Entrepreneurs / Small Business  April 8, 2011

All relative in multi-generational firms

A dynasty can be defined as a succession of people belonging to the same family, who, through various means, maintain power or influence over the course of generations. With the advent of large corporations, and many businesses not sustaining over the long term, it is unusual to find multi-generationally owned and operated businesses.

However, Northern Colorado has an abundance of businesses that have been handed down from one generation to the next.

Stroh and Co. Real Estate & Auctions Inc. is one example. Located in the heart of Loveland at the corner of Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue, the business has clients all over Northern Colorado and beyond. Three generations of Strohs are, or have been, involved with the business.

Ray Stroh started a real estate company in Loveland in 1954. Ray’s son, Dan, and Dan’s son Faren have followed in Ray’s footsteps.

Even at a young age, Dan Stroh remembers working for his dad. He would paint houses, clean the office or do other chores his dad assigned to him. Dan literally grew up in the business, and remembers real estate always being a topic around home.

He states emphatically that at that time, he did not want to be in the real estate business. Rodeo riding and playing in a rock band seemed more attractive. But Dan’s mother suggested he get his real estate license, “just to have it.”

Fortunately, he took her advice.

Dan Stroh attended college and tried a stint in the corporate world, but felt it did not agree with him. He became a full-time employee of his father’s company in 1971. His wife Debbie is also an active member of the company.

Faren, the third generation of Strohs, joined the rest of the family in 1992, although he had worked with his father and grandfather at auctions for at least a decade by then.

Even though Ray Stroh has been gone for about three years, his desk sits, as it was when he was alive, in the front area of the downtown Loveland office. This ongoing tribute to the business’s founder still causes longtime customers to stop by to sit at Ray’s desk and visit.

Weedin Insurance

Ken, Lawrence, Mark and Eric Weedin are all involved with the Weedin Insurance Agency in Loveland and Berthoud. Eric proudly says they are the oldest insurance agency in Loveland.

The eldest Weedin, Ken, who will be 88 years old in May, still makes it in into the office most workdays. This has been his routine since he started the business in Loveland in 1956 and in Missouri before that; he does occasionally take some well-deserved vacations.

Ken’s son Lawrence did not come into the family business right away. He was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Berthoud. Several years ago, he stepped in to help his father, and has been working in insurance ever since. He considers it a good decision.

Lawrence’s son Eric expanded the Weedin Agency’s geographic reach by opening the Berthoud office in 1999, in part because of his father’s involvement with the local high school.

Eric said that the business allows him to help so many people. He added that he never thought he would work a day in the family business. Mark, Eric’s brother, joined the family venture about two and a half years ago.

Lawrence and sons all agree that they enjoy working with each other and their father, but all signs point to Eric and Mark being the last Weedins to sell insurance. Future generations don’t seem inclined to become insurance agents – but that could change.

Allnutt Funeral Services

A business sustaining for three generations is quite an accomplishment, but a company that operates in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Loveland and Estes Park could soon welcome its sixth generation. That company is Allnutt Funeral Services.

On April 6, Allnutt Funeral Services celebrated its 125th year in business. According to the Colorado State Chamber of Commerce, it is the oldest continuously operated business in the state – just a decade younger than the state itself.

Rick Allnutt, the fifth generation, said it is typical for many funeral businesses to be passed from generation to generation. He attributes this to the nature of the business, which is very personal and family-focused.

Rick Allnutt is proud that his father Bill, who is 81, still tends to work almost every day. According to Rick, Bill never pressured him to join the business; it was something he wanted to do.

Spenser Allnutt, Rick’s son, is contemplating joining the business, and would be generation number six. Right now he is out “doing things in the world,” Rick said, and although he does not want Spenser to feel like he has to join the businesses, but is happy it is an option.

Rick also has a 17-year-old son, Walker, so there could be more family in the business at some point.

A common thread ran through all these successful businesses. They all are people-focused, hire good people from outside the family, and genuinely care for their customers. This is true whether it is caring for a family after losing a loved one, helping someone purchase their dream home, a business or land, or assisting people to have proper insurance on their life and property to ensure their piece of mind.

A dynasty can be defined as a succession of people belonging to the same family, who, through various means, maintain power or influence over the course of generations. With the advent of large corporations, and many businesses not sustaining over the long term, it is unusual to find multi-generationally owned and operated businesses.

However, Northern Colorado has an abundance of businesses that have been handed down from one generation to the next.

Stroh and Co. Real Estate & Auctions Inc. is one example. Located in the heart of Loveland at the corner of Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue, the…

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