Doing Well by Doing Good: Power Couple Rod Salyer and Jennifer DesJardin  

Some entrepreneurs are born, some are made, and some make a city a better place with good food and design. Meet Rod Salyer and Jennifer DesJardin, one of Lowry’s most interesting power couples who have pounced on their projects and work happily making the city a better place.

Life for Rod began in rural Kansas, and his life has almost come full circle working now with food – good food. His gourmet for good® corporate catering company provides some 300-700 meals daily prepared in his kitchen in west Denver. But this Lowry resident of almost 20 years has old-fashioned values of hard work producing great results.

Hutchinson, Kansas, provided a great background for his family with strong ties to family farming. Rod’s first paying job was inside a pizza parlor where Rod started out washing dishes at age 14. “Even at that age, hard work was never a problem. It was a means to an end.” His mom was a substitute teacher, and his dad was in sales for Xerox. Athletic and smart, Rod did well in school and after a degree in marketing and business at Kansas State started off with Koch Industries in Wichita. “That was another ‘school’ on its own,” he says. “Koch was where the learning really started, and I owe a big debt of gratitude to the environment at Koch where I learned how to run a business and to be a servant leader.”

“As the son of a salesperson, a good sales discipline of listening closely and looking for solutions came naturally. Even borrowing the family car was a sales pitch,” Rod said with a smile. The operative word there is sales. “And Koch expects their salespeople to operate as if they owned their business. It was a remarkable environment for a 26-year-old to learn.” The Koch ideal was to hire from colleges in the Midwest where a strong work ethic is  prevalent. He transferred around the country with Koch until faced with the decision to stay at Koch or stay in graduate school at University of Chicago. “I decided to stay in grad school.”

After earning his MBA in 1999, he became the first full-time sales hire for an emerging tech company.  He could live “anywhere with an airport and cell service,” and he decided to move to Denver. “Chicago was great, but Colorado always held a special appeal for me.” Sales was his business and this man is an entrepreneur and sales genius. “I like buying successful businesses. A good company has well-worn practices that serve like the tracks for a train. Stay on the tracks, help your people do great work, and continue in their success. Improve where you can, but first do no harm to what’s working.”

And what’s working is a fascinating commercial catering business providing meals to business meetings, conferences, and events here in Lowry where I met the couple at a Lowry Business event. The food was incredibly delicious, beautifully displayed, and didn’t last long. I went in search of the provider and found Rod Salyer keeping an eye on his enterprise, gourmet for good.

Later, walking around the large private commercial kitchen facility in Sheridan, he acknowledges each worker, who lights up when seeing him. It’s a 34-year-old operation, but Rod has owned it for four years, putting his “stamp” in every department and with every one of the more than 20 employees. Formerly known as “Gourmet to Go,” they rebranded the company after they purchased it to “make sure we remain intentional about giving back.”  Ten percent of their profits go to food-related charities. 

The other half of this power couple is Jennifer DesJardin, a lovely and talented Colorado native with an equally high level of energy and a high degree of success in her own right. Jennifer is a Denver native from Green Mountain whose mother worked in the travel industry and her dad was in Public Relations as a writer for Qwest West and Mountain Bell. As a child, she was given a four-story Barbie House to play with. “I didn’t care much about Barbie, but I took that house apart and redesigned it over and over. I didn’t know that would be life-long career, but it was sure fun to take the house and revision it.”

She’s quite exuberant saying, “I had an undeniable passion for design.  I attended school at the University of Florida in Gainesville. They were one of the few schools with a formal interior design program, and it was warm in Gainesville.” She majored in interior architecture, a very demanding program that instilled the art and science of creating architectural beauty. ”I was making models and creating environments when I realized that my Barbie days were laying the groundwork for a lifelong passion.” 

 “I started MOTIF Design Solutions in my garage in 2008 after my employer had completed the construction of One Lincoln Park downtown.  I created and implemented the design selection process for that 177-unit project. As home buyers met with us, we offered them the option to select or upgrade their finishes for their space. The project was massive–with essentially 177 custom homes under one roof.” When the project was complete, it was in the midst of the Great Recession in 2008, and the firm she worked for ran out of work. “I hung out my shingle, was blessed with an amazing first client who I’ve now worked on five homes with, and I haven’t looked back.”

One interesting job she had was with HGTV on “House Hunters Renovations,” a program that lets clients pick out one of three houses which she then could design. Today, she is the Principal at MOTIF Design Solutions with six employees. Jennifer’s design/build firm has won numerous local and national recognitions including Luxe magazine, 5280 Home, Colorado Homes and Lifestyles magazine, and their work has been published dozens of times.

Jennifer talks about the difference among various design firms and MOTIF. “There are three things that differentiate MOTIF. First, we are classically trained designers with Architectural degrees so our designs are scaled correctly for the space, and flow well with adjacent spaces. Second, we have our own design and  construction teams, so we control every step of the process from demolition to picking accessories. Third, we usually only work with one client at a time, so our timeline in a given space is as streamlined as it can be while controlling every step of the project. There are no handoffs at MOTIF.”

The couple are both donors and volunteers for Food for Thought Denver, which feeds 13,000 of Denver’s school-age kids every week who would otherwise go hungry over the weekend. Since 1998, Rod has been actively involved on the board of directors in various food security projects in the country of Laos. And during the pandemic, gourmet for good partnered with Send Relief, a national organization, to package 50,000 meals at no charge for hungry families. They also serve in a ministry called “Lovewell,” serving hungry people through their church, The Heights.

So Rod works with creativity in food and Jennifer works creatively in design. Both are hardworking and take on challenges that provide solutions in feeding people’s stomachs and souls. Rod said, “I have seen first-hand that if people are hungry, not much else matters. We feel accountable to address food insecurity issues as a result of that belief. And we make great food and great jobs in the process. My roots are in food, and it feels like I’ve come full circle.”

After five years in east Denver, he discovered Lowry in 2005 and bought a house near Sunset Park, as did three other friends.  Currently, three of his employees live out here now, so he was good at “selling” them on the Lowry lifestyle. They both like all their neighbors, and say, “the abundance of small businesses here is good. I hesitate to list my favorites for you.  Walter’s is great, as well as the Chop Shop, Café Mercato, Officer’s Club and the Beer Garden. It’s good to see the variety of food and services within walking distance in Lowry. We love it here.”

And does Lowry work for this wonderful couple who finishes and adds to each other’s ideas? Oh yes. And they enjoy getting around Lowry and ”being a part of this great community.” They do well by doing good.

Meet Your Lowry Neighbors is a monthly feature written by our intrepid reporter Sally Kurtzmanwho knows everyone in our community. If you have a suggestion for a Meet Your Lowry Neighbor, please send us an email to