In Tandem: Jonathan & Tracy Blue

| August 31, 2011
Photography: Josh Merideth Styling: Douglas Riddle Makeup: Sloan Winters Hair: Melvin Brown Location: Speed Art Museum

Photography: Josh Merideth
Styling: Douglas Riddle
Makeup: Sloan Winters
Hair: Melvin Brown
Location: Speed Art Museum

It only took a moment for Jonathan Blue to come up with the word that best describes his relationship with his wife, Tracy: “Symbiotic. We’re in unison and in tandem in everything.”

The Blues seamlessly juggle Jonathan’s role as chairman and managing director of Blue Equity, a Louisville-based private equity firm whose reach is international, and Tracy’s position as managing director of The Voice-Tribune, which was purchased by Blue Equity in 2007. They keep a collectively frenetic but flawlessly executed schedule that includes hosting and attending events, including University of Louisville games, working out regularly (Jonathan regularly trains for triathlons), and school functions with their kids. Every minute is used to its fullest, each day packed to the hilt. At the same time, they’re also the kind of people who will stop mid-meeting to answer phone calls from their daughters – and each other.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Tracy and Jonathan met when she lived in St. Louis, and they both worked in the same industry, supplying parts to railroad companies. At first they were friendly, but after a fiery phone conversation about a bill Tracy sent to Jonathan’s company, “We hung up, and I could not stand him,” she said. Several months later, the two unknowingly attended the same convention. Tracy got on a bus filled with her peers. Just before the driver closed the door, Jonathan climbed aboard and looked around before heading to the only open seat: one right next to Tracy.

After a tense moment, the two talked and found they had much in common. Soon, Jonathan asked Tracy if he could take her to dinner at Kreis’ Restaurant, a steakhouse in St. Louis. “I really did like him, I think we liked each other,” said Tracy.

They’ve been together ever since.

“I think we really complement each other. We’ve always worked well together. We support each other,” said Jonathan. “We’re basically symbiotic. We just really are.”

How did he propose?
Jonathan took Tracy to Cabo San Lucas to go deep-sea fishing. “I didn’t even know what that was,” Tracy laughed. “I was like, when do you stop the boat and cast? I was clueless.”

She was also oblivious to his intentions. After spending part of the gorgeous day on the water, they caught a blue marlin and brought it back to the Westin Regina where they were staying. Jonathan had it prepared and served at a secluded table set on a balcony overlooking the ocean. “He proposed to me right there with his (paternal) grandmother’s engagement ring,” Tracy said.

What qualities do you most appreciate in each other?
“I think that the qualities I love most in Jon is he’s a very good man and he’s a driven man. He’s successful and he’s also a great dad and husband. To have all the businesses that we have and to be as successful as he is and have what we have in a relationship and as a father and also work out and be healthy and to put me first? That’s pretty incredible. He does cherish me and I know that, as I do him. It’s true. It’s real.”

Said Jonathan: “I think Tracy is much more empathetic and therefore it brings me back into balance. It’s a very nice quality to have and there are signs of it every day.”

How do you make it work on a day-to-day basis?
“Tracy is the enforcer in the house,” Jonathan chuckled. “Between the dogs, the kids and me, it’s a free for all. Tracy is the warden. She has to be.”

What advice would you offer couples – new or old – who desire to walk through life in tandem?

“Find your mutual interests while maintaining the ability to individuate,” said Jonathan.

“The most important thing is trust and being secure within yourself,” Tracy said.

What is one thing you always do as a couple?
“There’s no faster couple in the United States that can get through TSA,” Jonathan said.

“It’s true,” Tracy nodded.

“We’ve got it down to a science: who holds what, who talks to whom,” said Jonathan. “We’re the fastest couple; we’re the fastest family.”

Where do you like to go when you’re out ‘n’ about?
The Blues travel, go to museums, plays, enjoy the arts and appreciate downtime at home. “We love sitting in our backyard relaxing and reading. I think being together when we can sit outside next to each other with our kids, whether we’re reading – which we love to do – or watching TV, that’s closeness. That’s fun for us,” Tracy said.

“The Derby is always one of our favorite things to do. We love to take our kids out to Churchill Downs,” said Jonathan.

Anniversary

April 26, 1998

Occupations

Jonathan is chairman and managing director of Blue Equity LLC. Tracy is managing director of The Voice-Tribune.

Family

Two daughters and a miniature dachshund named Estee.

Cats or Cards?

“Of course, Cards,” said Tracy.

“It’s great for the state when they both win,” said Jonathan, “but when the Cats play the Cards? The Cards.”

Strictly Business

Jonathan Blue talks with the Voice about his company, Blue Equity LLC

How is Blue Equity evolving?
Other than our local, Louisville real estate, we are gearing more and more toward international operations and, specifically, emerging markets. With the recession and economic times as challenging as they have been, we have been aggressively looking for opportunities where we are able to acquire companies in those markets and base the high level operations from out of the downtown Louisville office.

What about Blue Equity’s international interests and endeavors?
Other than local real estate endeavors, we have two specific portfolio companies right now to which we are devoting most of our time and resources; those include our Mexican nursing business, which places bilingual nurses from Mexico into hospitals in the United States and our distribution business in Jamaica. The nursing business assists hospitals to overcome two specific challenges (a) meet staffing shortages and (b) provide bilingual staff to care for the ever growing Spanish speaking patient demographic in the United States.

Our business in Jamaica distributes several products throughout the country with the most significant item being bagged ice, which we manufacture in a large plant in Kingston and another in Montego Bay and deliver throughout the entire country. That is my personal favorite: Selling ice in Jamaica. Has a nice ring to it.

Why does Blue Equity remain headquartered here in Louisville?
Louisville is the best city in the nation. There is nothing like returning from the hustle and bustle of a huge metropolitan area to come home to our parks and rivers and beauty. It has all the wonderful attributes of the large cities with the intimacy of a small town, not to mention that small touch of Southern charm. Also, Louisville’s location is the nation’s most central and it allows us to get to most of our operations in just a few hours. There is no better place for us to have Blue Equity domiciled.

Why did Blue Equity purchase The Voice-Tribune?
“I grew up reading The Voice,” said Jonathan. “It was always a dream of mine to own a media property around the city, so when we were able to do it, we took advantage of it. Hopefully we’ve metamorphosized the company. Tracy was looking for a cause to be associated with, and The Voice serves as that. It’s a community asset that serves as a cause but also happens to be a for-profit entity while being part of the community fabric. With the challenges facing small businesses and the print industry, I can definitely say The Voice has greatly benefited from Tracy’s involvement – and it is her involvement. She runs the show.”

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Category: In Tandem

About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

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