Park City resident listed with top entrepreneurs
She built it, sold it, ran it, and then bought it back. Now she’s being honored for it.
Ernst and Young listed Barbara Zimonja, owner of Premier Resorts in Park City, as one of the top 25 finalists in Utah for this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which was handed out on Friday after press time. Although her business has been a standout success, she felt fairly certain she wouldn’t win the award.
"I don’t have a chance in hell," she said. "I’ll tell you I’m with very good bed fellows. The other nominees make me feel very proud to be in their company. If you’ve seen the list, it’s very impressive. I’m just happy my name is in the running. There are definitely some very deserving people in the group."
Zimonja started her first business in Park City in 1978 a housekeeping company that eventually expanded into a small management company.
By 1981 she operated a full-fledged property management team.
In 1987 she purchased Deer Valley Lodging and combined it with her Park City operation, and the company continued to gain steam.
In 1994 she sold the business to a British conglomerate, but remained close. The new owners developed the Premier Resorts strategy and name, and made Zimonja the company’s president in 1997. She ran the company in that capacity until she bought the entire business in 2004.
"We started with Park City, sold off when we had Park City and Deer Valley, and then we bought it back when we had expanded operations to six mainland states, Hawaii and Mexico," Zimonja said.
When she re-acquired the company, she also took on a partner, Brad Goulding, whom she met through the conglomerate. Goulding currently serves as the company’s chief operations officer and chief financial officer.
"He and I have been working together since 1998," she said. "We just kept it going. We now do everything from rental management to homeowner management, and everything in between. We have condominiums and condominium hotels in the U.S. and Mexico"
The continued success, growth and ingenuity of Zimonja and her company were key elements in being nominated for the annual award. Once Ernst and Young have pared original candidates down to 25, they send a bevy of judges to interview, film and watch each nominee so they can understand who the 25 finalists are.
"They look for individuals and how they have succeeded in life and the guts of their entrepreneurism," Zimonja said. "That’s really always what they’re looking for in the interviews at least. They want to see what is it inside of you that got you where you are."
Although she didn’t think she would win, Zimonja had everything planned out if she did.
"What I’m going to do if I win, I’m going to accept the award and then go work the next day," she said. "But the award is a nice pat on the back, and we need that now and again."
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