Don and Rose Schwennesen are the owners of Bigfork Brokers, a local real estate brokerage company specializing in homes and land in Bigfork and on Flathead Lake. They live on and operate a small organic-style cherry orchard and grape vineyard south of Bigfork on Flathead Lake.

What does your business offer?

We offer help and advice in buying and selling real estate. We are a husband-wife team and have been realtors here in the valley for three decades.

Our business is small by choice, and we try very hard to make real estate transactions understandable and accessible for our clients.

Who are your customers?

We have worked with a wonderful cross-section of people, mostly involving sales and purchases of homes and land. Most have become life-long friends.

We also have worked with commercial, investment, and orchard properties.  Our buyers and sellers come from all over Northwest Montana, from Eureka to East Glacier to St. Ignatius.

How did you become small business owners?

Both of us started in different careers. Rose has a degree in microbiology and worked as a medical technologist and performed water chemistry testing at the Flathead Lake Biological Station before starting her real estate career.

After working in real estate for several years, Rose purchased an interest in a Bigfork real estate business.

Don joined the team nearly 20 years ago after a career in journalism as a regional daily newspaper reporter. We reorganized as Bigfork Brokers in 2015.

How did you come to live in the Flathead Valley?

Don came to Glacier National Park on a family vacation at age 15 and vowed to return one day. Rose grew up skiing in the Sierras, so we both loved the mountains. We met improbably in Europe while Don was in the service and Rose was working in biochemistry research in Switzerland.

We came to Montana in 1970 after Don’s discharge. Opportunity eventually brought us to a small cherry orchard overlooking Flathead Lake.

What do you like about owning a business here?

We like the independence it affords, and we enjoy working with the real estate community here in the Flathead. They are friendly, welcoming, and very competent professionals, competitive but always eager to work together toward the mutual best interests of our clients.

What do you find is the most challenging for your business? 

In real estate, every sale or purchase seems to have its own unique problems or challenges. It’s continually fascinating and exciting to tackle each one and work through it, to find solutions that will let both buyer and seller reach their goals.

From your perspective, what does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur in the Flathead? 

You need to enjoy what you’re doing. Don says it “takes hard work, a friendly positive spirit, attention to detail, lots of communication, and perseverance to reach your clients’ goals. Fortunately, Rose possesses all those qualities.”

How have you seen the Flathead Valley change in your time doing business here?

The valley has changed dramatically over the past 40 years, as more people have discovered it and as farmland and forests have turned into new residential neighborhoods. Careless development is despoiling some parts of our valley, and we must do what we can to turn that around. We are richly endowed with public lands and wilderness all around us, and we must never relinquish that heritage.

Bigfork Brokers:
PO Box 2015, Bigfork
(406) 250-2442 (Rose) 
(406) 250-9291 (Don)

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