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The Indy's competitive advantage 

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I've been blessed by wisdom passed on from at least a dozen mentors. One was J. Patrick Rooney, a self-made, extremely wealthy libertarian maverick who led the Golden Rule Insurance Company.

When I started my first company in 1984, he shared a secret of his success: "John, if you give women a fair shake, you'll have a real competitive advantage over all your competitors who are blinded by their unseen prejudices."

I took this lesson to heart. And while I get plaudits for the Indy, truth be told, I am largely the conductor here. The real work gets done by our 35 full-time employees and dozens of contract workers, at least half of whom are female.

In an issue celebrating what our readers have voted the best of Colorado Springs, I gratefully take this moment to applaud five women who, as we kick off our 20th year, give their all to make the Indy the best and feistiest newspaper in town.

Teri Homick, vice president of sales. In the spring of '93, Kathryn Eastburn and I teamed up to invent a new newspaper for Colorado Springs. We developed delusions of grandeur and a 125-page business plan, and raised nearly $300,000. We just had one small problem: Neither Kathryn nor I had ever worked at a newspaper. And in many ways, our schemes and dreams were just that.

Things evolved from fantasy to giddy reality in September 1993 when, to our utter surprise, Teri agreed to leave "a real job" with what was then called the Gazette-Telegraph to lead sales efforts at a newspaper that had no name and a launch date of "sometime soon." Teri took the huge plunge — and a pay cut — to join us. Without her gumption and smile, the Indy would never have become a reality.

Today, though a lot wiser and a tad older, Teri remains the same: the heart and soul of our sales engine.

Susan Molumby, account executive. When Susan joined the Indy 17 years ago, one of her tasks was coordinating the Personals section. (Hundreds of folks each month responded to 40-word blurbs from "a man seeking a woman," "a woman trolling for a man," or — heaven help us all — "a woman in the hunt for an LTR with another woman"!) The need for these newspaper ads would slowly decrease, but Susan's role as a competent and caring sales executive would only grow. We count our blessings for the tremendous initiative and hard work she's invested in our success.

Four months ago, the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed Susan's family's home. Our hearts remain open to Susan and all others for whom the fire's scars remain.

Yvonne Ramos, senior account executive. Yvonne joined the Indy in 2000, after more than a decade at The Broadmoor. She recalls that back then, the paper was "Colorado Springs' red-headed stepchild."

"Now we have grown to be a proud community leader," she says. "Every day, we help small, local companies stay in business and grow. Without us most of them could not afford to advertise, and fewer people would know they existed."

Literally, every month I get a thank you from a client grateful for an extra mile Yvonne's gone.

Jamie Romero-Agrusa, accounts receivable coordinator. Teri, Susan and Yvonne have collectively generated more than $10 million in ad sales to fund the Indy's operations. But their sales do not in themselves keep us afloat. As I learned the hard way during our lean years, if sales are good, collections are better. And this is where Jamie comes in, for she's in charge of politely and professionally making sure we get paid more than 98 percent of what is owed to us.

Jamie's been with us her entire professional life, holding four different jobs in 12 years. She's a key "all-knowing" staff member.

Kathy Conarro, art director. I stumbled on Kathy in 1998, when she was designing a poster for the 10th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival. Within six months, her days as a stay-at-home mom were history.

Today, she has overseen a mind-boggling 675 Indy covers. Of her work displayed through our office, she says, "It's my life story."

To these women: You're truly the best. Everyone at the Indy salutes your combined three-quarters of a century of service to our paper and our community.

jweiss@csindy.com

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