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After spending 10 years managing a local sporting goods company, Jan Peterson decided he was going to work for himself.

Peterson, 59, followed in the footsteps of his father, Willis, who opened Utah's first ski shop in the basement of Hibbs Clothing in the late '30s and operated Pete's Sport Shop in Sugar House until 1952.With some financial help from a friend, Peterson formed Jans Ltd., a sporting goods store in Park City specializing in outdoor equipment. He began with a location on Park Avenue with the belief that success would come by hiring the best people, offering the best possible products backed by quality service and good locations.

From the company's genesis in 1980, Peterson felt that the people he hired, managed and associated with in the workplace were his most important assets. Of his 25 key employees, all have been with him for at least five years. Others have worked for him since the company began 18 years ago.

Peterson's prior dealings with major suppliers helped him get his business going with much less up-front cash. Because these suppliers trusted him, Peterson opened with normal credit terms as if he had been successfully in business on his own for 10 years.

In 1981, Peterson secured a lease in the base lodge of the newly completed Deer Valley Resort. Another store was opened four years later at Park City Ski Resort. Additional stores have been added, including a new 15,000-square-foot building on Park Avenue, The Canyons ski resort, the Utah Winter Sports Park and the factory outlet stores at Kimball's Junction.

Gross sales for Jans have increased in the past 17 years, making Jans Ltd. the largest locally owned sporting goods retailer in the Mountain West.

Jans currently operates seven stores in the Park City area, with winter seasonal employment reaching 140.