PSE

From left, Jason Kibbe, Bill Ellison, JJ Bowers and George Kuckly. Kibbe and Kuckly recently purchased Premier Special Events from Ellison and Bowers. (Courtesy photo)

Longtime locals George Kuckly and Jason Kibbe were drawn to Telluride for the same reasons many people are — the world-class skiing and snowboarding. They both found jobs that allowed them to pursue their passions, but neither of them imagined they’d one day become business owners. But that’s exactly what they’ve achieved, as Kuckly and Kibbe bought Premier Special Events from co-owners Bill Ellison and JJ Bowers this month.

“We’re both really excited for this opportunity,” said Kuckly, who has called Telluride home for the past 30 years.

He explained his sister lived in Telluride in the late 1980s and early ’90s, so he moved out to the San Juans from New York after graduating high school. Since then, Kuckly estimates he’s worked hundreds of jobs in the service industry. He started working for Premier Special Events, an equipment rental and production services company, in April.

“For the last five years I’ve been trying to figure something else out. I’ve been mainly in the service industry,” Kuckly said.

Unlike Kuckly, Kibbe has held the same job at Premier Special Events since 2009, after he moved from his home state of Massachusetts during the winter of 2007-08.

“I was snowboarding in the winter and setting up tents in the summer,” he said.

He’s since become a full-time, year-round employee. When Ellison and Bowers approached Kuckly and Kibbe about taking over the company, the coworkers jumped on it.

“The opportunity came at the end of September. Bill and JJ asked us what we thought about buying the business from them. Jason and I talked about it and decided it would be a great opportunity for the both of us,” Kuckly said.

Ellison started Viking Rentals, a construction equipment rental company, with John Gearty in 1994. Not long after the company expanded to include special event equipment like tents and installation. Premier Special Events was under the Viking Rentals umbrella until 2015, when Ellison and Bowers made it a standalone company.

Ellison also owns and operates a similar construction rental company in Montrose. He said Premier Special Events has grown over the years and works with almost every summer festival in town, as well as most weddings and other private events. He and Bowers were contemplating selling the company before the pandemic, which only delayed the process, and Kuckly and Kibbe were a natural fit.

“I just got so busy that Premier Special Events was taking up a lot of time, and it was time to turn it over to some guys that could just focus and put all their energy into that company,” he said.

Kibbe has seen the company expand in the past decade-plus, as more festivals and private events filled up the summer calendar.

“It’s something that’s certainly grown. I’ve been fortunate to learn under Bill and JJ, and I’ve just tried to observe everything they taught,” he said.

The company is busiest from May through the end of October. While the pandemic slowed things a bit, this past summer picked back up and 2022 looks to be just as busy, if not busier, at this point. Even though the busiest time of the year may be behind them, Kuckly and Kibbe are already preparing for next summer.

“We’re not out in the field setting things up in the winter, but we are renegotiating contracts and getting bids and reservations ready for the next season,” Kuckly said. “Looks like 2022 we’re going to be back on track and have a really good summer.”

They’ll also be looking to hire more employees by then.

Another exciting aspect of being the new owners of Premier Special Events is the connection they’ll have with the community.

“For me, I think it’s a great business that’s community oriented. We work with most of the festivals in town. We work with a lot of different organizations in town,” Kuckly said. “I’m looking forward to just being more connected with the community and helping the community with their events.”

For more information about the business, visit psetelluride.com.