Knapp Ranch expands while keeping business in the family
More than 25 years in the making, Bud Knapp and his late wife, Betsy, worked passionately and diligently to create a working farm located in the greater upper West Lake Creek valley of Edwards built around a vision of stewardship, responsible land use, sustainability and preservation.
More recently, Knapp, 85, encouraged his three children to relocate to the Eagle River Valley to not only keep Knapp Ranch in the family but to have them lend their shared passions and respective talents to ensure the vast property continues to thrive.
“I am so pleased with the team we have in place and what they have accomplished,” said Knapp of his 55-member staff. “Their personal dedication and passion for the ranch and all of their endeavors have made me very proud. Over the past few years, the opportunity to work with both my sons, Brian and Aaron, and my daughter, Laura, has brought new energy and insights for the future of our businesses and as Knapp Ranch continues to evolve and grow.”
In wanting to see the family business he cultivated expand, Knapp announced the appointment of Brian to president and CEO of Knapp Ranch and West Lake Creek Company, LLC.
“Brian has brought his many skills, wisdom and experience to our Ranch,” Bud said. “His business acumen and empathy has given our organization and its employees a wonderful style and accountability.”
Support Local Journalism
Rounding out the family duties, Aaron is serving as chief marketing officer, and manages the sales and marketing of products grown at Knapp Ranch as well as their wholesale restaurant clients, and Laura, with her partner, Rene Delgadillo, are main lodge managers and assisting with retail operations.
“This expansion is an exciting change reflective of the ongoing transition from one generation to the other,” said Brian, who was serving as Knapp Ranch’s chief financial officer for nearly two years. Brian’s previous professional experience included risk management in banking and specifically, consumer lending, with large corporations.
“Working with family has been hugely rewarding,” Brian said. “Having family work at Knapp Ranch aligns with the ranch’s mission that has been talked about among us for decades, long before my siblings and I ever considered relocating to Colorado. It’s hearing the vision from Bud and Betsy over the years, and personally witnessing the ranch and related businesses develop during that time, that has brought the vision into our collective family conscience.”
Knapp Ranch is an exemplar for land management and water conservation, an inspiration for architectural design and traditional craftsmanship, a contributor to climate science studies, a lab for horticultural experimentation, a United States Forest Service partner, and an educational center for environmental studies of all kinds as it continues to evolve.
In August, Knapp Ranch acquired Second Nature Gourmet, a scratch-prepared catering company focusing on ingredient quality and using the best locally- and responsibly-sourced products. In 2019, Knapp Ranch acquired organic-certified Osage Gardens, on 20 acres located in New Castle, producing organic culinary herbs and vegetables. Eagle-based Knapp Harvest is a unique storefront making readily available Second Nature prepared meals, Osage herbs, as well as produce, organic mushrooms, microgreens and Knapp’s Nectar honey from Knapp Ranch. Products from these sustainable operations are also frequently donated to the Eagle Valley Community Foundation’s market located in Edwards and the Avon-based Salvation Army.
As CMO, Aaron has been working closely with the Edwards-based marketing firm, Hill-Aevium, to update Knapp Ranch’s brand position and announced this month, the relaunch of the website, Knappranch.com.
“We are thrilled and excited with our relaunch,” Aaron said. “’Learning as We Grow’ is the perfect update to our brand vision that succinctly says it all. We may have built Knapp Ranch more than two decades ago, but we are still learning every day. We are learning about what is possible to grow at higher elevations, what it means to be a land steward as the climate and landscape are ever-changing. While we are constantly humbled by the new discoveries we come across, we are also thrilled to share this knowledge with others. Education is a key component, and we believe the public can learn a lot from us.”
“Working together as a team under Brian’s leadership, we will continue to share our common vision, knowledge and goals while supporting the community we live in,” says the founding father. “I will be around helping when I can until they haul me out on a gurney.”