Wendy Skaalerud came to Bishop Machebeuf High School her freshman year, feeling out of place.
“My family moved around so often, I really didn’t have a community,” said Wendy, an Illinois native. “I felt like a fish out of water, because I think there’s a tendency for these groups of kids to know each other from kindergarten through 12th.”
Wendy didn’t anticipate she would meet some of her best friends at the Denver Catholic high school, nor that the things she learned would become the guiding principles of her future business in Colorado.
“There’s so many things I came away with,” she said. “I came away with a sense of community and a sense of independence. I have friends from high school who are my friends now. I benefitted from the stability and honed in on my work and study habits. I learned important habits and accountability. It really changed my life in that way.”
Several years after graduation and marrying her husband, Erik Skaalerud, she opened her first business, a restaurant. Later they opened multiple restaurants. Together they launched Capital Lending Solutions, a small business consultancy based in Denver. A decade later, they bought into OrangeTheory Fitness as co-owners of the franchise in Colorado.
“My husband and I are serial entrepreneurs,” Wendy said. “Five years ago we bought OrangeTheory Fitness and all of its locations in the state of Colorado. There’s now 21 locations in the state.”
Thinking back to her high school days, Wendy said she drew on the values she learned at Machebeuf and made them the basis of their work culture. Integrity, honesty, love, respect, honor and grace—to name a few. These values make a significant difference on their success, she said.
“As a business owner, I drive almost everything I do through those core values—I benchmarked everything after them,” Wendy shared. “Integrity is by far one of the top values. Honesty and love and respect, too.”
She credits her high school with instilling these values, which she uses to guide team meetings and workshops.
“That is my focus on a daily basis. I’m really in a leadership development role. I just wake up and go ‘How can I better lead people today?,’” she said. “We do our workshops and talk about it and role play.”
Along with running her business, Wendy raises their two sons based on these values. She hopes they will attend Machebeuf after graduating from Blessed Sacrament School in Denver.
Her education and the values she gained was a blessing she didn’t anticipate when she first walked through Machebeuf’s doors.
“We have so many blessings. My husband always says, ‘To those whom much is given, much is required.’ We really feel like that’s where we are,” Wendy said. “And with the gifts God has given us, we want to continue to give back.”
Wendy’s take on service
Q: How do you strive to be of service to others?
A: We have so many blessings. My husband always says to those whom much is given much is required. We really feel like that’s where we are. And with the gifts God has given us, we want to give back. We work hard for our employees to give back. All of our studios and businesses are tied to local charities. We’ve personally done multiple trips. We went to Haiti to support a Catholic school there. We’ve also gone on a mission trip. We took some of our management team and business partners to build a playground at the school. Some of the kids had never seen a slide before. They had no idea what to do. They just stared at it. One of our goals and values is always to be giving back.