Startups, Business Management, Marketing, Online sales

Laura Mercier

Laura is a recent transplant to the Grand Valley after spending most of her career on the West Coast. She has over 15 years experience managing correctional and drug/alcohol rehabilitation facilities for both private and non-profit companies. Laura transitioned from her career in social services to serving as the Marketing Director for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, and later the Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, she has owned and operated several online businesses. Laura holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Strategic Leadership. She is currently the Director for the Incubator and Commercial Kitchen Programs at the Business Incubator Center.

Start-up, Marketing, Management, Computer Systems, Finance

Jonathan Long

At the age of 20, Jonathan Long started, operated, and grew his own business into a multi-million dollar company which he ran for 15 years.  His entrepreneurial mindset drove the growth and success in developing and managing each facet of his business which included:

  • Business planning and strategy
  • Marketing and graphic design
  • Company processes and procedures
  • Purchasing and vendor relationships
  • Inventory management and systems
  • Cash flow and expense management
  • Computer systems and automation
Business Start-ups

Bob Delavan

Bob is a graduate of the University of Denver with a Degree in Business Administration with a minor Hotel & Restaurant Management. Upon graduation, Bob had a short stint as a United Airlines Management Trainee in the Omaha NE Flight Kitchen prior to service in Vietnam with the US Army.  Upon return to civilian life, Bob worked in food service management with the Denver Dry Goods Restaurant Denver, CO, and managed a residence hall food service for the University of Denver.  When Bob and his family moved to the Western Slope, he managed the retail store for Western Implement and later owned and operated an Ace Hardware.  After selling the hardware store, Bob became a financial advisor with AG Edwards and ultimately left AG Edwards to begin Investment Planning Solutions, an independent financial advisory company.  Bob sold Investment Planning Solutions to begin retirement.

Bob has experience with starting a business, creating a legal business structure, and implementing a succession plan for the sale of a business.  He also has used Excel and QuickBooks extensively.

Start-up, Management, Non-Profits

Aaron Brachfeld

Aaron is a licensed insurance agent who graduated from Colorado State University with a BS in Agricultural and Resource Economics, and has decades of experience as a small business owner, in the insurance, agricultural, and retail industries, as well as administering and managing not-for-profit and non-profit businesses in Mesa and Douglas Counties, where he also obtained experience in grant applications and fundraising.

He currently teaches a variety of classes at Western Colorado Community College’s Community Education Center on business startup, management, non-profit business, economics, stock market investing, and basic business skills. He started the Mesa County Jail Yoga Program, and volunteers extensively with the Colorado Canyons Association, Ariel Clinical Services, and other non-profits in the community. He presented his thesis on using linear programming to prognosticate real estate values at the St. John’s University Tobin Business College of Business Tobin College of Business Investment Conference, earned commendation from the USFS for his work on applying linear programming to manage grazing rights, and was recognized for his assistance in the analysis of infrared water spectra data for Denver University’s Astrophysics Department.

His motto is “carpe noctem!”

Accounting, Finance, Cash Management

Gary Schroen

Gary has worked for a variety of companies, ranging from small companies to very large corporations. His work experience includes general ledger accounting, cash flow projections, budgeting, product cost analysis, strategic and operations planning, operations analysis and improvement.

Gary has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Personnel Administration from Michigan State University and Master of Science in Accounting from Central Michigan University. Gary is a Certified Public Accountant.

Writing, Publishing, E-books, Patent Basics, Enterprise Zone Tax Credits, Franchise Basics

Terri Benson

Terri is life-long resident of Grand Junction, a published novel-length fiction writer, award winning short story writer, contributor of non-fiction articles to a variety of newspaper, magazine and e-zines, familiar with traditional and e-book publishing processes, and writes business and marketing plans. She has applied for and received a provisional patent and understands the basic processes needed to pursue patenting and intellectual property. Terri has owned and operated a retail store, a landscape design and installation company, and a holiday decorating franchise. She understands cashflows, business and marketing plans, and the importance of working through the questions and getting to the answers as early in the start-up process as possible. Her motto: Carpe diem and see what happens next.

Bookkeeping, Management, Finance

Helen Roe

After more than a decade of experience as a serial entrepreneur on the Front Range, Roe moved to Grand Junction and went back to college, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Colorado Mesa University with a BBA in Marketing and a BS in Accounting. After an internship at the Business Incubator Center, she knew it was where she wanted to be, and she jumped when an opportunity for employment opened up. Now a Commercial Lender with the Loan Fund of Mesa County, Roe is also part of the Incubator Management team, and a Small Business Coach specializing in accounting and finance. Roe’s professional certifications include Team Leader/Economic Gardening, Colorado NxLevel business planning instructor, 2011 SBDC Counselor of the Year, and just for the heck of it, forklift operator. Roe is also a member of the Mesa County Executive Fair Board, and on the Advisory Board of the Grand Junction Housing Authority Family Self-Sufficiency program. “The most rewarding part of my job is sharing their challenges and the achievements while assisting start-up and expanding businesses overcome the hurdles of creating a successful and sustainable business.”

Finance, Start Ups, Management

Debbie Richard

Debbie is currently a business consultant for companies large and small in a variety of industries. Most recently, she was the chief financial officer for a $2 billion private equity firm investing in buyout funds, venture capital funds, and sponsored co-investment deals. Prior to this, she owned and managed her own firm which provided accounting and tax services to partnership sponsors, and trading settlement services to broker dealers in the secondary partnership market, was chief financial officer for an oil and gas syndicator of SEC registered partnerships and a private equity real estate syndicator. She was also an audit manager for Price Waterhouse Coopers and an adjunct finance professor for graduate level courses at Golden Gate University. Debbie is a certified public accountant (inactive status), has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and a Master of Science degree in finance.

HR, Compliance, Regulations

Thane De Puey

Thane’s expertise includes HR (interviewing, hiring/firing, handbooks, and workers comp), collection issues, compliance with state and federal regulations, inspections, business plan review, business operations and management, and startups.

Grand Junction SBDC Director

Jeff Engell

As a second-generation Coloradoan, I’m proud to have the opportunity to serve small business in the great state in which I love. Having ran my own consultancy practice for over a decade prior to joining the SBDC, I’ve formed a strong appreciation for the independence and self-empowerment which comes from being a business owner and pursuing one’s own version of their American Dream. As the Director of the Grand Junction SBDC, I am able to give back to the community and help others on their entrepreneurial journey. I can’t think of any other mission I would rather serve.

I bring to my role specific domain expertise in agriculture, energy, life science, food security, industrial production, and cleantech, resulting from having worked with 400+ small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to access capital, create product-market fit, and develop strategies for growth and scale. Through my private sector practice, I had the good fortune of living and working abroad for close to 12 years in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.


In my personal life, I enjoy all the things one would expect of a ‘kid from Colorado’. From the snow-covered Rockies to the wind kissed grasslands of the Eastern Plains; from the deep shadows of the Black Canyon to the sunrise mosaics of the National Monument, some come to Colorado to see her beauty, whereas, for those of us who are truly lucky, we get to call this home.


Real Estate, Financing, Management

Lois Dunn

Lois grew up on a ranch in Arizona and loves life in Western Colorado. Her career includes accounting; her profession is in real estate. She likes working with investors and helping clients with identifying property, financing, management, & improving their portfolio. She serves on the Board at the Grand Junction Chamber, representing 1,000 businesses, and feels it’s a pleasure to work on behalf of start-up and expanding businesses. I serve as a chairperson of Government Affairs for Grand Junction Realtors. She enjoys meeting with entrepreneurs with new ideas and helping them determine where they are in the planning process of their start up business expansion. Her motto: Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a horse.

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