My "real job" at this time in my life is CEO of NetDocuments (www.netdocuments.com), a small technology company based in Orem, Utah. NetDocuments is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) company offering "born on the web for the web" document management and collaboration software "as a service". I founded and manage NetDocuments with my two primary partners, Alvin Tedjamulia and Lee Duncan (blood brother), and about ten other great people (20 total in company) with whom I have worked in three small companies over the past twenty years. We get along very well and enjoy our work and working with each other. Given my commitments to NetDocuments, I get to the HPR every weekend during the summer months and about once per month during seasons other than summer. I often fly to the HPR (either SLC to Butte or Idaho Falls) or drive --- it takes about 6 hours to get to the HPR regardless of my mode of transportation. I am hoping for high-speed Internet access to be installed via a DSL line this spring!
I am also lucky that my wife, Marie, is not an avid horse person or all she would want to do it ride. She enjoys hosting guests and ensuring that they have a stay of their lifetimes. Marie books the ranch from Utah during the fall, winter and spring months, then works her head off hosting guests during the summer months.
As an absentee owner, it is essential that we have people who live and work year round at the ranch. Urs Schmidlin and Elias Cervantes and their families take care of the HPR year round. They are hardworking (I never need to worry about their work schedules) and completely trustworthy. They are as professional at managing and caring for a working cattle and guest ranch as any good business people are at managing their respective business. We have worked with Elias since 1995 when we purchase the HPR and Urs since 1997........they are the best.
Back for a moment to absentee ownership of a ranch in Montana. One of the tragic developments over the past 10 years in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho is the purchase of viable working cattle ranches by "absentee" owners whose motivation for purchasing the ranch was purely economic, such as a conservation easement for tax savings. Many, probably most, of these ranches are economically and environmentally "raped". Typically, on these ranches a multimillion dollar home is constructed, and possibly other improvements and/or the ranch is subdivided and sold off as a recreation "ranch" and in too many cases the Cows are taken off the ranch. Without the ranch being maintained as a viable working cattle ranch (its "highest and best use") weeds are not managed, native pastures are not maintained, and worst of all, the ranches value becomes so high that only the wealthiest of the wealthy or corporations are able to afford it. Some times these "trophy" ranches do not sell quickly because the lavish and expensive improvements to not match the taste of buyers. I have seen this raping of ranches too often in Montana. The owner is typically either a very successful business person who made it big or a movie star. What a tragic ending for a viable working cattle ranch. No one takes care of a ranch like a rancher whose business objective is not how much he or she can "flip" the ranch after a 5-7 year holding period and/or develop it, but whose business objective is raising beef and therefore needs to properly care for the land so that it will sustain the economic viability of the ranch. If this trend continues, all our beef will come from feedlots and our traditional cattle ranches will become mismanaged or unmanaged "recreation" ranches reserved only for the corporate elite and wealthiest of people.