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Making it in Big Sky: Tim Cyr and Cathy Gorman, Big Sky Sotheby’s

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By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – Tim Cyr and his wife Cathy Gorman have had a real estate presence in Big Sky for more than 30 years. Since moving to Big Sky in 1982, they have witnessed the area grow from a few businesses in the Meadow and the resort, to a thriving little town with increasingly world class amenities. In 2002, the couple left Big Sky Properties to found Big Sky Sotheby’s International, now located in the Town Center Market Place building. In 2016, Cyr and Gorman opened an office in Bozeman.

As part of this ongoing series, realtors Cyr and Gorman shared their thoughts with EBS on the reasoning behind their success and longevity operating as a Big Sky small business.

Explore Big Sky: What has been the key to your success?

Tim Cyr: Listening to the needs and desires of our clients and customers. Also, longevity and persistence—we have lived here for 30-plus years. And our affiliation with Sotheby’s International Realty [which operates in] 75 countries, [and has] 800 offices and 20,000 agents only in the nicest addresses on the planet.

Cathy Gorman: Respect, paying attention to client needs, knowing the market. Success has come mostly from having and sharing a deep love of this place and helping clients find their special place in it. 

EBS: What are the biggest obstacles to operating a small business in Big Sky?

T.C.: There are none other than time and money. This is a very competitive environment. Talent is always rewarded.

C.G.: Big Sky is a small town. We face inventory shortages and high labor costs.

EBS: How has the business landscape changed since you started out?

T.C.: When we first arrived, Big Sky was basically the Meadow and Mountain Village and very little else. Now we have four resorts and subdivisions of all kinds. To have a theater, a big grocery store, and a hospital with a pharmacy is great progress. A downtown with a square is beyond any of my hopes of 30 years ago.

EBS: What is it about Big Sky that compels you to stick it out through the hard times?

T.C.: There is always something to do in Big Sky and it is almost always world class. The skiing, the hunting, cross-country, to springtime crust cruising, all great fun. My dogs are happy here. Big Sky is home. I am always happy to return to Big Sky.

C.G.: We chose quality of life over money a long time ago. Our children grew up with a freedom to roam the neighborhood, play outside unsupervised. We don’t lock our doors. We hike from our house. We wake every morning to spectacular scenery, clean air, wildlife all around us. What hard times?

EBS: What is one of the most memorable moments you have had as a resident/business owner in Big Sky?

T.C.: In the early days of Big Sky, the promotion of the resort was a community effort shared by a few hotels and property managers. We formed a chamber of commerce and had a road show of fall ski events around the country.

EBS: Why do you think so many new businesses fold relatively quickly?

T.C.: I do not know of any good operators who have folded in Big Sky.

C.G.: They did not consider the off-seasons. They did not have enough money behind them. They were not equipped to run a business.

EBS: What advice would you give to small business owners just starting out in Big Sky?

T.C.: Stay away from debt.

C.G.: Do your homework. Have a plan.

EBS: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?

T.C.: Save your funds for a rainy day.

EBS: Where do you see your business in 10 years?

T.C.: With a Sotheby’s office in five different towns across southwest Montana. To see a Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty office, 100 years from now, here in Big Sky on the square, and Big Sky is the best ski area in North America.

Big Sky Sotheby’s  – by the numbers

  • Staff: Three, with 20 agents between two offices in Big Sky and Bozeman
  • Years in business: 16
  • Longest serving employee: Amy Sand, 15 years

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