Utah History Encyclopedia


By James Kimball
Jon M. Huntsman is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Huntsman group of companies, which includes Huntsman Chemical Corporation (HCC), the largest privately held chemical company in the nation. From his executive offices in Salt Lake City, Mr. Huntsman now oversees operations at thirty-eight sites around the globe, manufacturing over four billion pounds of petrochemical products each year and employing more than 5,000 people. Huntsman's most recent expansions include plants in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, France, Spain, England, Australia, the Peoples Republic of China, India, and Ukraine, as well as a packaging plant in Russia which is a joint venture with Aeroflot and the Marriott Corporation.

Mr. Huntsman is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and later received an M.B.A. degree. He served as a gunnery officer in the U.S. Navy. In 1970 he was appointed by the president to serve in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and during 1971-72 he served as special assistant and staff secretary to President Richard Nixon. He was co-founder of Huntsman Container Corporation, one of the major producers of plastic packaging products in the United States.

He served as a chairman for Utah's Reagan and Bush campaigns in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 presidential elections. He was Utah's Republican Party national committeeman from 1976 to 1980, and in 1977 he was chairman of the Western States Republican Leaders. He is also a former chairman of the Utah Symphony board. He recently served as Vice Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School of Finance and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1988 he was appointed by Governor Norman Bangerter as the Ambassador for Economic Development for the State of Utah. In the past few years Thiokol Corporation, Campbell Soup, and the Bankers Trust of New York each asked Mr. Huntsman to serve on their boards of directors. He has served on numerous other corporate, political, and cultural boards.

Huntsman and his wife, Karen Haight Huntsman, are the parents of nine children. Both are active in church and community matters. They spent the years 1980-83 in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while Huntsman served as president of the Washington, D.C. Mission. Their humanitarian work has been extended abroad to both flood casualty victims in Thailand and those left homeless by the 1988 earthquake in Armenia. In the United States they have given aid to homeless and disadvantaged peoples and have funded medical and educational centers. Recently, they founded the Huntsman Environmental Research Center at Utah State University and the Huntsman Center for Global Competition and Leadership at the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and they created a Presidential Endowed Chair in Urological Oncology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.