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.”

Por Dia Preschool & Learning Center

Amy Long purchased Por Dia Preschool & Learning Center sixteen years ago. Por Dia is licensed to serve up to 60 children. They offer daily preschool, toddler care, and before/after school care. Long approached Joe Keck for help in expanding her Toddler program. Beginning in August of 2011, they worked together for six to eight months. “Joe personally came by my business to consult with me, and we met at the SBDC office at the

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Rx Grazing Services : Targeted Grazing

What would you do with 750 nanny goats? How about using them for fire mitigation, controlling woody encroachment, and treating oak brush and invasive species? For the past three years, Rx Grazing Services LLC has been moving their herd of goats across the Four Corners Region to do just that. The company has had projects from the La Sals in Utah to the San Juans in Southwest Colorado. Rx Grazing Services LLC requires a minimum

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Choke Cherry Tree

By Malia Durbano Jenelle Syverson got hired at the Choke Cherry Tree as a temporary employee for the Christmas season of 2003. Still an employee, the opportunity arose for her to purchase the business in January of 2014. She loved the store and the customers, and had learned a great deal, but her Associates Degree in Micro- Computer Support from Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, didn’t prepare her for owning a retail business.

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Toast Mobile Lounge

Carol Clark was an event planner. She coordinated events such as Oktoberfest, the Durango Farmers Market and the Four Corner’s Green Living Expo. With an eye for detail, Carol noticed sizeable crowds but a lack of food vendors to feed them all. This perceived need appeared to be a business opportunity. In 2012, Carol took her idea to pair event planning and mobile food truck services to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort

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Finn’s Wurst Sausage

            Greg and Finn Hopkins are a father and son team that created Finn’s Wurst Sausage.  Finn came up with the idea to sell authentic German bratwurst from a New York City styled hot dog cart during a brainstorming session with his dad.  The purpose of the business is to advance Finn from employee to owner.  Finn is autistic.  His experience in the food service industry has been as a dishwasher, prep cook and busser. 

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Four Corners Guides

Lizzy Scully, CEO, and Steve Fassbinder, Head Bikeraft Guide, co-founded Four Corners Guides, a multi-sport guide service (bikepacking, packrafting and bikerafting), headquartered in Mancos, CO.  This dynamic pair incorporated their passion for adventure with the natural wonder of the Four Corners area to offer guided tours and upscale camping experiences (referred to as glamping, glamourous camping) at their Scullbinder Ranch.             Lizzy and Steve first shared their dreams with each other about teaming up to

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