Like fathers, like daughters: A unique pair of business teams

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 5/23/19

There might have been a time when eldest son was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over the family business while Daddy’s little girl was shy and deferred to the male figures …

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Like fathers, like daughters: A unique pair of business teams

Posted

There might have been a time when eldest son was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over the family business while Daddy’s little girl was shy and deferred to the male figures in her life. But that’s long since passed.

Some of us have the distinct good fortune to know two ladies from Westminster who erase those old-style impressions and assumptions. In fact, they are just the opposite thanks in part to the role-model, mentoring role which their respective fathers played in their lives.

It’s a risk taking kind of business

It’s still pretty unique in today’s business world for women to be partners in real estate/development companies and calling the shots. It is even more unusual for those women to be partnering with their fathers in this risk-taking, charge-ahead industry of buying and selling land as well as developing it.

People in the business of real estate/development remind me of farmers in a way. They have to take risks not knowing what the market will do just like farmers have no guarantee on the weather to grow their crops. From the time they start on a project through the land purchases, zoning and development plan approvals to when the office buildings or retail centers are ready for occupancy, the market demand could have diminished or accelerated. The same can be said for farmers from the time they sow the seed until they take their crops to market.

Partnering with their fathers

Michelle Gayeski and Dana Talarico are the stellar businesswomen I am talking about. They are savvy, independent-minded businesswomen who know their business.

Just like Professor Harold Hill sang in “The Music Man”, “you got to know the territory.” These ladies certainly know the territory since they grew and learned from their fathers, Larry Gayeski and Joe Talarico both of whom are successful and well known.

Their dads involved them early-on in the business. Michelle remembers from her high school years attending the debates about where to locate the new Denver airport which ended up at DIA. These discussions really intrigued her.

Dana graduated from Marycrest High School while Michelle is a Northglenn High School grad. They each went to college — Michelle graduated from C.U. with a degree in real estate and international business. Dana chose higher education in France and Germany graduating from the University of Southern Europe studying international business and finance.

After graduation, Michelle moved to Dallas and worked for Major League Soccer in the sports industry. She returned to Denver five years later to work for her dad and learned the business.

Five years in, with the need to pave her own way, she took a VP position with a local development company, NexCore Group. Over the course of 10 years, Michelle was involved in development and leasing of outpatient healthcare facilities from Denver to Chicago. After 10 years of the grind of being a “travel warrior,” she decided it would be the right thing to return to partner with her dad.

Dana went to work in Chicago with Jones Lang LaSalle, a Staubach Company) doing corporate relocation work. After years away in Europe, she and her dad discussed the possibility of Dana joining his business.

And as they say, the rest is history. It has been 21 years for both of them since joining their fathers in the development business.

Community service is high on their agenda

Both are stellar examples of giving of their time and talent in various community causes and making the community a better place.

Dana has twice served as chairperson of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, has served for nine years on the advisory board of an independent bank in the area and serves as board chair of the St. Anthony’s Regional Board of Directors for Centura Health.

Michelle is a member of the Westminster Legacy Foundation Board of Directors, previously served on the CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties Board of Directors and is a member of the Cherry Creek Rotary Club where she served as their president. She also volunteers at a homeless shelter.

Unique opportunity

So, what makes them want to stay in this line of work with their fathers given the risk factor and uncertainty?

Dana points out the importance of being able to pick and choose the clients and the projects. It’s special to work with people who she admires as well as doing the right thing in regard to the development.

Michelle says it is important to have fun while carrying out the details and duties of the job. She too appreciates the ability to choose her work and considers it a blessing.

Dana admires the face-to-face opportunity to work side by side with her father as she continues to learn from him. For Michelle, the relationship with her dad has evolved into being partners in their collective work. Both ladies stressed the importance of trust with their fathers as the key ingredient to their positive working relationships.

A special relationship for over 20 years

Dana and Michelle first met through their fathers in 1998. Today, both the Gayeski’s and the Talarico’s office in the same building in Westminster. They touch base regularly and it is a regular practice for Larry, Michelle, Joe and Dana to have lunch together in their spacious meeting area at the Gayeski building.

While they are in the same line of business, they do not worry about competing with each other. In fact, it is normal for either Dana to seek advice from Michelle or vice versa.

Both women envision good things for Westminster in the future as it further matures. Furthermore, they envision being a factor in both Westminster’s and the north metro area’s success both from their business savvy as well as their commitment to serving the community.

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