Growing up as a city kid in a working class neighborhood of Worcester, Mass.,Trevor Hollyer didn’t envision going to college. He’d been hustling to make his own spending money since he was old enough to push a lawn mower, shovel snow, deliver newspapers, and run a secret candy-selling business at school.
He figured he would just continue working after high school. But his mother was a guidance counselor and strongly suggested he try college for a year. So he challenged her to tell him what he should study. Physical therapy, she replied.
“In that moment, I trusted my mother,” Trevor says. Then he smiles and adds, “I think she probably also told me I’d make plenty of money and be able to buy all the sneakers I want.” In the era of highly prized celebrity-branded sneakers, this was no small deal.
He shined up his not-so-impressive transcripts by running for and being elected president of his high school class and was accepted into Northeastern University in Boston. As it turned out, PT became his ticket to a flexible work schedule and travel which, in turn, opened doors to a series of entrepreneurial ventures and valuable life experiences.
While still a student at Northeastern, Trevor began working with patients as part of the school’s five-year PT program. He lived in Vermont for some of this time, working in hospitals, clinics, and other settings. “I love the realness and human connection of PT work,” he says. Trevor also loved spending time with older folks, especially those who had lived through the Depression and Second World War. “These people had grit,” he says. “I sucked up anything they said.”
With superb opportunities for outdoor sports Vermont, however, offered a lifestyle so attractive that after graduation Trevor “checked out” of the serious work world. He waited tables at a highend resort in Stowe and rented a small A-frame in the woods, spending time with his girlfriend in Hawaii.
He might have left PT on the back burner indefinitely, had he not broken his leg skateboarding. At 23, he found himself living back with his mother and sharing a bunkbed with his 11-year-old brother.
Not long afterward, his girlfriend of four years called from Hawaii to say she was leaving the relationship to become a missionary. “I lost everything that was important to me. I went from superstar to rock bottom in one second,” he says. “And that was what I needed.”
As his leg healed, Trevor began meditating, practicing chi gong and tai chi, and studying for his PT board exams, passing on the first try. Then he answered an ad for a position in Prescott, Ariz., and flew out for the interview. Having never traveled beyond New England and believing Arizona was nothing but desert, he was astonished to find mountains, forests, and snow.
“It was just magic,” he says. “I was blown away.” Prescott and Flagstaff were backcountry skiing and snowboarding playgrounds and Trevor played hard for the 10 years he was there.
But he did more than play. For much of this time he worked in PT while also building a small real estate empire of rental properties and homes he remodeled and sold, while also learning glassblowing and working as an assistant to a glass artist, and also doing professional photography, selling his photos at art fairs and shooting weddings.
Trevor studied solar and green building and established a painting company as a way of entering the building trades. “I didn’t grow up with a dad and I had a hardworking mom, and that taught me early on that if I wanted something, it might take years, but it was on me to work hard to get it,” he says.
Meanwhile, he met Geneva Hollyer, who had moved to Prescott from California. They fell in love and married. Trevor raised her baby daughter as his own and they had two more children together. He began building their dream home, taking advantage of the housing and lending bubble of the early 2000s to borrow huge sums. He was a dreadlocked, Rasta-inclined former anti-capitalist who educated himself in finance, business, and real estate, burning the candle at both ends and riding the wave. Until he saw that it was about to crash.
Just before it did, he bailed, walking away from everything he had worked for. He and his family lived briefly in British Columbia, with Trevor commuting two or three times a week to a PT job in Montana, but it was an unsustainable lifestyle.
So when a friend told him about Crestone in 2009, the family moved here, sight-unseen. Trevor volunteered on the Crestone Charter School’s governing council in the school’s early years. “I’ve always strived to be the best father that I could be for my children,” he says.
Today he and his partner Emily Donaldson design homes that he builds though their company, Crestone Construction, with a focus on aesthetics, comfort, healthy materials, and energy efficiency.
Aware that building materials, no matter how “green,” come at great cost to the planet, he builds structures he hopes will last 150 years. Continuing his passion for photography, he frequently posts construction images and Crestone’s beauty and wildlife on Instagram (@crestonecolorado).
At 47, Trevor finds himself increasingly drawn to sharing his knowledge by mentoring aspiring local entrepreneurs, empowering others to also help steer the place he loves toward the future he wants for the children—retaining Crestone/Baca’s quiet and beauty even as it inevitably grows and changes.
Part of that vision involves ideas for creating affordable housing, possibly through building high-quality, modest-sized homes with accessory dwelling units, where both primary and secondary spaces could be provided at reasonable rents.
“I really would like to address these issues in whatever little way I can,” he says. After reflecting a moment, he adds: “To feel happy and good for yourself, you need to be part of something bigger than yourself. That’s what feels your soul. It’s Emily’s and my mission in life—it’s everything we want to do.”