I first met Mike when we started the historical society at Black
Butte Ranch. We began the organization in 1997 by offering programs
with speakers of historical interest. A few people told me that
I should ask Mr. Hollern, the chairman of a very busy and successful
company, to come and speak to our group. Brooks Resources had not
been involved with the Ranch for many years and I thought it would
be next to impossible for someone as busy as him to be willing
to come out and speak to a group of Ranch homeowners.
Somehow I dug up the courage to call him. The first astounding
thing about that call was finding that Mike actually answered
his own phone. Very quickly into the conversation it became evident
that I was speaking with a truly exceptional person. He was thoughtful
and gracious and to my amazement, willing to speak with the group.
The day he spoke we had fifty people in attendance. Given the
fact that only about 250 people lived at the Ranch at that time,
and many of them were still south escaping the cold, the attendance
was significant. Some people already knew Mike because they had
owned property at the Ranch for a long time. Many were like me;
their only knowledge of him came from reading Peggy Lucas’ book
There is a Place. We were all quickly captivated. Hearing him share
stories of risk taking, struggle and good luck gave new value to
what was around us.
Born in 1938 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mike’s mother was
a Brooks of the Brooks-Scanlon lumber company. As a young man,
Mike didn’t immediately join the Brooks-Scanlon organization
after graduating college. He wanted to prove to himself that he
could achieve something on his own, so he took a job as a television
announcer in Billings Montana.
After a year, Mike concluded he was “no Chet Huntley or
David Brinkley,” so he moved his young wife to California.
He spent two years earning an MBA at Stanford University. He stayed
at the university for two years after graduation, becoming Assistant
to the Vice President of Finance, while raising a family – he
has four children. He said he learned everything there from financial
planning to fund-raising.
In 1965 an opportunity to join his family’s company arose,
this time in Central Oregon. Mike joined Brooks Scanlon in July
of that year as Administration Manager. Though headquartered in
Minnesota, by the late 1960s Brooks-Scanlon owned nearly 300,000
acres of Central Oregon timber land. The timber industry was beginning
to face hard times. All of the timber mills in Sisters had closed
by 1963, devastating the town. “Old-timers” remember
the 1960s as a time of mass unemployment and a great depression
in Sisters Country.
As Mike told us in his talk in 1997, “Brooks realized they
were not just in the timber business, but in the land business.” They
had been looking at their Central Oregon timber land as an opportunity
to become land developers. Brooks Resources Corporation, a subsidiary
of Brooks-Scanlon, was established in 1969. Mike became President
of Brooks-Scanlon and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive
officer of Brooks Resources in 1970.
The first development for Mike and his new company was Black
Butte Ranch. Mike used his relationship with Stanford University
to help him find the people he wanted to build the new resort.
Though Black Butte Ranch was the first, it was only the beginning.
People looking in today may say it was all easy. What they may
not remember is the terrible recession in land prices in the 1980s.
There were times then, though Brooks Resources was land rich, it
was cash poor. Only strong leadership and a commitment to the area
let Brooks Resources continue through those tough years.
Today, Brooks Resources and Mike Hollern are the premier developers
in Central Oregon. Having created showcase developments like North
Rim on Awbrey Butte in Bend, they are moving out to Prineville
and Madras creating astounding opportunities for new arrivals to
Central Oregon to buy beautiful but affordable homes and land.
A man of vision, yet grounded in the simple values of family,
community and concern for others. Mike Hollern is a special part
of Central Oregon history.