At 35, Colby Hernandez has already purchased several casinos. In addition to operating his own businesses, he enjoys helping the community. He is a husband and a father, and a winner of this year's "40 Under 40" award.
How did you get into the casino business?
My father purchased a casino when I was a freshman in high school. That is when the bug bit me. I was fascinated by the industry and he allowed me the opportunity to see how it worked from every facet. I saw that it could lead to a life of freedom and stability, and decided then in my young teenage years that it was something that I wanted. As soon as the opportunity presented itself to me, at age 25, I took the chance and haven’t looked back since.
What is the hardest part?
In my opinion, it would be the competition. With so many casinos for patrons to choose from and that we all, for the most part, offering the same thing, it can be quite difficult to be the one the stands out and brings people back, or to our spot in the first place. I have worked very hard in establishing a common theme throughout the three casinos I have owned to make them all offer a sense of comfort, professional atmosphere, cleanliness and a top-notch staff. I hope when someone frequents any of my casinos they instantly feel this.
What's the most enjoyable part?
The most enjoyable part of owning a casino isn’t so much casino-related but rather, being a business owner. The flexibility and freedom of being your own boss and creating your own hours is immensely rewarding for my wife and I and our young family. Additionally, I would have to say that knowing I am providing job security and financial stability for my employees brings me great joy.
What organizations mean something to you?
I’ve always been a fan of the work Tumbleweed does and Harvest with all of their outreach/community programs amaze me. Most recently I have been astounded to see the work YES! kids does for our community and am very proud to say I will forever be a fan and big time supporter of them as well.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to be on vacation! In all seriousness, I hope that the time, energy, work and dedication I have poured into my businesses will allow my family and I do to things we’ve always only dreamed of. Ideally, humanitarian work in developing countries, visiting far-off places and showing our children how great this big world is and all it can offer.
Why have you settled on making your career in Billings?
Billings has always been home to me. I have never known another place that speaks to me the way Montana does. It is the perfect sized city and offers nearly everything I could want. I don’t for a minute take for granted the immense beauty all around or the way we get to experience four completely different seasons. I honestly couldn't imagine raising my family anywhere else.
How do you balance a young family and work?
The art of balance is a difficult one, and one that I think will take many, many years to perfect. I have an incredible support system within my family, a team of fantastic employees and many mentors. It is always a work-in-progress to make sure I am devoting enough time in each area.
What kind of music are you listening to?
Lately, I find that I gravitate to music that doesn’t distract me so therefore I go for mostly instrumental music. However, I am a child of hip-hop for sure so that’ll always be apart of my roots. Not to mention anything with really good rhythm and a killer bass line will always make my heart skip a beat.
What was the last television you binge watched?
Stranger Things was my last binge-worthy series.
What is your secret to success?
My secrets to success have probably evolved a bit over the last decade but I would say that starting from the bottom, choosing quality over quantity, seeing the full vision and making your customers your priority have always served me well.