In the Arena with L. Roger Hutson
Roger Hutson is the President and CEO of HRM Resources III, LLC.
As the Board Chair for Colorado Concern and an Executive working in the Oil and Gas industry, you are regularly interfacing with political leaders on a variety of issues. What are you keeping an eye on right now? I am continuously looking for opportunities to have Colorado Concern participate in the conversation in ways which lead to a better business environment for the state. I have seen a number of proposals which, on their face, are dangerous to the business environment and have tried to work to move the discussion to where it’s palatable to business.
How did you get involved in politics and what have you learned over the years? In my twenties, I got involved with the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club. They met every Monday at 7:30am and there were usually 10-15 people there. I remember my first meeting, the room was filled with a few interested folks along with Commissioners, the County Treasurer and Clerk and we heard from the County Coroner; I was thinking if this is politics, I’m not interested. After about a year, they asked me to take over as Chair. My first act was to invite our newly elected Democratic Governor, Roy Romer, to speak to the group. A lot of people were upset with me that day. There were complaints from the old guard, those who were offended that I invited a Democrat in. Well, we had 150 people show up to that breakfast. Later, I invited the head of the ACLU to debate the death penalty with a JeffCo District Attorney who had multiple capital cases under his belt. What I learned then and what I know now, is that in order to make the right decision you have to understand different sides of the problem. How can you find a solution if you can’t have a conversation?
Can you speak to the role of business in Colorado politics? Business drives the revenue of the state and anything which puts the business community at risk, puts Colorado at risk. Although well intentioned, some of our friends at the legislature don’t necessarily understand what their proposals will do to affect the economic engine of the state. It’s really up to us to try and be as helpful as we can to explain it.
In addition to being a policy advocate, you are a noted philanthropist and active on several community boards. Can you tell me what you are supporting and what drives you to dedicate your time and money this way? Among other organizations, I am honored to be on the board to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I am a true fan of live theater. The DCPA has grown to be the largest non-profit theater organization in the United States, surpassing the Kennedy Center or San Francisco. I am also honored to support the work at St Joseph’s Hospital Foundation Board. A truly great Denver hospital supporting our population with clinical excellence and award-winning care. I have been blessed in my career and believe very much in giving back to the community that was kind enough to give to me.
Finally, from your unique vantage point, what are the biggest opportunities you see for the state and for your industry? Colorado is well poised to continue to be a leader in growth. We are a state where people want to come but we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of spending before you have the money.
I remember getting my first big raise, going from $24,000 to $30,000 a year. I thought at the time: this will be awesome, I’ll keep living on $24,000 a year and bank the six. Before you know it, I’ll be in tall cotton. But you’ll recognize what happened next because it happens to us all. Maybe the washing machine breaks down and instead of fixing it, you buy a new one. You’ve had it for 10 years and now you can afford to replace it. Next you decide to go on vacation, but instead of staying at the Super Eight Hotel, you stay at something just a little bit nicer. It’s lifestyle creep and we can’t afford to have that creep at the state level. We have a fiduciary responsibility not to allow our current success to get us into trouble in the future.
Who inspires you? My children.
What is your favorite place in Colorado? My home.
What is your favorite restaurant? Denver is blessed to have many excellent restaurants and, with so many new ones opening up, I have yet to find my favorite.