April 1, 1999

Communities important to new inductees

BOULDER — Businesspeople who have done exceptional work in their communities are honored each year by the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame. Now in its seventh year, the Hall of Fame will induct six people at a luncheon April 15 at the Regal Harvest House in Boulder.

These six business leaders made a difference in their communities. They never stopped working and never hesitated to pave the way for others. While many business owners look forward to retirement as a time to kick back and golf or sail, these entrepreneurs found they were busier than ever after retiring or selling their business.

The inductees are venture capitalist Thomas Brock, who died last July; Boulder businesswoman Carol Grever Gray; Longmont civic leader Wayne Jurgens, who died in January; Rob and Carol Lathrop, who are active in the Louisville business community and Boulder radio pioneer Russel Shaffer.

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These highly motivated businesspeople worked as hard at helping other people as they did in their own business. Their tireless dedication is proof that the entrepreneur’s work is never done.

Thomas Brock

Few people at any age could keep up with Thomas Brock, a certified public accountant who started Brock and Company CPAs, P.C. with offices in Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins and Denver. Brock died in July last year. He rose early to read the Wall Street Journal and several other newspapers before he began work.

“He read volumes everyday,´ said Van Stow, Brock’s longtime friend and business associate at Brock and Company. “He was very intelligent, and he read newspapers, business magazines and tax magazines. He was interested in everything.”

Stow said Brock wanted to use his knowledge as a CPA to help businesses, especially start-up companies.

“He wanted to take a little company and make it grow into a big company,´ said Stow. “Tom helped Susan Routt with her business Fibrotek Industries Inc. They make high tech and lab clothing. He held her hand during the rough times and gave her lots of advice about her business. He did that for lots of people.”

Brock always said he loved being an accountant and never wanted to be anything else. “People think of it as being only numbers, but it is people oriented,” he said in an earlier interview. Brock loved talking to people and he made a point of learning everything he could about their business.

“Friends and clients, including myself, could go to Tom for advice on almost anything,´ said Jerry Donahue, executive director of the Boulder Technology Incubator. “He had a tremendous amount of common sense about life, and he set a standard for work ethic.”

Brock was involved in many organizations that helped further the interests of businesses. He was director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for six years and helped set policy for businesses nationally. He also supported Boulder County businesses as a venture capitalist and helped launch the Longmont-based Physionics Engineering Inc., developers of some of the first commercially usable medical ultrasound equipment.

“Tom was interested in everything,´ said Stow. “He climbed fourteeners, he tried riding horses, he went on a photo African safari, he even went to the Indianapolis 500 one year. He didn’t limit himself. He new all about fine wines, and if you were with him in a city for three days he knew all the best restaurants. He could talk to you about so many things. Even after he sold his interest in Brock and Company he came in to work because he loved it.”

Carol Grever Gray

After selling her business, Carol Grever Gray starting working. Gray and her former husband Jim were the owners of Express Services, a local and international staffing firm.

“I’m busier now than when I was working full time,´ said Gray, who chairs the board of directors of the Naropa Institute, a Buddhist-inspired college in Boulder. Gray is also a founding director and vice president of the Boulder Technology Incubator and has chaired the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. She served on the boards of the Boulder Development Commission, Colorado National Bank, Boulder Rotary, the YMCA and Boulder Community Hospital.

“I have been on the board of Naropa Institute for seven years and chairwoman for five,” she said. “That is almost a full time job.”

Gray became a Buddhist after taking an interest in Buddhism in 1990.

“I took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha in 1995. It has changed my life absolutely. I was looking for a meditation teacher; I was looking for a way to quiet the chatter in my head and things were very chaotic at that time. I was looking for inner peace, and I found it.”

Gray stays focused and balances her many activities by being so well organized.

“It is a balancing act for me,” she said. “It always has been. It is a matter of prioritizing and planning.”

The driving force, she said, is that she loves to work for the community.

“That has been the most enjoyable part of my work, even in business,´ said Gray. “So way early on I got involved with the Chamber of Commerce. You have to love where you live. Years ago when we first came over that ridge and saw Boulder, I said this is it.”

Gray is also a master gardener. “I have a way of filling up my time, but I have learned how to stop and take a pause.”

Carol and Rob Lathrop

The Lathrops opened the Louisville Rental Center in 1986, and over the next 12 years, they become involved in their community. But now that they’ve sold the business, they work non-stop.

Rob Lathrop represents Ward 3 and serves on the Louisville City Council. He has served as president of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the chamber board. He also has served on the board of First National Bank of Louisville and Heritage Bank. Currently he is a director of Heritage Bank.

Carol has also served as president of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and co-founded the Louisville Leadership class. She was a driving force behind the new high school and president of the foundation for Boulder Valley Schools. Carol is also on the board of the Community Medical Center and Boulder Community Hospital.

“They were able to get more involved after they sold the business,´ said Chris Hill, Carol’s son. “I think that a lot of their involvement is because they have been lucky in their own business, and they want to give something back to the community. They really love Louisville, and they want to help it grow.”

Rob says he really enjoys involvement in the community. “I was heavily involved in the Cherryvale Fire Department when I lived in Boulder,” he said. “I was the fire chief for two years, and when I moved to Louisville 21 years ago I continued my involvement. It was harder to find the time for everything when we owned the business, but you make time, you just sleep less.”

Sometimes Rob and Carol would just see each other coming and going.

Being involved is hard to define he said. “It’s a hard thing to put your finger on, but we both like being very active in the community.”

Wayne Jurgens

If Wayne Jurgens were alive today his friends say he would still be working. Work was a way of life for Jurgens, and it was part of who he was. Jurgens died in January.

“If you ever talked to Wayne you would never know he retired,´ said Tom Chapman, Jurgens’ friend, partner and co-owner of Longmont Insurance Professionals. “His death was a shock to everyone, especially for someone who was as active as he was. I bought Longmont Insurance Professionals in 1996, and Wayne continued to work here as a consultant. He came in everyday to his office. I’m not sure he was ever going to retire because we had an open agreement for him to continue his activities here.”

Jurgens became more active in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church after he sold his business, investing more time in the committees he loved. He was active in the Boy Scouts and the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce, of which he was president in 1952.

Jurgens headed the planning committee for Longmont’s 125th anniversary celebration and in 1997, he was given the Momentum Award for his work. He served on the Longmont United Hospital Board, the Family Extension Board and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra Board, where he also served as president for two years.

Each morning Jurgens had breakfast with his good friend Lee Hooley, who would ask Wayne how many meetings he had to attend that day. Jurgens often would reply that he had already been to two meetings before breakfast.

Jurgens’ motto was: Give back to the community when it’s been good to you.

“I think that what kept him so active was that he viewed the community as an extension of his business and who he was,´ said Chapman. “He just received a deep personal satisfaction from his involvement in the community. He was filled with pleasure when he saw someone succeed — and it was genuine.”

Russel Shaffer

Back in 1947 when Boulder was just a sleepy little college town of 14,000 people, Russel Shaffer started the first radio station, KBOL, because he wanted to “operate a station that was a genuine service to the community.” Offering a service is what Shaffer is all about.

A journalist from the University of Kansas, Shaffer always wanted to be a foreign correspondent. While in the Navy, his chance came to work on a radio station, and he become hooked on broadcasting.

Through his love for broadcasting, Shaffer reached out to his community. He founded the Colorado Broadcasters Association, which came to represent more than 300 radio stations, and he served as president and as a director. He helped create high school broadcasting clubs, and he provided free air time for those clubs. He also founded the public access channel, the Shamrock Broadcasting and Buffalo Sports networks — broadcasting high school and CU football games live across the state.

In addition to broadcasting, Shaffer became active in other community groups. He served the Boulder Chamber of Commerce as president. He was also a member of the Lyons Club and a member of Boulder Community Hospital Board. He was instrumental in helping to bring IBM, Crossroads Mall and the National Bureau of Standards to Boulder.

“He came to Boulder in 1947 to help launch the radio station,´ said Rusty Shaffer, Russel’s son. “He really established the station in the true sense of community radio. He wanted it to bring local news to the market place.”

Russel broadcast political forums live, and he introduced a community access program and encouraged listeners to call in opinions on local topics.

“He had a great respect for Boulder, and he wanted the station to represent the community,´ said Rusty.

No topics were too small or too large for KBOL.

“I wrote and delivered editorials that dealt largely with community issues,´ said Russel. “I think that the editorials were the most rewarding thing I did. I feel that they made a real difference in the community.”

BOULDER — Businesspeople who have done exceptional work in their communities are honored each year by the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame. Now in its seventh year, the Hall of Fame will induct six people at a luncheon April 15 at the Regal Harvest House in Boulder.

These six business leaders made a difference in their communities. They never stopped working and never hesitated to pave the way for others. While many business owners look forward to retirement as a time to kick back and golf or sail, these entrepreneurs found they were busier…

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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