Covenant Drug Testing

Sheila Owens and her son Brandon were handed the unique opportunity of taking over an existing business – kind of. They both worked for a drug & alcohol testing company in Cortez – Sheila for eight years and her son for seven. They enjoyed their jobs and the relationships they had with clients all over the country.

BUT… the company they worked for was closing their doors with only two months’ notice to the employees. As they were calling their clients to notify them that the business was closing, they also had the opportunity to say, “We’re opening our own business to provide the same service under a new name. We received an overwhelmingly positive response,” Sheila explained.

The companies they serve are mostly Department of Transportation clients who must have a random drug and alcohol testing program in place to stay in compliance with DOT safety procedures. However, more and more Non-DOT companies are choosing to enter into drug and alcohol testing programs and they manage those as well. Their former employer closed on March 31 and they opened their new business, Covenant Drug & Alcohol Testing, LLC on April First. Sheila laughs, “We were really brave to open on April Fool’s Day, but we didn’t have a choice!”

She can’t rave enough about what a huge asset Advisor Joe Keck was to them. They had never owned a business and didn’t know the first thing about a business plan, but they had an already existing customer base of 250 clients who transferred over with them
.
Sheila said, “Joe Keck came to our office and asked us lots of questions and took lots of notes. He asked more questions and helped us write reports.” They worked together on spreadsheets and documents needed to get a loan through the Region 9 Economic Development Alliance. As a brand new business, they needed new equipment and expensive customized programs and QuickBooks. They wanted to rent the same building since that’s where clients were used to finding them.

“Many times, we would work all day in our existing jobs, then work all night compiling the information Joe told us we needed for the loan. He broke it down into manageable sections. We’d get a few things done, then he’d give us more homework. We were on a very tight deadline due to the Region 9 meeting schedule,” Sheila shared. She explained how usually writing a business plan can take months and they had just nine days to get it done.

“Joe Keck was an amazing asset. Without him, we wouldn’t have known where to start. He held our hands through the entire process.” Keck was familiar with the Region 9 application and encouraged them to provide more detailed information in sections he knew were important.

Sheila can’t say enough about how much she appreciated the help from Joe Keck. “He was very encouraging and made himself available at all times to keep the process going. He checked in with us afterwards and congratulated us on our success.”

Smitty’s Liquors

When Barb Higgins, her son Shiloh and his business partner Doug Jorgensen wanted to buy Smitty’s Liquors in Cortez, the first thing she did was call Joe Keck, who she had known for years. She knew the owners of Smitty’s and they were ready to retire. Her son and his partner had run a successful skateboard and clothing store in Las Vegas, but wanted to come back to Colorado. Higgins and her husband decided to

Read More »
Silver Sparrow Designs

By Malia Durbano Kristi Smith took a windy road to owning her own business and creating beautiful jewelry. As a young girl, she enjoyed drawing, painting and all expressive, creative endeavors. Upon discovering beading, she began to make jewelry for everyone she knew. In a high school she took a silver-smithing class at the local community college and knew she had found her true love. Learning that the equipment to get started was very costly,

Read More »
P.S. Chocolates

Michele White is a lifelong artist who lives out her creative passion.  She transitioned her career as an art teacher and into a self-taught business entrepreneur.  Michele imported clothes and jewelry from Indonesia and sold them at her Satori Boutique, in Pagosa Springs.  Michele sold the boutique after eight years, but continued to import items from Bali as she wondered about her next venture.  On a day when she visited Santa Fe to sell her

Read More »
Studio B: A Place to “B”

Coworking, or flexspace, is all the rage in the era of remote work. After all, what better way to build professional relationships than by sharing a workspace? But, what if there was a flexspace designed specifically for coaches and therapists? And, what if that coworking space had a full team who could provide mental and physical health services? To make it even better, what if it had a full time administrative assistant who managed all

Read More »
Native Roots Garden Center

By Malia Durbano John Wickman, owner of the independent garden center, Native Roots, has a degree in Horticulture, but not one in Business. That is why he approached Joe Keck of the SW Colorado SBDC for some advice on expanding his business. The Garden Center does Landscape Design and Installation with a large retail section for do-it-yourselfers. They grow all their own trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials through their subsidiary, Pine River Plants. Wickman, “Learned

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 »
Skip to content