April 20, 2001

Inductees share common trait: All committed to communities

Business Report Correspondent

BOULDER ? On Monday, April 30, the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame will induct five exceptional businessmen and women whose work has helped to reshape and to define Boulder County.

In some cases, their efforts have reached far beyond Colorado and even the United States to help people in other countries find business opportunities.

This year’s recipients are all outstanding in many ways, but one thing that sets them apart is their dedication to creating a better community. In return, their involvement has created a better world.

In 1981 when Nancy West started West’s Antiques and Decorative Accessories in Lafayette with her late husband, Terry, she had no idea how involved she would become in the community. Nancy and her husband were both professors of special education at the University of Colorado in Boulder when they started their antique business.

“We started the business together 20 years ago this March at this same location, and we had such a commitment to the town,” West said. Terry West died unexpectedly in 1998, but Nancy decided to continue the work they started together.

By 1993, there were several issues facing Lafayette, so the couple, along with a few other merchants, formed the Lafayette Old Town Merchants Association. “We realized that we (the business community) did not know each other,” West said. “We got together to meet each other and pass customers back and forth.”

She attributes the success she and her husband shared to hard work and determination. “We loved what we did, and we loved being part of the community,” she said. “We felt that what we did made a difference. We surrounded ourselves with good people, and that’s a big thing. We set goals every day, and our background in education taught us how to start and finish things, and how to think things through.”

Wayne Varra also took advantage of surrounding himself with good people. Varra owns Varra Insurance Agency in Louisville, which he started in 1965. He grew up on a farm just outside of Louisville, and his love of the local land inspired him to volunteer in his community. “I’ve always wanted to give back to the community,” he said.

Varra was an original member of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, which started as the Louisville Business Association. “One of my pet projects is the Centaurus/Monarch Community Scholarship Program,” he said. “Last year, we gave away 17 $1,000 scholarships to seniors to go to college.” Varra said he hopes that by giving away scholarships and helping students with their education, the next generation will invest in their community to help others succeed.

The secret to success, Varra said, is good people. “There are a lot of great people out there.” He credits his success primarily to his family. They always understood when he spent time volunteering.

Helping others with small start-up businesses is a special pleasure and a key to success for Margaret “Meg” Hansson, founder, president and chief executive officer of adrop L.L.C. and ERTH L.L.C. in Boulder. She is the commercial developer of the ERTH centrifuge, which separates liquid from solids.

“I mentor a lot of new businesspeople,´ said Hansson. “I have developed a system where I aim them toward a lot of sources and tell them, ?I am open when you come back.’ I am very supportive.”

Her work as an entrepreneur and founder of several companies has led Hansson to extend herself to help other women starting fledgling companies. She is a founding member of the Committee of 200, an international organization of businesswomen. “We raise money for women who are small-business owners,” she said. The Committee of 200 has grown to 428 members with many more eligible to join. “The Committee of 200 also does things with universities in an outreach program that works with women in (business programs in) graduate schools,” she said. “I like to help women who are building companies.”

Hansson said she has been successful because “I have always had endless enthusiasm for new things. I’ve always wanted to know how things work, and my mind has the ability to make connections between ideas that I run across.”

She tells businesspeople they should help others starting out. “I’m very involved in start-up companies, and I’ve helped raise the funds for some of those companies.”

Susan Pratt and her company, the Longmont-based Pratt Management Company LLC, have volunteered to touch lives of many people throughout the county and the world. Pratt and her late husband, Ken Pratt, who died March 30, 1995, have helped Boulder County attract businesses from Japan. They donated money and helped create the Hope Cancer Care Center in Longmont, named after Pratt’s mother, Hope Arlene Marti.

“My most active community work is for the Hope Cancer Care Center,” Pratt said. “We have developed the Susan M. Pratt Foundation to support community endeavors. We are working to teach the future generation to support community involvement. I am involved in the Mountain States Children’s Home. The company has financially supported the new administrative building.” Volunteers from the Pratt company worked long hours to put up the building in their spare time.

For Pratt, being successful means never underestimating the human potential. “I think that we underestimate people tremendously,” she said. Individuals working together created the building at the Mountain States Children Home, an excellent example of how a community project can work.

Roy Young, owner of Nature’s Own Inc. in Nederland, said that it takes a village to raise awareness and be successful. He imports pottery, plates, vases, candleholders and other stone and carved items from Pakistan. In doing so, he creates jobs for several hundred poor artisans near the country’s border with Iran.

Through his business, he created the Caribou Fund, which supports Global Response, an international letter-writing campaign that encourages people to write thousands of letters to chief executive officers telling them they are endangering the environment.

. In 1993, Young started Global Green Grant Fund, the other end of Global Response, which offers grants to small grassroots non-profits that are working as environmental non-government organizations, or NGOs.

Success for Young means preserving the environment. “The question I raise is how to find a way to create a sustainable living,´ said Young. “We have to start with cutting back on what we have. We can do anything that we set our minds on. I try to give away half of my income from Nature’s Own to support these causes. That’s why I’m in business. That’s the only reason that I’m in business.”

Business Report Correspondent

BOULDER ? On Monday, April 30, the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame will induct five exceptional businessmen and women whose work has helped to reshape and to define Boulder County.

In some cases, their efforts have reached far beyond Colorado and even the United States to help people in other countries find business opportunities.

This year’s recipients are all outstanding in many ways, but one thing that sets them apart is their dedication to creating a better community. In return, their involvement has created a better world.

In 1981 when Nancy West started West’s Antiques and Decorative Accessories…

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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