2019 Colorado Business Hall of Fame Laureates Announced

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. are pleased to announce the 2019 inductees into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame, representing Colorado’s most distinguished business leaders from the past and present:

  • Thomas E. Congdon
  • Charles L. Cousins and Charles R. Cousins
  • John E. Freyer
  • Evan Makovsky
  • Walter P. Paepcke
  • John J. Sie

These laureates, selected for their enduring and innovative professional contributions to Colorado, inspirational and ethical acumen, and philanthropic endeavors, will be inducted at the 30th annual Colorado Business Hall of Fame Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center.

The event is generously sponsored by UMB Bank. For details about this event or to purchase a table or tickets, please click here.

2019 Colorado Business Hall of Fame Laureates: 

 Thomas E. Congdon
Thomas E. (Tom) Congdon served as president of St. Mary Land and Exploration Company (SM Energy) for 25 years. He took over the role from his grandfather, Chester Congdon, who was one of the original founders of the company. Under Tom’s 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 generously give back to the community, including contributions to the Denver Scholarship Foundation since the organization’s founding in 2006. They are great contributors to Colorado arts and cultural institutions as well, including the Denver Art Museum and Colorado Public Radio.

 Charles L. Cousins and Charles R. Cousins
Charles L. Cousins was born in Virginia in 1881 and moved as a young child with his family to Kansas. His formal education ended after the sixth grade, when he and his brother went to work out of economic necessity. In 1909, Charles moved to Denver, where he worked on the Union Pacific Railroad. Charles was known as a hard worker, as was his wife Alta. Because of sacrifices they made together, Charles was able to purchase building materials to erect homes and buy pre-existing buildings, thereby laying the foundation of ownership he could pass along to his children.

His son Charles R. Cousins (called Charlie) began his career while still a student attending Manual High School in 1936, providing music for the school dances of African American students who were segregated from those of white students. He did the same as a student at Colorado State University, beginning his long career in the jukebox industry. When white-owned jukebox businesses tried to take over the restaurants and bars where his machines were located, Charlie purchased the buildings, beginning his successful career in real estate, primarily in the Five Points neighborhood. He is also credited with being a key financial backer of the Five Points neighborhood jazz scene, making the Rossonian Hotel a must-stop venue for African American musicians who were barred from other hotels because of racial discrimination.

John 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, growing the company to more than 750 employees with 50 offices across Colorado. John is driven to contribute and improve our community, investing in established Colorado institutions such as Colorado Mesa University, Denver Botanic Gardens, the University of Colorado, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation. He is also a founding member of Brokers Benefitting Kids, which brings together the commercial real estate industry to support at-risk youth.

Evan Makovsky
Evan Makovsky co-founded the Shames Makovsky Realty Company in 1971, and later the Shames Makovsky Mortgage Company, with his partner and uncle, Motty Shames. In the 2000s, Evan purchased and renovated an array of vacant and decrepit properties adjacent to the convention center, helping revitalize the area. Evan and his wife, Evi, are heavily involved with many community organizations and nonprofit boards, such as the Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver Academy of Torah, Denver Health Foundation, Denver’s Road Home, Denver Scholarship Foundation, M.B. and Shana Glassman Foundation, Rocky Mountain Historical Jewish Society, Rose Community Foundation, and Shalom Park.

Walter Paepcke
Born in Chicago in 1896, Walter Paepcke began his career working for his immigrant father at Chicago Mill and Lumber. Walter eventually took over as CEO and formed the Container Corporation of America, which produced packaging for Procter & Gamble, Sears Roebuck, and General Electric. In the 1940s, Walter founded the Aspen Ski Company, featuring the world’s longest chairlift. In 1950, the company hosted the first international skiing competition in the United States. Walter also founded the Aspen Institute, Aspen Music Festival, and the International Design Conference.

John Sie
John Sie is the founder and former chairman of Starz Entertainment Group, based in Colorado. Born in China, John came to the United States in 1950 at the age of 14. 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. John now devotes his time to his family and philanthropic activities. He and his wife established the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation in 2005, which 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.