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.

Sticks and Stones

While Tim and Micki Hassemer waited for the perfect retail location on Main Ave. to become available, they were lucky enough to secure retail space at the entrance to Four Leaves Winery. During the one-and-a-half years they occupied that space, they met with former SBDC Executive Director, Joe Keck numerous times. The couple moved here from Los Angeles and Tim chuckles, “It’s a little different here. We had to learn the rules and requirements for

Read More »
Out West Saddlery

By Malia Durbano Out West Saddlery owner Terri Beecher knew advisor Rich Lindblad since they both live in Pagosa. She contacted him for some advice.While most businesses contact the SBDC for help with getting started or growing, Terri had a different problem. After several visits, Rich concluded that the business had great potential for growth. However, Terri explained what a hard time they had finding good help. She and her husband had built a wonderful,

Read More »
Durango Running Company

Durango Running Company owner, Brett Sublett had lots of experience in the outdoor retail and athletic shoe industries but had never owned his own store. Sublett had managed Your Running Store for four years and then became the footwear buyer at Back Country Experience for three years. He also knew a lot about running and running shoes since he Coached Cross Country at Fort Lewis. When Sublett decided he wanted his own store, he contacted

Read More »
Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center

By Malia Durbano Many people and organizations came together to bring the Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center to fruition. Ken Charles, with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, read about the proposed center in the Mancos Times. He contacted Brian Hanson, Superintendent of Schools for the Mancos School District and encouraged him to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to build the school. The grant comes from HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban

Read More »
Handcrafted House

Since opening its doors in mid December of 2010, Handcrafted House has seen a great response from the community thus far, says owner Sheryl Lock. Located at 1323 East 2nd Ave., the store offers sustainable finishes and interiors. “We carry all non-toxic finishes and will be expanding into interiors: natural latex beds, rugs, shower curtains, organic bedding,” describes Lock. “We’ll also have more wall stencils and fun things like that; we’ve been adding about a

Read More »
Soundscapes International

By Malia Durbano Ross Barrable an acoustic sculptor attended the Leading Edge for Entrepreneur’s Class offered by the SBDC in the winter of 2010 because, “I wanted to learn about business and branding and how to market my wind harps.” Barrable doesn’t have a store front and recognizes that most of the sales for his high ticket items come by building relationships with potential clients. Barrable creates, “Contemporary sound sculptures, or wind harps, fabricated out

Read More »