Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch

            Garry and Ming Adams created Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch, a luxurious boutique guest ranch, in Cortez.  When Garry purchased the land in the beautiful McElmo Canyon in 2006, the three dwellings on the property were uninhabitable.  Their goal was to stay true to the land’s western heritage and create a working guest ranch.  Guests would stay in comfortable remodeled houses, part take in the raising of livestock, be offered organically raised foods and immerse themselves in the surrounding canyon lands where ancient ruins can be found.  Ming stated, “We refer to it as an outdoor museum of culture and history.  There is an abundance of Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites for guest to explore and appreciate.”  Garry and Ming also wanted to establish sustainable land practices and promote cultural exchanges and experiences.  The two designed and constructed the ranch with that in mind.  They restored the three historic houses, expanded the infrastructure for two new guest houses and installed old style fences to better manage their livestock.

            Cindy Dvergsten is a highly regarded advisor for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), located in Durango.  She is also Garry and Ming’s friend.  Cindy has helped many entrepreneurs begin and expand their businesses.  She is an expert in agriculture, sustainable practice and bringing products to market.  Cindy teaches classes for SBDC too.  She told Garry and Ming about classes she would be teaching when the Adams’ were in their first few years of operation.  One class focused on establishing a business foundation through a holistic approach.  The second class was specific for ranchers and farmers.  That content included pasture management, grazing plans, and holistic practices.

            The first class was for entrepreneurs to identity what they want in life and what sort of work would make them happy.  Specifically, to do something they would enjoy with clarity about the quality of life they would like to have.  The class also focused on ranching and agriculture in a sustainable and enterprising way.  Ming loved that approach.  Identifying what they love and care about will guide them towards making better decisions down the road, both personally and professionally.  Ming added, “Cindy taught us how to manage our land and our Navajo Churro sheep (which Cindy introduced to them), cattle and chickens.  Our ranch is the only one around to have a Grass Fed certificate from A Greener World and be Animal Welfare approved.”

            The Adams’ also took SBDC classes for online marketing and social media.  “We work so hard on daily chores.  The classes introduced and taught us things in the online world.  We can identify what works best for us.  I would love to learn more about online marketing through presentations or workshops.”

            Ming stays in touch with Cindy often to ask her advice and opinions, particularly about raising the sheep.  Ming said, “Cindy is very passionate about what she does and promotes Navajo sheep culture.”  Ming concluded that SBDC has a lot to offer. “There are times I don’t know where to get help.  Being in their network, SBDC can put me in touch with the right person.  This is a learning journey for us.  We are not ranchers by trade.  Our guests enjoy themselves and have great experiences connecting with the land and animals.  We know we are doing the right thing.”

Wily Carrot

Kellie Pettyjohn is the proud owner and founder of The Wily Carrot, an organic farm located in Mancos, CO. She came to the lovely Mancos Valley in 2010 via Washington, D.C., to pursue an idyllic lifestyle, work with her hands in the outdoors and become her own boss. Kellie first got her hands dirty when she tended to two acres of vegetables on Dave Banga’s farm in Montezuma County. She interned with him for a

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The Wine Merchant

By Malia Durbano Eric Allen and Lesley Ponce needed some expert advice as situations in their business changed. They were moving from their location next door to Nature’s Oasis to their current location, next to the VFW at 1514 Main Avenue in Durango. Ponce who had been employed by The Wine Merchant for 10 years, would become a partner after the move. Allen explains, “I had some questions about how to structure a lease. I

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River Rim Teardrop Trailers

By Malia Durbano Tim Rossiter and his wife Peg, love to camp and hike. They bought a cargo trailer and turned it into a camper. In researching their design, they discovered a “big movement for people who wanted a small footprint.” In March of 2013, they started researching and planning a design for a teardrop camper. Their vision was to create a custom product with quality materials and craftsmanship. The Rossiters met with Joe Keck

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4Corners Riversports

Milt Wiley was a local paddling legend. Even in the 1980s, when whitewater sports were still coming on the scene, everyone in Durango had heard of the Wiley’s. In 1983, he and his daughters opened 4 Corners Riversports (4CRS). Since that time, 4CRS has become Southwest Colorado’s iconic river supply store. With everything from stand up paddle boards (SUPs) to cookstoves to PFDs, the shop supplies river goers with everything they need for their outdoor

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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

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Aspen Wall Wood

David Sitton and Sean Stafford are the owners of Aspen Wall Wood. I interviewed David for this article, who shared his story of purchasing a timber mill in 2016 and later purchased two other companies. The major factor in the acquisition process was the ability to obtain a loan. That was done with the assistance of Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Durango. David was well established as a Vice President for Skanska, a large

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