Pioneering companies: Trailblazers; How they survived hardship, growth and changing times.

Author:Slaughter, William
Position:Company Profile

Utah's business culture grew out of a unique beginning-- part of an unusual saga in the settlement of the American West. After years of misfortune, Mormon pioneers sought to create an isolated Zion in the Utah wilderness. Under Brigham Young's leadership, they established more than 300 settlements throughout the Great Basin area. They sought independence based on local manufacturing and agriculture with an effort toward communalism. Brigham Young urged his people to avoid "all entangling alliances" with Eastern businesses.

However, the joining of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 brought an end to Utah's isolation. Despite efforts to block outside influences brought by the railroads, Utah was gradually whisked into the great flow of American enterprise.

Today, the emphasis in Utah is free enterprise that carries a regional, national and international influence.

In the November 18, 1996 edition of Financial World, Willard Rappleye, Jr. describes today's Utah business climate as a place that "flourishes as the convergence of remarkable factors: some obvious and practical, like power, location, a smart hard-working labor force...; some traditional, rooted in the history of struggle to survive in a harsh economic climate; some based upon... self-reliance and responsibility, leading to superior levels of stability, education and motivation. The sum of them all is a confidence derived not only from success, but also from a sense of civic trust..."

The following businesses, selected with the input of a panel of community judges, are, in the pioneer vernacular, trailblazers--leaders who break new paths. Each of these companies has a tradition of excellence, service and innovation, and also promotes a positive image of Utah.


In 1965 the Beach Boys saluted the Lagoon experience in their song "Salt Lake City": "...There's a park near the city, yeah/ All the kids dig the Lagoon, now/ It's full of all kinds of girls/And rides and we'll be flyin' there soon now." Indeed, Lagoon is a Utah, if not Western, icon, a funscape each generation shares-with the next.

Lagoon began life as "Lake Park" in 1886. Thirteen years later, it was moved two miles east to its present location. The resort promised "Bowling, Elegant Dancing Pavilion, Fine Music, A Shady Bowery and Good Restaurants."

By 1900, Lagoon had its first mechanical thrill ride, the "Shoot the Chutes." The still operating merry-go-round was brought to the park in 1906, and the first roller coaster roared onto the scene in 1921.

Over the years, Lagoon has provided diversions including bicycle and horse racing, rodeos, concerts (including the Beach Boys, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, the Rolling Stones and the Doors), hot-air balloon rides, boxing, plays, western entertainment shows, baseball, dancing, movies, row-boating, swimming and, of course, a succession of newer, more adventurous thrill rides.

According to Dick Andrew, vice president of marketing, a key to Lagoon's success is that "We always try to have something new every year so people have an extra reason to re-visit us. Amusement parks need to be aware of and continually adapt to the latest trends." But a constant is the public's need for "a pleasant, clean and inviting atmosphere where parents feel comfortable letting the kids loose."

In October 1953, fire ravaged the resort. Lagoon President Robert Freed spearheaded a rebuilding effort that in Andrew's words, "created the beginnings of the Lagoon we know today."

Today, Lagoon, owned by Utah's Freed family, is a regional resort with 35 rides, a water-park, historic Pioneer Village, live entertainment, games, shops and eateries.


On July 6, 1873, Brigham Young invited twelve community leaders to his Salt Lake City office to discuss the need to establish a community-minded, local savings bank. Acting quickly, they incorporated Zions Savings Bank and Trust "under the laws of the Utah Territory."

Young's thoughts were recorded in the July 28, 1873 Desert News: "This institution is a cooperative one, and we think it is likely to meet with favor.... We expect in time to have branches of this Bank all over the territory...." On the morning of October 1, Zions opened its doors to the public and by mid-afternoon had received $5,876 from 46 depositors. By the time the bank reached its...

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