Eco-Conscious Entrepreneur: Bently Enterprises CEO Christopher Bently

Chris Bently, Image courtesy of Sequoia Emmanuelle
Chris Bently, Image courtesy of Sequoia Emmanuelle

hen entrepreneur and Bently Enterprises CEO Christopher Bently saw 240 Stockton Street in San Francisco’s Union Square, the building’s exterior was peeling, there was a quarter inch of dust on the stairwell, trash was piled up inside and discarded furniture filled the basement. Today, the 10-story structure is the LEED-certified architectural showplace known as Bently Union Square thanks to the fact that the CEO of Bently Enterprises acquired the Art Deco building and restored it to its former glory in an environmentally-friendly fashion. This dynamic and progressive business leader with a penchant for revitalizing historic properties—including San Francisco’s old Federal Reserve Bank, now called the Bently Reserve—has taken on his most ambitious projects to date: preserving his native Minden, a historical town in Nevada just east of Lake Tahoe, and the creation of Bently Heritage, an estate distillery that will produce farm-to-flask spirits crafted exclusively from local ingredients grown on Bently Ranch. Here’s how this music-loving philanthropist navigates his days while splitting his time between homes in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.

6:30 A.M When I get up, I like to really ground myself and not do anything before I engage, because once I engage, it’s all over. I work out, stretch and enjoy my coffee and juice. I make myself a fruit smoothie with pineapple, grapefruit and blueberries.

8 A.M I’m ready, and feel like I’ve said hello to the day properly. I start to integrate myself into the tasks at hand and that starts with checking my computer and then making some phone calls.

10:30 A.M I come into the office. I built my company now to the point that I have incredibly talented and knowledgeable people running it. I find myself just going in and talking with people, briefing myself and discussing ideas. Right now the big thing at hand is the distillery.

12:00 P.M I leave for the San Carlos Airport and fly straight to the Minden Airport. Last year I bought an airplane—a King Air 350—and it was the best decision I [have ever] made because of the time I save traveling. I looked at a dozen different planes and chose that one because of its environmental impact, which is much less than any other plane. I’ll bring a sandwich with me and eat lunch on the plane.

1:30 P.M I land in Minden and go right to work. We’re awaiting permits from the county and city for the distillery, and we’ll hopefully break ground this summer. I also have a very large ranch that grows natural [crops], and we’re two years into a three-year mission of moving most everything to be certified organic.

Primarily, the agriculture is alfalfa for cattle, and I raise cattle. 

7:00 P.M My fiancée Camille [Crowder] runs my foundation, which we launched last year. She travels with me 99 percent of the time. She’s an amazing, organic chef, so I just stay out of her way—I’ll clean up and do dishes afterwards. When we’re in Nevada, we’re cooking at home pretty much exclusively because when you live in San Francisco and you’re used to eating out here, there’s nothing like that in Nevada.

9:30 P.M I might sample a new Scotch that I just got by the fire as I continue to develop my taste profile for what I want to make when we’re open and distilling. I’m a firm believer of no televisions in the house, but we do have a movie

theater and love to watch movies or a show like “Game of Thrones,” which is like a movie. I’m a musician and Camille is also a music lover; we’ll listen to music or read. We’re both night owls, so we’re up until midnight or 1 a.m.