Success Stories

Mochas! Drive-Thru Coffee House

Barb Carroll opened Mochas in May of 1997, after about 5 months of research and planning. The first location was a 120 square foot building. After 3 years at that location, Mochas relocated to a larger building (750 square feet) and expanded the menu to include smoothies, sandwiches, and ice cream, as well as inside seating for 16. In January of 2007, Mochas expanded again by leasing the neighboring unit and removing a large wall. The square footage was increased to 1750, and seating was added for a total of 36. A full time bakery was added shortly after. According to Barb, “My staff has grown from one in 1997 to a current staff of 20. Sales have increased each year.” In 2009, Barb started another business, called “Ice Cream in the Park”, where she serves ice cream, hot dogs, popcorn, and other ballpark treats at the local softball fields.

Barb first contacted the SBDC during the initial planning stages of Mochas. They provided her with information on SBA loans, as well as a checklist of “How to Start a Business in Gunnison”. This list included all the necessary permits, various taxing agencies, and utility information. Barb states, “The SBDC has helped me through each of my expansions as well as other challenges that have come up in the last 12 years.” She met with an SBDC counselor again in 2000 about the move of the business, where the counselor helped her brainstorm pros and cons of both locations, expenses of the move, and pro forma financials for the new larger location and potential cash flow increases. The SBDC helped Barb write an “expansion plan” which allowed her to get a small business loan for the move. When income declined one year, the SBDC was instrumental in helping Barb with marketing and financial strategies. She has also worked with the SBDC director to negotiate her current lease.

Most recently, the SBDC helped Barb put together a bid to submit to the city to operate the concession stand at the ballpark. Discussions with the SBDC counselor included the potential profit margin, bidding strategies, and other negotiating tips. “I won the bid and am in the midst of my first season of Ice Cream in the Park”, states Barb. Barb gives kudos to the SBDC for helping her work through her numerous, successful business expansions.

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Heartsong’s Caribbean Crunchies

Sometimes a little bit of capital – somewhere in the range of $2,500 to $3,500 – is all a business owner needs to get started or to make a small change. This capital can help build a website, buy equipment, or – as the story of Ron Edwards will show you – open a quaint, Caribbean-themed café in Crested Butte.

Born in New York, Edwards’ journey to Western Colorado is a story of resiliency. He started in the Marine Corps in 1981, which brought him to Southeast Asia – a place that drastically changed his “relationship with food.” The unique cuisine of the region inspired him to “understand the connection between the entire process of cooking – the aroma, the smells, the looks, the natural fetish.”
An impromptu visit to Crested Butte on his 32nd birthday created a domino effect that established his roots in Western Colorado. On the fourth day of his visit, he signed on as day laborer hauling logs. Edwards was diagnosed with Multiple Scoliosis in 2006 and suffered a brain injury in 2010. Despite these hardships, he remained genuinely positive. His health situation inspired him “to love more despite how I feel.”
Based on his fascination with food and a local demand for his jerk chicken that he was serving at the local farmers’ market, Edwards decided to open a café. He found the perfect location.
Edwards’ natural entrepreneurial skillset took him a tipping point. He had secured private financing and successfully crowdfunded via an Indiegogo campaign, but it wasn’t quite enough to push his project to its ideal starting point.

A meeting took place that changed everything. Edwards met Linda Riba, Assistant Director for the SBRC, and their interaction led to a serendipitous realization: Edwards needed funding, and Riba recently spearheaded a new loan program designed specifically for projects like Edwards’.

“This was right on time,” Edwards referring to his introduction to the Small Changes program. “It’s such a niche lending mechanism. The SBDC has helped me also with breakeven calculations and I appreciate Marilyn Laverty’s wizardry with Excel spreadsheets. I have learned a lot from her accounting expertise.”

With funding secured though SBRC, Edwards moved forward with opening Heartsong’s Caribbean Crunchies. The quaint location – 403 4th Street in Crested Butte – a bright and vibrant tribute to Edwards’ Barbados roots.

His menu boasts an organic lineup, with the only exception being the meat, which is all raised locally. “We know exactly where all of our ingredients come from,” Edwards shares. Crowd favorites include crunchies, mango-ginger lemonade, jerk chicken, black eyed peas, and coconut rice. Heartsong’s mission statement is– “to provide a place of peace, to serve joy, love, and laughter with organic foods and drinks” – personifies the genuine, humble, and loving nature of Ron Edwards.

“When people eat my café, they get to understand what love tastes like,” Edwards beams.

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When D’Medici Footwear opened this spring, Susan Bony saw the need to introduce Debbie Tenaglia to Jim Sigle. As a counselor for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Susan works with a variety of businesses and non-profits throughout the Montrose area helping them prosper. Susan knew both Debbie and Jim, but why introduce these two people? Debbie owns D’Medici Footwear in Montrose and Jim Sigle is a custom boot maker from Delta. Susan saw the opportunity for these two businesses to work together and help each other grow, so she encouraged them to meet and to begin working together, as she often does with businesses when she sees mutual benefits.

At the initial meeting with Jim and Debbie the synergies created with the collaboration of these two businesses was obvious. Jim will not only be creating custom boots and moccasins for D’Medici clients but also custom orthotics. Debbie has also invited Jim to demonstrate his craftsmanship at Main in Motion each week in front of her store. This will allow people to come and see how a custom boot or moccasin is made. Jim would like to encourage everyone to stop by and observe this art form as very few people know how boots are made. When Jim completes a pair of boots they are truly a unique work of art that the owner can enjoy wearing for years. One day soon, both Jim and Debbie hope to see their footwear walking all over the Montrose area.

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CASA of the 7th Judicial District

Court Appointed Special Advocates of the 7th District, or CASA, as they are commonly referred to, underwent a huge transition in early 2014 starting with a reorganization and downsizing. Then, only a few weeks later its executive director resigned with short notice to take care of her ailing parents in another state. Carlton Mason was promoted to be the new executive director.

Although Carlton had owned his own business and was working on a contract basis for CASA, taking over as the executive director was not in his immediate plans. He knew he needed help. So, he called the SBDC knowing they were the go-to place for training and consulting.

Susan Bony met with Carlton many times over the year, helping guide him through his transition. She helped him create a business plan for CASA. They also strategized on board of directors management and development, organizational structure, hosting a fundraising event, long-term strategic planning, and many other topics. CASA recently moved into a larger and more appropriate office area with a play yard for the kids they work with. These positive changes have happened because of the help he received from the SBDC.

Carlton is so glad he met Susan Bony and sees her as his go-to resource when he gets stuck. CASA was in poor financial shape when he took the helm, but now Carlton proudly says, “CASA has a solid plan for its future because of the SDBC.”

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A&Y Design Gallery

The smells of fresh roasted coffee and other pleasant scents waft through the air as you enter A&Y Design Gallery in downtown Montrose. Adam & Yesenia Duncan opened A&Y Design Gallery in 2013. The original concept was a gallery that displayed and sold local artisans work and Adam’s hand-made wood furniture.

Although the business had been profitable since opening their doors, Yesenia and Adam aspired for more. A friend recommended they contact the SBDC.

Discussing their short and long-term plans, the SBDC Counselor helped them write a business plan and a financial forecast. After significant time spent discussing marketing and creating a clear vision of their business and their clients, it was clear that they needed to modify their product mix.

Being flexible, they evolved. By adding lower priced locally made items, it helped create a steadier cash flow. To attract customers on a more regular basis, after a brain-storming session with their SBDC Counselor and market research they added gelato to their product mix.

Purchasing the freezer units, outdoor tables and gelato supplies required a small loan which was acquired with the help of their SBDC Counselor in creating their updated financial forecast. The additional cash flow from this new product line allowed them to hire permanent, part-time staff.

Knowing that the winter would show a decline in gelato sales and listening to customer requests for coffee, they added an indoor seating area including a comfortable sofa. Not only do they have locally roasted coffee, but unique gelato ‘sliders’ are a refreshing snack or dessert which they also sell to restaurants. Through the guidance of their SBDC Counselor, they were able to provide new product offerings and expand their customer base.

“Adam and I cannot say enough great things about our SBDC Counselor and the help he has provided. What a great program!”

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