When Tessa McInnis moved to Grand Junction just over a year ago, she left her training and teaching at Core Power Yoga with hopes she would find something comparable in Grand Junction. To her dismay though, there was nothing even close to similar so she decided to utilize her extensive training and open her own Power Yoga studio. While waitressing, Tessa worked with the Grand Junction SBDC taking the How to Start a Business class and one-on-one counseling to put her business plan together, get financing, and answer all the other questions she had in starting her company. The final result; Yoga: Vinyassa opened June 2008. The studio is heated and humidified to provide the clients a range of benefits including but not limited to better flexibility/greater range of movement for poses, increased metabolism, improved immune system, and more effective fat burning. Her main advertising is word of mouth so every client’s first class is free with a variety of visit packages and discounts available to fit everyone’s schedule and needs.
What’s a person to do if premanufactured pharmaceuticals just don’t work for you or your pet? That’s what many people with specific allergies (fillers, dyes, etc), finicky kids/pets, or folks in need of a specific non-traditional dosage of a medication were left to ask until now in Grand Junction, CO. Karen Floyd has been a pharmacist for over 30 years and has seen an increasing need for the services compounding pharmacies provide. In 2006 alone, over 30 million compounded prescriptions were dispensed not including injectables. With only one pharmacy that can provide compounded pharmaceuticals in Grand Junction, and the next nearest one over 150 miles away, Karen Floyd decided to open Western Colorado Specialty Pharmacy. The location is currently under construction and Karen hopes to have the doors open by March 1, 2009.
Karen has been a long term client of the SBDC having graduated from Leading Edge, taken How to Start a Business, participated in many free counseling sessions, and worked with the Revolving Loan Fund housed at the Business Incubator Center.
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.”
Stephanie Witwer’s dream of creating high quality, all-organic cold press juices to help individuals live healthier, came to life at an event early in 2015. She met Jon Maraschin, Executive Director of the Business Incubator Center, who encouraged her to attend the SBDC’s Leading Edge course in February. Stephanie did and was inspired to launch her business from the Business Incubator Center’s Commercial Kitchen a few months later.
After moving into the Business Incubator Center, Stephanie purchased a $25,000 juice press to keep up with her growing business. She continued to meet with SBDC coaches and take other SBDC classes. Stephanie learned to manage cash flows, hire an employee, and other skills to grow her business. Stephanie says she “built confidence and was able to keep after it and never give up.” She was motivated and “wanted to make the community healthier,” one person at a time.
After a busy summer season at the Downtown Farmer’s Market under her belt, it was clear she needed to expand into a location with high foot traffic. In August of 2015, she had the confidence to go it alone and moved into a location on Main Street in Grand Junction. Stephanie’s business continues to grow and she would like to eventually expand to the Telluride area.
Stephanie gets ongoing coaching from the Grand Junction SBDC. Her advice to business owners is to “go from the heart and be passionate about what you do.”
For Jim Jeffryes, brewing beer had always been a source of refuge from his stressful job in technology. That is, until 1998 when he decided to jump into brewing beer full time. Although Jim had brewed beer recreationally, he had never done it in the quantities he was going to need to support a brewery, so after purchasing land on 9th & Struthers in Grand Junction, he enrolled in beer school and took Leading Edge & How to Start a Business. Unfortunately, by the time Jim had finished his education, a major road project was started near 9th & Struthers that would make it difficult to operate a successful business until it was completed, so along with partners, the location near Mesa State College was secured. It took $130,000 in infrastructure improvements from the landlord and an additional $378,000 capital injection to open the doors to Kannah Creek Brewery in October 2005. In the four years Kannah Creek Brewery has been open, it has grown from 25 employees to 35 and is owned by 6 partners.
Jim credits some of his success to working with the SBDC through counseling and Leading Edge. He said it was a real eye opening experience as Leading Edge showed him how complicated running a business could be if a person didn’t have the proper “tools” going into it. He felt Leading Edge and the SBDC provided him with those tools to succeed.
Whatever happened to the original property located on 9th & Struthers you ask? It’s now situated close to a major parkway. Building permits and city approvals have been secured and he’s working on the financing, so expect this business to expand even more in the future!
Jim’s advice to people looking to start a business is, “Have a plan & cash to open a business with. It’s not a hobby and takes lots of hard work.”