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Better Together

A Snapshot of Couples Working Together

Article by Bethany Wiley, MPH, RYT

Photography by Taryn Ashlee Photography

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

While many couples have a separation between their professional and personal lives, others find the best partnership is one that combines the two. No doubt, challenges can arise when working with a partner, but so can many joys. Meet these couples who have made it work over the years and find a balance through it all.

Justin Ghofrani and Margaret Thompson - The Kress Cinema 

Justin Ghofrani and Margaret Thompson met in 2011 in Chicago and moved to Greeley in 2014 to run The Kress Cinema & Lounge when Margaret’s parents, Ron and Linde Thompson, were looking to sell. At 22 and 23 years old, they thought it would be a good opportunity to try their hand at entrepreneurship.

They took over Margie’s Java Joint in 2018, and now share running both businesses. Following the divide and conquer approach, Margaret primarily manages Margie’s and Justin primarily manages The Kress. Margaret focuses on branding, menu design and quality control while Justin focuses on logistics, repairs, and bookkeeping.

When managing multiple businesses, making decisions can be like a fast-moving train. Justin recalls two days before they opened The Speakeasy at The Kress, Margaret agreed to an interview for the Greeley Tribune. Even though the wallpaper wasn’t finished, the plumbing was not fully hooked up, the menus weren’t printed, and the staff was not yet fully trained on the drinks, Margaret knew that the article would be just the push they needed to get the last of the work done. Justin, who considers himself a worrywart, was concerned with the decision. Lo and behold, the work got done and opening night was a sweeping success. Margaret said to Justin, “I told you so.” 

Even though tasks and responsibilities are divided, Justin and Margaret still connect as a couple and with others. “We have the freedom to be creative and take risks, and we are able to share our successes and lean on each other for support when things get hard,” said Justin. “Most of all, we’ve had the privilege of building a network of amazing people, customers and employees, who have gone on to become some of our dearest friends.” 

Mike and Virginia Slaughter - Slaughter Roofing

When Mike Slaughter started Slaughter Roofing in 1987, he did all the shingling and construction work himself.  As the business grew, he took on more help with the labor, and it became apparent to Mike and Virginia that more attention was needed in the office. Together for 42 years, Mike and Virginia have worked together full-time for the past 28 years, with Virginia managing the office, while Mike manages sales and production.

For the first 26 years, Slaughter Roofing operated out of Mike and Virginia’s home and a warehouse.  “This kept us very cozy and involved 24/7,” said Virginia. “That has been the biggest joy and the biggest challenge.” Mike and Virginia find their strengths complement each other and contribute to the success of Slaughter Roofing. “Mike is very business and production oriented, and I am detail-oriented,” said Virginia. “Those gifts work very well together and produced the amazing company we have today.” Through it all, Mike and Virginia speak fondly of the relationships they have developed with the people they serve and the joy they have found in getting to know other couples in the roofing business. 

Every business has growing pains and Mike and Virginia have learned that just like in a marriage, the challenges teach you how strong you are together and set you up for more success.

Mary and Jared Bengford - The Bengford Team

Mary and Jared Bengford, Greeley natives, best friends, and high school sweethearts, have been together for 25 years. They are both Realtors, serving the NoCo community and working together in real estate for the past five years.

When Jared observed Mary establish a career in real estate, he thought it would be fun to get into the industry and work together to build The Bengford Team brand at RE/MAX Alliance of Greeley. Mary and Jared find joy in working together, attending daily meetings, socials, lunch appointments, and happy hours. Their fondest memories over the past five years involve traveling together to different real estate conferences in Las Vegas.

When you work alongside each other and spend most moments of your day together, it can be challenging to find work/life balance. The Bengford’s find it's important to practice self-care, schedule family time and date nights, and make each one a priority. 

David and Jessica Zumbrun - Chicken Salad Chick

It all started when David Zumbrun purchased his first rental property. He quickly expanded into real estate development and flipping homes. David and Jessica Zumbrun would spend their evenings and free time working on projects and meeting with tenants for their rental properties. “We spent a lot of late nights shopping for supplies to finish a project and get it on the market,” recalls Jessica.

Today, David and Jessica have been together for 20 years and are franchise owners of Chicken Salad Chick. With over a dozen varieties of scratch-made, Southern-style chicken salad, Chicken Salad Chick also serves fresh side salads, gourmet soups, signature sandwiches, and desserts. After more than three years of planning, the first Colorado location of Chicken Salad Chick is opening soon in Greeley!

David and Jessica have owned multiple businesses together over the last two decades and are thrilled to bring Chicken Salad Chick to Colorado. “We live in Greeley and it’s exciting to have the first Colorado location in our backyard.” Jessica said. When David and Jessica discovered Chicken Salad Chick, they were on a golf vacation in Alabama. “We both had an “a-ha” moment and instantly thought we needed to get it to Colorado,” Jessica recalls.

David and Jessica will eventually open five locations in Northern Colorado. Over the years, they take the divide and conquer approach, working with what they are good at, while also relying on each other for help. They have found that it is important knowing when to “shut it off,” and to acknowledge they are husband and wife first.

Art and Karla Long  - The Blue Mug

After more than 30 years together, Art and Karla Long appreciate each other more every day. The high school sweethearts and owners of The Blue Mug didn’t always work together. Karla was once in real estate and Art owned a different coffee shop, where Karla would help occasionally.

Art and Karla began working together more frequently when they opened The Blue Mug in 2011. Once they opened the second location in 2012, Karla quit her job to work full-time in the business.

The couple finds that having different roles allows them to be better together. “Karla is so good at building systems and being organized and fine-tuning everything,” said Art “I’m the idea guy and work well with implementation.”

When you divide roles and work in your strengths, everything runs more smoothly, and an absence can upset the balance. Art missed Karla’s help when she was sick for a couple of years, and he had to run everything on his own. “When we launched Out of the Blue, I had to do it alone since Karla was ill,” recalls Art. “Once she felt well enough and stepped in to help, it made it all the better.”

Art and Karla each have their own roles and let each other “do their thing,” while welcoming a different perspective. As the years go on, they appreciate each other more. The key, they say, is to remember to appreciate each other.

Heather Bean and Jeff Copeland - Syntax Distillery and Cocktail Bar

Heather Bean is an ex-engineer, real estate manager, jack-of-all-trades, and self-proclaimed horrible dresser. Jeff Copeland is an atmospheric scientist, master of cocktails, manages the bar with flair and taste, and wears great shirts. While Heather and Jeff can’t agree on their exact anniversary, they both agree that they’ve been together for over 20 years and that working together is what they enjoy. Jeff and Heather own and operate Syntax Distillery and Cocktail Bar, located in the historic Greeley Elevator Building, a 115-year-old grain elevator/feed mill.

You can find Heather and Jeff working together at the distillery, on house projects, or tending to the herbs and vegetables they grow to provide ingredients for their signature drinks. “We were the first distillery in Greeley and are still the only 100% grain-to-glass distillery, where we make all of the alcohol we sell on-site from locally sourced ingredients,” said Heather. “Authenticity is paramount for us, and we do our best to make things personally or source them locally.”

Syntax strives to provide a unique experience that can't be found elsewhere. The Cocktail Bar features two large decks and patios surrounded by greenery that customers can enjoy in warmer months. Indoors, it has more than 75 plants that contribute to the relaxing indoor atmosphere. They serve hot sandwiches, appetizers, non-alcoholic drinks, and espresso, so everyone is welcome whether they choose to drink alcohol or not.

While Heather and Jeff have similarities, they can also be quite different in their thought patterns, which brings balance. “I can be quite exuberant in all directions, good and bad, whereas Jeff is the calmest person that the universe may have ever produced,” said Heather. Heather and Jeff offer one piece of advice to couples working together: “Remain calm.”

Adam and Anastasia Johnson - A&A Solar

In February 2022, Adam and Anastasia Johnson had solar panels installed on their home. Anastasia asked the installers who cleans the panels. Then the installer looked at her, confused, and informed her that the homeowners do, and he told her it would be “a good side hustle though.” Adam and Anastasia came up with a business plan and got to work. “We quickly realized that this is not a side hustle, this is a business,” said Adam.  Hence, in June 2022, A&A Solar was born and specializes in cleaning solar panels.

Adam and Anastasia, married for four years, but together for eight, have worked alongside each other in many capacities - at restaurants, bartending, or serving. With A&A Solar being a newer venture, Adam and Anastasia wear many hats to keep it running smoothly.  “We do everything - we are owners/operators, we get on the roofs and clean the solar panels, we keep track of the books, we book appointments, and we network and educate the public,” said Anastasia. However, Anastasia notes the balance they have found with roles being divided. Adam spends more time on the roofs to clean the panels and conduct thermal imaging, and Anastasia books appointments and responds to inquiries.  

Anastasia loves how Adam encourages her to think outside of the box, while making her laugh and challenging her to be better. Adam says working with Anastasia has been the biggest blessing that he could ask for. “She keeps track of everything from the books to the clients and responding to emails,” said Adam. “While I am the risk-taker, she is the planner/risk assessor.” Adam believes you need both in a well-functioning business.

Sheree Montoya and Joe McGlasson - NOCO Healthcare

Sheree Montoya and Joe McGlasson met working together in an emergency department. Sheree is a nurse practitioner, and Joe is a nurse. Together, they own and run NOCO healthcare, a family primary care practice. They opened NOCO Healthcare nearly two years ago to offer both primary care and alternative medication treatments including IV therapy, Bioidentical hormone therapy, and joint injections using Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).

Sheree and Joe began working together at NOCO Healthcare out of necessity. Sheree needed help and having Joe in the office allowed them to offer more services. Sheree admits that she likes to be the boss, but Joe is a great support. “He is really my strength, sounding board, and keeps me grounded,” said Sheree.

As a couple who works together, they find that every day brings moments of silliness and they’re always laughing and teasing each other. Sheree and Joe would recommend to other couples working together to “take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy both apart and together.”

Lane and Dr. Amy Mattox - Greeley Game Night - Boomer House

Lane and Amy Mattox met while attending Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. This June, they will celebrate their 20-year wedding anniversary. The couple moved to Greeley for Amy’s residency at North Colorado Family Medicine Clinic, while Lane worked as a Manager at Family Physicians of Greeley. Lane and Amy have worked together in various capacities, including the medical field. When Amy joined Family Physicians of Greeley as a partner and physician, she and Lane worked together for 12 years, with Lane being her manager.

Fast forward to present day, and the couple who worked together in the medical field now owns and runs Boomer House which hosts three businesses: Greeley Game Night at Boomer House, with open public board gaming; Greeley Events at Boomer House, for private party rentals; and The Suite at Boomer House, a two-bedroom Airbnb. To an outsider, this might be perplexing to go from the medical field to running Boomer House. But for Lane and Amy, they’ve loved connecting with others through games for almost as long as they’ve been married. Plus Amy was particularly ready for a change. “I had professional burnout four years ago and after paying off my medical school loans, I retired from primary care last year,” said Amy. “I'm not done with medicine, but this last year as an entrepreneur has been joyful.”

Gaming roots run deep for Lane and Amy. In 2011, they started hosting weekly game nights in their home. Then in 2017, they created a Meetup group and moved adult game nights to Crabtree Brewery, later Cranford Tea Tavern, then Broken Plow Brewery. Lane and Amy also ran a JV Game Club for youth, first in their home, then at the library, their church basement, and the Nerd Store. In January 2021, Lane and Amy bought the 129-year-old former mayoral home of William M. Boomer in downtown Greeley and opened it to the public in February 2022, after completing commercial renovations.

Now Boomer House serves as a home for Greeley Game Night and offers a community of gamers and newbies a home and place to connect. Lane and Amy feel say it feels like a dream when they’re hosting game nights and witness so much laughter and fun. “We’ll look at each other and feel good that this is what we are providing the community,” said Amy.

Just like personal relationships take effort, so do professional. While working with a partner can bring challenges and joys, these couples have found their own recipe for success and are better together. 

“Authenticity is paramount for us, and we do our best to make things personally or source them locally.”

  • Lane and Dr. Amy Mattox
  • Mary and Jared Bengford
  • Mary and Jared Bengford
  • Joe McGlasson
  • Sheree Montoya and Joe McGlasson
  • David and Jessica Zumbrun
  • Mike and Virginia Slaughter
  • Justin Ghofrani and Margaret Thompson
  • Heather Bean and Jeff Copeland
  • Heather Bean and Jeff Copeland
  • Art and Karla Long
  • Art and Karla Long
  • Adam and Anastasia Johnson
  • Joe Glasson and Sheree Montoya