BY SCOTTIE TAYLOR IVERSON
What an honor to be in the company of Colorado’s business titans, past and present! Junior Achievement – Rocky Mountain and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce produced an evening at Hyatt Regency/Colorado Convention Center celebrating free enterprise and spotlighting the newest Colorado Business Hall of Fame inductees via clever videos complemented by plenty of pomp and circumstance. Chairman of Koelbel and Company, Buz Koelbel chaired the 18-member selection committee.
The late Walter P. Paepcke was born in Chicago and worked for his immigrant father at Chicago Mill and Lumber. He later formed the very successful Container Corporation of America. Having a love for the town of Aspen, he founded the Aspen Ski Company, Aspen Institute, Aspen Music Festival and the International Design Conference.
Thomas E. Congdon joined St. Mary Land and Exploration Company (SM Energy) and served as president for 25 years taking over for his grandfather Chester Congdon, one of the original founders. He transformed it to a multibillion dollar publicly listed company and in 1992 became its CEO and chairman. He is a great contributor to the Colorado arts and culture institutions as well as the Denver Scholarship Foundation.
Historic Laureates Charles L. Cousins and his son Charles R. Cousins were well-known and respected in Denver’s Five Points. Charles L. worked on the Union Pacific Railroad before laying the foundation for residential ownership and purchasing the Arcade building that remains in the family. Charlie R. owned 30 buildings and helped with low cost housing in that area. He was also a strong advocate for education and helped develop Cole Junior High’s alternative education. He was known as the “Godfather of Jazz” in Five Points.
Fifth Generation Coloradan and generous philanthropist John E. Freyer (descended from John Evans, who was territorial governor of Colorado in 1862 appointed by President Abraham Lincoln) is co-chairman of Land Title. As president of Land Title Guarantee Company from 1985-2017, he grew the company to 50 offices in Colorado establishing a locally-owned a nationally recognized brand. He is driven to contribute to and improve the community through dozens of institutions and nonprofits.
Co-founder with his uncle Motty Shames of Shames Makovsky Realty Company in 1971, Evan Makovsky became an urban hero saving a decrepit block in downtown and revitalized the area bordering Colorado Convention Center. He saved the wrecking ball of the historic Colorado Business Bank in the late 1990s. Makovsky is described as dreams big, thinks big and goes big. He was named Honorary Dean of the Franklin G. Burns Real Estate Construction Management at DU and given an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson and Wales University in 2008.
John Sie is the founder and former chairman of Starz Entertainment Group founded in 1991 – owned by parent Liberty Media Corporation. In 2005, he stepped down as CEO. He had moved to Colorado in 1984 to join Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI). “It was the luckiest move I ever made,” said Sie. “It was heaven on earth with mild climate and we found the best of all people from other places come to Colorado.” He has been the recipient of numerous other awards and credits his mom with drilling the importance of benevolence, fidelity and wisdom through learning. He gives credit for additional inspiration from the two nuns at the Catholic orphanage in New York who taught him English, the value of virtue and kindness to others. Most recently, he learned from mentor, boss and friend John Malone who influenced him in the cable industry. In the words of former Gov. John Hickenlooper: “There should be more John Sies!”
There was plenty of optimism, inspiring stories, sage advice to young people about fulfilling their dreams, setting goals and career tips. Evan Makovsky stated: “Do what you love, and you’ll never have to go to work!” A resounding theme was the success due to a faithful partner/spouse. Also, emphasis was placed on giving back to the community.
In 1990, the inaugural year – the likes of Clifford E. Baldridge, Claude K. Boettcher, Adolph Coors, Charles Cassius Gates, Carl A. Norgren and General William Jackson Palmer were inducted to give a glimpse of the prestige.
Many past “Laureates” were in attendance wearing their gold satin sashes. For the past 16 years UMB Bank has been the presenting sponsor and its Colorado region president Paul Williamson gave remarks about the three decades of recognition.