Long time SBDC client, Jody Ahrens, is no stranger to starting and running a successful small business. Jody was an attendee at the first Leading Edge course offered by the Grand Junction SBDC in 1986. She attributes the success of her first business, Evergreen Productions, to the knowledge she gained in that class. She learned the basics of starting and running a business and the proper way to keep books and do the day to day accounting.
With this knowledge in hand, and a passion to help people find natural methods to cure their ailments, she set out to start a new business in 2000; Vital Earth Minerals. Given her past relationship with the Small Business Development Center, Jody knew the SBDC would once again be key in the success of the business. She started out in a rental space for a year, but after talking to Business Incubator Center staff, decided the type of commercial space offered at BIC was well suited to her needs with the added benefit of a variable rent schedule. Vital Earth Minerals stayed at the Business Incubator Center for six years, and continued to take advantage of the many class and networking opportunities offered through the SBDC and BIC. Partner and Daughter, R. Lee Ahrens, says that the SBDC taught them how to run a business the right way. “Having access to so many mentors was priceless.”
Vital Earth Minerals has been in business for 15 years and is continuing to grow. The team recently attended the Anaheim Natural Food and Supplement Expo, which is the largest of its type in the US for wholesale and distribution. The NFSE expo was hugely beneficial and information and contacts made has allowed business to increase exponentially. The team also had a chance recently to present to Fresh Vitamins, a vitamin and mineral store. This meeting led to Vital Earth Minerals now being offered in 35 Fresh Vitamins stores throughout the United States. With so much growth, the company is currently looking for new warehouse space, as they are quickly outgrowing their current 2,000 square foot warehouse.
R. Lee’s advice for a future entrepreneur is to “take full advantage of everything the SBDC has to offer; if they are offering it, it will be helpful. We continue to take advantage of the SBDC resources.”