The Southwest Colorado SBDC loves to share great local success stories with the community. The success of our clients is the most rewarding experience for everyone who plays even a small part in assisting businesses at our center – the staff, consultants, presenters, mentors, sponsors and partners. That’s what we’re here for.

Many of our clients want to come back and share their experience and hard-won knowledge with others. They participate at roundtables, workshops and events, provide mentoring and advice and help us keep improving the programs to support business success.

Chef Safari’s African Fusion

“Passion turns perfection into art.” This is one of Chef Safari’s guiding principles, and it shows in everything he cooks. As the owner of Durango’s newest food truck, Chef Safari’s African Fusion, he has set out to take locals and tourists on a culinary world tour. When he was just 10 years old, Chef Safari started working alongside his father as a chef at one of Kenya’s top resorts. A few years later, he attended …

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The San Juan Angler

“Have you heard the news? We have a new owner.” Cole Glenn was speaking with one of San Juan Angler’s regular customers. The customer looked up with apprehension. “Oh?” he said. “Do you know anything about them?” “Yeah,” Cole replied. “It’s me.” This has become Cole’s new favorite conversation. As the former manager of one of Durango’s iconic fly-fishing shops, he couldn’t be more proud to be the shop’s new owner. Cole is a Fort …

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Mountain Dough Bakery

Cupcakes…cookies…muffins…scones…is your mouth watering yet? Kim Solecki has always had a love for baking. It’s a passion she shared with her mother, and she’s always known she wanted to pursue it as a career. But, with a successful career in technology sales, she wasn’t sure how to fit it in. In 2011, she started attending classes at Johnson and Wales on the weekends. “I didn’t want my day job to know, so I snuck into …

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Rachel Curran Oddbird Baking making a cake

Odd Bird Baking Co.

Nothing says Durango like a local, family-run business…and Odd Bird Bakery is just that. Seven years ago, Rachel Curran started a craft bakery in her home kitchen. She specialized in pastries, and when the pandemic struck in 2020, she started offering Pajama Boxes. They contained a dozen assorted pastries and were delivered to people’s homes on the weekends. “It was a treat for many people,” Rachel says. “When everything was shut down, they could still …

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Choice Athletics

Indoor Sports Training Facility

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Crossroads Coffee

Coffee is more than a recipe…it’s an art form. Jon Roberts, owner of Crossroads Coffee on 11th and Main, couldn’t agree more. As a latté artist who competed nationally and took third, he’ll tell you, “Slinging coffee is a fantastic way to make a living.” After running the coffee shop at Mercy Regional Hospital for several years, he came down with COVID and wasn’t able to continue working at the hospital. After several months, he …

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CountyRoad9

Good things happen when two businesses merge into one. At least, that’s what Margaret Baumgartner and Carin Brophy have discovered. For several years, the two women owned shops in Pleasant View that were right across the street from one another. Last year, Margaret and her family purchased The Hogan on highway 160 (just west of Mancos). Next to The Hogan was a former coffee and sandwich stop, and Margaret saw the building’s potential. She approached …

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Eight Four Ranch

Every cloud really does have a silver lining. At least, that’s how Brian Wattier sees it. When he lost his job in advertising and sales last year, he saw the opportunity to do what he’d always dreamed of—own a ranch in Colorado. He took his family on a trip, and when they came to Pagosa Springs, they knew they’d found their new home. They sold their house in California, packed up, and moved. Since they’d …

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Desert Child

If you’ve ever thought about starting a professional band, you know that there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome. But, did it ever occur to you that the band is a business? This is what ultimately led Ari Newman and his band, Desert Child, to the SBDC. Desert Child’s journey began in the Utah desert, when four of the five members met as guides with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. All of …

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Trip Outside

Durangoans know…there’s no better way to explore the outdoors than through human powered adventures. But, when you’re traveling out of town, that’s not always as easy as it seems. Both Reet and Julie Singh worked for Home Depot Corporate in Atlanta for a number of years. Reet served in operations, where he worked with tool rental and rental systems, and later, merchandising, where he managed service providers and home product installations. Julie worked in finance, …

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Straight Edge Home Inspections

Is it really possible to combine many different skills into one profitable business? It can be done. Just ask Jeff Sand. His business, Straight Edge Home Inspections, provides residential and commercial home inspections and ancillary services, along with real estate photography and videography. “Basically, my day consists of a combination of activities. In the morning, I can perform a home inspection, and in the afternoon, I can go to another property and conduct drone and …

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PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods

There’s nothing like serving a niche of a niche industry . . . which is exactly what PJ and Rosanna Dufour have set out to do. Paul “PJ” Dufour has been an avid fly fisherman all his life. A retired carpenter by trade, he discovered the art of handcrafting custom bamboo fly rods years ago. What began as a hobby turned into a business in 2020, and PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods was born. “Fly fishing is already a …

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SoulRide Psychotherapy

Some dreams are born in a moment, while others take time to grow. For Aaron Thomas, his journey to a career in psychotherapy and trauma healing has been the latter. “My vocational journey has always been body based, and I’ve always had a strong interest in the healing arts and human potential. Through the years, I’ve bumped into a number of career paths that led me to where I am today.” In 1995, he found …

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Durango Primary Care

Sometimes, there is beauty in tradition. At least Dr. Adam Owens of Durango Primary Care thinks so. After more than a decade of practicing medicine in modern healthcare settings, Dr. Owens knew he needed a change. He wanted to get back to an old-fashioned business model that allowed him to spend more time working directly with his own patients. He decided to open a direct primary care clinic (also known as a concierge clinic). Under …

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Cedar Enterprises Wildfire Mitigation and Landscaping

In just over two years, Cedar Enterprises went from a one-man show with a pickup truck to a team of employees executing government contracts. How was all this possible? Owner Bryan Wendt credits the supportive team at Southwest Colorado SBDC. Cedar Enterprises specializes in landscaping and fire mitigation. For his first five years in business, Bryan was the sole owner and operator and focused on small residential projects. In 2020, the company was awarded a …

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Farm to Summit

Nothing says Durango like dehydrated meals. After all, we use them for everything…camping, backpacking, river trips, backcountry ski trips, and even lunch on busy workdays. Thanks to Farm to Summit, you can now purchase dehydrated meals made right in the heart of Durango! The company also makes instant lattes for those mornings when you don’t have time to stop by the coffee shop. “Our focus is on providing better tasting meals for the backcountry market,” …

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The Painted Playground

A few years ago, Heather Freeman started a paint party business. She set up painting workshops in local restaurants and created an artistic experience for those in attendance. Then, about a year ago, she dove into creating her own art and realized how much she loved it. She decided to become a full-time, professional artist. As she shifted to a new business model, she realized that she needed to learn how to sell her art. …

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Durango Car Care

After 20 years, Bryan Hill decided it was time to make his dream come true. He’d been working as an auto mechanic in a local shop but had always dreamed of owning his own business. When Durango Car Care came up for sale, he and his wife, Jenn, knew this was the opportunity they had been waiting for. They jumped on it. Shortly thereafter, they realized that they needed help. They reached out to the …

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The Wigglin’ Pig: Where the Food Tells Its Story

After years of working in various restaurants, Ernie Padilla decided he was ready to open his own business. Food trucks were fairly new to Cortez, and he knew they would be a hit. So, in 2018, he opened The Wigglin’ Pig. After finding success, he was ready to grow and added a brick and mortar establishment to the mix. Both the truck and restaurant serve American BBQ food with a variety of delicious favorites ranging …

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Pagosa Mountain Sports: Go Find Your Adventure

A community outdoor shop with a heavy focus on bikes. Doesn’t that sound like a dream? Jake and Janine Emmets, Amanda Gadomski, and Coquette Collins all thought so. So, in 2015, they launched Pagosa Mountain Sports in a tiny house in Downtown Pagosa Springs. And for the past seven years, their business has continued to grow. They sell and provide rentals of stand-up paddle boards, skis, snowshoes, and of course, bikes. They also carry supplies …

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The Repair Doctor

Fabian Rajo is good at fixing electronics. From transistor radios to computers, he knows his stuff. Last year, while working for a local computer company, he got an idea: he wanted to open a small electronics repair business in Cortez. He realized that many people need their gadgets repaired . . . from cell phones to tablets to apple watches to game consoles . . . and he knew that he had the skills to do it. But, he didn’t have …

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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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A Fusion of Expertise: Mind Body Soleil

Fifteen years ago, Marie Soleil fell in love with the healing arts. Like many, she had grown up indoctrinated in western medicine. But, when it couldn’t help her overcome a panic disorder, she pursued more natural means of healing. “When I realized that I could heal myself,” she says, “I was hooked.” She started working as a massage therapist and soon became a personal trainer, yoga teacher, stretchologist, Master Meditation Teacher, and group fitness instructor. …

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Gleason Bison: Raising Bison

In 2010, Sarah Gleason discovered that she wanted to raise bison. She was living in Durango and working as a marketing assistant for Zuke’s (yes, the dog treat company), and she became interested in agriculture and livestock. “I visited a bunch of bison operations,” she says, “and I was hooked.” Throughout the process, she discovered holistic management, which is a decision-making framework that works in sync with nature to raise animals in a way that …

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Phoenix Physical Therapy

Phoenix Physical Therapy: Rising from the Ashes.

In 2017, veteran physical therapist SueB Earl found herself looking for a new place to call her professional home. After working for the Mercy system for more than fifteen years, she unexpectedly lost her position. She pursued the private sector but couldn’t seem to find a good fit. So, she finally decided to open her own practice. In 2012, she had launched Footworks—a custom foot orthotics business—as a side gig. At the time, she had …

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Durango Diner: Taking on a New Type of Adventure

Last year, while quarantined in his basement, Greg Mauger had an epiphany. He was bored stiff, and he realized that he would rather work himself to death than be that bored. So, after more than a decade of working off and on at the Durango Diner, he decided to buy it. He began looking for funding and quickly realized that his adventurous lifestyle didn’t lend itself to easy loan approval from banks. He looked for …

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Turquoise Raven Gallery: An Unkindness among the Artists

Paintings. Collages. Mosaics. Photography. Glasswork. Drawings. Walking Sticks. Books. Jewelry. Leatherwork. Pottery. These are all things that ignite Mary Fuller’s passion for art. For years, she’s had a vision of bringing artists from the Four Corners together into dedicated fine art gallery. In 2020, after various careers in both the education and nonprofit sector, she decided that it was time to make her dream a reality. Being a former teacher, Mary understood the value of …

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Desert Sun Coffee Company: Making the World a Better Place

Durango has seen its fair share of coffee shops and roasteries. So, what makes Desert Sun Coffee Roasters any different from the others? New owner Zachary Ray says it best, “At Desert Sun, we’re committed to relationships with our small-scale farmer partners. We work directly with them on environmental initiatives, supporting: regenerative-organic practices, reforestation projects, and tracking and rewarding carbon sequestration in their fields. This relationship-focused model guarantees the highest quality sustainable coffee on the …

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From Local Farms to Your Fingers

Who doesn’t love a charcuterie board? Cured meats and exotic cheeses paired with fruits, nuts, dips, and spreads . . . all displayed in a festive array. Makes your mouth water just thinking about it, doesn’t it? Alexis Saghie certainly thinks so. So much, in fact, that she built a business out of it. It all started one random evening when she and her sisters created a charcuterie board for her family. “I was inspired …

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Buck’s Parlor – A Place for Y’all

After years of living in Nashville, Lauryn Williams was ready for a slower pace. Her friend and fellow hair designer, Chasity Martinez, had recently moved to Durango, so she decided to come visit. It wasn’t long before the two started talking about launching a barbershop of their own. But, they knew that it had to reflect their unique style and personalities. And that’s where Buck’s Parlor was born. Buck’s Parlor is a unisex barbershop with …

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Southwest Farm Fresh Co-Op: Where Do You Go When It’s Time to Grow?

What do you do when you are ready to grow or change your business model but aren’t exactly sure how? This is the question that Laurie Hall found herself asking in 2019. As one of the founding members of Southwest Farm Fresh (SWFF), she had seen the cooperative grow and change over the years. However, five years after its founding, the business was about to make a dramatic shift by going online. In 2014, Southwest …

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Studio B: A Place to “B”

Coworking, or flexspace, is all the rage in the era of remote work. After all, what better way to build professional relationships than by sharing a workspace? But, what if there was a flexspace designed specifically for coaches and therapists? And, what if that coworking space had a full team who could provide mental and physical health services? To make it even better, what if it had a full time administrative assistant who managed all …

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Durango Lawns: Keeping Durango Green

Some people adore yard work. Others prefer to leave their lawn care to the experts, so they have the freedom to go play. It is on this principle that Durango Lawns was founded. Although he is an electrician by trade, Pat Cass spent many of his early years working in lawn maintenance. He enjoys working outdoors and staying physically active, and for years, he dreamed of starting his own lawn company. Finally in 2019, he …

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MUNIRevs: Creating a Nexus

In 2011, Erin Neer had finally found a solution. Erin, who is a CPA, was working as a finance director for a municipality in Colorado. During her tenure, she began to see that many municipalities, cities, counties, and states throughout the country were struggling to streamline their tax collection and licensing processes for businesses within their communities. Most jurisdictions were using antiquated methods that involved manual calculations, paper coupons, extensive mail processing, and frequent runs …

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Impact Fenders: Bracing for Impact

There’s nothing better than spending a day water skiing on the lake. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to fasten cylindrical fenders to the side of your boat before arriving back at the dock. As California natives, Brian Slaughter and Courtney Gates love boats. One day in 2017, they had just finished water skiing and were trying to attach their boat fenders when Brian had an epiphany: why hasn’t anyone created an easier system? As …

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Guild House Games: A Game for Everyone

About three years ago, Danny Perez got an idea. He was the manager of Radio Shack in Durango, and the company had recently filed for bankruptcy. Danny’s wife had mentioned that Durango needed a game store, so he started looking into it. He soon realized that this could be a viable new career path. Danny’s first stop was the SBDC. They guided him through the business plan and loan application process, and in May of …

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Coffee Bear Silverton

Who doesn’t love a nice cup o’ joe in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Since 2016, Coffee Bear has provided countless cups of coffee and memorable experiences for locals, tourists, and everyone in between. Holly and Sophie were working as baristas at the coffee shop when it went up for sale. After serious consideration, they decided that it “just felt right to buy it together.” Despite the craziness of 2020, Holly and Sophie persisted in …

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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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Ignited Imagery

In 2006, La Plata County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Wingerd received a simple gift. It was a six megapixel camera from his mother. Little did he know that it would change his life. He started taking photographs, and several of them sold in a gallery in Bisbee, Arizona. He became obsessed. For the next ten years, he continued taking photos and videos and practiced editing them. In 2014, Ignited Imagery was born. He worked at the …

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Jitters’ Java

Jitters Java: Where Every Burrito is Made with Love Jitters Java had been closed for more than three years. Yet, through its shuttered doors, Aimee Beauregard saw potential. Aimee had just experienced some monumental life changes that left her looking for purpose. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that she needed to find a way to give back to the community. She knew Marwa and Greg, the original owners of the …

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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 …

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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 …

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Ski and Bow Rack

Larry Fisher greeted every customer as if they were long-lost relatives. For thirty-three years he welcomed people in the Ski and Bow Rack—until late one night, Larry confronted an intruder, who shot and killed him in his shop. His daughter, Brittany Bedtke, who worked for Pagosa’s Emergency Medical Services, knew it was her father the moment the call came in. The loss of her father hit her like a train. But on top of that, …

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James Ranch Grill

Cynthia Stewart’s entrepreneurial story is one that brought her around full circle.   The values instilled in her childhood were reinforced and focused on the establishment of the James Ranch Grill.  Cynthia is the daughter of Kay and David James, the founders of James Ranch, and one of five siblings.  The ranch was established in 1961 in the Animas Valley north of Durango.  As a child, she was taught how to care for animals, as well …

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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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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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DaLe Llama Bike Tours

Tony Martin’s business is to go downhill – fast!  His business, DaLe Llama Bike Tours (DLBT), is trending uphill, but their passion is to take people down hills and mountain sides.  DaLe is a play on words for a Spanish phrase meaning “let it rip,” and “go for it.”  Tony leads mountain bike tours to Ecuador for big descents as they ride downhill and single track.  DLBT’s purpose is to shred sick trails, stimulate local economy and share culture. …

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Love Untamed Collective

Meg Roberts is the owner of Love Untamed Collective.  She specializes in elopement, wedding and event planning.  Meg first fell in love with the wedding industry back when she was a stylist.  During that time, Meg planned events at home, putting together parties for herself and friends.  Her husband then encouraged her to get into the wedding planning business for herself.  Meg said, “I did.  I started by marketing myself as a bridesmaid for hire.” As her experience grew and creative …

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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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Enterprise Bar & Grill

Have you heard the story about the entrepreneur who bought a business because she was looking for a job?  Seriously.  She bought a bar and grill in Rico, CO, with no previous business experience.  A year and a half into it she sought assistance from the Small Business Development Center.  This woman took a class designed for entrepreneurs, implemented the suggested practices, became business savvy, and now has a goal to buy the property her bar and grill operates …

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