Herman Rosas has worked in the trash disposal business in Cortez for twenty years. He had developed a stellar reputation amongst the customers he served over that span. In 2016, one disposal company Herman used to work for sold their business to their corporate competitor, which made them the only disposal business in town. He and his wife, Kim, started to receive calls soon after from former customers. The people asked them to start their own business. They were unhappy with the lone disposal company’s service and billing. To serve the community need, the Rosas decided to open a business.
A friend had suggested they contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Durango, which they did. The Rosas were told about the Leading Edge (LE) program, a course designed for entrepreneurs to construct a business plan and learn from professionals about the various aspects of business. Herman knew all disposing of trash, but little on how to operate business within an office. They registered and took their first class soon after.
The Rosas found the class arduous. The Rosas describe themselves as “hands on business people. We learn by doing.” The business terminology and concepts were new information for them. Without having the experience for what the work entailed, there were moments when they wanted to give up. Also, the LE class in Cortez was geared primarily towards agricultural businesses. The Rosas were the only business not involved with farming.
They persevered and gleaned some useful information. Their instructor, Cindy Dvergsten, helped direct their focus to begin service in the neighboring town of Dolores. A guest speaker for one class was a certified public accountant. He and his staff member showed them how to properly set up bookkeeping software with QuickBooks and Excel. Lastly, there was support from classmates who provided encouragement as the program went on.
Countryside Disposal became operational in August 2017. They presently have over a thousand customers and receive approximately thirty calls a week from people wanting to switch to their disposal company. The Rosas have seven employees and operate four trucks. One of their employees is office manager Ellie LaLonde. She has thirty years of office experience with disposal companies. Ellie has taken the foundational lessons the Rosas learned from LE and take business operations to the next level. “With a working business, we have a better understanding of the concepts the LE program taught us. We have recommended SBDC to people we speak with.” The Rosas are thankful for the community support, wanting their customers to be happy and have a good experience. “Our customers want to work with local businesses.”