April 21, 2000

New inductees share success secrets

What would you ask Allen Greenspan or Bill Gates if you met either of them on the street corner? Would that answer be your ticket to fortune and fame, or simply an interesting anecdote?

Almost everyone has imagined asking the one magic question ¾ that silver bullet of insight that opened the door to new worlds of opportunity ¾ or at least fabulous cash prizes. Since Greenspan is notoriously tight-lipped about business advice and Gates is currently embroiled with the government, we decided to do the next best thing: We asked this year’s Boulder County Business Hall of Fame award winners what the single biggest secret to their success was.

Boulder County Business Hall of Fame awards are given to business leaders each year who have demonstrated outstanding service to the community. This year’s awards will be presented Monday, April 24 at the Regal Harvest House Hotel. The answers may surprise you. Here’s what we found out.

Stan Elmore

Stan’s Tire and Auto

“First of all, I feel honored, and a little overwhelmed, to be in the same category as my predecessors. It takes a well-rounded set of things to be successful, so it’s hard to say which one is the single most important reason for my success.

“If I had to name just one, it would be the ability to recruit, train and keep outstanding employees. We’ve been in business 27 years, and we have a lot of long-term employees. You can’t build a great business on your shoulders alone. Your job as a leader is to train your people and empower them to do an outstanding job. The big secret is to get out of their way and let them do their jobs.

“In addition to great employees, you also need great customers. We grew up with Lafayette, and we’ve developed lots of long-term relationships.”

Elmore also acknowledges the support he receives from his family. “My wife, Donna, has been a big factor in my success. She’s our software/accounting specialist.”

Bob Greenlee

Centennial Investment, KBCO founder

“My parents are probably the most influential people in my life. I learned my sense of independence from my parents. I haven’t worked for anyone but myself in almost forever. I’d make the world’s worst employee if I had to work for someone else.”

Tom & Caroline Hoyt

McStain Enterprises Inc.

“That’s simple for us: We’re committed to what we’re doing — not to how much we’re making. I’ve always told Caroline (wife and co-owner) that we are a mission-driven company. And when you put what you’re doing first, the business follows.

“This idea was a common bond for Caroline and I when we met in architecture school. It’s what attracted us to each other and what continues to attract the fine staff we have today. The Internet is a great pre-screening employment tool. Some people look at our site and say, ‘That’s odd for a builder.’ Others see it and say, ‘I feel exactly the same way.’ Those are the people we’re looking for.

“It’s all about being clear on what’s important to you. When you do things the other way around, you lose focus and the business suffers.”

John Sackett

Avista Adventist Hospital

“Great mentoring! My father was a hospital administrator, and he gave me some great values and the opportunity to use my business skills to benefit the community and the quality of business we’re in.

“I admired two things in his work: One, his recognition that we are in big business; two, at the same time, we have a mission to follow. So in a sense, we are watching two bottom lines.

“I’ve seen hospitals that follow their mission and go under, and I’ve seen successful hospitals lose sight of their mission. Ultimately, this second group starts to see their margins erode because they lose the loyalty of their patients and the support of the community.”

Richard Salberg

First National Bank of Longmont

Richard Salberg, president of First National Bank of Longmont, is a strong supporter of community organizations. He serves the community by volunteering his time with numerous groups, including: Longmont Chamber of Commerce, Longmont Area Economic Council, Boulder Technology Incubator, Longmont Rotary Club, Longmont YMCA, Boulder County Hospice, Longs Peak Council, Boy Scouts of America and several others.

What would you ask Allen Greenspan or Bill Gates if you met either of them on the street corner? Would that answer be your ticket to fortune and fame, or simply an interesting anecdote?

Almost everyone has imagined asking the one magic question ¾ that silver bullet of insight that opened the door to new worlds of opportunity ¾ or at least fabulous cash prizes. Since Greenspan is notoriously tight-lipped about business advice and Gates is currently embroiled with the government, we decided to do the next best thing: We asked this year’s Boulder County Business Hall of Fame award…

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