September 28, 2012

County’s boom years memorable for papers

Over the 18-plus years that I was co-publisher and editor of the Boulder County Business Report, I saved many photos, news clips, special issues or awards we won. I keep thinking that one day I’ll organize everything from those days at the BCBR.

I still like the idea of organizing those mementoes, maybe now digitally — but four years after selling the newspaper, they’re still sitting in a box in my home office. Maybe one day.

Deciding to join two other partners to purchase the Business Report in early 1989 was a real turning point — a risky career move but also a great way to stay here in Colorado. I’d just left the Denver Post after 10 years as an editor, and had discussed a newspaper job in Silicon Valley. I loved living in Boulder, and really didn’t want to leave.

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Out of the blue, I got a call from my future business partner, Jeff Schott. He told me that a business newspaper in Boulder was up for sale. He worked there, managing most of the advertising accounts, and was convinced that he could sell more. He needed an editor and someone to help him buy the paper.

Looking through those old clippings, I found the business brief from the Boulder Camera announcing that the Business Report had been purchased by three partners: Jeff, myself and Jirka Rysavy, who then was one of Jeff’s advertisers as owner of Business Express. Jirka went on to become a successful entrepreneur with Corporate Express and now Gaiam.

Jeff’s forecast about selling more advertising was on target as the 1990s turned out to be one of Colorado’s and Boulder County’s biggest growth spurts. New businesses, high-tech entrepreneurs and professional services flocked to the Boulder Valley. We reported on business news as smaller cities such as Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont and Broomfield boomed.

While Boulder maintained slower growth, the county activity was good for our business, and we expanded the paper from a monthly edition to a bi-weekly. Just about every month we would add new special sections, business networking events and business directories and magazines such as the Tech & Manufacturing Directory, the Book of Lists, the Medical and Wellness Directory and the Giving Guide, a directory of area nonprofits. These were all avenues not only for our growing databases of business information but certainly for advertising sales.

Jeff and I had lunch recently, and reminisced about some of the more significant events that took our business from about six people at the start to about 50 employees.

We remembered the business spurt as Broomfield’s Interlocken business park took off. We published a new Denver-Boulder Corridor section covering those new office facilities popping up from prairie dog fields. We also published a Westminster section in cooperation with the economic development team there.

Like all small businesses, great partners were important to our growth. We worked with numerous top business sponsors and partnerships for events such as the IQ Awards and the Mercury 100 Fastest-Growing Companies. We tried to liven up the typical business event, even putting on gorilla suits on a hot summer day for an event video. Liquor Mart was always a welcome sponsor, and early on we realized that networking, good caterers and way more than a single bar around the room should be emphasized rather than long awards speeches.

My first hire for a reporter when we bought the paper was Chris Wood. To make a long story short, Chris is now one of the owners and publishers of the Business Reports. Chris later met Jeff Nuttall, a top sales executive at the Denver Business Journal. When Chris and Jeff came to us with the idea to open a Business Report for Northern Colorado, we agreed to become partners.

From their Fort Collins base, they launched another newspaper, the Wyoming Business Report, and a slew of Northern Colorado business events such as Bravo! Entrepreneur and the Green Summit.

Our papers now covered business news from the Boulder Valley up through Larimer and Weld counties and the entire state of Wyoming.

There are so many memories in that box full of clippings, including quite a few photos of employees with whom I still keep in touch. More memories come to mind all the time, reminding me how fortunate we were to run our own publishing company here in Boulder.

Reaching a 30-year milestone is an impressive feat for any business, and I congratulate publishers Chris Wood and Jeff Nuttall and their staffs for keeping the Business Reports an important part of the Front Range news community.

Jerry W. Lewis was co-owner, co-publisher and editor of the Boulder County Business Report from December 1988 to February 2008. He is the founder and chief executive of Upstream Communications LLC, a public relations and marketing firm in Boulder.

Over the 18-plus years that I was co-publisher and editor of the Boulder County Business Report, I saved many photos, news clips, special issues or awards we won. I keep thinking that one day I’ll organize everything from those days at the BCBR.

I still like the idea of organizing those mementoes, maybe now digitally — but four years after selling the newspaper, they’re still sitting in a box in my home office. Maybe one day.

Deciding to join two other partners to purchase the Business Report in early 1989 was a real turning point — a risky career move but also…

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