Growth out of devastation

For National Entrepreneur Day, we are highlighting a business that shows the entrepreneurial spirit in an industry that’s nearly a century old. Markit! Forestry Management, as it is today, rose out of the flames of the 2013 Waldo Canyon Fire. Those who lived in Colorado Springs at that time, and were directly impacted by the fire, know what a shocking and destructive event that was.

At the time of the Waldo Canyon fire, Markit! was made up of two men and a pickup truck.   These Wildland firefighters were dedicated to forest management and creating defensible space to help reduce the impact of devastating wildfires like the Waldo Canyon fire.  In 2013, when the Waldo Canyon Fire burned down most of the Flying W Ranch, Markit! Forestry got to work performing post-fire rehabilitation.  Leigh Ann Wolfe, owner of Flying W Ranch, saw these two hard-working men in action and was impressed by their dedication and hard work.  Leigh Ann knew she wanted to invest in Markit! Forestry in order to grow the company to help reduce devastation from wildfires across the Southwestern United States.

Bringing new life to an old industry

With that partnership, Markit! Forestry Management was able to move beyond the two-man team, to become one of the most successful and highly sought-after forestry management companies in the Southwestern US. While Markit! has experienced exceptional growth in the past six years, they achieved that success by being a disruptive force that is changing the landscape in a dying industry – which is now in critical demand. A big part of their success was coming together as a team of business people to solve problems in a fragmented industry. “It’s been a huge learning curve, but our fresh eyes on an old industry allow us to see and think ‘outside the box’,” says Alyssa Priest, EVP & Chief Administrative Officer.

Markit work in Vail

The Forestry Management industry is extremely capital intensive. It requires expensive equipment that needs to be maintained regularly in order to effectively do its job. Additionally, employees in this industry are required to work in the woods, often out of cell phone service and away from home for long stretches of time. Employees like this are not easy to find. According to Priest, “It takes a special type of person who is smart and has a lot of resolve and strength of character to do this very important work.”

Challenges like this have prompted the Markit! Forestry team to lean into technology like Quickbase to help them stay connected to their employees and the many projects happening at any given time throughout the Southwest. Quickbase allows the Markit! management team to manage customer experience, track projects and resources, and manage employee requests. It also allows employees in the field to request inventory, schedule services and machine repairs/maintenance, and communicate timely data about safety, subcontractors and machinery.

Passion and growth

Forestry Management is an industry that needs to thrive and having passionate players in the industry is key to its success. Beyond restoring the health of our forests and improving wildlife habitat, Markit! is also working hard to protect watersheds from catastrophic wildfires. Any person living in the West knows the importance and scarcity of water. Wildfires, and the materials used to fight them, can cause long term damage to our watersheds, and Markit! is hoping to prevent that before it ever happens.

To put things into perspective, the damage calculated from the Waldo Canyon fire in 2013 averaged about $30,000 per acre, while the cost for forestry management services averages around $3,000 per acre. Preventative action is not only necessary for the health of the land, it’s more fiscally responsible.

Markit! Forestry Management currently has projects in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California, with offices in Colorado Springs, Colorado, American Fork, Utah, and Flagstaff, Arizona, and sights set on another office in Northern California. They are growing at a rapid pace to keep up with the demand for their services. If you want to learn more about Markit! Forestry Management, you can visit their website here. If you’re interested in joining their team, they’re hiring! You can check out their job listings here.

Central Bank & Trust is proud to be even a small part of the incredible work that Markit! is doing. Cheers to them and all the entrepreneurs out there helping to change their industry and the world.