Category Archives: Business Profiles and Case Studies

Remembering Pete

Years ago a foolhardy crew of publishing folks, including a wonderful mentor, Tom Southwick, decided to start a weekly industry magazine that would compete with an established, dominant rival. We were too young then to know it was almost certain to fail. Which was a good thing, because somehow we actually made it work, sold it for real money, and went on to new adventures. Anyway, one of the reasons we made it was because of entrepreneurs like Peter Szabo, who, operating purely on a hunch, decided to support us with meaningful advertising dollars. Pete was this instinctive fellow with a twinkle in his eye…as if he knew a secret you didn’t. Pete died in 2006, and he’s missed. Here’s a bit about his professional life: this brief profile was, as you might imagine, no fun.

A telecommunications turnaround

When I wrote this profile of then-troubled Qwest Communications, the stock traded at something like $1. By summer 2006 it was up to $9. Credit has to go to in large measure to chairman/CEO Richard Notebaert, who I described in this December 2004 ColoradoBiz article this way:

“The Qwest chairman will earn $4.6 million in compensation this year, but there is a quality of earnestness about Notebaert that makes it possible to imagine him as the union laborer he once was. The former Chicagoan is an animated conversationalist who peppers his language with phrases like ‘My gracious!’ He makes a point of replying directly to e-mail messages he receives from customers and employees alike.”

Pretty doe-eyed stuff, I suppose. But he had me at “hello.”

An exercise in real ghost-writing

This magazine cover story reflects an unusual reporting challenge – to develop a comprehensive profile of an individual who refuses to be interviewed.

Too bad, because I think Denver sports magnate and real estate impresario Stan Kroenke is probably a pretty interesting individual, and someday I’d love to sit down with the guy over a glass of that expensive wine from a California vineyard he recently bought. Until then, this will have to do.  

(Published originally in ColoradoBiz and available here from the magazine’s archives.)