Brett Axton’s first business venture came at an early age.
In grade school, he sold bubble gum to fellow students. Pieces of gum he bought for 10 cents he sold for 25 cents.
That was the first of many business endeavors to come.
Axton now owns 11 businesses and is looking to add another.
A true outdoorsman, Axton left a career in the media to combine his love of the wild with his instinct for business. One of his most successful ventures is Rocky Mountain Austree Inc., which he started in 1991.
The business imports Australian Austree hybrid trees that can grow to a height of 10 feet in just one year, providing a privacy hedge or shade in a short period.
And the trees have proven to be a hot item. Axton will sell about 500,000 of them this year to people across the county, and he’s sold a total of 15 million of the trees for $7 each.
Axton recently took time to tell CSBJ about himself and his businesses.
Organizations: Rocky Mountain Austree Inc. and Rocky Mountain Roosters Inc.
Positions: CEO of Rocky Mountain Austree and president of Rocky Mountain Roosters
Hometown: Colorado Springs…born and raised
How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 43 years
Education: Bachelor’s degree in broadcast news and documentary film from Colorado State University in Fort Collins
A few words about your company: Rocky Mountain Austree is a mail-order company that sells trees that can grow more than 10 feet a year. Rocky Mountain Roosters is the largest private Pheasant Hunting Preserve west of the Mississippi.
Recent accomplishments: We celebrated our 20th birthday at Rocky Mountain Roosters in May.
Biggest career break: I think my biggest door of opportunity was being let go from my job at KOAA-TV. I was in sales there, and when you are out of work and you have a new business, it makes you hungrier. It made me think on my feet more – or faster anyway. I like being my own boss and making my own destiny a reality.
The toughest part of your job: I have several companies, so it is a juggling act every day. But I would have to say the hardest part of any business is forecasting and looking for an edge that will make it better than the competition without breaking the bank to do it. Also, giving your customers the best value for their money while still making money.
Someone you admire: I can lump what I admire about a person easier than naming one person I admire.
I admire someone who can take risks and think about the big picture instead of the paint by numbers that they are given. I admire someone who will take time to help those less fortunate. (We can all be successful in business or at home, but we have to share that with others – charities, service groups, church, scouts, other businesses, etc.)
I admire someone who can work long hours but can take time to enjoy the fruits of their labors with their family and friends and leave the office behind … it will be there when you get back. I admire someone who gives back to the community as much as they take from the same.
About your family: Single, never married. My mother and one of my brothers live in Colorado Springs. My father died in 1997. My sister is in Loveland, and my other brother is in Los Angeles.
Something else you’d like to accomplish: Grow hair and get taller…but neither will happen. I keep taking each challenge as they come along, and if I have a big accomplishment, I will let you know.
How your business will change in the next decade: With the huge growth of Colorado’s population, the need for trees and landscaping will be great.
We are a perfect fit for new homeowners who really need trees now and not 20 years from now. In the same vein, with the increase in population, the number of bird hunters is increasing and a close place to hunt is a perfect place to recreate without driving to Kansas or Nebraska.
We are only 30 miles east of Colorado Springs and the city is moving that direction, so it seems like we are getting closer to town. Twenty years ago it seemed so far away.
What book are you currently reading? Nothing currently…hunting season starts in a few days, and I am up to my armpits in feathers and happy dogs.
What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I have seen the Springs grow from when Academy Boulevard was a dirt road to a highway, and I remember when we could camp where Powers Boulevard is now.
I am not a planner, but we need to make certain that we have infrastructure to handle the growth without losing the reasons that we live at the base of Pikes Peak. We must have jobs for all of the people that want to live here – not just houses, roads and schools.