Posted: January 01, 2011
Colorado Business Hall of Fame: Bob Young
Alpine Banks of Colorado founderBy Maria Martin
The long list of awards from organizations like the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce and publications like Colorado Parent Magazine reveal Bob Young's passion.
Philanthropy and family.
The founder and chairman of Alpine Banks of Colorado would add one more to that list.
"I've been banking all my life, and I never wanted to do anything else," says Young, who started as an assistant bank examiner in 1961, then worked his way up in various banks before founding Alpine Bank in 1973. "For me, it's not a job. It's a lifetime endeavor."
His employees, he says, are like his family, and he makes it his job to ensure they're happy and feel that they're in the perfect position with the company.
"We want to keep them with Alpine, and we're successful at that," he says. "About 70 percent of our employees have been with us for five years or longer. We have two who have been with us for 35 years."
You succeed at that, says the father of five, by treating each employee with respect.
"We try to be aware of their needs," Young says. "Not just their financial requirements, but of their health and their families. If they need time off to be with their families, we understand."
And each of the 500 full-time employees at the 38 locations of the bank scattered through the Western Slope are given a few days of paid time each year to volunteer in their communities.
"The bank is a reflection of the community," he says in a telephone interview from Key Largo, Fla., where he's taking a little time off over the holidays. "We have to do what we can to support the community, whether that's in churches, schools or nonprofit organizations. Our employees reflect the bank. That comes back to make us a stronger bank."
And a business, he's proud to say, that has never laid off an employee.
"That's meaningful in days like this, when they see their peers at other banks struggling," he says. "Most of our employees are very proud of Alpine Bank."
Kris Gardner, executive vice president and director of the bank, is one of many who are proud to work for Young.
"We succeed because of him," says Gardner, who's worked for Alpine since 1974. "He's one of the most giving individuals I know, and I mean not just of his money, but of his time and his knowledge."
Gardner says her boss and friend expects the best of himself, and of the employees who work for him.
Though he's modest about them, it's clear that his altruism in the workplace and community is the reason he's won so many awards for philanthropy, as has Alpine for being a great place to work over the years.
"What's most important to him is his family, his employees and the community he lives in," Gardner says.
He's also served on many boards over the years, and was the founder and remains a member of Independent Bankers of Colorado.
"Independent banks will stay strong," he says. "When the community is having a hard time, so are the banks. We still have a couple of years to pull through, and I don't see a dramatic recovery, like we've seen in the past.
"This is serious. But I'm very confident that we will pull through." - Maria Cote
Maria Martin is a freelance writer.