From Wall Street to Bridge Street
Kent Logan, 59, is an art collector, an avid skier and a retired investment banker. He says he wants to use his 30 years of financial management experience to help manage Vail through “a critical time.”
Kent Logan descends the vast network of stairs in his spotless home to greet a visitor at the front door. He sees a dead moth, picks it up and discretely sets it on a counter. Fifteen minutes later, as he ascends, he picks it up again and continues the climb back to his office, where he throws it out a window.
“”Perfectionist?’ No, I’d say with me it’s more attention to detail,” he says.
At 59, Logan is making his first run for public office after a successful career as an investment banker, having retired in 2000 as director of the 1,000-person Equity Division of Bank of America Securities. That came after a long career as an executive with some of the industry’s biggest names, including Goldman Sachs, Paine Webber Inc. and Barclays. He says the six years he spent with Montgomery Securities in San Francisco – from 1992 to 1998, during which he and four other senior partners helped build revenues from $180 million a year to more than $1 billion before he convinced his fellow partners to sell the company – are what put him over the top financially.
“A quick study’
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From there, it’s no stretch to say Logan is a man of substantial wealth. For example, his estate high above Vail includes a highly secure, private contemporary art museum in which about 400 works are on display, with the rest on loan to the Denver Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Having successfully climbed the corporate ladder, it’s apparent Logan loves to climb, in general. For example, his home is at the very top of Potato Patch Drive, a few turns above Packy Walker, offering expansive views of the front side of Vail Mountain with the Mount of the Holy Cross peeking over Ptarmigan Ridge. At about 8,800 feet above sea level, it’s the highest home in town – and his plush office, a veritable library of books on modern art and architecture, comprises the top floor of the museum four floors above the front door.
Oddly, for a man who came from the high-tech world of high finance, his work space is without a computer of any kind, as apparently he prefers to correspond personally by telephone, or by fax, if necessary.
“One of the aspects of being a good investment banker is you’re a quick study,” says Logan. “In a general sense, that’s what’s most important.”
Logan shares his estate with his wife, Vicki, and their two English springer spaniels, Sophie and Cosmo, the latter named after “Cosmo” Kramer of the syndicated television show “Seinfeld.” The Logans are famous throughout town for their hospitality, having hosted a variety of private parties and fund-raisers, including one that benefits the Vail and Beaver Creek ski and snowboard schools. Their home this year, in fact, was decorated lavishly for Halloween weeks ahead of time.
Kent Logan grew up in Westfield, N.J., a “suburb of New York,” before earning a bachelor’s degree at Brown University in 1966. He went on to earn a master’s of business administration from Wharton, at the University of Pennsylvania, later meeting Vicki while they both worked in New York. Ironically, she was an information technologies specialist, retiring in 1987.
The Logans were married in 1985 on Vail Mountain, at the top of Simba, by Municipal Judge Buck Allen.
“It was supposed to be a surprise to most of the people with us, with the ceremony at the top of Chair 2. But that day there was a chill factor of about minus 30 degrees, so we moved it,” he recalls. “We had crazy hats on and everything … and it was Vicki’s first week on skis.”
“Just kept coming back’
The Logans first came to Vail in the 1980s as guests of a friend with whom “we could stay for nothing” – and they “just kept coming back.” Then, after six years of “getting up at 3:30 a.m.” for his job at Montgomery Securities – the Pacific time zone is problematic in the world of international finance, he says – they decided to buy property in Vail, build a home and make it their full-time residence.
Now both avid skiers –he skies about 50 days a season, he says, and she gets in about 75 days – the Logans say they’re committed to Vail long-term.
“We’ll be here forever,” he says. “We want our ashes spread on Vail Mountain someday.”
In fact, Kent Logan’s choice of ski runs on Vail Mountain certainly underscores his line of thinking, one he calls “pragmatic and analytical.”
“Blue Ox when it’s groomed,” he says.
Certainly, some people wonder if a high-powered career executive will have patience with the bureaucracy and relative glacial speed of municipal government. But he says it’s all about building bridges of communication and setting priorities.
“Leadership is not domination, and a good leader does not impose his will,” he says. “It’s like the conductor of an orchestra. He’s not necessarily the best trumpet player or the best violinist, but he forges the best out of them.”
“A community asset’
Indeed, Logan has presented some ideas for running the town that obviously come from executive meetings. One is putting a financial report from the town manager as the first item of business at regular meetings; another is for the mayor to speak annually to the public in what Logan calls the “State of the Town Address.”
“If you make that presentation, then you’re going to have to stand by it,” he says.”
He also says the town, instead of trying to use taxpayers’ money to fund recreational facilities, should strive to “engage the private sector” – including second-home owners, who might contribute handsomely if they were approached in the right way.
“Make it a community asset,” Logan says. “It would have the benefit of bringing the community together.”
Despite his background as a venture capitalist, however, Logan does support some things most people associate with a more liberal way of thinking. In an effort to give Vail merchants whatever advantage they can get, for example, he suggests the town government “buy local”; to encourage more families to move back to Vail, he’d like to see some sort of financial aid program that would help them with down payments on a home; and he supports efforts to conserve open space.
“I’m certainly not for unbridled construction,” he says. “I think there’s too much already.”
And in an effort to fill empty store fronts in Vail, he supports assessing the landlords – but only after all the stops have been pulled in efforts to convince the owners to come to the table.
“I’m not totally laissez faire,” he says. “But if the landlord just doesn’t respond, the town has a right to get tough. What’s tough?: A vacancy assessment.”
In the end, Logan says his candidacy is “all about giving back” to the community he loves.
“Retired, approaching 60, the only thing I really want in my golden years is be loved and to be left to my own desires,” Logan wrote in September in a letter to the editor he called “Vision for a better Vail.” “In more serious moments of self-reflection, I must confess I love Vail and sincerely hope that I can make a difference at what I believe is a critical time in the evolution of our community.”