My, how times have changed.
When I was a member of the Leadership La Plata class of 1991-1992 – also known as the Dark Ages – our session on business in the county was a lot of panels and talking. When the class of 2014-2015 had its session on business on Dec. 12, they ate chocolate and (perhaps) quaffed a sample or two of beer.
Kelsea Ferrato and Lou Vito organized the day’s activities, and Capt. Steve List from the Durango Fire Protection District served as the moderator.
Starting the day in an unusual site for the subject at hand, the Durango/La Plata Emergency Communications Center, the class shared the results of their homework investigating different sectors of our local economy. Then, in a series of roundtables, they actually met with business leaders from some of those sectors, including John Wells of the Wells Group, Julie James Ott from James Ranch, Derek McCoy of Crossfire Construction and Brett Carli of Home Depot.
Roundtables allow just a few class members at a time to meet three-on-one or so with the individual presenter in a more intimate and conversational setting.
Then it was field trip time. And who doesn’t love a good field trip?
First stop was Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, where Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ed Dudley gave an entertaining and educational overview of the history of the business and a tour of the manufacturing facility, a chocophile’s dream. He left them with a chocolate gift and was one of many leaders during the day to stress both stewardship and the importance of local businesses working together for our economy to thrive.
After the visit to the chocolate factory, which lacked only a visit from Willy Wonka to make it perfect, the group walked down the street to Ska Brewing Co., where founder and President David Thibodeau talked about the challenges and benefits of doing business in La Plata County. Taking a pause for lunch at Ska, the group then returned to the emergency communications center for the afternoon session.
In another set of roundtables exploring other business sectors, class members met with Chad Tidwell from Red Willow Production Co.; Meredith Mapel, general manager of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Durango and Farmington; Joe Lloyd of Durango Joe’s Coffee; and Peter Jensen, owner and partner of Tegre Corp., an engineering, design, land and environmental services consulting firm.
These roundtables took a look at how historic and new businesses in our community face similar challenges. (Tegre was founded in June.)
In the leadership skills portion of the day, Kris Oyler, CEO and co-founder of Peak Brewing Co., which owns Steamworks Brewing Co., and El Moro Spirits and Tavern, took over. He challenged the class with several scenarios that presented ethical questions as they pertained to business. Class members debated whether those involved in the scenarios had acted ethically.
That reminds me of one of my interviews at Celestial Seasonings, the herbal tea company, before I went to work there.
“Are you an ethical marketer?” was one of the most unique questions I’ve ever been asked in an interview, surpassed only by another question the same person asked: “What’s your sign?” a question previously relegated to pick-up lines in bars.
But I digress. My expertise was in new product development, and I was happy to be able to look him in the eye and say, “I have never developed a product I would not sell to my grandmother.”
As we start 2015, I challenge everyone in our community to make a resolution that this a year you will find some way to improve or learn skills, expand knowledge and, in general, get out of the rut and get your juices flowing.
Leadership La Plata is one way to do it, of course, but there are classes, retreats and resources at Durango Public Library, too. Attend a lecture in the Professional Associates of Fort Lewis College’s Lifelong Learning Series, or one presented by the San Juan Basin Archaeological Society or Center of Southwest Studies. (In other words, start reading the Local and Education Briefs and taking advantage of the opportunities.)
Starting the New Year with a new age are these birthday celebrants – Charlie Milliet, Sharon Donahue, Richard Biegel, K Redford, Todd Youngblood, Al Spungen, Lou Falkenstein, Sonja Bayley, Niall Byers, Martie Anderson, Mary Orsini, Tom Orsini, Jan Goldman, Cheryl Jackson, Marcia Baxter, Jacky Dziubek, Therese Michels, Kelli Stanley, Justin McBrayer, Sue Mooney, Joyce Boyer, Amy Ginn, Jordan Stanley, Alice Spitzer, Sandy Campbell, Gay Kiene, Ilamae Waters, Michael Davidson, George Spicer and Jon Powell.
Special greetings go out to Virginia Miller Cavanagh, who also just celebrated her 25th anniversary as a member of the Rotary Club of Durango.
After a mini-rant in the previous item, I’m going full bore here. It’s a right I reserve for periods when Neighbors stories are a little slow coming in.
People rave about how great Durango is, and believe me, I am its biggest cheerleader. But when we’re on the roads, not so much.
People drive too fast, they don’t let people in from side streets when traffic is heavy, they drive through big puddles and splash pedestrians, they pass on double yellow lines (which is not only inconsiderate, it’s dangerous and illegal), and, in general, act as though they’re the only ones who need to get where they’re going.
I once had a woman turning onto Main Avenue by Buckley Park drive over the front of my shoe when I was in the crosswalk. And she didn’t even notice or slow down. Thankfully, she just ran over the end of the shoe, so it didn’t hit my toe. But I had the proof of the tire tread on my shoe to amaze folks in the newsroom with the escapade.
And by the way? Four-wheel drive is not magic. It does nothing for you on ice, and once again, you’re not the only ones on the road. When I was working Christmas Day, more than half of the vehicles that had slid off the road were four-wheel drive. (I kept track by what I was hearing on the scanner.)
So, I’m also hoping everyone will slow down a little this year, stay off the phone, pay attention to others sharing the road – and that means to and by bicyclists also – and show some consideration for each other.
A great community like La Plata County can do it.
After working through the holidays, I am now taking a break (mostly to sleep). I’ll be back in the newsroom Jan. 12, and Neighbors will return Jan. 14.
Celebrating their anniversaries while the rest of us are taking a break from celebrating are Jon Powell and Linda Arndt and Winston and Mary Marugg.
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