Rod Slifer – Vail’s first real estate tycoon
At the same time, there was an influx of young men seeking employment, creating an ever-increasing group of new locals. One of those who started working directly for Vail on May 1, 1962, developed a career that would lead him to become one of Vail’s most prominent citizens.His name is Rod Slifer.Slifer said he first heard of Vail in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was skiing in Colorado. He had moved from Denver to Aspen in 1960, where he worked for the ski school. In the summers, he worked as a house painter and for Morrie Shepard, director of the Aspen Ski School, who became director of the Vail Ski School. Slifer was hired by Shepard to be his assistant.In the early spring of 1962, Slifer went to Denver for an interview with Pete Seibert, the first time the two met. Slifer was offered the job and told to report to Vail on May 1. There was no job description or assignment, but Slifer figured he would have plenty to do. When he arrived, the only building was the Fitzhugh Scott residence, located on what is now Willow Circle or Bishop Park, and it was the Bridge Chalet. It was a modest beginning. He ended up being called the “clerk of the works” in the simple Vail office on the first floor.Slifer was responsible for payroll and for accounts payable, which he sent to George Caulkins’ firm. Many other projects were thrown his way. He had to run the office that summer because Seibert was out trying to raise money and Bob Parker was in Denver trying to create the marketing image for Vail. So, Slifer was the front line.Vail had hired the Bishop-Perry firm in Denver to handle real-estate transactions, but there was no need for much of a sales effort. The initial properties were acquired by the original limited partners, who had lot options. Slifer took the responsibility of showing these investors around and helping them select the lots.Shortly thereafter, Ed Talmadge, a senior person at Bishop-Perry, suggested that Slifer get into the real-estate business in Vail as a career. Slifer obtained a broker’s license, set up a formal relationship with Bishop-Perry, and handled the sale of real estate in Vail.The outsiders started to come: Larry Burdick, who built the Red Lion; Ted Kindel, who built the Christiana Lodge; and Gary White, who built the Ramshorn. The list went on and on.All this time, Slifer had his basic job in the office at Vail Associates.Slifer represented Bishop-Perry from 1962 to 1968. Noticing the need for a property-management company, he formed Vail Home Rentals in 1963 to take care of the properties. He hired Marvel Barnes as his first employee. She later owned the business and employed her family members. The local population was therefore on the move.In 1966, Bishop-Perry bought land on Bridge Street near the covered bridge to build an office building. It is located there today. In 1967, Slifer was running the entire Vail operation for Bishop-Perry, and when he could not work out a more equitable arrangement with them, he resigned. With the approval of Vail Associates, he formed Slifer & Company in 1968 and has rarely looked back.Dick Bailey, who was an architect with Fitzhugh Scott, wanted to expand his horizons, so he joined Slifer. In 1970, Vail Associates formed its own real-estate company.Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 87th installment, an excerpt from chapter 12, “The Ever-Increasing “New Locals.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.