His company’s first million-dollar building contract, the Chimney Ridge condominium project just a few steps from the Snowflake lift at Breckenridge, forced Terry Drahota to abandon his simple business plan.
That was in 1979, six years after he founded Drahota Inc., his first venture after graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in finance.
“I had my office in the house and would go and see the accountant at the end of the year,” Drahota said. “When we got that job up in the mountains, that changed everything. We have progressively, but conservatively, grown since then.”
In just the last 15 years, Drahota Inc.’s annual revenue has jumped from $4 million to $72 million, and employment from 14 to 80.
The growth rate and a reputation for quality that Drahota has earned over more than three decades brings Terry Drahota this year’s Bravo! Entrepreneur Award for Fort Collins.
The Drahota project list, concentrated largely in Northern Colorado communities but spreading more and more across the Continental Divide to Steamboat Springs, contains some of the state’s construction landmarks. Recent examples include:
n Loveland’s Skyline Center for Health, a $17 million, 80,000-square-foot medical complex on east Eisenhower Boulevard in Loveland;
n The Collindale Golf Course Clubhouse, the runner-up for a top national award for golf clubhouse construction and a project that gives visitors to Fort Collins’s largest municipal golf course a “country club” feel;
n The Highmark retail-and-condominium project in the heart of Steamboat’s ski village, a $20 million project that dominates the skyline of the resort community.
In progress are about $25 million in projects at the development known as 2534, the southeast quadrant of Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 34 in Johnstown, including the Bank of Colorado Plaza, a four-story, 50,000-square-foot office building.
And breaking ground this spring – pending completion of a finance package – is the Penny Flats office, retail and condominium project on Mason Street in downtown Fort Collins that will put 147 residential units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space on the market.
Drahota’s personal style, formed partly by the fact that he has no idea what it is like to work for someone else, keeps him busier than most construction executives.
“The devil is in the details in this business, and you’ve got to keep your eyes on it,” he said. “Delegation is a difficult thing for me, but I know I have to be able to do that. I feel like I’ve got to keep track of things, but I also know that I’ve got really good people here and that I can depend on them.”
Legions of admirers in the real estate and development community include Byron Collins, with whom Drahota has collaborated on a long list of Fort Collins projects. Drahota in the next few weeks will break ground on the Harmony Center in Timnath, the entrance signature for the Harmony golf and residential project that opens next year and will house the Colorado State University golf program in addition to new offices for Collins’ development company.
“It’s pretty comforting to deal with a guy who stands behind his work and his word,” Collins said of Drahota. “One of the things that draws us to Terry is his integrity. It’s something you don’t find, to that degree, just anywhere.”