WHO IS KEN BAXTER?
I was born in Cortland, New York the son of Hoyt H. Baxter and Maria Zuza (Alzbeta) Kramerova, relocating to Orem, Utah in 1954. Utah is a beautiful state and a great place to grow up. One of my fondest memories of childhood is my obsession with Estes Apollo Mission model rockets – I can’t even count how many army men I sent into orbit. How I wished at the time that it could be me riding the rocket to get that spectacular view from space. The obsession with those rockets faded when I got older and discovered girls but the desire to go to space has stayed with me through my life. When the opportunity presented itself during an episode of 60 minutes that night in October 2004, the next morning I asked my assistant, Robin, to contact Sir Richard Branson at Virgin Atlantic. I was blown away when he called me back on his cell phone! It was then I told him I was all in, taking a leap of faith and purchasing the VERY FIRST ticket on the fledgling Virgin Galactic!
My dream of space travel was finally realized on September 8, 2023 when I became Astronaut 014, the first, everyday American to experience the thrill of zero gravity, 90 kilometers above the surface of the earth!
When I was young I became a member of the Boys Scouts of America. I loved it so much that at age 13 I achieved the highest rank attainable in the program, that of Eagle Scout. I was thrilled to have my Eagle Scout Certificate signed by then President, John F. Kennedy, beginning my life-long admiration of the 35th President of the United States.
After graduating from Orem High School in 1967 earning the honor of State Champion of the Debate and Legislative forum I became an active member of the Vineyard Ward Troupe in Orem, Utah. I studied at Brigham Young University and served in the United States Army receiving an honorable discharge in 1969.
Personal Life – I married my lovely wife Linda Marie Williams in Lake Tahoe on July 6, 1977. We have one child, Kenny (b. 1978) and two beautiful grandchildren, Taylor Marie (b.2008) and Raegan McKenna (b.2010)
Business Acumen – I made my fortune selling homes in Las Vegas closing over 56,000 transactions. My sales and marketing career began at the tender age of 21 in 1970, owning and operating a boutique-style operation selling automobile and home stereos. I soon discovered an aptitude for the Real Estate business and in 1973 began a lifelong housing career. I was able to demonstrate to a local home builder there was a better way that allowed them control labor costs and focus on what they did best – construction. Performance Marketing was formed, a unique real estate, marketing and advertising agency that included hiring, training and motivating new home specialists with amazing results. In fact, this business model enabled Performance Marketing to dominate the market with a career spanning 4 decades.
During the Savings and Loan crisis in the early 1980’s, by working with builders, lenders, FDIC and the RTC, Performance Marketing quickly and successfully liquidated as much of the skyrocketing high-rise REO inventory we received.
It was not long before PMA quickly left an indelible mark on the Las Vegas housing market. By taking vintage apartment community known as The Pointes, consisting of 1,404 potential homes he transformed an aging, crime ridden complex into a community that continues to show the pride of homeownership today. Bella Vita opened in February of 2004 at a time when housing prices in Las Vegas had begun to escalate to levels that made home ownership unattainable for a first time buyer.
Capitalizing on the pent up demand for entry level housing, Bella Vita delivered that opportunity once again, developing into the fastest selling new home community in Las Vegas surpassing all other new home developments for sales in the first quarter of 2005.
PMA ultimately converted 20 additional complexes delivering condominium homes totaling 9,862. With his ability to identify market trends, I was one of the first to predict the devastating Las Vegas housing market crash of 2007-2008 and found ways to adapt to it. During the deepest recession that Las Vegas had ever experienced, Performance Marketing Advantage and Performance Marketing America were able to provide comprehensive real estate services to the new home and REO marketplace. The companies helped provide jobs in a city with the highest unemployment rate in the nation of 15% and often gave special consideration to applicants receiving Unemployment Compensation.
Philanthropic Activities – It has been my pleasure to have contributed time and resources to Guardian Scientific Africa, a company providing low cost, much needed rapid AIDS test kits to developing countries. My passion also extends to what I can do to stop the destruction of our precious rain forests and senseless polluting of our oceans. I am a big supporter of Richard Branson’s efforts to bring awareness to climate change. The Ken and Linda Baxter Family Foundation Established in 2005, focus is on philanthropic grants for education, research and the environment. Through our Foundation, we have changed the life of many young people by providing scholarships enabling them to continue their education as well as efforts to ensure the sustainability of our planet through education. The Foundation additionally supports local causes including Andre Agassi’s Grand Slam for Children, an annual fundraising event to support the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy as well as local events for Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders. A non-profit, 5013C organization, the Foundation has also actively campaigned to raise awareness of the relationship between food choices and disease. Our Foundation has distributed thousands of the informational DVD “Eating”, which details the ramifications of a Vegan lifestyle.