Navigator Awards honor Sarah Fox as Young Professional of the Year
If you go
The Navigator Awards are presented by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Steamboat Pilot & Today during the Chamber's 107th annual meeting. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Strings Music Pavilion.
Tickets for the event are on sale at http://www.steamboatchamber.com/navigator. The cost is $70 for general admission, $90 for reserved seating and $1,200 for front row VIP tables for 10 people.
Steamboat Springs — One might have to search high and low to find Steamboat parents who haven’t, at one time or another, wished their young adult children could come home from college and establish their careers in the Yampa Valley. But it doesn’t work out that way for most families.
Perhaps no one exemplifies the realization of that goal better than Sarah Fox, who graduated from Colorado State University in 2005 with a degree in construction management. She returned to Steamboat to join her father, Tom, in the family business, Fox Construction, and has become a community leader.
Sarah Fox is a deserving winner of the 2014 Navigator Award for Young Professional of the Year, not just for the compassion that guides her business life but for her seemingly limitless capacity for community service.
Fox has been strapping on a tool belt and going to work on construction job sites since she was a child. Now, she is being prepped to assume the reins of Fox Construction from her father. But that’s not all.
“I started working construction as a carpenter’s helper when I was in middle school,” Fox said. “I spent one whole summer when I was in high school working on the Emerald Mountain School job. My dad and I are partners, and I’ve been working toward taking over the business. He’s my No. 1 role model, and he’s one of my best friends, as well.”
Fox Construction builds custom single-family homes and large institutional buildings such as the Steamboat Springs Community Center and the recently completed Holy Name Catholic Church.
“That has actually been a fun, cool project we’ve done the last couple of years,” she said about the Holy Name project, which is technically a grand remodel but completely has transformed the church on Oak Street in Steamboat Springs.
“My sister and I were all baptized and had all of our sacraments in the church, and my mom is involved in the stained glass, and now we get to build it,” Fox said.
Working toward the goal of assuming leadership of one of the Yampa Valley’s leading construction firms would be enough for most young parents with a second child on the way, but Fox has expanded the sphere of her business interests while balancing family life and an extensive resume of community involvement.
She has acquired Four Star Auto Repair, and she and her husband, Jeremy Behling, recently purchased Yampa Valley Tire Pros and Express Lube, a business that he is running.
She is on the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association board of directors and chairs the Economic Development Council. She was a founding board member of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and served on the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, and the list goes on.
Asked how she balances all of her community service roles with her business and a growing family, she hesitates for a moment.
“It’s not always easy,” Fox said, “but somehow I make it work. Those are all critical components. We’re constantly going; our family never stops. We’re always working on the yard and finding projects — it’s hard work and nonstop.”
Well, maybe Sarah Fox isn’t always working — she still finds time to strap on her ice skates.
“One of my main hobbies is hockey,” Fox said. “I’ve been playing for Chix with Stix for the last nine or 10 years, and I love it. I’m also captain of a rec league team, and it’s fun to help new players come into the league and bring them up.”
Fox is sensitive to the circumstance that she is a woman in what is perceived to be a non-traditional role as a building contractor. But if she is a chip off the old block, she most definitely does not have a chip on her shoulder. Her leadership style is collaborative.
“I try to respect everyone else’s opinion and ask for advice rather than just coming in and telling everyone how it should be done,” she said. “I prefer gathering information to show (colleagues) that I value them and what they think.”
That approach has proven to win buy-in from employees and subcontractors. She even curries favor with employees of subcontractors who may be native Spanish speakers by talking to them in their native tongue.
Another passion is green building.
“It’s really fun to find new products that make homes healthy for people, and an environment where they are comfortable. I love being part of that.”
Steamboat Springs is fortunate that after leaving for college, Fox missed Steamboat enough to want to be a part of the community for the long haul.
“Steamboat is a really awesome place to raise a family,” Fox said. “Honestly, when you grow up here, you don’t appreciate it as much as you should. You appreciate it a lot after you leave.”
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Explore a mix of in-person and virtual events happening this weekend in Routt County.