On Saturday, February 24, 2018, the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Awards Gala at Pechanga Resort & Casino. This premier event was a memorable night of elegance and excitement, with over 600 attendees. The evening included dinner, an extravagant silent auction, live entertainment, and an outstanding awards presentation. The recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement award was Rancon's Founder & Chairman, Dan Stephenson.
When we embark upon life, it’s just LIFE! As we set goals, find a partner, start a career, have a family, the achievements we strive for don’t seem global but personal. As a young man, just graduating from USC and ready to pursue a career, Dan Stephenson’s goals were similar to most. How do I provide for my family? How do I build a life, a career? What does that career look like? At 25 years of age, Dan was ambitious and excited to excel and succeed in business. And so it was, in 1968, when he roamed the open territory of the Temecula Valley that he found a dream that could encompass a lifetime.
One of Dan’s talents is that he could look out over the rolling hills, at the oaks and sycamores dotting the landscape, and see estate properties, orchards, shopping centers, and schools that he could share his vision in such a way that you saw it too. Dan knew in his heart that this valley, situated on the I-15 corridor, would eventually be important in connecting the San Diego, Riverside and Orange Counties, and more than that, it was a beautiful place to live. It could have everything, open spaces, clean air, affordable housing, and great schools.
In 1971, Dan formed Rancho Consultants, a real-estate brokerage and land development company, which later shortened its name to Rancon. He then proceeded to move his family, lock, stock and barrel, to this pristine, rustic location where he was going to make his mark. But now, with a family, making your mark meant not only business opportunities but providing a quality of life for his family and all the families he envisioned wanting to settle in the Temecula Valley.
Dan’s family consists of six children, 18 grandchildren, a great granddaughter, two sisters that live locally, a niece, two nephews, two grand nephews, a grand-niece and his wife. Family is at the core of his motivation. The agents and staff at Rancon Real Estate, the management team and staff at the Rancon Group, Chardonnay Escrow, Ranch Self-Storage, as well as all the villagers at Dan’s exciting new Temecula Valley winery project - Europa Village, are also his family. It is important to him that his family is able to thrive in a community rich in a high degree of quality of life.
For Dan, quality of life was preserving open spaces, horse trails, bike trails, hiking trails, parks, schools, culture, housing, roads, retail, commercial and industrial services, and growth for business opportunities. Dan has never wavered from these goals. To build a community without thinking about preservation and commitment to a standard of living, would be short-sighted and counter-productive.
With Dan Stephenson at the helm, the Rancon Group of companies built the first master-planned community, Alta Murrieta, in Southwest Riverside County. He also built one of the Inland Empire’s first master-planned business parks, Tri-City Corporate Centre in San Bernardino. During more than four decades of “doing the same thing in the same place” Stephenson has amassed a reputation for spearheading high-quality projects and maximizing his investors’ returns. Today, both Rancon Real Estate and the Rancon Group are staffed with the most qualified real estate professionals in the market area.
As a syndicator, Stephenson has raised more than $800 million in investor capital and land assets. During the past ten years, Rancon Group partnerships have developed and sold more than 1,000 acres of commercial and residential properties, returning a handsome profit to the investors. The Rancon Group currently controls more than 2,800 acres of commercial and residential property and is building a world class resort and vineyard community in Temecula Valley Wine Country.
For Dan, being successful is also about being generous. Throughout the many years Dan has been involved in the Temecula Valley, he has offered many local non-profit organizations and businesses use of his conference spaces, to perform in his buildings, given them space for rehearsals, permission to build haunted houses, horse rides at the equestrian center, and crafting boutiques. If he had a way to help… he did, and still does today.
In more recent years, Dan has worked tirelessly with the Trails Committee to preserve and designate horse trails, so they will never be lost to growth and expansion. He has worked with the County of Riverside and the Temecula Valley Winegrower’s Association in formulating new policies to protect our valuable wine country. He worked with Cal Trans and the Board of Supervisors to ensure that thoroughfares and on and off ramps that were planned for the area actually got built. For 15 years, Dan was acting president of the Theater Foundation and devoted his talents, money, contacts and time to raising over $1 million dollars towards developing and building the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.
In addition to the Theater Foundation, Dan has served on numerous boards including Cal Baptist, Western Science Museum, Sharp Hospital, Temecula Sports Park and several HOA Boards. Besides the Old Town Theater, Dan and Rancon have contributed to building the CRC amphitheater and the Reagan Park memorial. They have contributed to most of the local high schools providing scoreboards or equipment, as requested. Dan has supported the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, the Boy Scouts of America, Project TOUCH, Oak Grove Institute, SAFE, Michelle’s Place, the DAVI Tournament, the Arts Council, Temecula Valley Players, Shakespeare in the Vines, Fine Arts Network Theater Company, Temecula Valley Master Chorale, Southwest Women’s Chorus, Equate, Jacob’s House, Charity for Charities and has been a chamber member since its inception.
The family man, philanthropist, his business ethics and successes, are not important as an achievement, but rather, to bear testimony to a lifetime of devotion and commitment to the quality of life in his community. Lifetime achievement awards are a great honor. Dan is grateful to recognized by his peers, fellow businesses and community friends but his life is not over, and he looks forward to what the future holds. How can we keep our valley thriving? How do we protect our wine country, promote growth and find a balance? What more can we do to ensure that the Temecula Valley is the finest place in Southern California to live?
Ten years from now, or whenever Dan should next be honored, he doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels but to strive each day, each year to support, promote, and protect the quality of life that we have here and that is so dear to him. For Dan, it was never about giving back, it was always about paying-it-forward because the area, its people, and the community have always given him so much.