July 23rd 2013
With a history stretching back over five hundred years, Hurston Dynamics is noteworthy for being not only one of the oldest continuously operated family businesses in the Empire, but also for owning its own planet in the Stanton system. A claim that only three other corporations can match. Tracing its lineage through 15 generations of Hurstons, the company made its fortune as an arms manufacturer, selling a wide range of weapons to the military and, more recently, to civilians. In addition, Hurston Dynamics produces many of the refined materials and components that other weapon manufacturers rely on. The saying goes that every time a shot is fired in the Empire, there is a good chance a Hurston is behind it.
Even with centuries of recorded history, current CEO “Colonel” Gavin E. Hurston likes to claim that his family can actually trace its heritage back even farther to an 11th-century weaponsmith renowned for forging swords. He even goes so far as proudly decorating his office with priceless relics from this era. However, most historians agree that the Hurston family as we know it got its start in the 25th century with company patriarch Solomon Hurston.
In 2438, Humanity made contact with an alien species for the first time. While the Banu would prove ultimately to be peaceful, the discovery that there were potentially other civilizations among the stars initiated a multitude of new policies for the UNE, including a drastic increase in military spending to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Many leapt at this chance to capitalize on this sudden glut of military contracts, Solomon Hurston among them. Earning a living as a middleman, Solomon didn’t bother producing goods himself but would instead bid on government contracts and source the supplies at a lower price, earning a profit on the difference. When a contract requisitioning lasers for a series of military space-defense platforms was announced, Solomon found the perfect company to source the lasers from. Cheap and up-to-spec, the only issue was that the company was going out of business and wouldn’t be able to produce enough lasers in time. He took a risky loan and bought the company, transforming it into Hurston Dynamics and marking the Hurston family’s first foray into weapon production.
Buoyed by the influx of government money, Solomon was able to turn a profit from the struggling weapon production facility. Over the next several years, Hurston Dynamics expanded its operations, going on to produce not only lasers but numerous specialized parts and components. Exclusively focusing on niche products that had few competitors, Solomon secured more and more contracts for his company. By 2460, Hurston Dynamics was a major military manufacturer and, to help him handle the company’s swift growth, the extended Hurston family was brought in to manage operations.
As a child, Solomon had always heard stories of how successful his mother, Janice Delong, had been. However, shortly after he had been born, she had passed away and the company she had founded continued on without her family receiving anything for her efforts. As the Hurstons struggled for years to make ends meet, Solomon had sworn that if he was ever successful, he would see that first and foremost his family was always taken care of. He was true to his word.
Hurston Dynamics would continue to expand, buying small companies, mines, and suppliers in order to meet the demands of its large portfolio of government contracts. With each acquisition, a Hurston family member would be placed at its head to run it. Importantly though, while Solomon believed firmly in family first, he also believed in having to earn your place at the table. Hurstons were expected to work hard to maintain their positions or risk being cut out of the family fortune. Solomon’s own son, Darrington Hurston, was a prime example of what could happen if someone proved unworthy of their birthright.
The problem with relying so heavily on government contract bids is that in order to stay ahead, Hurston Dynamics had to ensure that it continued to offer the best price on bids while maximizing profits. Darrington Hurston was placed in charge of a factory that produced mag-resistors, but the cost of manufacturing them was so high that they were barely breaking even. Rather than trying to improve production methods or negotiate better material prices, Darrington decided to cut corners. This choice disastrously backfired when a railgun accident involving malfunctioning Hurston mag-resistors took the lives of multiple navy personnel.
The response was swift and Hurston Dynamics’ reputation was nearly ruined, losing several important contracts. Darrington was fired and it would take years for the company to regain the government’s trust. Solomon swore that the company would never again sacrifice quality in order to make a profit, and the company has adhered to that in the centuries since. Instead, they have earned a reputation for cutting costs everywhere else they can except for the product.
One main method used over years has been to utilize the most cost-effective production methods no matter their environmental impact. Sited frequently as one of the worst polluting companies in the UEE, Hurston Dynamics began moving its operations to locations with fewer regulations where it could legally use lower cost but environmentally unfriendly production methods. Decades of citations show that the company is even willing to skirt the law if it believes the fines will cost it less over time than upgrading its production to less-polluting methods.
The other cost-saving measure Hurston is notorious for implementing is connected to its hiring practices. In the early 26th century, under the leadership of Arial Hurston, the company’s third CEO, a new hiring contract called the Life/Labor-style employee agreement would be implemented.
Promising to offer stable employment, the potential employee would be locked into a years-long agreement at a fixed rate. While it would seem attractive at the time to have a guaranteed job for years to come, the employee would have little hope of advancement and no option to leave the company without paying an exorbitant cancellation fee. Though many critics have compared the contract to wage slavery, government authorities that continue to work with Hurston Dynamics point out that the agreements are considered to be legal under current labor laws. Despite the questionable labor and environmental records, Hurston Dynamics has had decades of growth and prosperity leading eventually to the company’s most ambitious expansion project, the purchase of Stanton I.
In 2853, lead researcher Aberdeen Hurston helped the company secure an extremely lucrative contract to produce antimatter warheads after the former supplier had a containment breach at its main facility. Within a few short years, this new department would prove to be one of the company’s most profitable until it ran into a serious roadblock when a regular source of refined antimatter was unable to be secured. After being denied access to material being produced at QuarterDeck prison’s refinement facility, Hurston began the arduous process of constructing refineries itself. Because antimatter is extremely dangerous to handle there are severe restrictions on where facilities can be located and numerous laws regarding their operation that makes them costly to operate. In order to return to profitability, the company needed a better solution.
One presented itself in 2865 when the UEE announced that for the first time it was making planets available for private purchase. The four worlds of the Stanton system were to be auctioned off and Magda Hurston was convinced that Hurston Dynamics needed to own one of them. With its own planet, it would be self-governing and no longer subject to the same restrictions that had stymied it elsewhere. Additionally, it would have all the benefits that came with operating within the Empire itself. It would be a major purchase, but one that could finally allow the company to reach its full potential.
So with a vote of 5 to 3, the Hurston Dynamics board heeded Magda’s advice and purchased the rocky super-Earth, Stanton I. After minor terraforming to bring the world up to habitable standards, Hurston moved in and began working towards getting a full return on its considerable investment. Now CEO, Magda led the way on constructing massive mining operations across the planet and saw the establishment of a brand-new antimatter refinery. Facilities that would have taken years to construct under full UEE regulations could be built within months. Following the economic theory that the planet was only losing value every year thanks to inflation, Magda believed it was important that value be recuperated as quickly as possible. Any areas that were deemed to have little resource value were repurposed for factories, research centers, and weapon testing, or in the case of one particular large swath of land, made into the planet’s capital city, Lorville. The urban sprawl of the city houses almost all of the planet’s population and workforce, with the massive Hurston Dynamics Central Tower overlooking it all as a monument to the family’s legacy.
Though only there a few short decades, the company’s impact on the planet can already be seen. Environmental activists are protesting the pollution spreading across much of its surface while labor activists protest the conditions under which Hurston employees toil. Yet, at the heart of everything stands the Hurston family’s undeniable success built upon generations of hard work and amazing business acumen.