FORT COLLINS — Looking back on his life, Robert Everitt says that there are two things that inspire him: his wife of 51 years, and the fact that he lives in Northern Colorado.
“Northern Colorado has an entrepreneurial spirit like no place else I’ve ever been,” Everitt said. “The people here want to do things, invent things, and make ’em grow.”
Everitt is one of those people. He is known to many in the community as a savvy businessman, who built the large and successful Fort Collins-based Everitt Enterprises. He is also known as an active community member whose list of participation in boards, foundations, and task forces is lengthy.
“I’ve always felt like the way to make your business prosper and to make yourself feel good is to help the community,” the entrepreneur explained.
Everitt Enterprises is a company with diversified interests, including land development, retail property management and several other divisions.
Everitt still influences company operations, working with a team of partners that number in the hundreds along with his two sons and son-in-law. David Everitt is president of the company, Stan Everitt oversees residential development and coordinates the company’s relationships with contractors, and Jack Gillum is the general manager of the Foothills Fashion Mall and other properties.
A businessman, who added employees to accommodate his growing business, Everitt attributes the success of Everitt Enterprises to the infrastructure that existed in the area and the people with whom he has partnered along the way.
“My partners have been more important to the success of me than me,” Everitt admits with a chuckle. “I’m kind of a lazy guy who lets everybody do the work for me.”
Those who know Everitt would laugh along with him at such a notion. For the term “lazy” hardly suits him, most would agree.
The company’s origins date back to 1953 when Everitt’s father and a business partner, both of whom worked in the lumber industry in Oklahoma, financed a lumberyard for the 24-year-old Everitt to manage in Fort Collins.
At the time, the lumberyard had sales of $38,000 and three employees. One year after Everitt took the helm, after completing his service in the Korean War, the lumberyard had increased sales to more than $100,000 annually. Building on that success, Everitt acquired lumberyards in Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico that earned $50 million annually before he sold them all in the mid 1980s.
Today, Everitt Enterprises, the company that started with that one lumberyard, employs hundreds of people through a web of partnerships that include Coldwell Banker, Marriott Hotels, Westcor and many others.
“All of the people in my company are partners,” Everitt explained. “My success is due to their management. I just provided the resources.”
Partnership is a constant theme in Everitt’s conversation as he reminisces about his professional building blocks. It’s a concept that dates back to his childhood in Oklahoma in the 1930s. At the time his family lived next door to a JC Penny manager who abided by Mr. Penny’s philosophy of creating a partnership with the managers of the stores. “Even during the Depression those managers did well,” Everitt said. “It’s a different kind of incentive, and I carried on that philosophy: To give people with an entrepreneurial spirit an opportunity to partner with me in the operations.”
Personally, Everitt takes the most pride in the Harmony Corridor Plan he initiated to beautify one of Northern Colorado entryways. “I was telling one of my children the other day ä this is something that will have a lasting effect on Northern Colorado,” Everitt said. “I think it’s going to end up being the prettiest entrance into Colorado and maybe even the country.”
The project represents a joint effort between landowners to plan development along the corridor with signage and bike paths to complement the natural beauty of the area. And since Everitt knew the landowners, he contacted them and coordinated the effort.
That ability to network has served Everitt well.
His foray into community activities was through the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce and Everitt soon accepted the position of president of that organization.
“I was much younger than I should’ve been, but I was asked by the board members,” he recalled. In a nutshell, that is how his role as a community activist took root: Someone asked, and he obliged.
From the time Everitt was 11 years old, he helped his father in lumberyards back in Oklahoma. He says that he always knew he wanted to work for himself, and when his father received a call from the owners of a lumberyard in Colorado who wanted to sell, things fell into place.
With his three children close by, Everitt proudly counts seven grandchildren and says that his family gathers for most holidays and enjoys vacationing together.
“I’ve had a fantastic life,” he said. “I don’t know anyone who has had it better.”