Chuck Weise stands by one of his favorite animal trophies, a large Alaskan wolf and his prize eland mounting behind him. It was one of his most strenuous hunts, taking more than seven hours to stalk the massive animal in Africa. Photo by Bob Sweeney
BY BOB SWEENEY
It was a rare privilege to sit with Charles “Chuck” Weise in his animal-trophy home basement at Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club as his wife Esther served us some Saturday morning coffee. I was in the basement of a friend and neighbor, who after decades of business success retired and has spent the last 22 years of his life hunting and fishing.
He said, “I was the best fisherman, and my best friend Ken Mauer was the best hunter.”
It was Mauer, his business partner, who started Weise on a 22-year hunting and fishing expedition that took him to Cuba hunting birds and fishing in the 1980s, big-game hunting in Johannesburg, South Africa, shooting bears in Alaska, and to the White Mountain Apache reservation in Arizona for trophy elk.
Chuck says he probably spent at least $250,000 on these hunting trips, which were worth every penny and resulted in meat and fish for his children and friends.
“The white tail deer tenderloin was the best meal,” he said.
The head of this white tail overlooks Chuck’s desk at his home, looking out at the golf course.
While Chuck was hunting and collecting wild-animal trophies, Esther was collecting Llardo sculptures, amassing more than 300 of these Spanish-artist figurines, displayed throughout the living room.
Adorning the living room is a painting of Pope John Paul, and underneath are family photos of the couple’s children and multiple grandchildren.
The Weises moved to Arapahoe County in 2013 from Houston, leaving behind “the best house that I ever built and loved,” to live closer to daughter Mary Beth and husband Kevin, a few blocks away.
Mary Beth Martin is the executive director of Internal Fetal Medicine at Children’s Hospital at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Along with having an M.B.A. in business, she is a registered nurse and can check in on her parents in the HEB restricted-age community, rated No. 1 among Colorado senior communities.
The Weises have other adult children scattered across the United States and a raft of grandchildren.
A long road to Colorado
The couple will be celebrating 60 years of marriage on Sept. 7.
According to Chuck, “She was the soda jerk down the street from where I lived.”
They married early in life, and as Chuck moved upwards in the oil equipment business, Esther became a leader in community volunteerism and public speaking while raising a family.
Chuck was born in Chicago, 83 years ago. His father was a police detective during Mayor Richard Daley’s career. While his father pounded the streets, his mother worked in a department store.
The family’s ancestry stretches back to immigrants who arrived from Essen, Germany in 1897.
A relative of his mother got Chuck a part-time job at the local steel mill, where he spent his high school and college years cooling hot sheets of steel with water.
“I always had a job,” he said.
Chuck enrolled in Northwestern University, majoring in business while working part-time. He received both an B.S./B.A. and M.B.A. He graduated in 1959 from one of the most prestigious business schools in America.
“I was a B+ student,” he remembered.
He took two years of ROTC training and tested out of the draft with high academic marks.
His first full-time job after graduation was starting in the corrugated-box industry with accounting and administrative duties. He was given the opportunity to move to Dallas in 1960 to assist in starting a new plant, and then on to Houston in 1964, still working for Owens-Illinois and rising in the company.
Chuck was transferred to Houston in 1964, and four-years later to Keokuk, Iowa.
“We moved a lot,” he said.
In 1969, opportunity knocked again and he and Esther moved to Downers Grove, Ill. to accept the position of vice president and treasurer for International Industrial Instrument Co., specializing in oil, gas and power industries.
Chuck says the oil business was booming in the 1970s.
It was off to Europe for the new company.
Chuck Weise with a wart hog hunted in Africa …
“I built a plant in Zele, Belgium with another major supplier of the oil and gas industry,” he said.
In 1975, Chuck resigned as president of the European company, and along with Mauer, his vice president of sales and engineering, started a new company in direct competition to his old firm.
He called old business friends in Milan, Italy for financial assistance in the new company.
“They told me to get on a plane and we’ll see you in Milan tomorrow,” Chuck said.
With Italian financing, the new business venture rolled out in oil-rich Houston, setting up new manufacturing, designing new equipment, literature, and staffing for the U.S. and Canadian markets.
“One of the greatest challenges,” Chuck said, “was dealing with the 18 percent federal interest rates prevalent in the 1975 era.”
The company proved to be very successful, and 10 years later a Kansas City firm came to Houston.
“The price was right, and we sold out,” Chuck said.
Asked about his success in business, Weise has this advice: “When business is good, be conservative with your money.”
He attributes his success to his sales ability, saying “sales is everything, along with quality control.”
With money in the bank and his family raised, it was time for Chuck to enjoy life. That began his quest for hunting and fishing full- time for almost three years.
In 1989, a close friend from the box business days came calling. The friend owned his own box business in Houston and asked Chuck for help. Chuck, having that lifetime work ethic, went back to work for his friend and ended up running the company.
Using his lifetime business acumen, he arranged to sell the company in 1994 so both friends could enjoy their success and retirement.
Chuck explains how business has changed over his lifetime career: “When I traveled around the world, gone almost 50 percent of the time, I had no cellphone or credit cards. I had to carry cash. I would call Esther from the office and ask her to pack my bag and I was gone for weeks. … We moved to Colorado in 2013 to be near our oldest daughter and the move has turned out to be great!”
… and an Alaskan brown bear. Photos by Bob Sweeney
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