Fast Signs

By Christine Rasmussen

When Durango-based Fast Signs owner Laurie Sigillito asked SBDC Director Joe Keck if he could spare an hour to offer feedback on an upcoming sales presentation, Keck had a better idea: Why not have a panel of advisors from the Business Advisors Network listen to her pitch?

The Business Advisors Network (BAN) is comprised of 25 business counselors with wide and varied areas of expertise. Clients can meet individually with an advisor or request a panel of advisors to listen to pitches or presentations. Services are available in Pagosa Springs and Cortez in addition to Durango.

In June 2010 Sigillito presented to a panel of six business advisors her pitch for selling a digital signage/advertising package to the Durango-La Plata Airport.

“I cannot tell you how useful this was,” says Sigillito. “Number one, it was great exposure, and number two, it gave me a chance to really practice in front of a group of people. They were truly helpful: they went through all of my numbers and offered ideas for how I should restructure it. I would ask, ‘Do you think I should say this?’ and they would say, ‘Yes, definitely bring that up.’”

After the initial meeting with the BAN panel, Sigillito sent revisions and received a quick response from the group on how the presentation looked. She then went into the meeting with the Durango-La Plata Airport Commission with confidence in her polished presentation. A month later, the Commission awarded the contract to Fast Signs, and recently, Telluride Airport approached Fast Signs about installing a digital signage network. Next in the pipeline is a possible contract with the St. George, Utah airport.

The digital signage realm is opening new doors for Sigillito’s business and has other Fast Signs in the country calling her, asking how they can get into their local airports. The Durango-La Plata project won “Project of the Year” at the Fast Signs Franchise Conference. There are over 500 Fast Signs Centers in North America, with some Europe and Australia, all independently owned.

“It’s great because now we have a way to get revenue into Durango from outside of Durango,” says Sigillito. “And I think I’ve figured out a way to compete against [their biggest competitor].”

The Durango Airport Project was the catalyst to a Fast Signs’ niche, and the BAN panel’s feedback on Sigillito’s presentation helped get the ball rolling.

“The advisors knew Durango: when I talked about our pitch they’d say, ‘This is good – we need to show you are keeping the dollars here,’ and ‘We need to advertise Durango differently.’ They were excited about the opportunity. So they helped me simplify it quite a bit, and when I did my presentation to the Commission they did not have one question.

“I don’t think I could have gotten that kind of feedback from anybody else,” she adds. “It’s really awesome that we have that resource here, and it’s free.”

The BAN presentation was not the first time Sigillito used the resources at the SBDC. It started with a “Marketing for Smarties” class before she had any intention of opening her own business; Sigillito saw it as a good way to network among marketing circles as well. Then she found out about the Next Level Entrepreneurial Training classes through the SBDC monthly newsletter.

Through the Next Level Training Sigillito learned about the financing resources available through Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado, which helped secure the initial funding for Fast Signs in late 2008/early 2009 when she could not obtain financing through local banks.

Sigillito used the Next Level class to stay focused while drafting her business plan for Fast Signs. “You systematically go through each chapter, for example, you learn all the different ways to know your competition,” she recalls. “Everything I was learning in class I could immediately apply to my business plan. The class helped me be more thorough than I would’ve been, and just having the teachers there to bounce ideas off of was really beneficial.”

The business plan was thorough and then some, because Sigillito went on to win “Best Business Plan” among the state’s 14 SBDC’s and was honored at a ceremony in Denver.

Cortez Cab

Ed Gilbert saw a niche that needed to be filled and filled it. The existing public transportation system in Cortez was very limited. There was no “on demand private system”, so he started one. He is now approaching his second busy season and the business keeps growing. Gilbert, who had never owned a business, took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs class twice – once in Cortez in the fall of 2011 and again in the

Read More »
Por Dia Preschool & Learning Center

Amy Long purchased Por Dia Preschool & Learning Center sixteen years ago. Por Dia is licensed to serve up to 60 children. They offer daily preschool, toddler care, and before/after school care. Long approached Joe Keck for help in expanding her Toddler program. Beginning in August of 2011, they worked together for six to eight months. “Joe personally came by my business to consult with me, and we met at the SBDC office at the

Read More »
Aspen Wall Wood

David Sitton and Sean Stafford are the owners of Aspen Wall Wood. I interviewed David for this article, who shared his story of purchasing a timber mill in 2016 and later purchased two other companies. The major factor in the acquisition process was the ability to obtain a loan. That was done with the assistance of Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Durango. David was well established as a Vice President for Skanska, a large

Read More »
Pilates Connection

By Malia Durbano Kim Moriyama opened the Pilates Connection in 2002. She envisions her business as a vehicle to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives and is so grateful for the instructors who work with her that are passionate about doing that. In 2013, Kim met with advisor Joe Bishop who, “Was an awesome sounding board and helped me with revisioning to make the studio vital and dynamic.” She implemented the ideas they came

Read More »
Enterprise Bar & Grill

Have you heard the story about the entrepreneur who bought a business because she was looking for a job?  Seriously.  She bought a bar and grill in Rico, CO, with no previous business experience.  A year and a half into it she sought assistance from the Small Business Development Center.  This woman took a class designed for entrepreneurs, implemented the suggested practices, became business savvy, and now has a goal to buy the property her bar and grill operates

Read More »
Freenotes Harmony Park

By Malia Durbano Richard and Christy Cooke are so grateful to the SW Colorado Small Business Development Center for consulting with them and putting them in touch with valuable resources to assist them in growing and expanding their business. Thanks to the help of the SW CO SBDC their company is experiencing 100% growth in 2011. Originally, a small cottage industry business, started by Richard Cooke in 1990 in Moab, Utah, FHP was at capacity

Read More »