meeting.
 
When I heard of Kent’s passing, many treasured memories came back to me.  All of us who knew him will miss his sense of humor, his loyal friendship, and of course the handle-bar mustache!  Rest in peace my old friend.  You will not be forgotten.

Paul F. Hahn

I first meet Kent Hutson in the late 1980’s.  He was working as a regional manager for Nikon and I had a similar position at Carl Zeiss.  Some of our territories overlapped so we had some surveying instrument dealers in common and attended state surveyors conventions together.  Kent was very friendly and likeable while also being very impressive due to his great knowledge of how instruments worked and how they were constructed.  It did not take him long to find faults in the ones I was selling and make sure that our mutual dealers knew all the details.  He was another one of those clever Southern boys who made you like and respect him while he honorable picked your pocket.

A few years later I got the chance to work with Kent when I took the job as Sales and Marketing Manager for the Surveying Instruments Division at Nikon, Inc.  It was good to be on the same team as Kent rather than competing against him. I learned that his knowledge of instruments and distribution was even more impressive than I previously thought.  He was our number one sales manager.  Strangely, my management had it in for Kent.  I could not figure this out.  Kent always had the highest sales numbers and happy dealers. He won all the sales contests I initiated and yet he was persona non grata.   It was years later that I found his disfavor was rooted in the fact that he had out thought and out maneuvered senior management in their attempts to get him to relocate.  This was the first time that I had to work hard to save his job.

Years later I was working for Geotronics of North America (or maybe Spectra Precision) and was doing some sales projections and other analysis around the potential joint venture that became Trimble-Nikon.  This was several years before it actually happened.  Again I was in the position to recommend that whatever they decided, they needed to keep Kent Hutson.  This was an easy recommendation to make and I got to do it one last time when the joint venture actually went through and the two sales management teams needed to be rationalized.  I was not the only one.  Many others who knew Kent’s work said he was the number one guy to be retained in the new organizations. This speaks very well of Kent as his other colleagues were very talented and hard working as well.  For me it was a no-brainer.

Through the years I got to know Kent personally as well.  Although we lived far away from each other we kept in touch.  He was my camera consultant, my Tennessee fishing and real estate advisor.  He was my advisor when I needed competitive information as he studied our mutual competitors’ products, as he did his own.  He was always friendly and giving of his time.  It was clear to me that he loved his family very much.  He spent a lot of time bragging about Denise and the girls and letting me know how they all were doing.

I don’t think there is one person who worked in the surveying and positioning industries in the 1980’s and 90’s that didn’t know Kent Hutson and respect him greatly.  I will miss him but am so glad for the time we worked and spent together.  It was a huge pleasure.

Andy Donovan
It is fun thinking of the good times had with Kent on the road.  As you know I had the pleasure of working with Kent for seven years while with Nikon.  The 80’s were a great time in our industry, many changes. A lot of road work.  I had Kent for a breakfast table mate many mornings.  His sly humor was sharp early in the morning, always fun.  For seven years I never saw Kent have anything but pancakes for breakfast.  We could be in New Orleans or Seattle it didn’t matter; it was pancakes.  He washed it down with sweet coffee.  I am sure I am the better for all the wisdom he imparted.  I will miss him.
 
Peter Wallace
 Although I never had the pleasure of working alongside Kent I did have the privilege to get to know him as a competitor for many years.
Kent’s style was always respectful, endearing, a true gentleman and a class act.  Even though he had that kind demeanor he was also a fierce competitor.
His passing is a tremendous loss on a professional and personal level.

Warner Allen
I have known Kent for at least 30 years. He has always been hard working, reliable, and a good friend.  He was always professional and cared deeply about the surveying profession.  He will be missed.

Joe Bessent
As owner & manager of Ga. Surveyors Exchange Co. for over 30 years I got to meet many people & many Sales Reps. but never met a man that was so pleasant to be around as Kent Hutson. My wife & I had dinner with Kent many times and we talked alot about many things at those dinners and we remember he would always talk about his wife & lovely girls. He would always say he needs to call them. He will truely be missed by many friends & family & we send our deapest sympathy to his family & friends.


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