Business

Hartman's focus is on company, community

Wink Hartman, owner of Hartman Oil Co. Inc. is seated. Behind him, standing from left to right are, Steven Worrell, Catherine Hartman-Stucky, Chanel Neises, Zoe Newton, and Chris Peters.
Wink Hartman, owner of Hartman Oil Co. Inc. is seated. Behind him, standing from left to right are, Steven Worrell, Catherine Hartman-Stucky, Chanel Neises, Zoe Newton, and Chris Peters. The Wichita Eagle

Willis "Wink" Hartman is comfortable juggling a lot of hats.

He's a third-generation oilman, owner of an indoor professional football team, restaurateur and animal lover with a three-pronged business model: grow, diversify and be good corporate citizens.

"Our mission is oil and natural gas exploration and production, and we've been doing it for three generations, almost 100 years," said Hartman, president of the company.

But in a volatile oil market and a community the Hartman family loves, there are other directions to take, Hartman said, which led the company into Chester's Chophouse and Wine Bar, Hartman Arena and the Wichita Wild football team.

"The reasons we got into these businesses are outside investments from the oil business," said Hartman, who also is running for Congress. "The oil business, if you've been in it for 100 years, you realize that it's very cyclical — good and bad days as in any business. Some days that's more pronounced because of the big swings in the oil business. So therefore, you try to diversify your assets."

Chester's — named in honor of the Hartmans' beloved miniature schnauzer — and the Wild do that, but Hartman said the businesses also fit a core company goal.

"When you have the capacity to go into restaurants, arenas and professional football teams, it also creates opportunities for others in the community," Hartman said

"We've created hundreds of jobs outside the oil business, and I just think that's good stewardship, being a community leader by doing other things to spread opportunities to the people you can."

People are the key to succeeding in a diversified business, Hartman said.

"The challenge in the oil business, particularly, and all business is to find quality people," he said. "I mean, it's often said that I could run anything if I could find the right person to do it, and it's truly that way. If you can't find good people, all of the great ideas in the world are for naught."

So Hartman looks for talented people, at work and at home.

"It takes good quality people to achieve anything," he said. "So we try to surround ourselves with good people in the office and in the community. We've got people who coach little league, basketball, are active in the church, Bible studies, things like that. It's a commitment."

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