Holly and Nathan Stitt
There’s an old saying: You shouldn’t mix business with pleasure. However, Holly and Nathan Stitt are proof that power couples can have the best of both worlds. For more than 20 years, Holly and Nathan have set out to make changes for the better. After building the website development company Argosity together in 1996, they saw the potential of moving their business to Jefferson City. Since then, the pair has not only found a balance between work and relationship but continues to share their dream of expanding the community.
Where are you from? How did you meet?
Holly: I’m from Clinton, Iowa, and Nathan is from the Bootheel area. We met at Fort Leonard Wood in college. He was in the Marine Corps, I was in college, and we were taking computer classes together. I wanted nothing to do with him because he was a Marine. It turns out he’s a good guy.
You own Stitt Barony together. What does Stitt Barony do?
Holly: Stitt Barony is our development company that owns the properties. “Barony” is actually a term for the properties that land barons owned. So basically, Stitt Barony means Stitt properties.
Nathan: A barony is an English title.
What made you want to go into business together?
Holly: We started a website development company in ’96, which was very interesting — it was tough trying to convince people they needed websites then, but somehow we did it. We’ve been in business together ever since.
Was this always your plan?
Holly: We’ve been building websites and software programs since then. We’ve bought apps, and we have contacts all over the U.S. that we develop software for, so that’s our real job.
Nathan: That’s what we actually do, but most people have no idea.
What properties do you own?
Holly: The HQ complex at 621 E. Capitol Ave., the house over at 212 Marshall St. We bought 615 E Capitol Ave., where our offices are, and then the International Shoe Factory at 1101 E. Capitol Ave.
Nathan: And we have that crappy blue house.
Holly: Oh yeah, we have a crappy blue house on Chestnut Street and Capitol Ave. That’s a rough house we’re working on.
Nathan: But it’s not as crappy as it used to be.
What sparks creativity for you?
Nathan: We’ve missed many exits because we were too busy talking.
Holly: It takes you out of your bubble. If we stayed here, it would be hard to come up with more creative ideas of what we want to do or what we want to bring to Jefferson City.
How do you separate work and your personal life to enjoy time together as husband and wife?
Holly: I don’t think we do. We enjoy doing things that aren’t work-related, of course, but we don’t segregate those from eight to five.
Nathan: Holly, in particular, switches gears all day long.
Holly: All day long, sometimes by the minute, sometimes by multiple minutes. There’s a balance everyone has to figure out, and it took us a really long time to get there.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Holly: Sometimes you have to walk off the scary ledge. It’s not an easy road. There have been times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What are we doing? Is this worth it?,” but once you get on the other side of it, it makes it ok.
Nathan: If you stay flexible, stuff usually figures itself out.
What is your dream for Jefferson City?
Nathan: I would like to see more activities, but for it to still have a small-town feel. It has most of the larger city amenities and still is a small town, but I wish it had more entertainment, more variety of restaurants, and I wish they didn’t roll up the sidewalks at 8:00 at night.
Chief Matthew Schofield
Did you grow up in JC? What made you want to move here?
I grew up in Columbia and moved to Jefferson City about five years ago, but I’ve been working in Jeff City since I started working for the fire department in 1999. I took the job as chief and knew that, to be fire chief, I needed to live in the community I served. So, we sold the house and decided if we’re going t o move to Jeff City, then we were all in. We’ve loved it ever since.
How do you and your family feel about becoming part of the JC community?
For us, it’s the perfect size community. I really enjoy that even from a department standpoint.
I have one son who’s in middle school; he just turned 12. Then another one in high school who’s 15. We’ve been really pleased with their transition here and even their involvement in the community. They both play sports and are involved in lots of activities, and we love our church. It’s been really good for them and us.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
We recently went to the Big Piney River in southern Missouri. We love paddling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and just being outdoors, but especially on the river.
When did you first want to become a firefighter?
I was looking for a way to get an EMT license in college. The Boone County Fire Department in Columbia said, ‘Yes, we can give you a free EMT… class, but you have to also become a volunteer firefighter.’ Then I fell in love with both, but I really fell in love with firefighting while I was a freshman at Mizzou.
Can you tell me about your experience with urban search and rescue deployments?
When I was at Mizzou and working as a volunteer firefighter, they had a program where students could live in the fire station for free. They were also forming a search and rescue team at that time, and one morning, I stumbled upon one of their trainings and they put me to work. This would have been in 1997, when I joined the [Boone County] team, and then we deployed to New York City on 9/11.
I’d say there have been about two dozen deployments over the past 23 years. I’ve been very fortunate to develop skills and proficiencies as part of that program and deploy in different capacities for different disasters. I’ve responded to Hurricane Katrina, the Columbia shuttle recovery in Texas, and tornadoes in Joplin. Whenever there’s a disaster and they need a search and rescue specialist, I’ve been able to deploy.
Did your deployment experiences help you when responding to the tornado in JC?
Absolutely. In fact, we have five other Jeff City firefighters who are also part of the Missouri Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One team. So we put that training back into our own program. In 2015, we got a grant that put about 30 of our firefighters through a structural collapse technician class. It allows you to be really efficient and operate in a collapse-structure environment. That experience, as well as getting assistance from the task force, really helped.
Have you always wanted to be in a leadership role?
I’ve always wanted to influence positive change. For me, I love doing the work and being in the field, but I also love the challenges of making the system better.
Were you on duty when the tornado hit JC?
We actually held the grand opening of the new Fire Station Two that same day. We knew the weather was coming, but we didn’t know how big the situation was initially. We really tried to get our minds wrapped around just how much damage there was and started segmenting it into workable zones. The entire department ended up responding that night.
What was it like leading your team after the tornado?
We knew it was going to be a long night. We had a lot of hard work ahead of us, but it was something we had trained for, felt very well prepared for, and we knew the community needed us.
How did you learn to stay calm during a disaster?
It’s one thing we’ve all learned over the years in this business. It doesn’t ever improve the situation if you’re panicking.
What are your future hopes for the department?
We’re all trying to adapt to the way the world is changing around us, and as an industry, the fire service is good at adapting. We adapt to meet the needs of our community. Most people think the department just puts out fires, but what we really do is solve problems. We’ve been part of the hazardous materials world for a long time, so we are uniquely suited to be on the front lines of the pandemic response. For the department, one of our big focuses is making sure we’re meeting the needs of the community.
What would you like the community to know about you?
When I became chief, we spent a lot of time with people going over our mission, and we still use “serve people, shield property, save lives” as the fire departments’ motto. You might see that saying on our trucks or other places. For me, that outlines our approach to what we do, and it’s an extension of my faith and what I believe. It’s an easy fit for me to do this work and be part of an organization that does those things.
How old are you?
I’m 17 years old. I’m a junior at JCHS.
Where did you move from, and what made you decide to stay?
I moved from St. Louis, and I just wanted to be around my grandma. I also met a few people that dance as well and thought they were really cool.
How long have you been dancing on the street and what made you decide to start?
About a year and a half — I started doing it to show my talents.
How often do you dance on the street?
Basically every day of the week, but it depends on my health.
We’ve seen you out there in the dog days of summer and in freezing weather. Don’t you get hot/cold out there?
My body has adjusted to the weather, so I’m used to it.
What are you listening to?
Anything I can do choreography to on Apple Music. Some days it’s hip hop, and some days just pop.
Who’s your favorite artist?
Growing up, it was Michael Jackson, now it’s Chris Brown. Non-dancing would be Charlie Puth.
Where did you learn to dance?
I was self-taught. When I was first able to walk, still in diapers, the first thing I learned to do was “The Bow” from The Temptations. I grew up watching them and Michael Jackson. I had a bunch of dancing games like “Just Dance” and “Michael Jackson: The Experience.” Then I thought, why not just make up my own choreography?
What message do you hope to spread by dancing? Do you hope to gain anything from this?
No one should be scared to do anything they’re talented at or anything they love to do. I plan on making a career out of dancing. I’d love to get my own group together, make hip hop/pop/R&B music, and tour around the world.
What do you do when you’re not dancing?
I’m working on furthering my education. I enjoy social studies and learning about history.
What’s been the best reaction you’ve witnessed to your dancing on the street?
When people tell me I make their day either when they’re walking by me on the street or in their car.
What’s your life motto?
Living without passion is like being dead.
Have you influenced any others to dance in the street?
Yes. I inspired my friend Josh to start dancing on the street. Sometimes we dance together, and sometimes he dances on his own. He goes all around town, but I stay by Helias. Unlike me, he listens to only one person, Jason Derulo.
Being a junior in high school, when do you dance?
I have a full day at school, so I go to all my classes. I’m very well behaved, so my grandparents don’t worry about me. I have enough time to be outside and focus on my school work. I dance after school and on the weekends.
Is there anything else you want JC to know?
Before this virus, we were going to make our debut with music, but since we haven’t been together in a while, that hasn’t happened. Be on the lookout. We’re on Instagram at @officiallyup2u and Twitter at @therealnyg.
Oh, what’s NYG?
New Young Generation. For our entire group (Cameron, Josh, and more in the future), we’re bringing new music to the young generation. That’s all I can say right now without giving too much away.
What would you tell someone who wants to learn to dance and feels uncoordinated?
Just practice. Not until you break anything, but leave your blood, sweat, and tears on whatever platform you dance on.
What brand of headphones?
What do you want to do in your future?
Become a professional dancer.
Favorite thing to do in Jefferson City?
I like to play basketball at the church next to Helias. I’m really good at basketball.