Bud Knapp and his late wife Betsy worked passionately and diligently for more than 25 years to create a working farm in Edwards’ larger upper West Lake Creek valley, based on a vision of stewardship, responsible land use, sustainability and conservation.
More recently, 85-year-old Knapp encouraged his three children to move to the Eagle River Valley to not only keep the Knapp Ranch in the family, but to let them bring their shared passions and respective talents to ensure that the huge estate continues to thrive.
“I am very satisfied with our team and what they have achieved,” said Knapp of his 55 employees. “I am very proud of her personal dedication and passion for the ranch and all her efforts. Over the past few years, the opportunity to work alongside my two sons, Brian and Aaron, and my daughter, Laura, has brought renewed energy and insight to the future of our businesses and to the continued development and growth of Knapp Ranch.”
Desiring to expand the family business he has nurtured, Knapp announced the appointment of Brian as President and CEO of Knapp Ranch and West Lake Creek Company, LLC.
“Brian brought his many skills, knowledge and experience to our ranch,” Bud said. “His business acumen and empathy have brought a wonderful style and sense of responsibility to our company and its employees.”
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To round out family responsibilities, Aaron serves as the Chief Marketing Officer, managing the sales and marketing of Knapp Ranch grown produce and its wholesale restaurant customers, and Laura, along with her partner Rene Delgadillo, is the main manager of the lodge and assists with retail operations.
“This expansion is an exciting change that reflects the ongoing transition from one generation to the next,” said Brian, who served as Knapp Ranch’s chief financial officer for nearly two years. Brian’s previous work experience has included risk management in banking and more specifically consumer credit at large corporations.
“Working with the family has been very rewarding,” said Brian. “Having family chores at Knapp Ranch is consistent with the ranch’s mission, which has been talked about among us for decades, long before my siblings and I ever considered moving to Colorado. Hearing Bud and Betsy’s vision over the years and personally witnessing the development of the ranch and associated businesses over that time has brought the vision into our collective family conscience.”
The Knapp Ranch is an example of land management and water conservation, an inspiration for architectural design and traditional craftsmanship, a contribution to climate science studies, a laboratory for horticultural experiments, a partner of the United States Forest Service, and an educational center for environmental studies species as it evolves.
In August, the Knapp Ranch acquired Second Nature Gourmet, a freshly prepared catering business that focuses on quality ingredients and uses the finest local and responsible produce. In 2019, Knapp Ranch acquired 50 acres of certified organic Osage Gardens in New Castle, which produce organic culinary herbs and vegetables. Eagle-based Knapp Harvest is a unique storefront offering readily available ready meals from Second Nature, Osage herbs and produce, organic mushrooms, microgreens and Knapp’s nectar honey from the Knapp Ranch. Products from these sustainable operations are also frequently donated to the Eagle Valley Community Foundation Market in Edwards and to the Avon-based Salvation Army.
As CMO, Aaron has worked closely with Edwards-based marketing firm Hill-Aevium to update Knapp Ranch’s brand position and this month announced the relaunch of the Knappranch.com website.
“We’re excited and excited about our relaunch,” said Aaron. “’Learning as We Grow’ is the perfect update to our brand vision that sums it all up. We may have built Knapp Ranch more than two decades ago, but we’re still learning every day. We learn what is possible to grow at higher altitudes, what it means to be a land manager as the climate and landscape are constantly changing. While we’re constantly amazed by the new discoveries we come across, we’re also excited to share this knowledge with others. Education is a key component and we believe the public can learn a lot from us.”
“By working together as a team under Brian’s leadership, we will continue to share our common vision, knowledge and purpose while supporting the community in which we live,” says the Founding Father. “I’ll be around and help if I can until they get me out on a stretcher.”