WINDSOR — John Leo Hayden founded Hayden Outdoors Real Estate in 1976 after losing 500 head of cattle the year before in a western Kansas blizzard.
Originally a rancher, Hayden needed to find work but wanted to get out of ranching, so he decided to work for a family member selling real estate. He realized he wanted to be on his own and sold real estate through his company, Property Exchange, working with farms and ranches for sale near Hays, Kansas. Two name changes and a move later, he and his sons, Seth and Dax, are still selling farms, ranches and now recreational properties (hunting land, waterfront properties and the like) through the grass-roots real estate company and brokerage, now known as Hayden Outdoors.
In 1981, Leo moved Property Exchange to Goodland, Kansas, and changed the name to Hayden Inc. In the late 1990s, Dax and Seth joined his company as his partners to help grow the company in multiple states.
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“When the boys came back from college, and Dax came back from Manhattan as a banker, we decided to start a company that all three of us could own,” said Leo, who lives part-time in Windsor and part time in Goodland and mainly covers property transactions in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska.
By 2003, the name Hayden Inc. no longer fit the brokerage’s marketing and branding plan, so it became Hayden Outdoors to represent sellers and buyers on farm, ranch and recreational properties, a category of properties not around in the 1970s.
“We thought it was a better name for what we do,” Dax said. “We thought it was better to add ‘outdoors,’ because we were focusing on recreational properties a lot more.”
Hayden Outdoors helped Cabela’s Outdoor Gear develop a recreational property division and later led in the formation of another real estate marketing group. The company’s continued growth pushed it to separate and take steps to grow nationally. The company also plans to air the “Life on the Land” television show in January on RFD-TV, replacing another source of ag programming, to give landowners an avenue for talking about their properties and demonstrating their lifestyles.
Over the years, the company has grown to nine offices in 11 states in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains with the headquarters in Windsor. The brokerage opened a new expanded office there in 2017 that has full marketing video production on site and serves as the service center for the other locations.
“It has been pretty rapid growth lately,” Dax said. “We’re doing really well. We’re expanding into new territories and getting ready to roll over into other states.”
The company expanded in other ways, too, adding services like appraisals, land management, crop insurance, water consulting and consulting services for land and ranch management and development potential.
The team providing the services consists of brokers and broker associates with experience and knowledge in their markets, with a deep understanding of the cattle, wildlife, rural land, mountains, bodies of water and whatever they’re selling, Dax said. Currently, there are 90 licensed agents on the team and 15 support and marketing staff.
“You don’t just learn that rolling into town,” Dax said. “It takes time and an understanding of a market, whether it’s a local or a regional market …actually living the lifestyle of the clients they sell and work for. They all understand the product they’re selling and why they’re doing it.”
That understanding continues with conservation, which Hayden Outdoors supports, contributing to organizations such as Peasants Forever, Quail Forever, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Wild Sheep Foundation and various Safari Clubs.
“We are invested heavily in the outdoors and want to make sure we keep them wild,” Dax said. “We’re big about making sure were trying to give back.”
Dax appreciates that his father Leo received the Bravo! Entrepreneur award.
“It’s nice to be recognized for the success of our company and our people. We’re an all-hands-on-deck type of company,” Dax said.
Leo said he likes “the successes we’ve had and building a great team of salespeople and administrative people.”
“We’re proud to be recognized as a growing company in Northern Colorado. We’re enjoying it now. We hope the economy stays good,” Leo said.