Rock Lounge

Marcus Garcia has been the owner of the Rock Lounge (RL), an indoor climbing gym in Durango, since 2014. Marcus had transitioned from being a RL employee, a rock climbing guide, and owner of a small construction company before then. The RL was profitable in his first year, yet he thought there was more potential to be realized.

Marcus had sent his business manager to a locally sponsored event which introduced them to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort Lewis College. SBDC is a free resource for entrepreneurs wanting to start, grow or sustain their business. Marcus contacted SBDC and was put in touch with Carl Malmberg, an advisor whose specialty is business operations. Carl instructed Marcus to create a profit/loss system to find where the RL made and lost money. In addition, Carl provided insight and structure on financial costs and overhead projections. Marcus saw positive gains over the course of that first year into the next two years. “Carl helped me understand how the business worked and what made this business unique.”

In March 2017, the property owners sold the building where the RL was located and they had to be out by the end of April. Marcus contacted Region 9 (a non-profit that promotes economic development in southwest Colorado) for a small business loan, but was rejected. This left him unsure of how to proceed. He reached out to Carl for guidance. Carl contacted Region 9 on his behalf and learned Marcus would need to provide a sales forecast for the next three years to show future profit. Since the RL was profitable during Marcus’ three years as owner, Carl gave instruction on how to create a financial spreadsheet which would provide the details Region 9 wanted.

During this time, Marcus had friends who had offered him a building location to relocate the RL. The loan Marcus had applied for would be for interior reconstruction. As the building codes and requirements were being sorted out, Carl spoke directly with the loan officer to justify RL’s business model and explain their financial projections. Marcus said Carl’s involvement was an important reason the loan was secured in November 2017. Construction soon began with the help of Marcus’ friends and members of the community. The RL reopened in February 2018.

“I learned the importance on how to account for all expenses, including the small ones. From the cost of a computer servicing, paper towels, to knowing the exact point of sale that comes from the swipe of a card.” Due to the loss of time between closure to reopening, the RL is not yet where it was financially from early 2017. “We have been reaching out to the community to let them know our new location (111 East 30th St., Durango). I want the RL to be a climbing community center and a place where the youth of Durango can find who they are through climbing.”

Marcus will revisit SBDC at six months’ time from the reopening to review the financial information and stay on course with the projections. The RL currently has one full time and six part-time employees. His present focus is to raise $120,000 to expand by constructing a rope climbing area. “SBDC being free to the public was the biggest thing for me. They helped get me in the right direction and guided me along the way.”

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 »
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 »
WeFill

“We are here to care for the future generations of all species.” That is a bold statement. It happens to be the motto for Durango’s newest business, WeFill. Forward thinking owner and biologist Cristin Salaz created her business model to be a part of the pollution solution. WeFill is a refilling station for household and personal care products: dish soaps, household cleaners (all purpose, laundry, toilets and drains), castile soaps, shampoo and conditioning bars, and

Read More »
WildEdge Brewing

Tucker Robinson once worked as an archaeologist who brewed his own beer at home in his spare time. His affinity for making quality microbrews eventually led Tucker to pursue craft brewing as a profession. In 2013, he wrote an initial business plan with the goal of opening his own microbrewery in Cortez, CO. Several years later as his business plan seemed close to completion, Tucker interned at his friend’s brew pub in Rochester, NY. He

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 »
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 »