STEAMBOAT — Bob Kuusinen will leave behind a rich legacy that stretches more than 46 years when he steps down as Vectra Bank’s market president at the end of July.
Kuusinen, who moved to Steamboat Springs in 1973, has been at Vectra Bank for nearly 12 years. Before that, he was a commercial banker at Yampa Valley Bank and also worked at Steamboat Resort for 30 years in a number of positions ranging from flipping hamburgers to serving as vice president of operations.
Kuusinen’s invitation to move to Steamboat came while he was living in Denver and working in guest services for his brother at Clarion, a hotel management company. When the Clarion was contracted to run the Village Inn — now the Sheraton Steamboat Resort — the food and beverage manager offered Kuusinen a job.
“The food and beverage guy was sent up here to run this new management contract, so he asked a bunch of us who worked for him down there to come with him,” Kuusinen said. “He also managed Thunderhead at the top of the gondola … so I flipped hamburgers for him up there and became the assistant manager because the manager didn’t want to to work on weekends.”
From there, Kuusinen was able to work his way through the ranks of the ski resort. He held several jobs in the accounting department before being named vice president of operations in 1990.
“He has been a great community partner and a phenomenal asset when he worked here at the ski area,” said Jim Schneider, vice president of skier services, planning and development for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. “He played a big role in bringing a lot of the early Nordic (Combined) World Cups to town, and I worked with him a lot on a number of freestyle World Cups that we did in the 1990s.”
In 2003, Kuusinen left the ski area to take a job as a commercial banker with Yampa Valley Bank, and four years later, he moved to Vectra Bank where he stepped into the role of market president. It was an interesting path for Kuusinen, who spent two years at the University of Michigan but never graduated.
“I had no plans to live my entire adult life here,” Kuusinen said. “I certainly didn’t see that coming at all.”
Long-time friend Curt Weiss said his friend’s success is not surprising.
“He is successful because he cares,” Weiss said. “Whatever job he takes on, he does it with due diligence and really cares about it.”
Dan Bonner, another longtime friend, agree s.
“He started in food service at the ski area and worked his way up,” Bonner said. “Then he has gone on and had a great career in banking since then. He is just a wonderful, honest businessman who has done a tremendous amount for our community.”
Kuusinen is an active member of the Ski Town USA Rotary Club, and most recently, he was selected to fill the vacant Routt County seat on the Colorado Mountain College board of trustees.
In addition to professional success, Kuusinen has also excelled in his personal life. He married his wife, Melrose, in 1976, and they have three children — Matt, 41, Jackie, 36, and Sean, 27. The couple also have one grandchild, Scotia, who turned 2 three months ago.
Hanging out with his granddaughter tops Kuusinen’s retirement bucket list. He also will spend a few months each winter in Florida and plans to fish, ride his road bike and spend time with friends.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.