20 under 40: Chris Slota, Bank of the West
July 26, 2017
Chris Slota, 32, ended up in Steamboat Springs the way plenty of us do: he'd skied the mountain and visited the town during college and made it a goal to eventually live here year-round. After a quick stint in the suburbs of Fort Collins, the Ohio native arrived for good.
Slota worked in resort management at Wyndham Vacation Rentals for six years, at the same time working as a part-time teller at Wells Fargo.
"That's where I dipped my toe into banking," he says.
One day, a branch manager position opened at Bank of the West, and the bank's Tia Rexford, a former Wyndham colleague, called Slota up.
"She said, 'I've seen you see things at Wyndham that needed to be fixed, and your experience will translate,'" Slota says. He remembers being hesitant — his banking experience was two years of being a part-time teller — but he went ahead and applied.
Two and a half years later, he couldn't be happier. As branch manager, Slota spends time meeting with local businesses and people and aiming to drive up business for the bank. "I love helping people, and I love having more involvement in the community," Slota says.
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And the business community is grateful. "He loves helping local entrepreneurs achieve their business dreams, in affect growing this town," says fiance Veronika Khanisenko. "He has such positive and magnetic energy and is a strong role model for what the younger generation of Steamboat professionals should be."
Rexford also sings his praises. "He works hard to do what he feels is right," Rexford says. "He gives people the benefit of the doubt and isn't afraid to speak up when he feels it's needed."
Slota connects the customer service side of his work at Wyndham with his current job at Bank of the West.
"If you have a successful business model, people come back year after year," he says. "We know their names, their kids' names and their dogs' names. We have a customer who we even have root beer suckers set aside for."
Slota works hard and plays hard. In summer, he mountain bikes during the week and camps and desert bikes on weekends with his fiance. In the winter, he's a type-2 ski biker. "It's basically a full-suspension mountain bike with skis on the bottom," he explains.
He also gives back as a member of the Young Professionals Network and a board member of downtown revitalization nonprofit Mainstreet Steamboat. "It allows me to ask a lot of questions about what people need and how I can help them," he says.