Colorado Business Hall of Fame inducts 8

Thursday, February 4, 2010, 11:01pm MST  |  Modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010, 11:09pm

Colorado Business Hall of Fame inducts 8

Denver Business Journal – by Bruce Goldberg

The Colorado Business Hall of Fame inducted eight business notables Thursday night during its annual induction banquet at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.

Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain Inc. and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce operated the event, and UMB Bank was the underwriter.

The Colorado Business Hall of Fame is in its 21st year, and has more than 100 members.

The 2010 laureates:

• The Gart Brothers: Nathan, Melvin, Jerry and Mickey Gart — In 1928, Nathan Gart founded Gart Bros. Sporting Goods Co. Melvin Gart joined the business in 1946 and oversaw all the advertising.

Nathan’s two sons, Jerry and Mickey, also worked for the company. Jerry Gart joined full time in 1953. He also opened the first branch store — a camera store at 16th Street and Court Place in downtown Denver — and built it into the largest photographic outlet in the Rocky Mountain West.

He added sporting goods to the upper level and took charge of the business. Eventually, that led to a highly successful chain of sporting goods stores, including the Sportscastle at 10th Avenue and Broadway.

The Garts also came up with “Sniagrab” — bargains spelled backward — and turned it into the largest ski sale in the world. It starts every year during Labor Day weekend.

• James B. Wallace — He’s one of four partners of Bownlie, Wallace, Armstrong and Bander Exploration. After 17 years working in the oil business in Texas, Wallace and his associates moved the company to Denver in 1970. Soon, Joe Bander joined the partnership.

Brownlie, Wallace, Armstrong and Bander was active in the Rockies in the 1970s. In 1980, they formed BWAB Inc. and Brownlie, Wallace, Armstrong and Bander Exploration.

Wallace served on the board of directors of Tom Brown Inc. until its sale to EnCana Oil and Gas USA Inc. He currently serves on the boards of Delta Petroleum, Ellora Energy and Savant Resources.

The Denver Petroleum Club named him Man of the Year in 1981.

In 1986, the Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States named him Wildcatter of the Year, in recognition of his 30 years in oil and gas exploration.

The Colorado Petroleum Association named him Man of the Year in 1991, and the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Hall of Fame inducted him in 2004. He’s also a member of the All-American Wildcatters group and the 25-Year Club of the Petroleum Industry.

• Henry Bosco — His father owned the Denver Hotel in Glenwood Springs, and Henry Bosco worked at a variety of jobs there as he grew up.

In 1956, the owner of the Hot Springs property, Frank E. Kistler, decided to sell the property and retire. Bosco and his father, Mike, were two of the 22 investors who bought the property.

Bosco helped lobby for the location of Interstate 70’s Eisenhower/Edwin Johnson Memorial Tunnel.

He served as general manager of the hot springs property from 1976-89. Today, he serves as president and board chairman.

The Glenwood Chamber Resort Association named Bosco Citizen of the Year in 2006. The Glenwood Chamber of Commerce has established the Bosco Tourism Business of the Year award, an annual award in honor of the Bosco family.

• Merle Catherine Chambers — In 1980, she founded and served as CEO of Axem Resources LLC, an independent oil and gas production firm. Chambers ran it for 17 years. She also became board chairman of Clipper Exxpress Co., a family-owned transportation business based in Illinois. Her father, Jerry Chambers, started that company.

In 1997, Chambers became president and CEO of Leith Ventures LLC, a private investment company. She works there today.

Chambers was the first and only woman inducted into the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, and also was chosen for the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Hall of Fame. In addition, she’s been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

She represents Colorado as an appointee to the National Petroleum Council, an advisory body to the U.S. energy secretary.

• Frederic C. Hamilton — One of America’s oil pioneers, Hamilton was co-founder, chairman and CEO of Hamilton Oil Corp., an international exploration and production company. It was the first company to find and produce oil in the British North Sea, and also developed and used the first floating production system in the world.

Hamilton also was co-founder and chairman of Tejas Gas Corp., which was sold to Shell Oil Co. in 1998.

Today, as head of The Hamilton Cos., he invests privately in venture capital, private equity, oil and gas, real estate, mortgage lending, securities and acquisitions.

Hamilton has served as board chairman of the Denver Art Museum since 1994, and on its board since 1977. He led the first endowment campaign for the museum complex.

The museum named its 146,000-square-foot expansion, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building in his honor.

Hamilton past corporate directorships include: chairman, Tejas Gas Corp.; chairman, BHP Petroleum; Celanese Corp.; First National Bancorporation; Gates Learjet; IntraWest Financial Corp.; ITT; International Mining Corp.; United States Trust Co.; Norwest Corp.; Permian Corp.; Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken International Corp.; United Banks of Colorado; and Volvo International Board.

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