Entrepreneurs / Small Business  April 27, 2016

Boulder County Business Hall of Famers credit families for success

LONGMONT — The support of family members was a recurring theme Wednesday as the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame’s 2016 class of inductees paid tribute to those who helped them succeed.

Inducted into the hall during a ceremony at the Plaza Convention Center were the Arnold family, Re/Max of Boulder broker-owner Tom Kalinski, Gastroenterology of the Rockies chief executive Dr. Joel Montbriand, Pedestrian Shops founder and president Richard Polk, Ralston Bros. Antiques owner Christine Ralston, Longmont Foods founder Leonard Strear and Flower Bin owners Don and Lee Weakland.

Bill Arnold Jr. traced his family’s Boulder business roots to his father’s founding of Arnold Ford in 1923; Arnold Jr. and brothers Sandy and Pat took over the dealership, and Sandy went on to serve in the state Legislature.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a super family, with a mother and father full of love,” he said. “When you’re active it’s a lot of fun to get other people active.”

Recalling that the area was settled by gold seekers in the 1850s, Arnold Jr. noted that “today’s gold seekers are those who want to be Boulderites.”

Kalinski recalled his journey from being “kind of a hippie” to running what has ranked for 35 years as the top-producing real-estate office in Boulder. His sons, Jay and Neil, “work with me and make my life so much fuller,” he said.

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination,” Kalinski said, “and my happiness is in the community.”

Montbriand also credited family members for helping turn the gastroenterology practice he founded in 1988 into “a personal business, a family business” — despite its expansion to several locations serving the Boulder-Denver metropolitan area. He still refers to the business as “G-Rock.”

Polk remembered selling Earth Shoes from a pickup truck and a repurposed Adams County bookmobile before opening Pedestrian Shops on Boulder’s Pearl Street in the 1970s. Some of the new store’s fixtures had been crafted out of tree stumps, and he recalled entering the business on its first day only to exclaim, “Oh, my God, there’s ants all over!”

His retail work and service to the Dairy Arts Center are part of his mission to make Boulder “the best that’s possible in America,” he said.

Cynthia Ralston recalled opening Ralston Bros. Antiques in Lyons with her late husband, Steve. “Today I carry on,” she said, “hopefully with all the courage, strength and love Steve had. I learned something every day, and I still do.”

Strear’s son Michael hailed his father, who built Longmont Foods into an empire by selling value-added turkey products, as “a man of few words, but a true sage and humble, with a great sense of humor.”

After 58 years of marriage, Don Weakland said, he and wife Lee still have desks side by side at The Flower Bin in Longmont. Their five sons and their families picked up the horticultural bug also, either at the Flower Bin or the Loveland Garden Center or the Windsor Gardener.

The Flower Bin’s workers “average 16 years with us overall,” Don Weakland said. “They’ve stuck with us and we’ve stuck with them.”

The Hall of Fame also presented scholarships to five local high school students: Michael Hansen and Aidan Lang of Boulder High School, Audrianna Bobo of Monarch High, Amanda Becker of Fairview High and Tyne Curran of Niwot High.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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