By Sarah Gianelli EBS Senior Editor
BIG SKY – Blue Ribbon Builders began in Big Sky in the mid-1970s. According to owners JoDean and Doug Bing, there was open space everywhere and not too many local builders or clients. They started doing jobs for some of the resident ranchers and Big Sky Resort, as well as building homes for second home owners. They rolled with the times and went on to build many fine homes, condominiums and commercial buildings in the area. Their business continues to thrive in the custom home market today.
As part of this ongoing series, the Bings shared their thoughts with EBS on what it takes to make it as a small business owner in Big Sky over the long term. They collaborated on the responses below.
Explore Big Sky: What has been the key to your success?
Blue Ribbon Builders: Open and honest communication, exceeding customers’ expectations, quality craftsmanship and safety.
EBS: Do you remember your first customer or first sale?
BRB: Yes, we built a nine bedroom home for a couple with eight children at the mouth of the Gallatin Canyon.
EBS: What are the biggest obstacles to operating a small business in Big Sky?
BRB: The obstacles have changed over the decades. In the first years of Big Sky it was a lack of year-round economic opportunity. Now the impediment is finding homes to keep our local craftsmen and women in Big Sky.
EBS: How has the business landscape changed since you started out?
BRB: Cabins to lodges, simplicity to complex, rustic to contemporary.
EBS: What is it about Big Sky that compels you to stick it out through the hard times?
BRB: Home, sweet, home. We moved here in our late teens, married here, and raised three children here. We have a plethora of friends, family and memories here.
EBS: What is one of the most memorable moments you have had as a resident/business owner in Big Sky?
BRB: 1973—the first time driving through Gallatin Canyon. There were very few cars or people, no highway signs and no guardrail. So scenic and so beautiful—a slice of heaven!
EBS: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
BRB: Always do what you say you’re going to do.
EBS: What advice would you give to small business owners just starting out in Big Sky?
BRB: Understand the commitment of running a business. It requires an enormous amount of time, resources and you must wear many different hats.
EBS: Where do you see your business in 10 years?
BRB: Building some of the most beautiful homes in Big Sky! We have a young energetic group.
EBS: Where do you see Big Sky in 20 years?
BRB: Will Big Sky really be built out in 20 years? If so, Blue Ribbon Builders will continue to update and remodel the homes they built in the earlier years of Big Sky.
EBS: Would you do it all over again?
BRB: Yes, of course. It’s been a very rewarding and satisfying career.
Blue Ribbon Builders – by the numbers
• Staff: 40
• Years in business: 43
• Longest serving employee: Andy Cox, 38 years