George Caulkins - 2013
George Peck Caulkins was a born entrepreneur. After forming Caulkins Oil Company in the 1950s, his natural people skills and business techniques gave him many contacts and a solid company, which he eventually moved to Denver.In 1956, Caulkins met Peter Seibert in Aspen, and learned of Seibert and Earl Eaton’s dream to build a ski resort. As one of Vail’s original eight founding board members, Caulkins used his unique business acumen to turn the dream of a European-style ski resort and town into a reality.During the late 1950s and early ‘60s, Caulkins was devoted to purchasing land and introducing potential investors to Vail. He even formed the Caulkins Securities Company with the sole purpose of raising money for Vail. Wall Street had no interest in a ski resort without lifts or trails, so Caulkins and Seibert drove around the country, meeting with Caulkins’ contacts in banks, businesses, and clubs in an effort to find individuals who would invest in both a ski company and a community.Caulkins, a financial genius, specifically sought out certain kinds of people to build strong support for the fledgling ski area. Using a film on skiing in Vail’s back bowls, he sold limited partnership interests in Vail (including lifetime ski passes) in increments of $10,000. To secure the final funding, Caulkins underwrote 5 investment units himself, challenged investors to commit to more, and brilliantly included a Vail Village homesite for a mere $500.With Vail finally off the ground and open to the public, Caulkins did not stop. He formed the Gas Facilities Company to provide the infrastructure the town needed. And he lent some of his key finance and accounting employees while Vail built its own management team.Any idea without funding and support is just a good idea. Caulkins single-handedly took on the monumental task of funding Seibert and Eaton’s dream of Vail, which has grown into a world-class resort with a huge impact on individuals and communities nationwide.Caulkins was committed to business, as a member of many corporate and philanthropic boards, including the Colorado State Bank and Trust, Denver Real Estate Investment Association, and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He was an avid skier, sailor, golfer, tennis, and squash player throughout his life. After a hip replacement, he informed his doctor that he would continue skiing, but “sunny days, groomed slopes, greens only.” And he did just that, until passing away in 2005.