Page 1

note} from the editor

Welcome to the launch of 406 Business Woman! Did you know that 60% of U.S. women work outside the home, earning a total of $1 trillion each year? From 2002 to 2011, the number of womenowned businesses in the United States increased by 20% to a total of 9.1 million. In other words, women are playing an incredibly important part in job creation in the United States as more and more women take control of their own careers, start their own businesses, and create jobs for more people.

While women are unfortunately still the minority when it comes to occupying top executive positions, the “Justin Bieber” of the tech world, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, often urges women to “keep your foot on the gas pedal,” and to aim high. In a recent commencement address to Barnard College graduates, the $400 million woman said, "We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored." Looking for role models no further than our own backyard and featured in this month’s inaugural issue of 406 Business Woman, meet “Business Woman of the Year” Debbie Pierce and Phyllis Quatman, “406 Wife, Mother, Trial Attorney and Author.” Grab a coffee and sit down to read an in-depth chat with Stacy Tandy and Denise Falkner of InvesTech/Stack Financial about the allusive pursuit of having it all. Finally, gather tips on how to make your tax preparations simple and painless, discover the importance of professional development and more altruistically, find ways to pay it forward. Now more than ever, if you want to make a difference, you better think big and dream big, right from day one. In this and future issues, we’ll provide the tools, but the key to a fruitful professional career is in your hands. It's your move. We look forward to working with you-Sincerely,


Alison Pomerantz 406 Woman Business Editor





Featured Stories 8 Phyllis Quatman


10 Fighting for Montana’s Horses

perfect getaway 22 Bigfork

career 16 Professional Development

finance 18 Stacy Tandy & Denise Falkner

22 Tax Deductions

24 tax deferral 26 tax tips

406 Man 28 Dave Leishman

406 Profiles 30 Debbie Pierce 32 Melanie Nelson

On the Cover Featured Story P h yllis Q ua tm a n Photo


WOMAN 4   


Mike Potter



Tara Rot h

Raised in a family of educators in the Deep South, Tara Roth was born and bred to share her family’s passion for education. After moving to the Midwest where she worked for retail giant Lands’ End promoting the company and its apparel to our nation’s top-tier media, she ventured out west to Montana and FVCC where she serves as director of communications and marketing.  Tara and her husband Ben are the proud parents of 3-year-old River and his baby sister, Arbor.

Mar nie Russ

is a registered lobbyist in Washington, DC working on behalf of Montana based non-profits and animal welfare issues before Congress. Marnie has more than a decade of experience advising municipal, university, hospital, and other non-profit clients on strategies to secure federal funding. Her work has included securing support for transportation initiatives, wastewater treatment plants, healthcare initiatives,federal courthouse construction, and various economic redevelopment projects. Ms. Russ previously worked on Capitol Hill for several years before turning to lobbying. She worked for one of the largest firms in Washington on International Aerospace and appropriations issues. Marnie graduated from the University of Montana where she received her BA in both Political Science and Organizational Communications. Marnie splits her time between Washington, DC and Missoula and enjoys fostering and rehabilitating shelter animals in her spare time.

Kar i n Ho lder

is a limited Partner and Financial Advisor with Edward Jones Investments. Karin along with Daved, Her husband of 19 years, and her two boys, Warren age 15 and Easton age 10, live in the surrounding Whitefish area. Originally from Virginia, Karin and Daved made Montana their home in 1996 after realizing that they needed to be in and near the great outdoors. City life was not for them! Karin is a fully licensed Financial Advisor who is not only didicated to helping her clients in the local area but across the nation as well. Being a mom, wife and a career woman has given her the insight to help women of all walks and ages to plan for their individual and business financial goals. Karin can be reached by phone (406)862-5454 or at her convenient location 807 Spakane Ave, suite 500, Whitefish, MT.

Kr i sten Hami lt on

wears many hats these days. As founder and co-owner of Ham It Up Strategies, she and her husband, Bob, work with many clients on various projects to help them grown their business.  Recent projects have included event planning and execution, magazine project management and sales, operations management, electronic newsletters, website development, and freelance writing.  She particularly enjoys writing these days and is working on a novel in her spare time. She has lived in the valley for over twenty years and has an extensive background in tourism and working with non profit organizations.  Kristen is grateful to her friends and colleagues who have supported her throughout the years.  She knows the importance of giving back and therefore volunteers her time and services whenever she is able.  In her free time, she enjoys the arts and concert offerings in the valley and tries to play outdoors as much as possible.  Kristen is blessed to have a happy marriage and two terrific teenaged children who make her smile every day!

Kat y C r oft

is a Certified Public Accountant and a shareholder at Swiftcurrent Consulting & Accounting, P.C. She has an Associates degree from the University of Montana College of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree from Devry University. Her areas of expertise are income taxes, payroll taxes and bookkeeping. After running her own bookkeeping business in Missoula, she and her husband Dan relocated back to Kalispell to start a family. They have since welcomed Kyler, 4 and Adilyn, 1 to their family. Katy is a true Montana native, born in Kalispell, and has spent the last 30 years in northwest Montana. To find relief from balancing work and life as a busy mom, she finds solace in riding her bike and playing on the lake. Katy can be reached at

Kat ie Fr ies

is the newest addition to the marketing and communications team at Flathead Valley Community College. With a passion for education, community, and public relations, she has found her home at FVCC. Her marketing career includes specializations in branding, corporate identity, and communications. Born and raised in Kalispell, she only lived away from the Flathead while pursuing a degree in business marketing at Montana State University in Bozeman. Their love of the area and family ties brought Katie and her husband back to Kalispell where they have enjoyed remodeling their cozy 1930’s farmhouse-style home northeast of town. In her free time, she takes advantage of the area she feels so fortunate to call home – camping and fishing with family and friends, waterskiing, and taking in the beauty of the Flathead.


WOMAN 6   

Mike Potter

has a background in Photo and Video Journalism. Potter owned and operated a valley wide newspaper in Whitefish from 2003 through 2006. In 2010, Potter attended the University of Hawaii, Leeward Campus as a Digital Film and Audio Major after a brief enlistment in the regular U.S. Army from 2007 - 2009. His experience at the University of Hawaii allowed him to perfect his craft in the Digital Media Arts and Sciences. He sincerely has a strong passion for all things digital. Potter moved back to Whitefish, spring of 2011, and is a third generation Whitefish resident. Potter currently runs and operates his own digital media business for social media advertising and truly loves his job.

Kel l y O’Br ien

works for Measure Law Office, P.C. in Kalispell, MT. She is licensed to practice law in Oregon and Montana, and focuses on estate planning, probate, business, real estate and natural resources law. Kelly earned her J.D. at Lewis & Clark School of Law in Portland, with a certificate in natural resources law. She also has a B.S. in Business Administration & International Business from the University of Montana, and a minor in German. Kelly is originally from Kalispell and recently returned to the area to work with Measure Law Office. Prior to returning to the Flathead Valley, Kelly worked in private practice with law firms based in Portland and Bend, Oregon. She now lives in Whitefish with her husband and son where she enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities. Contact Kelly at or 406-752-6373


Phyllis Quatman

Phyllis Quatman 406 Wife, Mother, Trial Attorney & Author Written by Kristen Hamilton - Photo by Mike Potter

I was a little surprised when I met Phyllis Quatman with her striking red hair, big smile, and relaxed demeanor as I have heard she was a tough trial attorney that had recently completed a book about a particular case. Although I’d never want to be across from her in a trial, I’d happily spend hours chatting with her over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Phyllis was a “Navy Brat” but spent most of her childhood in Littleton, Colorado and Scottsdale, Arizona before moving to California. She graduated from UC Berkley with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and later received her Master’s in Education. Following graduation she married Jack and had her first child, Lyndsey. Jack was a successful prosecutor working for Alameda County in Oakland. At age 33, when Lyndsey was three years old, Phyllis decided to return to school and pursue a law degree. By age 36, in 1990, she graduated and managed to have her second child Jack Jr. along the way. 406

WOMAN 8   


Fortunately for her career but unfortunately for her well being, there were plenty of criminal cases in Contra Costa County where she landed a job following graduation from law school. Phyllis was a prosecuting attorney for the District Attorney’s office for 10 years, during seven of which she was a Deputy DA. Phyllis tried over 100 cases representing the “good guys”. “It was a great but troubling experience. I have to be careful because I get emotionally involved in my cases,” she said.

The experience led her to establish the first Domestic Violence Unit in 1994, coincidently right after the O.J. Simpson trial. While trying cases, Phyllis had interviewed and met a “sea of battered women” and knew something more had to be done to protect them. Cases that involved the use of a weapon, great bodily injury, or death were the parameters of inclusion and sadly the “cases just poured in,” she said. The unit developed mandates for collecting and recording evidence. The next step was to train police officers so that procedures were consistent throughout the county. The program was very successful and to this day, Phyllis considers it her greatest professional accomplishment as a prosecutor. By 1997 she had come to the realization that “I knew where all

the sex offenders lived and I was burned out.” She also commented that she wanted her children to play outside with some peace of mind. At that point Phyllis informed her husband Jack that they were “moving to Montana.” She chose Whitefish because of the water, snow sports and good schools and moved site unseen. Jack thought she was a little crazy but humored her and commuted for a while before moving here himself with the family. Phyllis swore, “I’ll never be a lawyer again.” That lasted eight months.

After the Quatman’s settled into the area, Jack encouraged Phyllis to apply for a part-time public defender’s job for Flathead County primarily because “we needed the money,” she said. The decision wasn’t an easy one as she always defended the “good guys” and wasn’t sure she could defend the “criminals.” She was hired and out of the seven defenders in the office, she was the only one with trial experience and was handed the chief’s caseload. As there are fortunately not many murder trials in the Valley, you could say that Phyllis was in a sense handed to the wolves. Her first high profile case as a public defender here was representing Chris Showen who was accused of killing Carl (C.J.) Storkson. She successfully argued the case and Showen was acquitted. What Phyllis quickly discovered is that they (the defendants) are

very often no different than anyone else except that they made a mistake or screwed up. She said, “I didn’t have to hate them. Only defend them. Everyone gets a chance.”

With the Showen case she also discovered that there was a lack of adherence to the Constitution. Phyllis said, “I would have to beg for evidence. It was very biased and basically no one challenged the system.” She did challenge the system and within two months became “the bastard child of the courthouse for disagreeing with the judge, the prosecutor, and my fellow defense attorneys,” she added. She had never planned to take on the system but feels very strongly about the sanctity of the constitutional principles. It prompted her to file a complaint with the ACLU in Montana regarding procedures in the local indigent defense system. Needless to say she wasn’t making a lot of friends, but Phyllis knew it was the right thing to do. Not surprisingly her contract wasn’t renewed with Flathead County, and she went into practice with her husband at Quatman and Quatman. The ACLU finally acted on the complaint a couple years later and did in fact name seven counties (including Flathead) guilty of unconstitutional practices. Phyllis said, “It forced the state to develop a statewide system of standards and has been a huge improvement.”

Phyllis Quatman

Phyllis then met the Ernst’s. At this time, Jesse Ernst was serving a 100-year sentence for the murder of Larry Streeter although his oral plea agreement was 40 years. That alone was a discrepancy worth looking into, but as you can imagine Phyllis wanted to delve deeper. Ernst’s parents asked her to help, and she took on the case for a small fee. The first order of business was to appeal his sentence, have a new judge appointed outside the area, and have the case heard in court. The request was granted.

Phyllis met with Ernst and realized something else was wrong. She brought in a therapist and psychologist, and it was discovered that he had an extreme case of Klinefelter’s Syndrome. Klinefelter’s describes males who have an extra X chromosome, so instead of XY, their pattern is XXY. The condition can affect physical development, language development, and social development. Ernst’s condition, not discovered until shortly before his jury trial, coupled with parental abuse and an overbearing brother (Ted) landed Jesse at the scene of a burglary where Ted murdered an innocent Good Samaritan, Larry Streeter. Even though he didn’t kill anyone, being at the burglary allowed The prosecutor charged Jesse with murder just for being at the scene even though he didn’t kill anyone and convinced him to plead guilty to that charge.  9


Phyllis Quatman

One in 500 boys has Klinefelter’s Syndrome although many can go through life without any symptoms. Sadly, a simple blood test when Ernst approached puberty would have discovered the disease and allowed testosterone treatment to help him lead a normal life. Without that treatment, Phyllis was able to argue that Ernst could not be held criminally accountable for his actions due to mental deficiencies. The jury found him not guilty by reason of mental disease, and he was sent to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. Phyllis was pleased to report that with proper testosterone treatment, Ernst completed his medical probationary period and is living a quiet, normal life with his wife and has not been in any trouble since.

Never taking the easy route, Phyllis’s last case as a trial attorney was defending David Farr in 2007. Farr had been accused of molesting five boys between the ages of two and four in the nap room at the Children’s House Montessori School where he was the administrator. The jury found Farr not guilty on one count of sexual assault and was deadlocked on the other four changes. Following the verdict, Farr was a free man. Now, Phyllis was really retiring from trial work.

The next chapter of Phyllis Quatman’s life is as an author. Her recently released Courthouse Cowboys is a fictional memoir based in part on the Ernst case. She wrote it as she says, “to pay it forward to Jesse and get the word out about Klinefelter’s Syndrome.” She adds, “Klinefelter’s Syndrome is a genetic disease that can be treated. It is diagnosed with a simple blood test and with treatment those affected can lead normal lives. It is important to spread the word.”

Courthouse Cowboys is well written and difficult to put down. I enjoyed the references to our area and recounting the story behind one of the most talked about cases in our small valley. Learning about Klinefelter’s Syndrome was an added bonus. Courthouse Cowboys is receiving rave reviews and is available electronically through and published under the alias P.A. Moore (Phyllis’s maiden name).


WOMAN 10   

Phyllis feels grateful to have worked on both sides of the courtroom and has learned a lot from the experience. She knows that she gave 100% to every case whether working as a prosecutor or defense attorney. “The Constitution says that people have the right to expect that,” she said.

She also is very glad they settled in Whitefish. When asked about her favorite thing in the area, Phyllis replied, “it’s the people and a wonderful community.” Her children are grown now and she has a tremendous amount of pride for them. Her daughter graduated from Seattle University and lives next door. She is married to Justin Marshall, who is with the Army’s 823rd unit serving in Afghanistan and the couple is the image depicted on the cover of Courthouse Cowboys. Her son is attending Arizona State University.

Phyllis continues to write and meets weekly with a “very talented group of writers” that helps her stay on track with her goals. She is working on two books at this time. She is heading to France this March for a special writer’s workshop hosted by best-selling author, Kathleen McGowen. She said this new direction in her life has been a “leap of faith” and she adds, “I love releasing my right brain.”

In an effort to continue to pay it forward and help those in need, the Quatmans have also started a legal blog offering a forum for those seeking legal information. Here’s to you, Phyllis Quatman, a true inspiration to 406 women everywhere!




Fighting for Montana’s Horses Written by Marnie Russ


horse slaughter industry

operated without the awareness of most



for years.

the horse slaughter

issue has experienced an increase in national visibility and the

Montana delegation has actively participated in the debate. I began researching this issue late last fall as the contentious arguments about horse slaughter escalated, and

I approached the

issue with both an open mind and a heavy heart.


love animals

and have always loved horses, so

I needed to know why, if Americans don’t eat horsemeat, we are allowing our horses to be butchered for the tables of foreign gourmands?



of conversations and meetings with folks on both sides,



able to see clearly that this is a cruel and predatory practice.


WOMAN 12   

I began my educational journey by researching the history of the U.S. horse slaughter industry. Horse slaughter was always a fringe industry in the U.S. – one that dwindled as a result of decreased demand until only three slaughterhouses remained within our borders. Those three plants – two in Texas and one in Illinois – were all foreign owned, which makes sense considering horsemeat is a commodity in Europe and Asia, not America. In fiscal year 2006, Congress, with the strong support of both Democrats and Republicans, passed a legal prohibition on the use of federal funds to inspect horses sent to slaughter for human consumption, effectively ending domestic horse slaughter. Once the in-

spection prohibition went into effect, a larger number of American horses were shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter – approximately 100,000 total horses per year.

Some slaughter proponents argue that because of the ban, horses are suffering more because they have to travel beyond our borders – but in reality they were always traveling long distances in conditions harmful to their health and well-being, and they will continue to be transported in such conditions until the slaughter of American horses is banned entirely. Even when plants were in the U.S., there were so few due to the lack of demand, that horses were always sent thousands of miles by truck to those plants. Furthermore, the shipping of horses across U.S. borders is not a new phenomenon – prior to the inspection ban, some 30,000 American horses were sent over the border to Canada and Mexico for slaughter and another 4,000 were imported from Canada to the U.S. for slaughter. Horse slaughter proponents also claim that the closure of U.S. horse slaughter plants has resulted in an increase in horse abuse and neglect, but there is simply no causal foundation for this argument and it ignores the true culprit of any increase in animal abuse or neglect – the economic recession. The defunding of horse slaughter inspections happened in the same year that the American economy plunged into recession. As always happens when an economy declines, people have more trouble affording their animals, and we have heard about neglect cases for companion animals like dogs, cats and horses as well as farm animals raised for food. The presence of slaughterhouses does not deter this – it is because of the poor economy, the drought, and the foreclosure crisis.




Though individuals cite an increase in abandonment/abuse cases with horses, there has been no decrease in the total number of American horses sent to slaughter. Were the shift in the location of horse slaughter plants the reason for increased horse abuse/ neglect we would have seen the number of abused/neglected horses go up AND the number of slaughtered horses go DOWN. Such is not the case, and therefore we know that the economy is to blame for any increase in neglect/ abuse cases, not the closure of U.S. horse slaughter plants. I had also heard horse slaughter proponents argue that horse slaughter is a necessary means of disposing of old, sickly or crippled horses. I was surprised to learn that, in truth, slaughterhouses seek out and obtain healthy, young horses and turn away sickly and injured horses. In fact, more than 92% of all slaughtered horses are deemed to be in good condition, per the United States Department of Agriculture. The average slaughter-bound horse ranges from in age from five to eight years old and weighs over 1,000 pounds. Horses that fall prey to the slaughter industry are actually fit to continue productive lives in loving, happy homes if only provided the opportunity. One of the largest scheduled horse sales in North America takes place in Billings on the last Saturday of every month, where an estimated 40% of the animals sold are slaughter bound. Each month horse rescuers and good owners attempt to bid on many of the auction horses around the country, but killer buyers frequently outbid them, condemning the horses they buy to gruesome and completely avoidable deaths.


WOMAN 14   

Some claim that horse slaughter plants are no different than cattle or pig slaughterhouses. The biological differences between horses and shortnecked, docile livestock demonstrate that this is not the case. In slaughterhouses, animals are supposed to be stunned and rendered unconscious before being bled out. For horses, there is simply no humane, effective method of stunning. Horses are head shy animals with high fight-or-flight responses. They toss their heads wildly when frightened, making accurate and efficient stunning near impossible. As a result, they are often struck

multiple times and many go on to the dismemberment process still kicking and blinking. This routine suffering was common even in U.S. plants – they used the same captive bolt method of stunning common in foreign plants and many horses were struck repeatedly and were still kicking through the butchering process.




want to

partake in this grisly and unhealthy business?

Some who pro-

mote horse slaughter are pressing for us to be one of the first states to open a slaughterhouse.


claim there are economic

benefits to the creation of an equine slaughterhouse and that we could see new jobs in our state as a result.

Is any of this To find answers, I looked Kaufman, Texas – home to

true? to

one of the last slaughterhouses in the United States.

I learned that equine slaughterhouses have very expensive and damaging environmental impacts on local communities that cannot be overlooked. According to Paula Bacon, who was the mayor of Kaufman when the horse slaughterhouse was in operation there, residents saw their property values plummet and the community suffered years of “negative economic growth.” The community lived with the constant odor of decaying meat, continual industrial waste violations, and instances of people’s tap water running pink from the blood-rich soil. Kaufman was on the verge of replacing its sewer system when the plant finally closed – an endeavor that would have come at a terrible cost to taxpayers due to the nature of horse slaughter – horses are blood-rich species and the common structures in many communities nationwide could not support such an overload on their systems. These types of problems were also evident in DeKalb, Illinois, another town burdened with one of the last U.S. horse slaughter plants. My research showed me that not only did the presence of horse slaughter plants harm local communities, but due to the high cost of workman’s compensation insurance, the workforce was made up of mostly

migrant workers and less than 50 per plant, on average. Not exactly an economic stimulator.

My research taught me that horse slaughter is not only bad for local communities; it is also bad for human health. Since horses are companion animals in our country they are routinely treated with medications – including fly ointments, dewormers, and the horse-equivalent of aspirin (phenylbutazone) – that cannot be used on or given to food animals. The FDA prohibits the administration of these medications to animals intended for human consumption because they have proven toxic to humans when consumed. Recent scientific studies also link the consumption of toxic horsemeat to certain human illnesses. The continual development of this line of research is not only causing current foreign importers to become increasingly concerned about the health risks associated with consuming this potentially toxic American product, but reaffirms the fact that eating horses will never be an accepted part of American culture.

A recent national poll revealed that 80 percent of Americans oppose the slaughter of our horses – and 72 percent of Americans in rural communities oppose the practice. Where I fall on this issue should be obvious at this point. We have more than 500 equine rescue groups in this country that we should support, overbreeding in some areas of the industry, and a throw-away mentality in others. These are avenues for change that could help prevent neglect and abuse, but institutionalizing a cruel industry is not a Montana approach. Congress is considering legislation that would stop the flow of our horses over the border as well as prevent any plants from operating on American soil. Montanans, we must let our members of Congress know how we feel about this topic –that slaughtering horses for foreign diners is not the American way. Our horses are in jeopardy – even the most loved horse is just one sale away from slaughter until it is banned entirely. Our horses are counting on us to speak for them and protect them, the way they have protected us and given to us throughout our nation’s history. It’s the least we can do.




Professional Development:

Why You Haven’t Taken Advantage of it and Why You Should

By Katie Fries


you’re like most professional busi-

ness women, you’ve probably thought about looking into career development opportunities.

Also, like most of us, you probably haven’t pulled the trigger for any number of reasons: You’re too busy at work, you’re too busy being a mom, you don’t know how to ask your boss to foot the bill, or you just don’t know where to start.

Jodi Smith talks with a local professional about career development and workforce training opportunities available at Flathead Valley Community College.


WOMAN 16   

It’s not that these aren’t reasonable excuses; however, in light of today’s economy, there’s never been a better time to enhance your skills or learn new ones. My goal is to give you a few tools that can help get you started on the right foot. Ask yourself this: what do you already bring to your team and to your business? Recognizing what you’re already doing well and developing those skills even further will help you tap into your full professional potential. True professionals understand the benefits of continuously improving their skill set, and taking advantage of professional development opportunities is the easiest way to do just that. Especially in this uncertain time of high unemployment and limited career advancement opportunities, it’s never been more important to substantiate your value by being the best employee or business owner you can be. The benefits of professional development go well beyond just improving job skills. There’s potential for a wage increase and even advancement in your business. The opportunity to network and make connections with other professionals who work locally and beyond is endless. Doors may open to other job possibilities. And the enjoyment and added intellectual stimulation can often

build self-confidence and self-satisfaction. In the end, your extra efforts validate that you are a valuable asset to your business and community. Jodi Smith, director of Workforce Training at Flathead Valley Community College, understands the obstacles that keep women from pursuing professional development, but she also passionately conveys its tremendous value. “The confidence gained by taking action with your own professional development will help you not only professionally, but with all facets of life,” said Smith. “Give yourself permission to take time to do this for yourself.” The Continuing Education Center at Flathead Valley Community College is one of the local organizations that offer professional development opportunities. FVCC’s non-credit courses are designed for learners of all ages and skill levels.


instructors are dedicated and

caring members of the community who are passionate about their fields of expertise,” says


FVCC offers a variety of skill areas to choose from whether you want to improve your technology skills with Microsoft Office Programs, QuickBooks, social media, or web design, or increase your job skills with leadership and supervisory training. The programs are conveniently scheduled to meet the needs of each learner. For added convenience, many courses are short and meet during the daytime, evening hours or on Saturdays. Still concerned about finding time to go to class? Check out the online courses, and broaden your skill sets and expertise in a huge range of areas from the comfort of your own home. So, remind yourself that for the limited time you spend away from your job or your kids enhancing your career, you will be rewarded tenfold with better efficiencies and improved skills. Have a conversation with your boss (or yourself if you are the boss) about how the investment in your training and development will improve the quality of your work. In turn, you training will have a positive impact on the business’s bottom line. It’s time to stop making excuses and allow yourself to take advantage of the abundantly available local opportunities to better yourself professionally. To learn more about professional development opportunities at FVCC, contact Jodi Smith at 406-756-3833 or visit www.fvcc. edu/continuingeducation.html.



wall st.

Stacy Tandy & Denise Falkner Work Wall Street from Whitefish By Alison Pomerantz Photo Daniel Seymour

Stacy Tandy and Denise Falkner strive to balance work at two world-class businesses—InvesTech Research and Stack Financial Management—with life in the unlikely scenic setting of Whitefish, Montana. Although the two companies are technically separate businesses with separate addresses, they work very closely together and are divided only by a copy room inside what looks more like a cozy mountain retreat than an office building.

Established in Kalispell in 1979, InvesTech relocated to Whitefish shortly after being one of only six financial newsletters to predict the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987. Today, InvesTech provides investment advice to more than 5,000 subscribers in all 50 states and 43 countries around the world. Director of Operations, Tandy and her team maintain one of the largest databases of historical stock market information in the country. A streamlined operation of just five full-time employees and one part-time employee, InvesTech provides objective stock market analysis to individual investors—many of whom are, or become SFM clients. The publication is often quoted by national media for its unique “safety first” risk allocation strategy. Falkner serves as the Director of Operations for InvesTech’s distinctly separate, but closely linked sister company, Stack Financial Management. Incorporated in late 1994 in response to subscriber demand for money management services, SFM wasn’t actively promoted until years later and then it really took off, growing at a compounded rate of more than 25% for the past 14 years. Recognized by Barron’s as one of the Top 100 Financial Advisors in the United States in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011, SFM staffs just six full-time employees, yet it has more than doubled in the past five years from $308 million to $650 million in assets for more than 630 clients. Rather than remain fully invested at all times, SFM uses a risk allocation technique that involves investing in the market according to the level of risk determined by the firm’s proprietary technical indicators. In the 2000-2002 and again in the 2007-2009 bear markets, SFM accounts declined less than half of the overall market declined, but have still managed to capture a majority of bull market gains. Over the past 12 years, despite all the market instability, SFM portfolios have more than doubled while the S&P 500 has gained only 7% (including dividends). Sitting in the InvesTech/SFM conference room overlooking Whitefish Lake, 406 Woman’s Alison Pomerantz and Kristen Pulsifer had the opportunity to speak to Tandy and Falkner about work, life and how to “have it all.”


WOMAN 18   

406: How long have you lived in the Flathead Valley?

ST: I have deep roots in Montana. I am a third generation Montanan, related to the mountain men who trapped in the state in the early 1800s as well as President Polk who established the Oregon Territory in 1848 that included western Montana. After living in other parts of the state, my husband and I moved to the Flathead Valley in 1987 when my husband received a job transfer with the BNSF Railway Company.

DF: My story is a little different.

In the early 1990s, my parents retired in Bigfork and my husband and I fell in love with the area when we came for a visit. At the time, I was building a career in brand management at Oscar Mayer Foods in the Midwest, but after four years, I wasn’t convinced the corporate world was for me. In May 1997, my husband and I decided to make a go of it in Montana and moved to Kalispell, figuring that if we were going to starve in an effort to make a life here, it should be before we had kids! 406: What made you apply for a position at InvesTech/SFM?

ST: I was working at Whitefish

Public Schools—and not looking for a new job—when a co-worker told me about the position at InvesTech. I decided to apply out of curiosity. I was very impressed with the company, the staff and the job description. At the time I was hired 18 years ago, CEO Jim Stack was launching SFM and the firm had just dropped a direct mail piece to more than 1 million households. In addition, Stack was spearheading the change in local long distance calling between Whitefish, Kalispell, and Columbia Falls. There was a lot of excitement and activity the first time I visited the office, in fact, it was so busy that I volunteered to open piles of business reply mail while I waited for my interview! (laughs). Not much has changed in that everyone pitches in to do what is necessary to get the job done.


I started working in real estate until about six months after moving, when I happened upon an ad that a financial management firm was hiring in Whitefish. I was actually scanning the classifieds for my husband (he ended up landing a job that he’s had for the past 13 years with the Kalispell Police Department). When I started in February 1998, SFM only had $25 million in assets and two employees! 406: Can you tell us some of the technological advances you have introduced to keep both companies competitive with



ST: There have been a number of changes since I started. I oversaw the conversion of our subscriber database from DOS format to Windows and we were also one of the first financial newsletters to establish a website back in 1996. I maintain the websites for both companies now. Perhaps the biggest technological change was the transition of the newsletter from manual to electronic publishing in 2000. With such tight deadlines, we used to stay up all night on Thursdays pasting it up and then physically taking it to the printer. Now, everything is electronic. (Falkner nods, reminiscing about the late nights when she too would help with the production of the newsletter). Another aspect of my job is to interface with national media such as Barron’s, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Money magazine to keep them abreast of latest developments at InvesTech.


A big part of my job is growing the business and implementing systems to handle that growth. As the company really began to grow in the mid-2000s, it was apparent that we were physically constrained with limited storage space. In 2009, we converted our files to “paperless” by scanning all the existing client paperwork to an electronic format. This not only allows us to expand, but it is also more efficient and allows us to access the files from remote locations.

During that same time, we implemented a state-of-the-art trading system. This platform allows trade restrictions at the client level, reduces the possibility for error and increases efficiency. We can now be trading 1,000 accounts in a single day. This would not be possible without this trading platform. When I started with SFM, we calculated trades in Excel and either manually input them or imported them into other systems. As we’ve grown, the quarterly reporting process was becoming quite cumbersome as we have reports from several different programs that had to be collated and copied. It’s all done electronically now. It used to take us a week to run half as many reports as we can now run in a couple of days! 406: What traits do you look for in good employees?

ST: We are highly selective here.

The interview process is very difficult. It takes a certain type of personality and expertise to do well in this environment. We really want to make sure there’s a good fit with our current staff and office culture. Often we invite candidates back three and four times before bringing them on board, asking them lots of questions about being a team player or if they’re clientfocused. We do a lot of role-playing to create real, job-like situations because of the independent nature of the work.


Our team must be incredibly detail-oriented.


Absolutely. We give them math and spelling tests. We have even asked applicants to write a sample customer service letter. Many just say, “forget it.” Pausing from our formal questioning to sip our steaming mugs of coffee, the professionalism of the InvesTech/SFM offices would make any comparison with a Wall Street firm imperceptible. However, there was a notable contrast to the blasting horns and general cacophony of what a similar office in downtown Manhattan during the early  19


wall st.

morning rush hour might sound like. As we continued to take in the vista off the firm’s back deck, Falkner recounted a recent memory of closing a transaction when she was startled by a bald eagle swooping down outside her window and snatching a fish in its talons from the shallows of Whitefish Lake. This led to my next obvious question. 406: Why Whitefish instead of another major market?


Whitefish is actually a huge selling point for us. While we may have given up some advantages of the city, such as easy networking and some face-to-face time with clients, we actively develop relationships on the phone and via our newsletter. In this day and age where people are frustrated with such terrible customer service, we really stand out. It is easy to do just by answering the phones and making an effort to get to know the people we work with.

ST: Being

here gives us a clear, unique perspective that is totally different from other firms. It is a much calmer atmosphere that helps us not get caught up in the momentum or swept up in the trends.

As a way to reconcile any drawbacks to their remote location, InvesTech/ SFM hosts a biennial investment summit at Grouse Mountain Lodge to offer clients a chance to tour the offices and take part in various informative seminars.

DF: We take a lot of pride in exceed-

ing expectations. As a result, we have a greater than 98% customer retention rate (the remaining two percent are primarily lost to natural attrition, she explains). 406: Teamwork appears to be an

important ingredient to the success of the operation.

What do

you do to foster a team-oriented environment?

ST: Besides the general nature of

pitching in where needed and exchanging client leads, we try to do little things like eat lunch together once a week—“Eat in Fridays.” We all really enjoy each other, not just as coworkers, but also as friends.


WOMAN 20   

406: How do you deal with the time demands and stresses of the job?

ST: We feel fortunate to have the

opportunity and challenge of working in a “Wall Street” firm while living in Whitefish and enjoying the Montana lifestyle, but it’s true that dealing with time-sensitive information and numerous deadlines can make for a very fast-paced, stressful environment. We expect a lot of our employees and ourselves. Our jobs often require working outside of the standard 40-hour workweek. We all do what it takes to get the job done. The biggest challenge for everyone in our office is balancing our professional and personal lives. Technology is a great help in this area, allowing us as managers to access the office remotely.


We recognize and reward our employees’ commitment and dedication to our firms. In February 2011, the business took all the employees and their spouses to Hawaii to mark the milestone achievement of SFM exceeding $500 million in assets. All full-time employees also participate in a 25% completely employer-funded profit sharing plan. It also helps that everyone has such supportive families who share a similar work ethic. In general there is a strong sense of loyalty at the company because people recognize what they have. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to work here. 406: When you aren’t working,

how do you spend your free time?

ST: We are all very outdoorsy peo-

ple. I enjoy rafting, hiking and skiing. That is why we live here. My husband and I are river people. We enjoy spin fishing. There are so many good rivers here. One of our goals is to check off all the rivers in Montana to raft or fish. Like Stacy said, we all like the outdoors. I try to get out and take a hike when I can. To make sure you make time for yourself, you have to force yourself to plan. I’ve tried to set a goal of hitting all the National Parks in the West. I try to escape with a couple of girlfriends—no kids—to a Park we maybe haven’t visited and go hiking and horseback riding. It is wonderful!


406: How do you balance work and play with the demands of a family? ST: We are “child free.” (Laughing, Denise says, “DINKS.” Double Income No Kids).


Kids definitely add another dynamic to the mix. Their activities make it tough. You have to work at carving a balance. I have two children, Hayden (12) and Lauren (9) who have very busy schedules. I think for me, anyway, I am confident that I get more done than if I didn’t have a career. I think it provides more structure. It goes back to organization. I’m a 4-H leader and a church volunteer. I probably have less time to watch TV, but we value family and make it a priority to travel and give our kids the opportunity to see the world. For me, I need to be challenged, to be excited, and work satisfies that. But there is always more you can do, so you need a balance. 406: What are your truly guilty pleasures?


I take two- to three days to go to a spa in Arizona with a girlfriend and totally “bliss out.”

ST: I’m an avid reader, so I enjoy curling up with a good book and enjoying my private time. When you work hard, even that sometimes feels “guilty.” 406: Finally, what advice do you have for other young women just starting out?

ST: You have to keep learning. Many of us continue our education by taking night classes or attending special seminars.


So true. I just went back a few years ago to become a CFP—Certified Financial Planner. As things continue to evolve, you have to be willing and flexible enough to change to meet the demands of the new circumstances. You need to be motivated. You have to seek out success for yourself, not wait for someone to hand it to you It takes work. Many of us made a big sacrifice when we chose to move to the Valley, but there has also been a huge pay out. We have been rewarded for that sacrifice. In talking about family, recreation, rewarding careers and the beautiful setting of Northwest Montana to live and do business, one might wonder if Tandy and Falkner might have obtained the elusive. Almost as if she read my mind, Falkner looked up and with a grin said, “Be careful wanting it all, because you just might get it.”  21



Tax Deductions Written by Kelly O’Brien, Attorney at Law Giving Back: Charitable Giving Techniques

With tax time rapidly approaching we are often looking for ways to make deductions to reduce tax bill. However, it is also a great time to plan for ways to make the most of your tax deductions in the year ahead. Perhaps one of the most satisfying manners in which to save on taxes, is by making a donation to the charity of your choice. Not only does giving to a charitable organization provide you with the satisfaction and good will associated with giving back, charitable gifts to 501(c)(3) organizations are tax deductible. So, in addition to that good feeling associated with giving, you get the good feeling that is associated with saving on taxes. If you are planning for ways to receive additional tax deductions in the year ahead, a gift to a charity is a great way to save.

The most common way to make a charitable donation is by simply writing a check to the charity of our choice; but, there are many other ways to give to a charity that provide significant tax benefits.

Gifts of Appreciated Stocks or Securities

By donating a stock, bond or mutual fund to a charity, you will avoid having to pay any capital gains taxes on the appreciation in value. Moreover, if you have owned the security for over a year, you can deduct the full market value rather than just the amount you invested. For example- you purchased stock for $1,000, and it later increased in value to $10,000. If you donate this stock to a charity, which sells the stock and receives $10,000 outright, you would receive a $10,000 charitable deduction. You would also avoid having to pay capital gains taxes on the increase in value.

Donate to a Community Foundation or Community Fund

Giving to community foundation or fund is an excellent way to give back to your local community. In addition to the federal tax benefits, giving to a community fund also provides state tax benefits. The state of Montana provides a tax credit program for donations to a community foundation. Individuals are allowed a tax credit of up to 40% of the charitable contribution, with a maximum credit of $10,000 or $20,000 if filing jointly. Business entities are allowed of up to a $10,000 a year tax credit, or 20% of the donation amount.


WOMAN 22   

For more information on Community Foundations in Montana or a listing of local community foundations in your area see Montana Community Foundation’s website at

Charitable Trusts

Charitable trusts are a great option for giving because most charitable trusts provide you with an immediate tax deduction, as well as payments of income to you during your lifetime. There are many options for charitable trusts, such as charitable remainder annuity trusts and charitable remainder unitrusts each with its own benefits and options for paying back income.

Charitable trusts can provide great benefits, but require strict adherence to the state and federal laws. If you are considering a charitable trust make sure you work with your financial planners, accountants, attorneys and other tax advisors to make sure a charitable trust makes sense for your particular situation.

Donate Real Estate or Conservation Easements

While many people are currently experiencing losses relating to real estate, there are others that own real estate with equity that they simply cannot sell due to the current market. If you are in a position where your real estate has retained equity, consider donating it to a charity or selling it to a charity at a bargain sale price. You will receive an immediate tax deduction and avoid paying capital gains on the increase in value. Here in Montana, many families have inherited homesteads or family farms. Some families may want to sell the family farm or homestead, but want to ensure that the natural value of the land is preserved for future generations. A good option to consider in this situation is a conservation easement. A conservation easement normally qualifies as a charitable contribution, whereby you could receive a charitable income tax deduction for the full value of the easement. A conservation easement is an individually drafted deed, which transferring development rights so that subsequent owners cannot exercise on those rights. Each conservation easement is unique to the land, individuals, and organizations involved. A conservation easement would not suit everyone, but it can be a very valuable benefit for those who are willing to give up development rights in exchange for income and estate tax benefits. It is important to work with an attorney familiar with conservation easements and to discuss options with a land trust or other organization familiar with these transactions.

Bequests or Beneficiary Designations

While a bequest through a will or a beneficiary designation to a charity does not provide an immediate tax deduction, it can provide considerable longterm benefits. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that you retain control of your assets during your lifetime and ensure that you have the funds necessary to cover your family’s needs, while still providing a long-term benefit to a charity. Moreover, if your estate may be subject to estate taxes, a bequest is an effective way to reduce these taxes for your family. You can leave a bequest to a charity simply by including paragraph of instructions in your will or trust. Similarly, you can add the name of the nonprofit or charitable organization of your choosing to your IRA or life insurance policy beneficiary form.

The decision on how and when to give to a charity requires careful consideration, so be sure you discuss your decision with your family, as well as your attorney, financial, and tax advisors. However, a charitable donation will provide many tax advantages, as well as the good feeling of giving for a good cause.

If you have questions about charitable giving techniques, contact Kelly O’Brien, Measure, Sampsel, Sullivan & O’Brien, P.C. at (406) 752-6373/ www.

finance} tax deferral


Put Power of Tax Deferral to Work

As an investor, you may sometimes feel frustrated. After all, your portfolio seems to be at the mercy of the financial markets, whose volatility is beyond anyone’s control. Yet you can control the quality of the investments you own and the diversification of those investments to improve your chances of attaining your long-term financial goals. One way in which to do so is to put as much as you can afford, year after year, into tax-deferred investments.

When you contribute to a tax-deferred account, your money has the potential to grow faster than it would if you placed it in a fully taxable investment — that is, an investment on which you paid taxes every year. Over time, this accelerated growth can add up to a big difference in your accumulated savings. For example, if you put $200 each month into a taxable investment that earned a hypothetical 7 percent a year, you’d end up with about $325,000 after 40 years, assuming you were in the 25 percent federal tax bracket. If you put that same $200 per month into a tax-deferred investment that earned the same hypothetical 7 percent a year, you’d accumulate about $515,000 — or nearly $200,000 more than you’d have with the taxable investment.* Of course, you will eventually have to pay taxes on the tax-deferred investment, but by the time you’re retired, you might be in a 406

WOMAN 24   

lower tax bracket. Furthermore, depending on how much you choose to withdraw each year from your tax-deferred account, you can have some control over the amount of taxes you’ll pay. Clearly, tax deferral can be a smart choice, but what sort of tax-deferred vehicles are available?

One of your most attractive choices will be your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k). Your earnings have the potential to grow on a tax-deferred basis, and since you typically fund your plan with pre-tax dollars, the more you put in, the lower your annual taxable income. If you’re lucky, your employer will even match some of your contributions. Consequently, it’s almost always a good idea to put in as much as you can afford into your 401(k), up to the contribution limits, and to boost your contributions every time your salary increases. In 2012, you can contribute up to $17,000 to your 401(k), plus an additional $5,500 if you’re 50 or older. Even if you participate in a 401(k) plan, you can probably also contribute to a traditional IRA. Your earnings have the potential to grow tax-deferred and your contributions may be tax deductible, depending on your income level. In 2012, you can put in up to $5,000 to a traditional IRA, or $6,000 if you’re 50 or older. (If you meet certain income guidelines, you might be eligible to contribute to

a Roth IRA, which offers tax-free earnings, provided you don’t start taking withdrawals until you’re 59-1/2 and you’ve had your account at least five years.) Finally, if you’ve “maxed out” on both your 401(k) and your IRA, you may want to consider a fixed annuity. Your earnings grow tax-deferred, contribution limits are high, and you can structure your annuity to provide you with an income stream you can’t outlive. The more years in which you invest in taxdeferred vehicles, the better. So start putting the power of tax deferral to work soon.

*This hypothetical example is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent a specific investment or investment strategy This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Contact Karin Holder, your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor at (406) 862-5454 Or stop by at 807 Spokane Ave, Suite 500, Whitefish, MT.


tax tips

MAKING YOUR TAX PREPARATION SIMPLE AND PAINLESS Written by Katy Croft The holidays are over, which means it is time to gear up for tax season! Surely you look forward to tax season as much as I do. No? Well, allow me to give you some pointers on how to make filing your 2011 tax returns as simple and painless as possible. Whether you prepare your tax returns yourself, by hand or otherwise, or if you use a paid preparer (which I highly recommend!) these tips will help you gather the documents you need and get your tax returns filed stress free


1. Gather all the documents that

have been flowing in since 2011 ended. These documents might include: W-2s, 1099 interest and dividend statements, 1098 mortgage interest statements, health savings account statements, charitable giving statements and statements of payments made for qualifying child care. Having all of your documents before you begin will make the process of preparing your return much more expedient and a lot simpler.

2. Review your prior year return to

make a list of any other information you may need. This is a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything this year.

3. Determine if your state and/or

federal refunds from last year are taxable. If you itemized your state and/or federal deductions where you deducted income taxes paid, some or all of your refunds from the prior year may be taxable; this is known as the Tax Benefit Rule. A worksheet may be needed to help you calculate the taxable portion of your refunds. These worksheets are prepared for you if you use a paid preparer or an off-the-shelf program, such as TurboTax©. The IRS and the State will be performing these calculations and adjusting your return if you’re wrong, so better to get it right the first time.

4. If you had any stock sales last


year and your year end Form 1099-B statement from your broker does not include your cost basis, start digging in your records for your basis. If you cannot substantiate your basis in the stock sale, the entire gross sales price will be taxable to you, even if you actually realized a loss. Starting next year, your brokers will be required

WOMAN 26   

to provide you with your cost basis, but for now it’s still up to you if your broker doesn’t have the information.

5. If you deduct mileage for your

business, make sure you can substantiate the miles. Technically the IRS requires a written, contemporaneous log for each and every time you use your vehicle for business purposes. Don’t have one? Don’t fret too much. While the IRS will not accept a guess or even a calendar with your appointments that you clearly drove to, the IRS does offer a safe harbor - keep a very detailed mileage log for no less than 25% of the year and they might accept the business use percentage for the entire year. If you didn’t keep a log for 2011, now is a great time to start one for 2012.

6. If you hire someone else to pre-

pare your income tax returns, make sure they have all the crucial information they need. In my experience, simple things are excluded from the return that could make a big difference in your refund. Did you get married or divorced last year? Did you have or adopt a child last year? Did you change jobs last year? Did you move last year? Ask yourself these questions and make sure your preparer knows the answers. If someone prepared your returns for you last year, you should be receiving a package from them called a Tax Organizer. The most important two pages in that package is the Client Questionnaire. This questionnaire will ask you all of these questions and many more to make sure your return is accurate when filed.

7. Did you make estimated pay-

ments for 2011? Make sure you provide your preparer with a list of

the checks you wrote, including the amounts and the dates of the check. This is another calculation that the IRS and the State will do for you, so again, better off getting it right the first time.

8. Consider electronically filing your

tax returns if you don’t already. The IRS and State still accept paper copies of your tax returns, but we are already headed toward the age of electronic filing only. Any paid preparer, such as myself, that files more than ten tax returns this year, is required to electronically file all returns (excluding a small list of exceptions). The benefits to e-filing are faster refunds, quicker responses from taxing agencies if there are erroneous mistakes, and no need to mail tax packages in and cross your fingers they made it in on time.

9. Don’t wait until the last minute to

start the process of filing your tax returns. As a preparer, nothing makes a deadline more stressful than someone waiting until the day before a filing deadline to get their documents submitted. By then, I don’t have time to prepare anything but an extension. And speaking of extensions, don’t be afraid to use them! Just remember that an extension only grants you six more months to file your returns, but not to pay any balance due. If you anticipate you’ll owe for 2011, and you file an extension, make sure you include an estimated payment with your extension to avoid penalty and interest charges.

10. If you are providing your pre-

parer with a copy of your QuickBooks file, make sure they know what year/ version you are using and if there is

a password to access your file. No one can access your data without the password. Another QuickBooks tip is if your preparer gave you adjusting entries from your prior year return, make sure you’ve made those adjustments to your QuickBooks. If you don’t, we have to spend time getting the prior year QuickBooks data to the prior year tax return. And finally, once you’ve provided your QuickBooks file to your preparer, do not make any more entries to 2011. They will not be included on the tax return, and you surely don’t want to miss out on those additional expenses. If you absolutely must make changes, let your preparer know.

My last tip – USE A CPA! One of my favorite things about working in this business is reviewing a new client’s old tax returns. Chances are something was missed and if it’s worth my time (which it almost always is), I will amend those old tax returns to get the money you’re owed back to you. It’s a great feeling to make a new client’s day by amending a two year old tax return and getting them a couple thousand dollars back.

Circular 230 Disclaimer In accordance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we must inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication, unless expressly stated otherwise, was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matter(s) addressed herein.

406 man}

Dave Leishman

406 (A dv e n t u r e ) M a n

Dave Leishman Written by Kristen Hamilton

To say that Dave Leishman has embraced Montana is an understatement. He and his family visited several western states, riding and enjoying the outdoors for years, before settling in at Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish. They fell in love with the West and the mountains and wanted to find a property to build and run a year round guest ranch.

With skiing just up Bar W seemed to be perfect. That was in 2005, and he’s savored every moment since. the road, the

Photo by Sonja Burgard

Dave hails from Wayne, New Jersey, but he’s always felt like he’s belonged in the mountains. “I’m closer to myself and more at home here. I love the wilderness,” he said. Currently he splits his time between his home in Suffield, Connecticut and Whitefish with a 2,500mile commute every other week. In addition to Bar W in Whitefish, he owns Applied Proactive Technologies in Connecticut, employing 200 people (up from 60 just two short years ago). They work with gas and electric companies, running energy programs. With today’s technology he is able to be successful on both coasts, using a virtual office. “The only thing that changes at times is the scenery behind the computer,” Dave said.

Dave said his favorite thing about owning a business is “building the teams”. He has a great staff on both coasts and has enjoyed working with people to find their full potential. The launching pad for running two successful businesses…professional freestyle skiing of course!

In 1975 after a year in college, Dave headed to Encino, California, to the dry run freestyle training facility, to train with the likes of Phil Gerard and Suzy Chaffee. With a passion and skill for the sport, it seemed like the natural step. The timing was right as the first World Freestyle Championships were held in Snowbird, Utah that same year. Excitement about the sport was gaining ground.


WOMAN 28   

He competed on the Professional Freestyle Association Tour, and the Chevy Tour as well as regional and local competitions. Dave’s best discipline was ballet, although he was also an overall competitor in the sport that included aerials and moguls. “The sport has become more specialized now,” he said. While there are some overall competitors, Free-

style skiers for the most part now typically specialize and compete in just one of those areas.

In looking at some photos and film from his days in the skiing spotlight, I was impressed. Most people are pretty happy to stay upright on skis, and Dave is doing flips off jumps and graceful ballet moves. His love of the mountains (and skiing on them) is clear. What does Dave miss most about those days? “Being that good at something,” he said. Although he still gets a chance to ski a couple times a year, he comments, “not as much as I want to because I’m working so much.”

His passion for skiing has turned into a number of new passionate pursuits including competitive skeet shooting, horseback riding, and fly-fishing. Thankfully he gets to participate in all of these activities when he is in our area. Of course, all of this comes after family…his biggest priority. Dave is happily married to Jan and has three terrific daughters. He says, “Jan has been very flexible and loving for 23 years.” Jan visits a couple times a year with Dave on his monthly trip, and the entire family spends all summer at the ranch. The girls all work at the ranch while they are here and during the school year, they stay on the East coast. Meagan is a junior at Skidmore College, Emily is a freshman at Holy Cross, and Hailey is a sophomore at Suffield Academy. Bar W has developed in the past six years under Dave’s leadership. “We’ve grown up as a ranch offering a solid year-round product with safety as our top priority,” he said. “We are very community minded and have a lot of activities that locals can partake in including sleigh rides, chuckwagon dinners, corporate events, weddings and special events,” he added. They are looking at adding outdoor concerts in the future.

This past year they added “glamping” to their offerings, and Dave said, “it’s been wildly popular.” Glamping is glamorous, high end tent camping complete with beautiful furnishings including a comfortable bed and private bath. “It’s nicer than a hotel room inside,” he adds. All in all between the lodge, cabin and glamping tents, 52 people can be accommodated for overnight stays at the Bar W. One of the most popular events available for tourists and locals is the 'Cowgirl Up!' that is offered once in the spring and twice in the fall. This all-inclusive adventure retreat includes unlimited horseback riding, sorting and penning of cattle, skeet shooting, fly casting lessons, archery, cocktail receptions, vintner’s presentation, themed dinners, gourmet picnic lunch, spa treatment, and a night of two step dancing on the town.

Dave also hosts “Cowboying on The Great Divide”, which offers the best experiences of a cattle round-up all in one. The week is split between the Bar W in Whitefish and a base camp on 50,000 acres outside Cut Bank on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. This once in a lifetime trip is worth it for the scenery alone.

When asked about his favorite thing in regards to Bar W - he replied, “I know we have changed people’s lives and that can be incredible.” He then shared the following story about a woman who wanted to ride a horse again - This woman booked her western vacation in hopes of recapturing her love of riding. She had not been on a horse for 20 years, after falling and breaking her neck. Dave, along with a long-time wrangler at Bar W, Dave Schetine, worked slowly with the woman to gain her trust in them and the horse she was riding. Every day she made great progress and by the end of the week, she was riding confidently. She thanked them profusely for giving her back her life and her dream of riding again. Dave knows he’s in the right place.

Bar W Guest Ranch

2875 Hwy 93 West Whitefish, MT 59937 406-863-9099 -


406 women}


Debbie Pierce

406 Businesswoman of the Year by Kristen Hamilton - Photo by Daniel Seymour The population of Kalispell, according to the 2010 census, was 19,927. Let’s say of that number, 50% were women, which would be about 10,000. Imagine being chosen as the number one Businesswoman of the Year by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce. I’d like you to meet Debbie Pierce.

Debbie is the Vice President/General Manager for Alliance Title & Escrow Corp. and has been with the company since 1978. “I love working with people and helping them solve problems and issues,” she said. She has helped Alliance become second in the market and maintain a strong presence in the valley. Considering the fluctuating real estate market in the valley, this feat alone could be commended. She added that even after 33 years, “every day offers something different and new.” She speaks boastfully of the excellent staff at Alliance and takes pride in the their accuracy, timeliness, consistency, and great customer service. Debbie is happy to lead a team that has built strong ties to the real estate and business community, as she knows referrals are a huge part of the title business. The staff works hard to maintain recognition and continually brand the Alliance name through their association with community groups. For your convenience, Alliance Title has offices located in Kalispell, Bigfork, and Whitefish.


WOMAN 30   

Although Debbie is not personally as active in the Chamber as she has been in the past, she was humbled and honored by the recent Businesswoman of the Year award presented at the November 2011 annual banquet. She said, “The Chamber has been very pro-active and great at providing community information, legislative news and keeping members in the know.”

Debbie is also involved with in the Flathead Building Association (FBA) and has served as the Secretary as well as a Board Member for many years. She was recognized as the Associate of the Year in 1994. She looks forward to helping organize the FBA Showcase in March each year. While working at Alliance and as a member of FBA, she has been active on many committees that have helped form the organization as it is today. Debbie is also very involved with the local Realtor Association and was recognized in 2006 as the Affiliate of the Year.

As a third generation native, Debbie Jellison Pierce graduated from Columbia Falls High School before receiving her Associate Degree from Boise Business College. She worked for the Ada County Planning and Zoning Office in Boise, Idaho for four years before returning to the valley. She loves the variety of outdoor activities available here. “I need to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” Debbie said. She just “retired” from playing Co-Rec and Women’s softball for over 30 years, and now she looks forward to “struggling with golf”, her horses, water sports, and skiing.

Debbie is married with two daughters and three grandchildren, all of whom live in the valley. Spending time with her grandchildren is one of her greatest joys!

Alliance Title & Escrow

501 South Main Kalispell, MT


start-up spotlight} Sparrows C onversations with I nspiring M ontana E ntrepreneurs

Melanie Nelson 5 Sparrows

Photo by Daniel Seymour

Entrepreneur and mother of three, Melanie Nelson, utilized her knowledge as a longtime barista to launch 5 Sparrows, a line of gourmet cocoa, chai and frappe powders sold wholesale and retail. Preparing each blend by hand in their Kalispell facility with superior ingredients, 5 Sparrows is filling a void in the marketplace and creating tasty alternatives to mixes not currently offered in the cafe industry. A leap of faith and a love of the café lifestyle spawned 5 Sparrows. 406 Woman sat down with Melanie to learn more about her journey and unique products.

fee shop. What has been the most surprising difference? What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome so far?

When the economy started to suffer, I had to rethink how my drive-through espresso business was operating and adapt to the market- quickly. I started looking at my cost of goods and wondered if I could make my own cocoa for our hot chocolate and mochas. I wasn’t willing to serve an inferior product, so I sourced the absolute best ingredients I could find and went to work.

5 Sparrows is currently carried by Tri-State Restaurant Supply, Montana Coffee Traders, Withey’s Health Foods, Colter Coffee House, Lakeside Coffee, Sykes Grocery, Mountain Valley Foods, and Ceres Bakery; plus a few coffee shops in Missoula, California and Washington. What are your goals for distribution and growth over the next two to five years?

What was your inspiration to start 5 Sparrows?

I would have to say that our biggest hurdle is educating people that the product they have been asking for is out there, it’s locally made, and it’s delicious.

5 Sparrows is making wishes come true for cocoa connoisseurs! You are the innovator behind the first naturally-sweetened, sugarfree cocoa. Many consumers are turned off by the high sugar content or artificial sweeteners in conventional cocoa brands. How did you think of this concept and what does your sugar-free line offer?

All of our major competitors sell globally. Our marketing campaign and is already getting us nation-wide attention. Considering the natural, sugar free ingredients, stevia and xylitol, have been used for years in the European and Japanese markets. We plan to be a serious contender after five years.

I didn’t think of this concept, my customers did! We had been getting more and more requests for an alternative to products sweetened with Splenda. 5 Sparrows’ sugar free line uses high-quality ingredients sweetened with stevia and xylitol which are both natural sweeteners. People are always surprised that our products are sugar free. Not only do they not have an aftertaste, they taste real. You have experience in running a small business previously, yet launching a product must be quite different than operating a cof-


WOMAN 32   

Both business upstarts have required endless research, energy and heart. The biggest difference in manufacturing is relearning the nature of the industry. Having started in retail, it’s like reading a book backward. Needless to say, this has proven very challenging!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a product-based business?

If you have a passion, follow your heart. Take the time to build a strong business and marketing plan as well as a budget. Also, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the amazing (free) local tools such as the Small Business Development Center and the Montana West Economic Development Center. Necessity is the mother of invention. Montana is notorious for people who are willing to challenge the norm, dig in deep, and go for it.

Profile for 406 Woman

406 Woman {Business}  

406 Woman {Business}

406 Woman {Business}  

406 Woman {Business}

Profile for 406woman

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded