2023 Business Icons: North Idaho’s Judy and Steve Meyer
Couple share interests in service to communityMay 11th, 2023
Service to the community is an inherent trait shared by Judy and Steve Meyer, says their son, Chris Meyer.
“They have always been keenly aware of the value of public service and support of others,” he says. “They do it because it’s the right thing to do, and it will make our community a better place.”
The Meyers moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1969 and quickly began to engage in the community. Four years later, they moved to Hayden Lake where they have resided since. In 1975, they co-founded the commercial real estate development company, Parkwood Business Properties Inc. The Coeur d’Alene-based company has built over 1 million square feet of office and retail space.
Although Judy and Steve have led separate careers outside of Parkwood Properties, their shared interests include supporting education, philanthropy, volunteer work, public service, and entrepreneurship.
“It’s an absolute partnership in the truest sense of the word,” says Chris.
Judy, 81, has focused her career on education through teaching and serving on various educational boards. She served on the North Idaho College Board of Trustees for 22 years, from 1995 to 2017; was appointed to the Idaho State Board of Education; and was a board member for the Blue Cross of Idaho Board of Directors.
For over 30 years, she has served on the Community Library Network Board of Trustees and currently is running for reelection. When she first joined the library board, the network had only one branch and one bookmobile in Hayden Lake. Over the years, it has grown to a network of seven libraries that serves most of the communities in Kootenai County, including Post Falls, Rathdrum, Athol, Spirit Lake, Harrison, and Pinehurst.
Judy says that serving the library network has been a satisfying experience in helping bring books and access to knowledge to rural communities.
“People are delighted, especially now with the internet,” she says. “They can connect to the world at any one of our branches.”
Steve, 80, is a self-made serial entrepreneur who has led a successful career in real estate, says Chris.
“I feel fortunate to follow in his footsteps,” he says. “His business history is one of being an inventor and seeing opportunities to solve problems and create value.”
Among his business ventures, Steve co-founded Advanced Input Devices Inc. in 1979 and is the primary owner and investor of Intermax Networks, of Coeur d’Alene, which provides high-speed internet access to rural communities in North Idaho.
While Judy has served on the NIC Board of Trustees, Steve has been on the board of the NIC Foundation for over 40 years. When he first joined in the early 1980s, the foundation had about $300,000 in assets. Today, its assets total over $40 million, he says.
“We had our money all in savings accounts, and I remember arguing that we should have some of it invested in the stock market,” says Steve, who holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Over time, he was able to convince his fellow board members that the reward was worth the risk, he says.
Today, earnings from NIC Foundation’s investment portfolio provide about $1.5 million in scholarships every year.
“Without biting into the principle, the principle continues to grow,” he says. “Historically, it has grown 9% (annually), and we distribute 5%.”
Judy and Steve say they became interested in NIC because of the economic and educational value it can add to the community without people having to leave for other states, and more expensive schools.
“Our assessment has been that the value of community college is tremendous for local kids. For the same amount of money, twice as many kids can get an education,” says Steve. “We’ve become real community college advocates.”
Steve adds, “Most little towns would just love to have a community college in their town. And they can’t because it’s a hard thing to get started.”
Judy says that the couple realized that loving living in Coeur d’Alene meant they needed to find ways for people to find jobs, or else they would leave. Building office buildings attracted businesses to the area, but they also needed good and well-educated employees to be employed by the companies they were attracting.
“It’s heartbreaking to see what is happening to it,” says Judy in reference to the community colleges’ recent turmoil that has placed its accreditation in jeopardy.
In 2005, Judy and Steve donated $1 million for technology upgrades in NIC’s Health and Sciences Building.
Chris says he recalls many phone conversations with his mom in which he urged her not to give to the college anonymously.
“Most of all, there is the element of humility,” he says of his parents. “They don’t do this for the recognition.”
He advised his parents that making their contribution known to the public would show how success can come with the added privilege of giving back to the community.
He says he urged his parents, “Make it known so that others who enjoy that similar success can choose to also give back.”
The couple’s efforts in philanthropy and entrepreneurship have been recognized by various entities throughout the years.
In 2012, Steve was awarded the Charles Hummel Lifetime Achievement Award by Idaho Smart Growth. In 2014, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce and was inducted into the Idaho Technology Council Hall of Fame for making a significant economic impact in Idaho through technology.
“The Technology Council Hall of Fame is one that really tickles me,” says Steve.
Judy was inducted into the Idaho Smart Women Smart Money Hall of Fame in 2012. She was awarded president’s medallions from Lewis-Clark State College and the University of Idaho in 2002 and 2004, respectively.
In 2016, the Idaho Hall of Fame inducted Judy and Steve for their success in entrepreneurship and philanthropy efforts.
Judy was raised in New York and attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan, while Steve grew up in Idaho and attended the University of Idaho. The couple met while working summer jobs at Glacier National Park in the early 1960s. After dating for a few months, they met up at the World’s Fair in New York City in 1964 and wed in 1965. The couple’s love for the outdoors prompted their move to the Gem State.
Chris says one shared interest that’s often overlooked is the couple’s concern for the environment. Judy is an avid birder, part of the Audubon Society, and an advocate for The Nature Conservancy. In the 1970s, Steve co-founded the Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club. He also was instrumental in creating the Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District.