Steamboat Springs Terry Jost is a hard-working, no-nonsense, make-your-own-breaks kind of guy, which could explain how the St. Louis-raised banker fell in love with the ranching and cowboy lifestyle he found in Iowa and Northwest Colorado.
Jost's career has been a blend of his business upbringing and his lifelong love of all things Western, particularly rodeos, horses and ranching.
The former makes sense -- his father was a successful businessman. The latter, however, is a little less clear.
Jost, president and CEO of Mountain Valley Bank, has no ranchers or farmers in his family tree. But as a child in St. Louis, he always wanted horses.
"I never have been able to finger it out," Jost, 56, said recently from his office at Mountain Valley Bank's Hayden branch.
He bought his first horse when he was 12 --is father refused to pay for any of it, so Jost also paid for stabling the animal and for riding lessons.
His love of horses and other ranch animals grew as Jost did, and he went to the University of Missouri to earn a degree in agricultural business and animal science. After graduation and a stint in the Army, he got a job running a grain elevator in Missouri. He made $7,500 a year. When the opportunity arose to make an additional $500 a year operating a grain elevator in Iowa, Jost jumped all over it. But the man he worked for in Iowa was stealing money from farmers, and a concerned Jost visited a local attorney for advice. The lawyer told Jost to get out of the grain elevator business. He also told him he needed an honest man to work at a bank he co-owned in Corydon, Iowa.
Jost always knew he'd be a businessman, and "it just happened to be banking that I wound up in."
He started as the bank's teller in 1973, and he bought the operation a few years later. He credits one of the bank's previous owners for helping him acquire it.
In addition to the bank, Jost also purchased land in and around Corydon. Owning property allowed him to breed quarterhorses from 1979 to 1993. He learned to rope when he was 33, and it wasn't too much longer before he was entering ranch rodeos.
Jost began coming to Northwest Colorado for hunting and rodeos in the '80s. He often stayed in Clark, where he and his wife, Sharon, eventually purchased a cabin at the Glen Eden Resort. Their love of Routt County grew quickly.
Jost said he loves the Western "pioneer spirit" that thrives throughout the region and the sense of community in Northwest Colorado's towns and cities.
In 1996, Jost sold his bank in Iowa and began spending the summers working on a ranch in Clark, where he spent his days on horseback with cattle herds.
"He much prefers to be on a horse than doing just about anything else," said Sharon Jost, Terry's wife of 28 years. Sharon grew up on a Colorado ranch but left ranching behind when she pursued her career in banking. They met at banking school in Boulder. It wasn't long after she met Terry that got back into the ranching life.
In 2000, the Josts sold their Iowa ranches and moved to their 260-acre ranch near Hayden, where husband and wife hay together.
But retirement just didn't sit well with Jost.
"It's not good for me," he said. "When you don't have something to wake up to every day and be a part of, it leaves you sort of empty."
So he un-retired.
"I was putting up hay one day, just driving around, and I thought, 'What a waste of my experience.' I really just got to missing this business."
Jost went to work for a bank in Hayden, and in 2004, he and a partner started Mountain Valley Bank, which has branches in Meeker, Walden, Hayden and Steamboat Springs.
Community banking is something Jost values, and he sees his bank as key to the growth and development of the communities it serves.
"The banker has to be a visionary to see things that need to be taken care of and part of the answer to coming up with solutions," he said. "It's more than just writing the check. It's being involved."
Banking in Northwest Colo--rado also means helping the ranchers and others who have careers in agriculture.
"Terry sees that banking is starting to diverge away from agriculture, but he knows that's an area that needs to be fulfilled," Sharon Jost said.
It's not just his customers that Terry Jost enjoys helping. He's dedicated to providing successful career paths for his hard-working employees. He hasn't forgotten the opportunities people in his past entrusted to him.
"That's part of what this business is about," Jost said. "We have some really good people in this company who are moving up.
"They make me look good every day."
Outside of banking and ranching, Jost is president of Glen Eden Resort, president of the Routt County 4-H Scholarship Foundation, serves on the board of directors for Horizons Specialized Services and Hayden's Economic Devel--opment Board and participates in the American Legion honor guard. He also is a former Routt County Fair Board member.
"When you get out of the bank, you continue to be amazed at the things he's done and the things he continues to do," said Dean Vogelaar, a close friend and Mountain Valley Bank co-worker. "He's kind of flown under the radar screen a little bit."
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