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.

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 …

Read More

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.  …

Read More

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. …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

Southwest Discovered

Southwest Discovered (SWD) is a weekly blog/mini e-magazine founded by Amy and Jim Dodson. Their passion for the Southwest, along with a ‘forever tourist’ mindset was inspiration for the website. What began as a personal blog about the region’s cuisine evolved into a business. SWD would detail their road trips and experiences, highlighting their discovery of Southwest culture, people and landscapes through art and story. When they were transitioning away from the blog in 2015, …

Read More

Mesa Verde Motorsports

Entrepreneurial blood runs through Jason Spruell’s veins.  His grandparents opened Gene Patton Motor Company in Cortez, CO back in 1970.  The business sold motorcycles, off-road vehicles, snow mobiles and snowblowers.  They also had a service shop.  Jason’s parents, Kelly and Dennis, currently own and operate Cortez Animal Bed & Breakfast which they opened twenty-five years ago.  His brother opened a glass shop six years ago.  “Everyone in the family ran a business,” Jason explained.  “I worked at my grandparents’ shop when I …

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

Create Art & Tea

What happens when an entrepreneur envisions a grass roots movement centered around tea and art?  Create Tea & Art (CT&A) of course!  Caprice Fox is building community by combining the comfort and health aspects of tea with a gathering space for local artists and their hand-crafted works.  Caprice said, “People enjoy having tea to come to with the art.  There is an enjoyment of the social aspect.  I’m still learning how to combine them.”  To …

Read More

Spire Physical Therapy & Wellness

“I want my clients to own their health, empower them to take charge, help them learn, take ownership of their bodies and do what they love.” That is a quote from Jacki Gilpin. She is the owner of Spire Physical Therapy and Wellness, located in Cortez, CO. She chose to leave her previous job as a staff therapist as the clinic’s primary focus was on the bottom line. The structure emphasized billing more each visit …

Read More

BOMDIGGITY

David Mallin was eleven years old when he visited Big Thompson Canyon one summer with his family. “I had an epiphany there. I was to share the beauty I saw with the world.” Several months later, as David cut wood for kindling, the shape of a bird was revealed in the wood’s grain. He carved that image from the wood. He soon became an apprentice to Kansas City sculptor Adie Klugman, and his artistic passion …

Read More

KB Insurance Group

Ken Brengle is the owner of KB Insurance Group, headquartered in Cortez, CO.  He studied business at Fort Lewis College.  Outside of class, Ken did a lot of self study and sold cell phones at a local store.  He was inspired by his business professors who became successful and moved to Durango for a better quality of life.  Ken learned he was a good salesman, and with a sufficient income he thought, “Why should I pay thousands of dollars …

Read More

Pathways Physical Therapy

Cindy Schmidt has been a physical therapist (PT) for over twenty years and had worked over a decade in Grand Junction in various traditional settings.  At the same time, Cindy created her own part-time holistic PT practice and founded a non-profit organization to support holistic health care practices and improve communication amongst holistic and conventional practitioners.  She accomplished that with the assistance of the regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Cindy moved to Durango in November of …

Read More

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 …

Read More

Countryside Disposal

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 …

Read More

Botanical Concepts

Botanical Concepts Garden Center (BCGC) is 1.3 miles east of north Main Avenue, at the intersection of County Roads 251 & 250. Janine Collins loves this location. She is the owner, and botanist, of BCGC. Janine views BCGC as a community where people come to immerse with nature. “I’m in a place where I am a part of the bigger picture.” Janine’s passion for botany began when she was an archeologist. She had more interest …

Read More

Summit Ridge Wood Designs

Tobie Beneli and Lin Grady of Summit Ridge Wood Design (SRWD) shifted their business focus from custom woodworking jobs including commercial and residential cabinetry to primarily building caskets. In 1997, Tobie’s relative passed away. The deceased’s immediate family called and asked Tobie to build a casket. The funeral home would not sell them one because they had an outstanding bill and the director suggested the family make one. Tobie acquired the specific dimensions needed and …

Read More

Cafe Au Play

Kelly Tregillus and her mother-in-law, Liza Tregillus, are the co-founders of Durango Café au Play (DCAP). DCAP is a non-profit organization (NPO) that offers co-working space and childcare for new and expecting parents in a family friendly ‘café’ environment. Parents with young children are provided a space to work, socialize and attend parenting classes. DCAP provides a support system for moms and dads who feel disconnected and isolated at home. Kelly relocated from San Francisco …

Read More

Bountiful Ridge Farms

Rick Goodall is a second-generation farmer in Arriola, CO, whose family grew apples and raised livestock. He married Gerrie twenty-two years ago. That’s when Gerrie was first introduced to farming. While expecting their second child, Gerrie chose to stay at home to raise the children, but the tradeoff was the loss of a second income. Gerrie considered her options and decided to plant a garden. Her first harvest was plentiful, yet it yielded a tremendous …

Read More

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 …

Read More

Pagosa Secure Storage

“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” Tim Sullivan stated that when he summarized he and his wife’s (Lorri) journey towards owning Pagosa Secure Storage. Tim had been involved in several endeavors to build or buy his own storage facility for the past ten years. Due to circumstances involving financing, zoning, limitations to expand an existing property or it being too expensive, the right deal never presented itself. Tim did …

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

Watikuh Assistive Technology

‘Watikuh’ is a Hopi word which means to run for it.  The word is also found in the name of Kayla Hefner’s business, Watikuh Assistive Technology Services (WATS).  Kayla stated, “starting a new business is any environment is tough.  But starting a business in physical, emotional and mental chaos, and having a vision at the same time is overwhelming.”  What did Kayla do?  She went for it. For seventeen years, Kayla was a partner and …

Read More

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 …

Read More

Nifty Nanny

Vivienne Yeagy always envisions bigger. Vivienne was home schooled by her mother Susan, along with her four sisters. Her childhood dream has been to have her very own school, incorporating year round education and child care. This stemmed from her early education in a one room school house with a red door in the family’s yard. Susan worked hard while she incorporated multifaceted ways for the children to learn. Instead of rote memorization and writing until …

Read More

Waxed

Jenna Morrison was the first employee for the full body waxing salon, Waxed, when the business opened three years ago. She was also the first person to make an offer to purchase the business when her employer, Lindsay, planned to put Waxed up for sale. Jenna, an esthetician, was a skilled and knowledgeable employee who understood all the services Waxed provided and knew the clientele. Lindsay fancied the idea of passing the ownerships reigns to …

Read More

Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

Greg Parham was looking to purchase property and build a modest size home. A friend happened to email him a link about a tiny home story. Greg had never heard of tiny houses before, but upon reading it he realized, “I can do this. I have the skills to build my own tiny house.” Greg researched the project, learning everything he could on the subject, and realized that creating his own tiny house business was …

Read More

Covenant Drug Testing

Sheila Owens and her son Brandon were handed the unique opportunity of taking over an existing business – kind of. They both worked for a drug & alcohol testing company in Cortez – Sheila for eight years and her son for seven. They enjoyed their jobs and the relationships they had with clients all over the country. BUT… the company they worked for was closing their doors with only two months’ notice to the employees. …

Read More

BC Signs, LLC

“I remember the first time I met Joe Keck, I was huddled by a wood stove in a 4,000 square foot building accompanied by a meager video inventory and a vinyl cutter”, said Bryce Capron, on meeting Joe in at his place of business in Dove Creek. He sat next to the fire with me and we talked. “It was my first contact with a resource that I value and rely on to this day.” …

Read More

The Ring of Champions

Maria and Anthony Archuleta are in the process of fulfilling one of Anthony’s long time dreams – to own and run a boxing gym. Anthony used to box when he was young and remembers how it affected him. He wants to share his passion to influence youngsters. “I lived in Las Vegas for a while and trained at a gym there. I experienced first-hand how it changed me and saw it changing others. My business …

Read More

Bookcase and Barber

The Bookcase and the Barber celebrated their six-month anniversary on June 5, 2016. Without even realizing it, Partners Beau Black and Thomas Gibson, opened their “speakeasy” drinking establishment on December 5. In 1933, on that date the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified that repealed prohibition. The partners modeled their business after those in the era of prohibition. Thus, when you walk into the barbershop, you enter the “speakeasy” through a secret door disguised …

Read More

Alpine Medical

Tabitha Zappone loves the conveniences in Pagosa Springs and considers it a “big city with coffee shops and restaurants.” Before moving to Pagosa, she and her husband both worked in a hospital in rural Alaska, in the town of Bethel. He is an Emergency Room nurse and she is a Nurse Practitioner. The two served people from 57 villages. “They would come in on dogsleds, four wheelers or small airplanes. In the winter it would …

Read More

Durango Running Company

Durango Running Company owner, Brett Sublett had lots of experience in the outdoor retail and athletic shoe industries but had never owned his own store. Sublett had managed Your Running Store for four years and then became the footwear buyer at Back Country Experience for three years. He also knew a lot about running and running shoes since he Coached Cross Country at Fort Lewis. When Sublett decided he wanted his own store, he contacted …

Read More

Rivendell Education Center

Arawyn Madu taught toddlers for nine years before deciding to open her own center. Three of those were at the Campbell Center at Fort Lewis College. She attended night school for seven years to accumulate the credits required to become a Director of an Early Childhood Education Center in the State of Colorado. When she had the state requirements satisfied, she took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs Class, “to learn the business side,” she explains. …

Read More

C.A.R.E.

Tim Robinson worked for C.A.R.E. – Cleaning and Restoration Experts in Cortez for six years when his boss, the owner, decided to retire and move to Phoenix. Tim contacted Joe Keck at the SBDC for guidance concerning the purchase agreement. “Purchasing an existing business can be tricky. I wanted to look at the books and determine if the purchase price was fair and indicative of the businesses potential,” Tim explained. “Joe helped me review the …

Read More

High Desert Conservation District

The High Desert Conservation District is one of 76 special Districts throughout Colorado formed for specific purposes. Started in 1942 as the Dolores Soil Conservation District, the name was recently changed. “Our name didn’t accurately describe the area we serve and was very confusing to the public,” explains District Manager, Judy Garrigues. Garrigues explained how the SBDC assisted in the name change. “We do not just serve Dolores and we oversee more than just soil. …

Read More

Given’ Home Health

By Malia Durbano Sandra Shepherd didn’t set out to own a Home Health agency. But “now I feel like it is where I’ve been headed all my life,” she shared. She and her husband owned a construction company when he got cancer. This was her first experience at home health. She graduated from nursing school and was working in a Rehab Unit, when her teen-age son had a stroke. Driving him to appointments in Albuquerque …

Read More

The Earth Girls

By Malia Durbano When Kirsten Gum and Emyrald Sinclair decided to be business partners they both had plenty of experience but still had questions that advisor Tom Holcomb helped them answer. Both women were new to the community and didn’t really know what resources were available or where to start. The partners had to decide what kind of entity they wanted to be. Was it to be a partnership or an LLC? How would they …

Read More

The Vault

Donnis Dolso and her partner Logan Noonan offer both group and private exercise sessions and classes at The Vault from 6:00 am until 6:30 pm six days a week! The specialized gym offers circuit training, cardio and strength training, agility and mobility exercises and weight training in a class environment or one-on-one personal training. Donnis explains, “We fit a lot in a one hour session.” Other equipment available includes free weights, a pull-up bar, rowing …

Read More

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

Doggy Day Care

Jeff Edens learned about Doggy Day Care in Pagosa Springs because his friends Maria and Linda worked there. He purchased the business in July of 2011 and now they both work for him. Edens had a good business background as a result of previous business experience as a home builder and realtor. Doggie Day Care provides socialization for the dogs which includes reinforcing proper social manners such as no barking, no fighting and no jumping. …

Read More

San Juan Trading Post

By Malia Durbano Ryan, Tom and Ellen Beavers are all partners in San Juan Trading Post, a new business that opened in Pagosa Springs in October of 2013. Parents Tom and Ellen live in Pagosa and develop properties there. Son Ryan was managing a pawn shop in Ohio. When Tom and Ellen looked around, they realized there wasn’t a pawn shop in Pagosa and thought it might be a good place to open one. Ryan …

Read More

Out West Saddlery

By Malia Durbano Out West Saddlery owner Terri Beecher knew advisor Rich Lindblad since they both live in Pagosa. She contacted him for some advice.While most businesses contact the SBDC for help with getting started or growing, Terri had a different problem. After several visits, Rich concluded that the business had great potential for growth. However, Terri explained what a hard time they had finding good help. She and her husband had built a wonderful, …

Read More

Mountain View TLC

By Malia Durbano Family Physician, Kirsten “Kicki” Searfus originally approached the SBDC to learn how to structure the partnership she was entering with Megan Lewis Grotefund. Instead, Megan moved away and on June 1, 2013, Kicki officially was in private practice. Having always been an employee at clinics or hospitals, she was wondering where to start in figuring out how to be an entrepreneur. Advisor Joe Bishop “was super helpful” in assisting her regarding the …

Read More

Pagosa Verde

Pagosa Verde is the only Public/Private partnership in the State of Colorado for geothermal development. It involves Pagosa Verde, a privately owned business, the United States Department of Energy, the Colorado Energy Office, the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. This unique collaboration also combines technical assistance and funding from the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center and Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado coming together to assist in the development of …

Read More

Sit-Ins

By Malia Durbano Music composer, James Bowers came up with a great idea a few years ago and formulated it more – in of all places- Trimble Hot Springs! James and his wife Lily Weisbecker had attended a string quartet concert through Music in the Mountains, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The next night, while they were at Trimble, the cello player from the ensemble also happened to be there. They began discussing how to make …

Read More

Pura Vida

By Malia Durbano After four years in private practice, Naturopathic Doctor, Nicola St. Mary, decided it was time to pursue her dream of building a cooperative natural healthcare practice. With the vision in mind, she began assembling practitioners to join her and the search for a building. Dr. Nicola contacted Joe Keck to “totally understand the resources that were available.” After talking with Joe and his assistant, Lynn Asano, Dr. Nicola was referred to the …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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. …

Read More