Diving into Servant Leadership
Matthew Hunt is the Consumers Credit Union business development manager for the Battle Creek, Coldwater and Eastside Kalamazoo area. Lynne sits down with Matt to discuss his passion for helping others and how manifests in everything he does, including how he spends his free-time.
0:00:06.6 Lynne Jarman-Johnson (LJJ): Welcome in! Money, I’m home! With Lynne Jarman-Johnson, and Consumers Credit Union is coming your way. This week we have a very special guest. It is Matthew Hunt. He is a wonderful Consumers Credit Union team member, and he can help you with any of your lending needs, but I’m going to tell you something really cool, he’s here today to talk about one of his hobbies is just mind-blowing what you do, Matt, on your days off. [chuckle] Welcome on in.
0:00:36.3 Matthew Hunt (MH): Hey, thank you so much and thanks for having me.
0:00:38.4 LJJ: So, let’s first talk a little bit about you. Tell us how you came to Consumers.
0:00:43.1 MH: Sure. I was Banking Center Manager for around 14 years and really enjoyed the business development part of it. Decided that I want to do commercial lending full-time and really focus on businesses and helping out in the local community. I put my application in with Consumers Credit Union, and I was fortunate enough to land a spot as Business Development Manager for the Battle Creek, Coldwater, and Eastside Kalamazoo area, and absolutely love it.
0:01:07.9 LJJ: You really do help so many businesses, and our members truly appreciate you, Matthew, and obviously your Consumers family does too. Let’s look, I’m going to go back a little bit. So, I learned about your hobby through… We have a book club at Consumers, and it’s called A Novel Idea Book Club, and Matt got to pick a book one point in time. And I’m not kidding you, I loved the book. But then I realized this is a little bit more than just a cool book about scuba diving; This is a cool story about Matt Hunt.
0:01:44.9 MH: Well, thank you so much. I love scuba diving. I’ve been diving since 1994, and I joined the Novel Book Club just because as soon as I joined the Credit Union, it was one of those things where COVID hit and there was a lot of working from home, and I didn’t get to meet a lot of my peers, so that seemed like a great opportunity to get to know people and find out more about them, and in the process, they learn a little bit about me.
0:02:06.8 LJJ: When did you get involved in scuba diving?
0:02:09.7 MH: Well, I got involved in scuba diving at a pretty young age. My father was a scuba diver, so I started off kind of snorkeling around him and went down with him a few times at a younger age, and I really was fascinated. Around nine years old, my father brought up a chest out of Lake Superior that fell off a boat. So, it was probably, I don’t know, 3 foot by 18 inches and probably 18 inches deep. He walked out of the water carrying this huge chest and opened it up, and to me it was full of treasures at the time: fishing tackle and lures and lines and different things like that. There was a machete in there from… It looked like a Vietnam-era of machete. Yeah, he ended up giving that to me, and I was hooked ever since. So as soon as I turned 13, I became certified and I have been diving ever since.
0:02:58.2 LJJ: And you don’t dive just for pleasure. I mean, one of the… Obviously it is because it’s a passion of yours, but I’m fascinated with what you do on a day-to-day basis, scuba diving, but not just to look at ships.
0:03:13.4 MH: So, I am a co-owner of a company called Black Water Recovery Divers, and we go out and recover anything, rings, watches, boats, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, you name it – anything anybody loses in the lake.
0:03:25.2 LJJ: You just said snowmobiles, and that just makes me crack up that.
0:03:29.8 MH: You’d be surprised.
0:03:30.2 LJJ: Although that’s scary if that happened.
0:03:32.9 MH: Yeah, yeah, I recovered a side-by-side out in Cedar Lake in Marcellus, Michigan, this winter that went through the ice. It was eight inches of ice, and they just drove over a spring in it, sunk through. And this was in February, and I recovered it last month. So as soon as the ice was off, we were able to go down and retrieve it out there. I also volunteer and dive for the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department. So, we do body and weapon recovery, evidence searching. We train for that about once a month, so that keeps me busy also.
0:04:00.0 LJJ: How did you decide that… I know the passion is there, but the component of leadership and servant leadership to be able to help the Sheriff’s Department, it’s not anything that anybody really thinks about. But I can imagine for you, and it has had its moments of where you’re bringing closure to families.
0:04:23.9 MH: Yeah. And that’s one thing that keeps me motivated, and you have to bear in mind, when you’re doing dives like that, is that it’s not pleasant. I don’t enjoy it, but you have to bear in mind that you’re doing something for somebody else and you have to put yourselves in the shoes of the family of… Their loved one is missing, and you are somebody that has the ability to bring closure to that family. And that’s where you just have to bear in mind whenever you’re doing a search or recovery for that.
0:04:53.0 LJJ: Tell us a little bit about your business. How do people… Do they just call you and they say, “Hey, I know this sunk,” or they think maybe they found something?
0:05:04.2 MH: Yeah, so it depends. We get all kinds of calls from all over the place. Some of it is from the dive shop. Some of it is from local businesses that have businesses by the water, deal with docks and boats. Some of it is from insurance companies. They’ll have a person that calls up and says, “Hey, my boat just sunk out in the middle of the lake,” and then they will call us to retrieve it. So, we’ll be like the tow truck company of the underwater world for anything that’s lost that’s larger.
0:05:29.7 LJJ: Wow. So, tell me, what has been your most, let’s say, exciting trip that you’ve taken?
0:05:36.7 MH: So, the most recent one, which was a couple of years ago, we went and dove off of Wilmington Beach, North Carolina, about 25 miles offshore, and it was for Megalodon teeth. So, if you don’t know what a Megalodon is, it’s a pre-historic shark, and they typically ran around 60-feet in length, so about the size of a city bus. So, you’ll go three miles offshore in a pre-historic rive bed you’ll go down and you’ll be down probably about 80-100 feet, and all of a sudden you’ll start seeing shark teeth, triangles sitting in the sand. And you can just reach down and pick them up and recover them and take them home. So, they’re around anywhere between 10 and 20 million years old. It’s a really fascinating thing. It was kind of a mix between treasure hunting and archaeology, and I absolutely loved it.
0:06:25.4 LJJ: Oh, my goodness, that is so cool. How many did you bring home?
0:06:29.0 MH: I ended up recovering 26 intact ones and probably about another 30 partials, and I gave pretty much all of them away except for the ones that I kept for display because that was the most fun part for me is to be able to show people it and say, “Hey, stick it in your pocket or give it to your kids or you give it for a gift or whatever you want.”
0:06:49.2 LJJ: Well, you got me hooked because we read Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson, and this was a tale that I had never known about, so it’s got a little bit of history. You’ve just mentioned the whole historical component. What was it, when you read about Shadow Divers, to me, what was interesting was this camaraderie that happens with divers and dive teams, and that you can literally start to find these teams to join.
0:07:19.8 MH: Yeah, so typically when you’re diving, you’re diving with a buddy or somebody else, and they are your backup life support. Everything that you take down underneath the water is your life support equipment. If you don’t have it, you can’t breathe. So, you really want to know who you’re diving with, their experience and get a feel for who they are and how they perform underneath the water. So, you’ll go together in teams for different shipwreck dives, local lakes. There’s a lot of different clubs out there that you can join, and it’s good diving with new people, passing on knowledge, gaining new experience. Myself, I’m always learning. It’s one of those things that when you meet somebody, they are going to be your backup life support for if you ever have any problems underneath the water. So, whoever you’re diving with, you got to trust.
0:08:02.1 LJJ: And, Matt, tell us, has there been times where you have found that something is going amiss? To me, I did snubaing once, which is nothing like scuba diving, but they pretend it is. I mean, it took me a while to get my breathing to be okay and not feel panicked.
0:08:23.7 MH: Absolutely, it’s human nature for the body wanting to react to an environment that you’re not used to or not supposed to be in. Humans weren’t meant to be under the water for an extended period of time. So, your body tends to have a little bit more anxiety or your mind does, and you’re always kind of constantly pushing down that panic once you start. It’s like driving a car. The first time you got behind the wheel, it was very nerve-wracking. But the more you do it, you become more comfortable with it, and it’s the exact same thing with diving. I’ve seen a lot of close calls. I’ve never been around anybody that has a fatality or anything around me diving. But I’ve definitely seen the panic consuming people. It’s just one of those things that comes with time, experience, and training.
0:09:06.6 LJJ: Tell me, what are the top descriptions or words that you bring to the table when you think of diving. What does it mean to you, and how has it helped you as just day-to-day?
0:09:21.2 MH: So, there’s a few things. If you dive in some of the great lake shipwrecks, they’re so well preserved and intact, but it’s like diving on a pirate ship. I mean you go down on the different deck levels, and you’ll see boots and artifacts and everything’s still there. So how I describe it to people is that if you’re walking through a field and you saw a pirate ship, but instead of walking through it, you got to float through it and you got to see all the artifacts, and then when you’re done, you just walk away and it’s there for you to come back to. So, you’re totally weightless. It’s the closest you’ll ever be to be in outer space and gravity-free, and it’s absolutely an amazing experience. The one thing that I take away from diving that I can apply to my everyday life is that, as long as you are breathing, everything’s okay.
0:10:09.7 LJJ: That’s so true in life, isn’t it? [chuckle]
0:10:12.1 MH: Yes.
0:10:12.4 LJJ: It’s so true. Well, man, is there any takeaways that you’d like to share with people? Number one, I just want to say thank you for what you do. If you don’t mind, I’m also going to mention a wonderful program that you’re working on that’s on the ground and it has to do with trees and wood. Tell us about that?
0:10:34.2 MH: So, I started the project here primarily because I’d been working virtual for most of the winter, and I really enjoy being outdoors, I missed that. So, I was looking for a project that I could get outdoors and also help people. So, I started Heat for the Homeless project here, and it started off as, “Hey, I see you’re clearing the woods, would you mind if I just cut and split in my free time?” And it ended up being a larger project. So, what we’re doing is they’re clearing out some of the forest, the dead trees here at Consumers Credit Union at the headquarters, and we’ve been out cutting up wood, stacking it, splitting it, and it’s going to go to those in the wintertime, coming up this fall that used wood for a heat source and fuel supply.
0:11:15.2 LJJ: Well man, every single day, you are looking at making our world and our community a better place, and I can’t thank you enough.
0:11:23.1 MH: Thank you, I really appreciate it.
0:11:25.0 LJJ: It’s been a joy to get to know you.
0:11:26.5 MH: My pleasure, Thank you.
0:11:28.2 LJJ: I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Money I’m Home is brought to you every single week, and if you have a topic or a really interesting informational piece to share, please share it with us. And I’d like to do a shout out to Jake Esselink, who is our producer. Thanks for making this sound so great every week, Jake. Everyone have a wonderful week. See you next time.