A native son of NH, Steve Duprey grew up in NH’s North Country, where his parents shaped his devotion to community. “My mother and father [a surgeon] were my original role models,” Duprey says. “From a very early age, my mother and dad instilled values in me—’you have been given so much more than so many kids in the world, you have an obligation to give back.’”
He has never given up on fulfilling that obligation.
Duprey has built a development and hospitality empire through the Duprey Companies, which includes four hotels, the Grappone Conference Center, Foxfire Property Management and Facilitech Facilities Services.
For more than two decades, Duprey has been a prolific developer, revitalizing old buildings into vibrant parts of Concord’s community, including the Love Building that is home to Gibson’s Bookstore and the Smile! Building that houses the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce and the League of NH Craftsmen.
When Duprey learned the League was considering moving from Concord, he developed a proposal to re-house it in his new SMILE! building. Duprey donated over a half million dollars of tax credits as well as $225,000 in cash to the project and funded a professional fundraising study for the League’s capital campaign. He even prepared the application to the CDFA that secured $1.1million in tax credits.
(Duprey played a critical role in creating the legislation that established the NH Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) tax credit program, of which he served as a founding board member.)
“Steve was the catalyst for the redevelopment of Horseshoe Pond. This gateway property was transformed from an abandoned and burned-out lumber mill wasteland to a first-class office park, hotel and conference center,” says Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.
Duprey was also integral to the redevelopment of Concord’s Main Street. “Steve chaired the committee that held more than 50 public hearings on the Main Street redevelopment project. He also personally funded and led a public relations and lobbying campaign to secure a highly competitive $4.5 million federal TIGER grant, which turned the project from a dream to a reality,” Sink says.
Duprey is breathing new life into the former Eagle Hotel while preserving the historical integrity of the building—a hallmark of his development efforts. His latest project is a new five-story building in downtown Concord that will host restaurants and retailers. Last year he bought the former Lincoln Financial buildings in Concord for redevelopment.
“He has been a leader in revitalizing neighborhoods and creating new opportunities for economic growth, while also preserving the cultural heritage and character of these communities,” says James Key-Wallace, executive director of the NH Business Finance Authority.
Duprey was a founder, director and the second president of the Concord Business Group, an independent group of business leaders formed to work with the city and state to make Concord more business friendly.
He played a key role in securing funding for the restoration and reopening of the Capitol Center for the Arts and he served on the board of trustees for two terms. And when the Capitol Center was ready to expand and open a second smaller performance space, Duprey acquired the building, lent his expertise in leveraging tax credits and helped develop plans for renovating the space into what is now the Bank of NH Stage. He also served on the board of trustees of the NH Historical Society and helped to lead the fundraising efforts to open the Museum of NH History. The Duprey Companies also made a $100,000 gift toward establishing Red River Theatres in Concord.
Last year, Gov. Chris Sununu tapped Duprey to chair the Pease Development Authority. He also currently serves on the boards of the Currier Museum of Art, the NH Business Finance Authority and NH Civics, which promotes civic education.
Duprey could provide a masters class in civics, having served in the NH legislature and devoted himself to helping others get elected. At 19, while in college, he won a seat in the state legislature, becoming the youngest elected official in the country, Duprey says. At one point, attorney and then House Deputy Speaker Kimon Zachos waived the young man over to ask what he intended to do with his life and convinced Duprey to apply to law school. (After graduating, he worked for the law firm of Solloway and Hollis before becoming a developer.)
He twice served as chairman of the NH Republican Party but has always been willing to reach across the aisle. Duprey has worked with every governor since Walter Petersen.
And while he has advised his share of presidential candidates, he struck a particularly deep friendship with U.S. Sen. John McCain, who would often have Duprey join him on the campaign trail to share some laughs as well as insights. As Duprey recalls his time with McCain, who died from a brain tumor in 2018, it is apparent the loss of his friend still weighs on him.
Asked what lessons he learned from McCain, Duprey says, “Try to do what’s right. You won’t always succeed. You will make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. Make amends, move on and take on the next battle. Don’t take yourself too seriously and be sure to enjoy the ride.”
He knows he has not achieved success alone, crediting his employees. “I am the Vanna White of the team. The success I’ve had that gives me the opportunity to spend as much time as I do on civic efforts is because of my housekeepers, maintenance people and banquet servers. Those are the people every day who make our business successful, that allows me privilege to be as involved as I am, and I am grateful,” he says.
Meet Steve Duprey, and all of the Business of the Year Award winners from 2021, 2022 and 2023 at the Business of the Year Awards Luncheon on May 25, 2023 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Downtown Manchester. Register today at businessnhmagazine.com/events/2023-business-of-the-year.