Woman of Influence: Ann Fetsch

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Ann Fetsch, former owner of Colorado Classics Furniture, Operation 6035 volunteer

As a former business and building owner, Ann Fetsch brings a solid point of view to her current endeavor: environmentally healthy businesses and buildings.

“I’ve developed a passion for sustainability, in particular green buildings for a sustainable business community,” said Fetsch, vice chairwoman of the Southern Colorado branch of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Anyone who has bought furniture in Colorado Springs might have recognized Fetsch’s former business, Colorado Classics Furniture, formerly Country Classics, and Drexel Heritage.

“We (she and her husband) had chosen to retire and sold the building before the downturn,” Fetsch said.

It was difficult to lay off the 20 employees who worked there, but Fetsch said they did everything they could.

The couple first lived in Aspen in 1985 and ran a furniture store there for eight years. They wanted to stay in Colorado, but didn’t want the big city life of Denver — so they relocated to Colorado Springs.

Fetsch said she continues to mentor others in the business and civic arenas.

“I really enjoy leadership and the financial analysis of a nonprofit,” she said. “People who work at nonprofits are outstanding individuals and it’s a privilege to work with them, which is of course true of my other board members.”

The civic commitment has always been a priority, she said.

“I enjoy having other interests in addition to our business,” Fetsch said. “It was a way to establish a peer group. Being an owner, you’re the boss. So unfortunately you don’t have a lot of peers at work. And we don’t have children, so we made friends and established a great group of colleagues.”

Fetsch said her latest venture has her talking about the three Ps: people, planet and profit.

In addition to her work with the USBC, Fetsch is a committee member of the Regional Sustainability Project and the Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network.

She steadfastly believes in the motto of “balancing the economy while being stewards of the environment.”

“We’re going to have a major energy conference here next year and this is a really strong branch” of the USBC, she said.

Fetsch last year joined Operation 6035’s “Clean Tech Team.” The group describes itself as “a diverse coalition of community, government and business organizations” to study and plan for “a multi-faceted, six-month project to develop a comprehensive regional economic development strategic plan for the Pikes Peak region.”

Though she admits convincing business owners that green investments will return profits has been challenging, she continues to make incremental steps toward progress.

“What’s most important to me is collaboration and to help people understand how important they are to each other,” Fetsch said. “Giving everyone the chance to express their opinion and respectfully listening is the key to finding common ground.”

By Dennis Huspeni