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Posted: March 01, 2009

Executive edge: Dale Mingilton

Banking veteran takes over as CEO of Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau

Lynn Bronikowski

Growing up poor in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, Dale Mingilton viewed success in batches of cookies.

“I would see the Keebler cookie plant and thought that’s all there was – that I’d grow up and make cookies for a living,” said Mingilton, who was recently named president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder, overseeing a $3.8 million annual budget, a staff of 40 and 7,500 accredited businesses.

Instead, Mingilton would go on to become a football standout at Bishop Mauchebeuf High School, where history teacher Horace Jaster would convince him to join Key Club, the Kiwanis Club International’s high school program – a simple suggestion that would forever change his life.
“When Mr. Jaster died a couple years ago, I cried at his funeral. He had that much influence on my life.  And today when I speak to high school kids, I tell them to look around at all the people who contribute to your life,” said Mingilton, 45, who would go on to Adams State College in Alamosa, where the local Kiwanis Club embraced him and showed him the business world.

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Dale Mingilton

“I interned at a savings and loan there and knew then I wanted to go into banking,” said Mingilton, who joined FirstBank as a management trainee after graduation and would retire 22 years later as senior vice president and community affairs officer.  “I did everything from being a teller to learning how to plunge a toilet and shovel snow. We would underwrite our own loans, show up at closings and watch the hugs and the smiles when someone would buy their first home or start a small business. You can’t trade that experience for anything.”

He said his banking background, which regularly put him in touch with a cross-section of Denver’s business community, prepared him for taking the helm of the BBB, where he said phone calls flood in at a faster pace during today’s economic downturn. “When you have little money to spend, you want to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable business,” said Mingilton, who during his FirstBank tenure received the Colorado Ethics in Business Alliance award as a top ethical role model in 2005. “So we’re getting a lot more calls about scam issues popping up and also more calls from people checking on the track record of a particular business they are thinking of doing business with.

“While other businesses may be hurting, it’s the perfect time for us, as we stand for integrity in business,” he said. Following his retirement from FirstBank, Mingilton, who serves on several boards including the Aurora Housing Authority, Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, Mile High United Way and the Community College of Aurora Foundation, took an 11-month break from the business world to spend time with his wife, Terry, and two children, who live in Aurora.  Among other things, they traveled for a month in Costa Rica last summer.

Mingilton said he knew he wanted to work for a nonprofit following his banking career. “Now I get a chance to help people from making bad decisions,” said Mingilton, who admits he himself once hired a contractor for a basement remodel that didn’t work out. “Hopefully I’m able to help people from losing money and getting hurt.  We get people to think before they write checks because once you’ve bought it, it’s yours. And in these tough economic times, people can’t afford to lose.”

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Lynn Bronikowski is a freelance writer in Denver.

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