Barbara Zoet Vidmar has been told she has too many good ideas. But her track record of accomplishment argues that, in her professional life and her service to the Pueblo community, there’s no such thing.
Vidmar broke the glass windshield in the automotive industry, starting as a payroll clerk and becoming a dealer principal at one of Pueblo’s legacy businesses, Vidmar Motor Co.
She has become a respected community leader as well, with a resumé that includes service on the Pueblo City Council and as chair of the board of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp.
Originally from Bellingham, Wash., Vidmar moved to Pueblo in 1972. She had earned a degree in speech and hearing therapy from Colorado State University-Fort Collins, and fell in love with Pueblo, where her husband William was part of the family that founded and owned Vidmar Motor Co.
When the youngest of the Vidmars’ three children started school, she became involved in the family business. Her husband and father were in a bind because their payroll clerk had quit.
With the confidence and optimism that would become her trademarks, Vidmar stepped up and took the job.
When the opportunity arose to open a Honda franchise, she stepped up again.
“Nobody wanted it,” she said. “So I got to design my store. … We were the third Honda dealership in the state.”
Early in her career, Vidmar joined trade organizations including the American International Auto Dealers Association. There were no women on the 32-person board, but Vidmar was undeterred, and eventually became the first woman to chair the board of an automotive trade organization.
“I really tried hard to bring in other women and encourage them to be a part of the trade organizations and make their voice heard,” she said.
In 2000, she was named one of the top 100 women in the North American automotive industry and Time Magazine named her outstanding dealer for Colorado in 2005.
Vidmar retired in 2005, but that just gave her more time to devote to her beloved Pueblo.
Her civic activities have included serving as chair of the Parkview Medical Center board and membership on the boards of the YMCA and the HARP Foundation, which raises funds to enhance the Historic Pueblo Riverwalk. She chairs the CSU-Pueblo Foundation and serves on the board of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., which she chaired in 2015. She was elected to Pueblo City Council in 2005, serving from 2006 to 2009, and became president in 2008. Her greatest enjoyment these days, besides her family, is working with a group of volunteers who take care of Pueblo’s public gardens.
Vidmar’s admirers note her ability to listen, to conceptualize and to build consensus. She adds that her “willingness to jump in when it’s something I’m passionate about” has been a key to her lifetime of accomplishment.
“Barbara represents what’s best about people, business, community and women,” said her nominator, Lori Lovato. “She doesn’t do it for the awards or the recognition. She does it because it is who she is.”