WESTON GROUNDWATER ENGINEERING, LARAMIE DANCE & ARTS CENTER, HOUSE OF POUNCE, LKH&COMPANY, WYOMING LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE/WYOMING WEDDINGS MAGAZINE
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of working with the youth of Laramie and across Wyoming for nearly twenty years. My wife and I started by coaching Cheerleading at LHS in the late 90’s, when we were in college. Then we became the State Chairpersons with the Wyoming Junior Miss program, which we moved to Laramie and hosted young ladies from around the state of Wyoming. I have been involved with a girl’s youth organization called Job’s Daughters International, and spent seven years on the state leadership board. As my children reached school age, I became involved in their school PTA organization, eventually becoming the President of Indian Paintbrush Elementary PTA for three years. This involvement allowed me to see the impact positive adult role models can have on the 300+ children in the school. Getting to work with such an enthusiastic group of parents to effect change and provide positive educational opportunities to the youth of the school was a great experience. My wife’s and my new adventure is the Laramie Dance & Arts Center. In 2014, my wife and I purchased the Laramie Dance Center, a ballet-centered dance school, which was the only dance center in Laramie. The previous owner was going to close the school; my wife and I did not want to see Laramie lose the dancing arts, so we purchased the center. Our love of the arts has allowed us to shift the focus of the center from ballet to supporting many forms of the arts. We rebranded the Laramie Dance Center to the Laramie Dance & Arts Center, which provides all forms of dance, in addition to music lessons and other activities like Taekwondo, cheerleading and Snowy Range Music Together. We love being able to provide a supportive and accepting environment for children and adults to learn to love the arts, and work with many scholarship families. We have added Laramie Valley Dancers to provide a professional production type experience for students of the center at no additional cost to them. As part of this group, the kids get opportunities to be involved in community events and volunteer in Laramie – events which many couldn’t afford without scholarship opportunities. We’re excited to see firsthand the growth in many of Laramie’s kids throughout the years!
What is your primary personal development goal/business goal for the next 5 years?
My wife and I are working every day to grow and improve the arts community in Laramie and affect the youth of Laramie in a positive way and I want to see that continue. Additionally, this year we started a retail store to provide dance wear, gymnastics apparel, and figure skating gear here locally. We have seen and been parents who have taken our kids to Colorado to buy the gear they needed for dance classes because there was no option here. Our store, LKH & Company, has started small, but we are making strides and have big plans to grow the store and continue to provide services to families right here in Laramie. In the short time the store has been open we have already begun to provide services to communities outside Laramie as well.
What is your biggest philanthropic achievement?
I don’t have a single achievement that I view as the biggest. I look at my philanthropic activities from a more holistic point of view. A great achievement is being able to affect someone else’s life in a positive way.
What action/event that you've been a part of, that you believe has made the biggest difference in Laramie?Or are you most proud of?
Very much like what I said in #1 above, I believe that affecting youth positively can make a tremendous difference in Laramie. Encouraging and facilitating positive activities that teach life skills these kids can take and use to create their own positive change in their own community – it’s the best form of paying it forward that I can think of. Whenever a parent says, ‘Thank you for this opportunity; I couldn’t have afforded it otherwise’ … or a parent says ‘Thanks to your programs my child is busy and not interested in drugs and alcohol’ … those statements make me proud. We allow kids in our dance & arts center to have flexibility with school sports and other activities, as we want to support the growth of the whole child. While it may stretch our budget at times, we know that we’re not here to make money; we’re here to help parents mold positive children into positive adults. ‘Positive’ is obviously a word I use often! It just fits what our purpose is, and what makes us light up inside when we see it on display in our kids.
What excites you most about the future of Laramie?
Being a long time Laramie resident I am excited to see the community’s growth and a return of the shop local pride. I am also excited to see, and be, one of the Laramie High School graduates of the 90’s that are now becoming business owners and community leaders. I am excited to see how we can improve and give back to Laramie.
What do you think has helped make you successful in your endeavors?
The answer to this question changes on how you define success. I often view ‘success’ as equaling a task accomplished, and in our endeavors, we’ve never found a defined ‘finish line.’ My wife and I have coached each other in appreciating our small successes – were we more focused today? Did we accomplish a goal this week? What is our goal for next week? Did we learn something new? When I focus on uncompleted tasks, I tend to feel frustrated. When I think on a small victory (sometimes very small), it helps keep me positive. I have sought out people in my life to help me grow as a person and professionally. Those positive people have helped me appreciate the value in any success, no matter how small. When it comes to each day, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful wife and children that have provided me a grounding that has allowed me to grow as a person and business owner.
What advice would you give to other young professionals in Laramie?
The first piece of advice that comes to mind is to stick with it. It does not matter if you are the person building a business from the ground up, or the employee that shows up every day, at some point in everyone’s professional journey your career becomes work…the fun is gone and the passion is gone. At those times, you have to buckle down and find a way back to the passion and drive that started you on this path. We have all been there at 2:00 in the morning wondering,‘Why, why am I doing this?’ Those are the moments when that passion and drive will carry you through, and help you grow and expand to new areas and experiences.