Louie is a six-foot-tall (and growing) house plant and the shop greeter at Alpine Autohaus. He was passed down from the original owner with the adage, “If Louie is doing well, the business is doing well.” According to Alpine Autohaus’ owner, Sean Cotter, Louie is doing very well.
Alpine Autohaus opened in 1995 as a one-man operation. Cotter was hired in 2013 when the original owner was ready to move on and with the understanding that Cotter would purchase the business in two years. Two years quickly changed to eight months and Cotter needed to complete a business plan to secure funding for the business purchase.
Cotter heard about the SBDC from the previous owner and began meeting with the Grand Junction SBDC Director, Julie Morey, on his business plan.
“I had no idea where to start with the business plan. Without her help, I would have never been able to accomplish what I did. We had three or four meetings, and she helped me lay out what I needed for a loan and guided me in the right direction. Without her, I would have never gotten the business.”
With his completed business plan, Cotter was able to secure financing for a loan to purchase the business. Today, Alpine Autohaus, who specializes in European and Asian import automotive service and repair, has seven fulltime employees and is considering expansion. Cotter plans to continue investing in training and advanced equipment to meet the service requirements of newer, technology-focused vehicles.
“Six years later, we are six-times bigger than when I bought it,” says Cotter.
Cotter encourages those interested in purchasing or starting a business to not be afraid and to check out what resources are available.
“Don’t be afraid to try it. There are resources everywhere. I think the only thing that stops people is fear and lack of following all your resource trails. If one door closes, you’ve just got to pivot and find another one. It’s the same thing if you’re going to be a successful business owner; it’s the same thing you do every day for a living. Not everything is going to go smoothly all the time. The biggest thing that I would say is to be relentless.”