New venture a personal challenge for Smith

Filed under: News,One on One,Photo,Print | Tags:, ,

Brenda-SmithBrenda Smith has lived in Colorado Springs since she was 2. She was born in Colby, Kan., and moved here after her father died. In addition to her mother, she was raised in part by her six siblings -— all brothers. After growing up with the boys, the business world was not difficult for her to enter. She now is part-owner of the Garden of the Gods Club, with Judy Mackey. Smith took some time to chat with the Colorado Springs Business Journal this week.

How did you progress professionally?

I’d been in public accounting for 36 years, at BKD, a national accounting firm with a branch in Colorado Springs. Then, I really had a calling to be chief operating officer at First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs. Next I became chief operating officer of a new denomination — Eco. Eco is a covenant order of Evangelical Presbyterians. I’m still COO of Eco. The First Presbyterian Church became one of the churches under the new denomination. It isn’t that different, other than we’re handling things from all over the country.

How did your purchase of the Garden of the Gods Club come about?

Judy [Mackey] was a client at BKD and a friend, so I’ve known her about 25 years. She and I wanted to open a wellness center with Dr. Michael Barber. My husband and I were going through some health problems, and Judy and I talked about a place to have a wellness center. We decided on the Garden of the Gods Club. The only way we could maintain the quality and control is if we owned the club. Instead of leasing a building, we chose to acquire the Garden of the Gods Club. We purchased about 300 acres of land, a golf course, two clubs, the Garden of the Gods Club and Kissing Camels.

What will be part of the club?

With our health problems, I’m more of a fix-it type of person. So we traveled around the country to find ways of getting better and being more proactive than reactive. As a result of that, we realized that that need was really here in Colorado Springs — a need to really be proactive. Our goal is to help people before they have a problem, and to help people have a better quality of life. The club will be a blend between Canyon Ranch [Resort and Spa] in Tucson and a Cooper Ranch. It will have functional and traditional medicine together — traditional as if you’re going to the doctor, and functional as in diet, exercise, stress-reduction techniques, yoga and coaching might be necessary.

When will it open?

The club is open now as it had been when we purchased it. We have 1,500 members. We’re in the process of doing a pre-beta for the wellness center, and we’ll be open 18 months to two years from now. Dr. Barber starts Oct. 1. We want to be sure everything is running perfectly — training coaches and recruiting additional doctors. We want it to be perfect before we open [the wellness center]. 

Is this your dream come true? 

I really didn’t think I’d own a wellness center at my age [62]. Judy and I are really humbled by the outpouring of support by the members and the community to help the club be successful. I’m really looking forward to helping people have a better quality of life — being proactive rather than reactive on health issues. If you look at Colorado Springs historically and how Colorado Springs got started to get to the size it is — it was geared around health care. The tuberculosis center is where UCCS is. It’s a little bit ironic that we’re where we are.

How is business for the club?

We’re significantly ahead of budget, significantly ahead of last year.

How do you like owning a piece of history of Colorado Springs?

Judy and I both really look at it as if we’re stewards of the property. The Al and Margaret Hill family really developed a legacy. And they’re the ones that made the major investments and brought the club where it is. They did it on their own. They sold it in 2007 to the Sunrise Corporation. We purchased it from the Sunrise Corporation.