Longtime businesses are family affairs
EAGLE COUNTY – Kyle Denton got into the real estate business in 2005. He’s glad his dad’s been there to help him through the rough times.
Kyle and his father, Craig, are both brokers for Ascent Sotheby’s Realty in Vail. Craig has more than 30 years in the local real estate business, so he’s seen his share of the market’s peaks and valleys.
But Kyle didn’t know about those peaks and valleys growing up. That’s why the bust that began in late 2008 came as a big, big, surprise.
“Until 2008 it wasn’t reality, Kyle said. “Since then, I’ve come to realize this business is about relationships.”
Craig agreed, but added that the real estate business has always been that way, even in the good times.
“You’ve really got to know the market,” he said.
In Gypsum, Anita and Tom Denboske of Active Communications brought son Josh into the family business in 2008. Josh had recently graduated from the University of Colorado that year with a degree in business management and marketing. He tried to make his own way in the Denver area, but Front Range jobs were starting to get scarce that year, even as the resort market was still humming.
Anita’s long-time assistant left the valley that year, so there was an opening in the organization – which has six stores from Summit County to Rifle.
“It didn’t take long for this to be the most attractive option,” Josh said.
As with Kyle Denton, Josh Denboske started learning the family business from the ground up, with the help of established family connections.
But Josh Denboske’s bringing new knowlege to the family business, too.
“He’s really taken our marketing to the next level with Facebook and other e-marketing,” Anita said. “He can help us speak to younger customers.”
Not every couple can work together, and not every family can bring the kids into the business, but families interviewed for this story say their personal and professional relationships remain solid.
“We’ve always had a healthy relationship,” Craig Denton said about Kyle. “It’s always been a healthy discussion.”
While Craig Denton said he was happy to bring his oldest son into the business, he didn’t push it.
“Kyle approached me,” Craig said.
For Kyle, coming into the family business was a way of being able to return to the valley after college.
“I’d been watching my dad growing up,” Kyle said. He got his real estate license, dived into the business, and soon realized that he was a good fit for it.
And, he said, getting to work with his dad was a real bonus.
“This is a tough business to get into,” Kyle said. “I got to learn from one of the best.”
The Denboskes still all live in the same home in Gypsum, but both Anita and Josh said it’s been easy to separate their professional and personal lives.
One of the ways Josh does that is by calling his folks Anita and Tom when he’s at work.
“People eventually notice we all have the same last name,” Tom Denboske said.
But, Josh said, using his parents’ first names at work is just a more professional way to deal with the public. While Anita’s the boss, having to talk to “Anita” for a customer issue just sounds better than having to “ask mom.”
It also helps that the company has enough locations, and enough jobs to do, that the parents and their son can usually stay out of each other’s way.
For the Denboskes, Josh is the third generation of the family to be in the telephone business. Anita’s dad was one of the first employees of Eagle’s first telephone companies.
That’s something mom looks at with some pride.
“It’s pretty amazing, when you think of all the changes in the business,” she said.
In Vail, Craig Denton said bringing Josh into the family business has gone well enough that he’d like to try bringing in his other three children, too.
“I’d love to do it, when the time’s right,” Craig said.
“But we need to get the family dinners worked out first,” Kyle shot back.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.