Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates are part of a league of outstanding individuals who have made legendary contributions to the free enterprise system. Through their actions and accomplishments, the Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates provide inspiration for the next generation as they take the reins of leadership in the years to come. A joint venture of Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the CBHF is always a must-attend event for business and community leaders. This year marks the event’s 30th anniversary.
This year’s laureates are:
Thomas E Congdon: In 1966, Tom joined St. Mary Land and Exploration Company (SM Energy), serving as president for nearly 25 years. Under his leadership, SM Energy was transformed from a small private company with one employee to a publicly listed, multibillion-dollar company of 600 employees. Tom and his wife Noel have paid it forward through involvement with numerous community organizations.
Charles L and Charles R Cousins: Charles L Cousins moved to Denver in 1909 and worked on the Union Pacific Railroad. Through hard work and great work ethic, he and his wife Alta were able to compile resources to build numerous homes and buy existing buildings. His son Charlie inherited a disciplined work ethic rich with integrity. He carved out a career in the juke box industry, and when white-owned businesses tried to take over places where his juke boxes were, he bought the buildings. He soon became a successful real estate entrepreneur. He and his “ideal partner” Dorothy invested heavily in the Five Points area and owned more than 30 buildings there. He provided low-cost apartments to many people who didn’t have the resources. He also wrote off the rent for many others who couldn’t afford to pay. He also became known as the “Godfather of Jazz” in the Five Points neighborhood, giving opportunities to musicians who otherwise would not have had them due to discrimination.
John E Freyer: John Freyer serves as co-chairman of the Land Title Guarantee Company (Land Title) in Denver. He was the company’s president from 1985 to 2017. During that time, he grew the company to more than 750 employees with 50 offices across Colorado, establishing Land Title as a nationally known brand, with all operations locally in Colorado. He is a generous philanthropist, investing in numerous Colorado institutions.
Evan Makovsky: Evan Makovsky first co-founded the Shames Makovsky Realty Company in 1971 with his partner and uncle, Motty Shames. They later founded the Shames Makovsky Mortgage Company, catapulting the company into the full service commercial realty industry. Evan saved the Colorado Business Bank building from the wrecking ball in the 1990s and in the 2000’s, Evan became an urban hero of downtown Denver when he announced that he had achieved what others had failed to do: purchase the array of vacant and decrepit properties on the block from California to Welton streets and 15th to 16th streets in order to revitalize the area that bordered the new convention center. He transformed this important gateway to downtown Denver into a modern and vibrant conglomeration of properties. He and his wife Evi are involved in numerous community projects and boards.
Walter P Paepcke: Walter formed the very successful Container Corporation of America in 1926, producing packaging for Procter & Gamble, Sears Roebuck, and General Electric. CCA emphasized quality products and artistry, making their boxes stand out. Aspen, Colorado was a place Walter and his wife Elizabeth loved to visit in the 1940s. As part of a larger effort to establish Aspen as a skiing and cultural destination, Walter founded the Aspen Ski Company, Aspen Institute, Aspen Music Festival, and the International Design Conference. The company went on to open three more ski areas in Aspen and Snowmass. Walter sought a forum “where the human spirit can flourish,” and created the Aspen Institute as a gathering place for writers, musicians, thinkers, and artists.
John J Sie: John Sie is the founder and former chairman of Starz Entertainment Group. Founded in 1991, the Colorado-based company is owned by Liberty Media Corporation and is the parent of 13 premium movie networks, including Starz and Encore. Many consider John to be the father of digital television. In 1989, he submitted the first white paper on digital high definition television to Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, which would dramatically change the landscape of television across the globe. With a strong belief in giving back to the community, John and his wife established the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation in 2005. The foundation became the founding donor of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome, the first global institute to encompass research and clinical care specifically for people with Down syndrome. John is also committed to bridging the U.S.-China relationship through mutual understanding, dialogue and respect, working with many prominent committees and projects to promote such values.
For more detailed information on the honorees and the CBHF, log on to www.coloradobusinesshalloffame.org.