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 »
Create Art & Tea

What happens when an entrepreneur envisions a grass roots movement centered around tea and art?  Create Tea & Art (CT&A) of course!  Caprice Fox is building community by combining the comfort and health aspects of tea with a gathering space for local artists and their hand-crafted works.  Caprice said, “People enjoy having tea to come to with the art.  There is an enjoyment of the social aspect.  I’m still learning how to combine them.”  To

Read More »
Mountain View TLC

By Malia Durbano Family Physician, Kirsten “Kicki” Searfus originally approached the SBDC to learn how to structure the partnership she was entering with Megan Lewis Grotefund. Instead, Megan moved away and on June 1, 2013, Kicki officially was in private practice. Having always been an employee at clinics or hospitals, she was wondering where to start in figuring out how to be an entrepreneur. Advisor Joe Bishop “was super helpful” in assisting her regarding the

Read More »
Earthsense Herbals and Gift Gallery

There is a saying that “if you can dream it, then you can achieve it,” -Zig Ziglar. Lake McCullough is an example of this by turning a hobby into a growing business. Earthsense Herbals and Gift Gallery is a quaint and sunny store located in the heart of downtown Pagosa Springs. Creatively decorated, the store is full of handcrafted items from perfumed soaps, herbal teas and remedies, to silk paintings, porcelain sculptures, greeting cards and

Read More »
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 »