If you’ve been in Northern Colorado for very long — or if you’ve been reading Northern Colorado Speaks long — you know Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland are packed with outstanding local businesses. From craft breweries and mouth-watering eateries to home designers and big dreamers, our communities are filled with entrepreneurs, makers and doers.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we spoke with a few of the couples behind eight of those businesses. They’re telling their stories, sharing details about their accomplishments, and giving you their best relationship advice. Enjoy!
You may recognize them from RUCKERHILL.
He sold real estate for 15 years before they dove into the design business head first. “He’s the visionary,” Rebecca said. “Which is kind of unique because, in most couple situations, it’s typically the woman who does that. People will come in and start asking me for paint colors and I have to point them toward Rucker because he does all of it.”
She is the fire and the business side of both the relationship and the design firm. “Rebecca is everything that’s under that first layer of paint,” said Rucker.
They met in Dallas, Texas, dated for three months and got married three months later on October 10, 2010 at 10:10. “I was his perfect ten, Rebecca laughed. “That’s what he told me anyway.” Before they ever began RUCKERHILL, they knew they didn’t want to live in Dallas long term. “We had a wall that was a chalkboard and we just started brainstorming things we wanted,” she said. “We wrote down things like pine trees, hiking trails, local shopping; we wanted to be half a mile from a trailhead.”
About two years after that, Rucker and Rebecca visited Fort Collins for the first time. “When we drove into Fort Collins, we came in off of Prospect and the first thing that caught my eye was the 7-11 on the southeast corner of May and Prospect,” Rucker explained. “It may sound cheesy, but I thought it was amazing that they put a green space as a buffer between the gas station and the road. In Dallas, it’s all concrete. We kept driving down Prospect and we passed that Taco Bell inside an old house. This city is so into preservation they made them put a Taco Bell inside an old home rather than tear it down … I knew then that the overall vision of the city was something that was unique and it was very attractive to us and would be to other people.”
“I look back at our first project and I kind of laugh,” Rebecca explained. “It wasn’t really that big of a project but it meant so much to us. From there, we took on a 70s contemporary modern and I remember thinking, after that one was done, it was so much better than we could have ever imagined. Then we did the house next door and that one was amazing. We just continue to outdo ourselves in a great way. The biggest accomplishment comes at the end of every single project.”
Rucker’s best marriage advice: “Never give up.”
Rebecca’s best marriage advice: “That’s the same thing I wrote and we didn’t talk about it at all. It really is! Never give up. The other thing is to have people around who can help you see and understand and encourage the good things.”
You may recognize them from The Mayor of Old Town.
He had just graduated from CSU and was working as a temp at a local music stand company.
She drove past him in a forklift and he fell in love.
They have lived in Fort Collins since the early 1990s. Before opening The Mayor, they started a real estate and property management company and worked on that together through 2009. “We then spent two years traveling in order to find a place to move to from Fort Collins,” Kevin said. “In all honesty, we couldn’t find a place that brought all of the benefits that Fort Collins does without major trade offs.” Their travels inspired a multi-tap craft beer bar and, in Kevin’s words, “What better place to do that than Fort Collins?”
Kevin’s best marriage advice: “I would say that the basis of it all is to have each other’s back. This means that we respect each other and actively work to support each other.”
He is credited as the godfather of sour and barrel-aged beers in the United States. After being recruited by New Belgium Brewing back in 1996, he took the beer program and ran with it. After creating the now famous La Folie, he ushered sour beers into the mainstream and earned the beer a bronze medal at GABF back when there was no sour category.
She has been Peter’s light in the darkness for decades both literally (while spelunking) and figuratively (while navigating brewery life). He credits her as the person who was considering the move to New Belgium and who eventually brought them to Fort Collins. Once they made the move, she volunteered at the brewery working in nearly all areas before officially becoming a US citizen in 2016. Then, she officially became an employee owner at New Belgium and now pours samples in New Belgium’s tasting room on Saturday and Sunday.
They are both from Belgium, but now happily call Fort Collins home. They opened Purpose Brewing and Cellars with Zach and Laura Wilson in 2017 and, when asked why they chose to open it here, Frezi said, “There was no way I was going to take [my sons] out of school to move somewhere else. And isn’t Fort Collins the best place to live anyway!?”
Peter + Frezi’s best marriage advice: “Have fun and trust in each other … Sometimes, you need some trust and, sometimes, some patience to find the good things but, just like spelunking, there is always light behind the darkness.”
You may recognize them from Purpose Brewing and Cellars.
He was a brewer at Fort Collins Brewery wrapping up his shift and getting set up to perform at open mic night.
She stopped in to have a beer and asked if there was going to be live music; after talking for awhile and hitting it off, she came back the next Thursday to play music with him.
They found soulmates in each other. “We’re following our work passions together and we just had a baby,” said Laura. After working together at 1933 Brewing, they opened Purpose Brewing and Cellars with Peter and Frezi Bouckaert in 2017. “We want to contribute to the economy and culture of Fort Collins because we live here,” she said. “And we want to be a part of the success of our vibrant community.”
Zach + Laura’s best marriage advice: “Individually and as a couple, keep your dreams and passions alive, and always provide encouragement for each other to do so.”
You may recognize them from Waltzing Kangaroo.
He was born and raised in Australia. His father was a pastry chef and, while he and Aimée were living together in Australia, he landed a job as a baker specializing in gourmet meat pies and traditional sweets.
She is the yin to Steve’s yang. Born and raised in New Orleans, she lived and worked in Austin, Texas and Grand Teton National Park before moving to Australia with Steve.
They met at Keystone Resort where they worked together for a season then went on a month-long road trip across the United States before Steve’s work visa expired. After Steve returned to Australia, he was offered a managerial role at his company which brought Aimée to Australia instead of the other way around. Much later, when looking for a place to call the home of Waltzing Kangaroo, they settled in Denver and began driving around to locate the perfect spot. “We found pockets we really liked but nothing really excited us,” Aimée said. “Then, we drove to Fort Collins and, although it was a cold, rainy, quiet Monday in May, we liked it immediately. We knew the weather would improve (it hasn’t rained like that since) and honestly it just felt right.”
Steve + Aimée’s best marriage advice: “Honor each others’ differences.”
He was born and raised in Fort Collins and, at Forge + Bow, sees the house for its potential and reworks it to meet the needs of today’s family.
She is the home creator: dreaming up the mood of the house and picking all of the details to achieve it.
They are committed to each other, committed to their business, and committed to growing every day. In their January 2018 HGTV pilot episode, they showcased both the city of Fort Collins and their passion for home creation. They said, “When creating homes that people fall in love with, it helps that the backdrop is a town that people can also fall in love with.” Their pilot re-aired on HGTV February 13th; keep an eye out for a possible full season this summer!
Annie + Jordan’s best marriage advice: “Surround yourself with a great community, have faith in something larger than yourself, and talk to each other!”
You may recognize them from Wiley Roots Brewing.
He is the Master Brewer at Wiley Roots, creating the recipes, ordering the ingredients, organizing logistics and managing the taproom as well as all social media and staff.
She manages all of the wholesale sales and distribution in addition to business operations like accounting, finance and human resources.
They met in college and consider starting the brewery to be their greatest accomplishment. “We lived on one income for five years working in Denver in other careers to save the money,” Miranda explained. “While a lot of friends were traveling the world and buying ski condos we lived simply, like we did in college, to be able to save. Other than the electrical work we also did all of the construction work ourselves, driving up to Greeley each night after our Denver jobs to do construction until two in the morning. Then we would drive back to Denver and go to work the next day.” When they opened in 2013, they were the only Greeley brewery alongside Crabtree Brewing Company and, together, they’ve been able to shape and develop the city’s craft beer culture.
Kyle + Miranda’s best marriage advice: “For us, we have put our business first always … That is what works for us, but it is definitely not for everyone. In a situation where there are differing opinions we oftentimes have to ask ourselves ‘Is this my spouse or my business partner talking to me right now?’ It can be challenging separating the two. All of that being said it is a true advantage to be in business with your spouse. We have the same vision, the same goals, the same passion, and it is great to go to work every day and accomplish your goals and have your spouse rooting you on and to see you live out your dreams on a daily basis. We are a great team!”
You may recognize them from Horse & Dragon Brewing Company.
He is the workhorse to Carol’s dragon personality.
She grew up in Boulder and spent countless weekends in Fort Collins with her grandparents.
They met as undergraduates, lived overseas and in Wisconsin, and raised their two girls before choosing Fort Collins as the home of Horse & Dragon. “We waited a good 20+ years to chase this dream, so we figured we had to study the market and go where we had the best chance of making a financial go of it,” Carol explained. And, with the growth statistics backing their decision, they were able to choose their sentimental favorite. “Our goal is to be able to provide well enough for our employees so that they can each be able to buy a house in FoCo,” she said.
Tim’s best marriage advice: “LISTEN!”
Carol’s best marriage advice: “I used to tell our daughters: I hope someday you find someone to share your life with who thinks more about other people than he or she does about him or herself.”
Share your favorite marriage or relationship advice in the comments below!