In the early 1970s, there were very few minority businesses in Colorado — mostly small, struggling companies striving to do business with Colorado corporations. A strong need existed to match minority businesses with the requirements of corporations.
An informal network of minority entrepreneurs shared their knowledge and expertise in looking for business opportunities. Essential to their success were luncheons with corporate executives, networking opportunities, and trade fairs where introductions were made to corporate procurement officers.
Some of the first minority entrepreneurs in Colorado were Marty Barela (Barela and Sons), Mark Cordova (Centennial Bolt, Inc.) Herman Malone (RMES Communications), Ron Montoya (Plastic Supply and Fabrication), Sandy Swenson (Blackfeet Writing Instruments), and Ernie Tafoya (Aspen Trophies).
In 1974 executives from corporations in the Rocky Mountain region got together at the Denver Chamber of Commerce and began to discuss the future of minority business in Colorado. Meeting on a monthly basis, these individuals formed the Executive Task Force Committee (ETFC), which eventually became the Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council.
The group was incorporated as Minority Enterprise '74, with R. J. Giczewski of Western Electric as president, Bill Conrad of Adoph Coors as vice-president, Sam McGalliard of Honeywell, Inc. as secretary, and Mitch Giddens of Gates Rubber company as a member. The group served as a catalyst for business development in the minority community.
From the start, EFTC realized the importance of strengthening the use of minority- owned businesses to stimulate Colorado's economic growth. They developed and spearheaded programs and policies to encourage the purchase of products and services from minority-owned businesses.
Others who comprised the ETFC, which became the first board of directors in June 1974, included Don Bredhal (Sundstrand), James Cossman (Eastman Kodak Company), Bill Gardiner (Public Service of Colorado), Bill Harger (Dow Chemical), Leroy Herdt (Mountain Bell), Vito Larison (Martin Marietta Corporation), Roger Leowi (Samsonite Luggage), John Smethurst (Hewlett Packard), Warren Williams (Gates Rubber Company), and Gerry Zimmerman (Great Western Sugar Company).