Vicki Lee Green Realtors has seen a lot in 20 years

Lynn BurtonPost Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Vicki Lee Green Realtors stitched together $3 million in sales its first year in 1983, and by 2002 had smashed through the $500 million barrier.Through those years, the company struggled to stay afloat during the oil shale bust of the early 1980s, hit stride with the real estate boom of the late 1980s and 1990s, and survived company founder Vicki Lee Green’s death in 2000.Today is Vicki Lee Green Realtors’ 20th anniversary. Company staff and friends have been reflecting on the company, and its founder, all month long.”The market had just fallen apart when we opened, right after Black Sunday,” said Mariette Purdy, who opened the company with Green and Bette Martin the same month Exxon pulled its multi-billion oil shale project out of Parachute. “I think Vicki lost a lot of sleep over it, but she was confident she should do it.”The best single year for Vicki Lee Green Realtors was 1999, when the company recorded $54 million in sales.Green grew up on a peach farm in Palisade, and moved to Glenwood Springs with her husband, Lee, in 1969.Purdy said that in 1983, Green took out a second mortgage on her house so she could tear down an old gasoline station at 10th and Grand Avenue and have her husband build her offices. Today, Green’s daughter, Tonya Green-Nieslanik, sits in the same corner office her mother once rushed in and out of.”I started here in 1997,” Nieslanik said as she and Purdy poured over a file full of Vicki Lee Green newspaper advertisements and stories from the past 20 years. “I was 25 at the time.”One of Nieslanik’s office views looks through tall windows onto 10th Street, and her door opens to a lobby accented with oak, Victorian-style furniture, floral-pattern wallpaper, and the kind of plush, green carpet her mother installed in 1983. In the conference room, with its 8-foot conference table, a Doug Arneson painting of the Hotel Colorado fills part of one wall.”Doug hung the wallpaper here,” Nieslanik said. “He was a starving artist. … Mary Matchael did the etched windows. … My dad designed and built the building.”Nieslanik said she worked off and on for her mom “as a secretary and other stuff” through the years, and also at Mason & Morse real estate in Carbondale, then at Stewart Title for five years. “I really enjoyed it at Stewart Title,” she said.Eventually, Green figured it was time for her daughter to come to work for her. “She said, `You need to come here and learn the ropes,’ so here I am today,” Nieslanik said with one of her trademark, bright smiles.One thing Nieslanik learned from her mom was to keep a positive attitude. “There have definitely been ups and downs with the economy, but I like real estate,” she said.Since she inherited the company, Nieslanik jokes that on occasion she has said, “Thanks, Mom,” when business isn’t too good.Nieslanik said her mom had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years before she died from complications of the disease at 52. Purdy, who is an officer in the firm, said Green was a “real trooper” through the lean years even when she was sick. When other people were down, “She had the uncanny ability to be cheerleader.”Green once stood all of 5 feet tall, but with surgery and drugs was only 4-foot-7 at the time of her death. “She’d joke, `I used to be five feet tall,'” Nieslanik said.When asked what Vicki Lee Green would think about her firm hitting the $500 million sales mark, Nieslanik looked at Purdy and said, “She’d be very happy.”At the same instant, Purdy looked back at Nieslanik, laughed and said, “But she’d wish it were more.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext.

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