Archive for the ‘General Posts’ Category

Copyright, Patent, Trademark – what’s the difference?

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Ask M & M is a feature in the Sierra Vista Herald every Monday. Business questions are answered by Cochise SBDC Director, Mark Schmitt. The following is a questions regarding copyright, patents and trademarks.

Dear M & M: I am confused. Explain the differences between copyright, patent and trademark? –Will

Dear Will: According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design or a combination of words, phrases or symbols or designs that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark except it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. A copyright protects original works of art or literary work and a patent protects an invention.” The United States Patent and Trademark Office information can be accessed at the following web site; http://www.copyright.gov/. “There are three types of patents. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. Since the rights granted by a U.S. patent and trademark extend only throughout the territory of the United States and have no effect in a foreign country, an inventor who wishes patent and trademark protection in other countries must apply for a patent and trademark in each of the other countries or in regional patent or trademark offices. Almost every country has its own patent or trademark law, and a person desiring a patent or a trademark in a particular country must make an application for patent or trademark in that country, in accordance with the requirements of that country.” In addition, each state has their own rules and regulations regarding registration of marks and trade names in Arizona questions regarding any issues can be directed to Secretary of State Business Services Trade Names and Marks. A number to call is (602)542-6187 or 1-800-458-5842 (state of Arizona only). The registration of trade names and marks is not legally required in Arizona, but is an accepted business practice. Source: USPTO an agency of the Department of Commerce and Arizona Department of State office of the Secretary of State

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or your local SBDC.

2014 Arizona Small Business Development Center of Excellence

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

On May 7, 2014, Ellen Kirton and the Microbusiness Advancement Center Small Business Development Center (MAC SBDC) was honored as the 2014 Arizona Small Business Development Center of Excellence. In honor of National Small Business Week, May 12016 the Small Business Administration honors outstanding small business owners and supporters. Ellen Kirton and the MAC SBDC are a network oriented team of high performers. They embrace and work diligently to advance SBA and the Arizona Small Business Development Center state network strategic objectives creating economic impact for the state of Arizona.

The MAC SBDC is part of Arizona’s largest most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. The AZSBDC is an accredited member of America’s Small Business Development Centers. The Network’s mission is to provide high quality, high-impact one-on-one counseling, resource assistance, and training to preserve and create small business jobs and revenue, and to facilitate capital formation throughout Arizona at no cost or low cost to consumers. Business growth and economic development is made possible through the strategic initiatives: international trade education, business incubator support, direction for Veteran owned businesses, assistance for technology businesses, and guidance with government procurement contracts. The MAC SBDC team is essential in establishing the Network as the “go to” resource and catalyst for facilitating job creation, capital formation and economic growth throughout Arizona.

Ellen Kirton is the Center Director for the MAC SBDC. Kirton has 35 years of experience in the banking industry; her previous position was a Senior Vice President Business Banking Manager at Bank One/Chase. She has been an independent consultant to small businesses for nearly a decade and has owned several businesses. She is actively engaged with and past President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). She also served on the Advisory Council for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Catalina Council of Boy Scouts. Ellen and her team have the qualities and the performance results which make them most definitely deserving of the Small Business Development Center of Excellence Award.

Under Kirton’s leadership the MAC SBDC has established itself as a robust center with a keen eye towards program priorities and goal attainment. The MAC SBDC proactively partners with the Arizona Procurement Technical Assistance Center (a specialty program of the AZSBDC through the Department of Defense) bringing expertise to small businesses seeking government contracts. Kirton has co-presented with Jim Vickers of the SBA, at numerous procurement and Veteran business outreach events such as “Boots to Business” and the Annual Veteran’s Conference with the City of Tucson enabled by a grant from the AZSBDC Network.

Ellen Kirton is a high achiever, and has positioned herself as a leader in the AZSBDC state network. Morella Bierwag, NAWBO Greater Tucson Chapter Manager said, “Ellen’s commitment to enriching the lives of small business owners and the Tucson community is evident throughout our community.” Joann MacMaster, New Venture Development, Tech Launch Arizona, Wheelhouse Arizona stated, “Ellen Kirton is a strong mentor, leader and advocate for our community and continues to play an important role in the development and growth of our entrepreneurial ecosystm. She is a remarkable team player and continues to inspire not just the businesses she serce, but her community partners and her team.”

Frontier Techni-Kote – 2014 Success Award Winner

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Frontier Techni-Kote was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Frontier Techni-Kote worked with the Yavapai College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Frontier Techni-Kote is based in Chino Valley at Jerome Junction, and is proud to serve as a partner in the manufacturing industry. As a former railroad stop between Prescott and Jerome, Jerome Junction has always had a history of countless and strong industrial partnerships. Frontier Techni-Kote, a 20 year old company, built and maintained by three generations of metal finishing professionals, is a vital link to its customer base, and, now, has become one of those strong industrial partnerships. Frontier Techni-Kote’s primary goal to its customer is quality, expedience and excellence in customer service.

Andrew Furrer, CEO of Frontier Techni-Kote, has been a client of the Yavapai College Small Business Development Center (YC SBDC) since July of 2008. Initially, he approached the SBDC to learn more about business so that he may follow in his father’s footsteps and eventually take over Frontier Techni-Kote. Frontier Techni-Kote provided a needed service to local, state, and national manufacturers doing specialty aluminum anodizing (a hardening process) of components for their finished products. The SBDC provided one-on-one counseling, recommended specialty classes provided by the SBDC, and arranged strategic planning assistance offered to them by a senior business class at a local university by the SBDC.

In January of 2009, Andrew’s father unexpectedly passed away, placing Andrew in the owner’s seat. An incredibly astute and youthful Andrew, along with Tim, April, Sarah, and Rebekah (his siblings), had no choice but to take responsibility for Frontier Techni-Kote, its employees, its customers, and its services. The SBDC provided assistance and Andrew was able to make the transition seamlessly, including major expansion issues that meant acquiring more buildings, more service capacity, and an increased employee base. Frontier Techni-Kote is one of Chino Valley’s largest employers, pays a living wage, and has a bright future. Thanks to Andrew’s amazing ability to manage his late father’s dream and make it his own, Andrew has demonstrated a true entrepreneurial spirit.

Andrew has recognized the YC SBDC with the following quotes:

“Fred Kennedy is the most knowledgeable business advisor I have ever met. Fred’s enthusiasm for small business is unmatched. Frontier has been fortunate to enjoy a consistent growth rate over the years and the SBDC has played a large role in this growth.”

“We have greatly appreciated the role of the SBDC in our growth over the years. With Fred Kennedy’s solid business advice we have grown to levels that we could not have conceived of when we first started our process with the SBDC.”

“The SBDC is an amazing resource that all small businesses should take advantage of. With working with Fred Kennedy, our business advisor, we have achieved goals that we once thought were unattainable.”

As stated by the YC SBDC, “Working with Andrew has been, and will be, an absolute pleasure and privilege for the SBDC. Frontier Techni-Kote has become a tremendous asset and will continue to be an outstanding asset to our communities, Chino Valley and, our State of Arizona. We wish Andrew, his brothers and sisters, and Frontier Techni-Kote continued success with their future endeavors.”

TLC’s Family Kitchen – 2014 Success Award Winner

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, TLC’s Family Kitchen was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. TLC’s Family Kitchen worked with the Northland Pioneer College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Tim and Laurie Sykes have worked for many years in the restaurant industry. Tim had always wanted to open his own restaurant but it was only a dream because he could never come up with the money needed. After Tim married Laurie and their combined family grew to consist of yours, mine and ours, the share vision seemed even more out of reach. That was until Tim came up with the idea of “selling tables” to investors! The investors would receive 20% of the income from the table for the first year – a very creative and original version of “crowd funding”. This would allow family and friends to join them on their journey to success.

The Sykes identified ten investors who agreed to sponsor tables in TLC’s Family Kitchen. Not only did the Sykes create their own crowdfunding, but they also establishing a very loyal customer base. This concept was so successful; the investor’s didn’t have to wait a full year to receive their dividends. Within 2.5 months all ten investors had a return of their investment.

“The Northland Pioneer College SBDC was a critical partner in our venture. We found information at the library about the SBDC and called Northland Pioneer College. Rich Chanick was so responsive; he even traveled the hour to meet us at the St. Johns Northland Pioneer College location. We believed in “us” but were intimated by all of the business aspects including structure, taxes and record keeping involved in starting a business. Chanick was reassuring and walked us through all of the areas we were unsure. The Northland Pioneer College SBDC became a valuable resource for our venture. We were able to create a business plan that would guide us and help us succeed. The SBDC assisted us with everything from learning tasks such as bookkeeping through a Quick Books class to developing our overall business strategy. They offered so much information and support. This is a great government program that truly impacts people. We made with the support from the SBDC, and they continues to guide and support us today as we continue to grow,” Sykes exclaims.

AZSBDC Statewide Business Incubator Support

Friday, April 25th, 2014

The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network supports the efforts of business incubators statewide. With 26 Small Business Development Center locations and six Procurement Technical Assistance Center locations state wide, the AZSBDC is Arizona’s largest most accessible source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. On April 22, 2014, San Luis broke ground for a business incubator to assist small start-up and expanding businesses with the focus on producing jobs. The AZSBDC was there to partner and show support of these local efforts.

Janice Washington, State Director, Arizona Small Business Development Center Network

Janice Washington, State Director, Arizona Small Business Development Center Network

Arizona State Director, Janice Washington spoke reinforcing the Network’s strategic alliance with business incubators statewide to assist small businesses succeed and create economic impact for their local communities and the state of Arizona.The AZSBDC Network provides confidential professional advising by knowledgeable counselors with real-life business ownership and management experience to Arizona businesses at no cost. Additionally, the AZSBDC Network provides many quality training services at no cost or low cost helping business owners create the necessary skills to succeed. Presently, the AZSBDC partners with the City of Chandler’s Innovations Science and Technology Incubator, the Center for Entrepreneurial innovation (CEI) at GateWay Community College, Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology in Flagstaff, the AZ TechCelerator in Surprise, the Arizona Center for Innovation in Tucson and are looking forward to partnering with the San Luis Business Incubator to continue helping Arizona businesses succeed.
Click here (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152130245769065) to view Channel 11 coverage of the San Luis Business Incubator ground breaking.
Or click here (http://www.kyma.com/slp.php?idN=9386&cat=Local) to read the KYMA Channel 11 coverage of the San Luis Business Incubator ground breaking.

San Luis Business Incubator Ground Breaking

San Luis Business Incubator Ground Breaking

Rim Country’s Rock N Yard – 2014 Success Award Winner

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Rim Country’s Rock N Yard was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Rim Country’s Rock N Yard worked with the Mohave Community College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Rim Country Backhoe and Trucking, Inc. is a family owned business, which began 23 years ago on a promise by a truck boss of “two weeks work” hauling aggregate on a road construction job outside of Payson, Arizona. That was 1991, when Adam and Katherine embarked on their dreams to start a family owned and operated business. They Greene’s worked hard to earn a reputation through honesty, hard work and quality service. They enhanced and broadened their abilities in the excavating, transportation, landscaping and retail industries. These different venues have all meshed and allowed the business to expand. Today, Rim Country Backhoe and Trucking, Inc. dba Rim Country’s Rock N Yard, is a retail and services business located in Bullhead City, Arizona specializing in “Making Your Dirt Look Good!”

By 2008, Adam had logged well over 2 million miles, delivering decorative landscape rock to Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. When business in Las Vegas plummeted, due to the economic downturn, the Greene’s were confident they had the experience and ability to adapt and modify their business. Facing these new challenges and turning them into opportunities combined with the expertise that was provided by Mohave Community College SBDC for further education, training and developing a plan set the business on a bright path for the future!

In 2010, the Greene’s seized the opportunity to purchase a competitors existing retail landscape rock yard. This became one of the best decisions they could have made. The Mohave Community College SBDC provided guidance and assistance the Greene’s needed to apply for and successfully secure a SBA 504 Loan to purchase their current location.

In 2011, Katherine participated in the scholarship program offered by SBDC and Mohave Community College to attend the NxLevel Program, which guided her in the process of formulating and developing a Business Plan. Katherine continued expanding her business knowledge by attending the Profit Mastery Course in 2013. She also participated in the AZPTAC program and continues to rely on SBDC training courses and counseling to guide their business growth. The Greene’s realize they have the perfect blend with a retail landscape rock yard, transportation and contracting services for a solid platform to organize a successful business. They have been able to apply all of their experiences to provide services to retail, construction/landscape contractors and municipalities, what a masterful landscape!

With the businesses increased market share, the Greene’s dream of a family owned business has become a reality. The business will be able to employ their oldest son, Brent Greene, who is a US Marine Veteran and his wife, Dominie beginning in 2014. Country’s Rock N Yard has awesome customers who come back to visit and purchase their rock and send friends and family referrals.

Adam affirms, “We have been blessed to live the American Dream! The Mohave Community College SBDC has been an asset to our growth. The expertise that SBDC offers to small business owners is a testimony to their commitment to business owners. Thank you SBDC for partnering with us and giving us the assistance, encouragement and training to pursue and strategize to become a successful business!”

Flying Leap Vineyards, Inc. – 2014 Success Award Winner

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Flying Leap Vineyards, Inc. was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Flying Leap Vineyards, Inc. worked with the Microbusiness Advancement Center Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Three former military pilots founded Flying Leap Vineyards, Inc. in 2010. These lifelong best friends with diverse backgrounds in the wine and farming industries – Mark Beres, Marc Moeller and Thomas Kitchens entered the Arizona wine business with a goal of developing a new brand based on local, self-sourced viticulture and high quality, small-batch winemaking. Flying Leap Vineyards is an Arizona domestic farm winery based in Santa Cruz County. The company specializes in customer and community service, and has extensive experience in operating wine tasting, fine art and retail sales operations across the region. This committed team of local family farmers, talented winemakers and passionate wine merchants grow a select portfolio of both red and white wine grapes in two vineyards, and they produce their fine wines at their estate winery in Elgin, Arizona. They are proud to be a Veteran owned business and give back to other veterans as the opportunities arise.

The first vineyard was planted in April 2011. The first block encompassed slightly more than 10 irrigated acres of exclusive French, Italian and Spanish certified grapevines on a 20-acre parcel in the Kansas Settlement south of Willcox. Additional acreage was planted in 2012, completing the company’s first 20-acre farm. In 2013, Flying Leap acquired the Canelo Hills Vineyard and Winery in Elgin, which added another 6.5 acres of mature vineyard acreage and gave the company an established foothold along Arizona’s famous Sonoita/Elgin wine trail in the state’s only official American Viticultural Area.

With the acquisition of Canelo Hills, Flying Leap commenced estate winemaking in 2013, producing nearly 1,500 cases from its initial combined harvests of the Block 1 vineyard in Cochise County and the estate vines in Elgin. The company’s Block 2 vineyard will be in production in August 2014, and an additional 8.5 acres are planned for 2015, with expected initial production in 2017. Flying Leap is a small, local producer with an annual vintage production expected to be about 3,000 cases of estate wine by 2019.

Currently, Flying Leap Vineyards owns and operates four tasting rooms and three fine art galleries, which are located at its estate winery in Elgin and in historic downtown Willcox, Old Bisbee and Tucson’s St. Philips Plaza. Flying Leap’s award-winning wines are sold regionally in specialty and major wine retailers.

Mark Beres, President and CEO of Flying Leap Vineyards commends Karen Burns and the Microbusiness Advancement Center SBDC team for being instrumental to Flying Leap Vineyards in teaching them how to develop a comprehensive strategy for requesting bank financing. “Karen showed us how to access the various sources of financing that were available and how to communicate our needs to those entities. Most people entering into the business world are generally familiar with traditional lending, such as car loans and mortgages. But commercial lending is an entirely different world with unique requirements and specifications,” remarks Beres. The MAC SBDC and Karen Burns in particular were instrumental in teaching us how to navigate these new waters. She helped us prepare bank loans requests, which were key in us successfully securing the necessary capital to fully develop our Block 1 vineyard,” continues Beres. “Our business is fundamentally an agricultural enterprise and Burn’s extensive background in commercial agricultural lending was invaluable to Flying Leap Vineyards in shaping the business plan to include specific elements of particular interest to commercial agricultural lenders. The MAC SBDC has been an important part of Flying Leap Vineyard’s growth and development, and we are indeed truly fortunate to have them as a resource,” concludes Beres.

Darling Geomatic – 2014 Success Award Winner

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Darling Geomatics was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Darling Geomatics worked with the Microbusiness Advancement Center Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Mary Darling, principal owner of Darling Geomatics, didn’t dream of becoming a million dollar business owner. She evolved into the position serendipitously as the consulting firm she was working for grew too fast and lost it all. Darling started as a sole proprietor growing her business from scratch in 1997. After two years, her husband Richard joined the effort and they formed an S-Corporation. The couple cross trained each other, Mary with her wildlife biology background taught Richard how to identify endangered species of owls, desert tortoises falcons and more, while Richard, a land surveyor, taught Mary how to find section corners, run survey-grade GPS equipment and jump out of helicopters in steep mountain terrain to find obscure survey monuments in remote roadless areas.

In the beginning, Mary performed business planning, financial and marketing tasks as well as environmental and survey work. As the company grew she took various business courses, secured business loans and hired administrative staff. However, the business could only achieve certain limits with any individual bank, so credit was established with multiple banks. This left the business cash strapped when the need for equipment financing or capital growth was considered.

After 16 years of banking chaos, Mary exclaims, I met with Ellen Kirton from the Microbusiness Advancement Center SBDC. She immediately noticed that I had more bank accounts and credit card accounts for my company than I should. I had lines of credit with four banks, business credit cards with high balances, and an extremely expensive credit card merchant agreement. Kirton used her financial expertise and banking insights from more than 35 years of experience in the banking industry to provide my company with an incredible perspective on our finances. Kirton’s objective analysis of our books led me to consolidate all debt, lowering interest rates and bank fees more than 50%. The new financial package included a single line of credit with a low interest rate that is ample for our planned growth, a remote deposit machine to save valuable time running to the bank, and low interest business credit cards for our employees that travel paid from a single account. The savings alone the first six months alone has been several thousand dollars, not to mention the time and peace of mind that has been saved.”

Mary Darling testifies, “Our local Tucson SBDC is the best business resource I know, whether you are starting a business or a mature enterprise. Their Profit Mastery Course is a must not only for business owners but, also for office mangers and other upper division employees. Learning to look at our business the same way a banker looks at our business has changed the way I run the business. The results are amazing. 2014 will be our best profit year ever!”

triARC Architecture and Design – 2014 Success Award Winner

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, triARC Architecture and Design was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. triARC Architecture and Design worked with the Maricopa Community Colleges Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Three partners began triARC Architecture and Design in 2006 enjoying immediate success and began to hiring staff. Their business continued to soar in 2008 when the economy came to a halt giving them a false sense of security. In 2010, the recession hit triARC and billings plummeted. The decision was made for one partner to leave in May of 2011 since the business could not sustain all three. In September 2011, partners Jill Hamblen and Marlene Seitz met Maricopa Community College SBDC Business Analyst Michael D’Hoostelaere in a business-mentoring program. At this time revenues had plummeted to a low of 25% of their monthly expenses. D’Hoostelaere guided the partners to outline their current situations and strategize possible solutions without sugar coating reality. Both Hamblen and Seitz agree, “We may not be in business today without Michael’s help. We were frozen looking at the brutality of our situation. Michael, without fluff, communicated the realities and then helped us march through the action required to save our business.”

Hamblen and Seitz made the tough decisions, and within a year began to enjoy solid success, albeit with a watchful eye. Their new knowledge of financial indicators allows for quick decisions to be made when necessary. In addition, the partners established financial goals to pay off the business debt so they could feel financial freedom and avoid the SOS call they had to make in late 2011. Throughout 2012 and 2013, Hamblen and Seitz continued to receive increased knowledge and focus. triARC Architecture and Design cut debt, hired staff based on our values, and outpaced their business financial projections in 2012 by 110% and by 113% in 2013. By the end of 2013 they began paying off debt. When triARC’s downturn started in 2011 they carried approximately $114K in debt. Over the next two years the debt ceiling grew to $128K. But by the end of 2013, business debt had dropped to $75K and is projected to be paid off in 2014. The next two years are forecasted to be growth years for triARC. This growth will not only be in size and revenues, but more importantly in continued business acumen with the focus on company values, goals and culture. The partners agree, “We finally feel the financial freedom we need to grow our business. Without a doubt the knowledge, guidance and opportunities opened to triARC by Michael D’Hoostelaere and the Maricopa Community Colleges SBDC are a huge factor in this success and growth. There were no other resources available that could have possibly provided the vast knowledge and means Michael at the SBDC has the last two and half years. triARC is still around seven and half years after opening their doors hugely because of Michael and the SBDC.”

Gila Valley Polaris – 2014 Success Award Winner

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Gila Valley Polaris was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Gila Valley Polaris worked with the Eastern Arizona College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Who could have guessed that a first date on a Polaris quad would turn into a marriage and eventually purchasing and owning their own Polaris dealership, but that is exactly how things turned out for Lance and Terri Shupe, owners of Gila Valley Polaris in Safford. “Our first date was literally me on the back of Lance’s quad, running out through the desert and him showing off doing wheelies” says Terri. Since that date, the Shupe’s have had a long history throughout their life together with Polaris off-road vehicles so their eventually having the opportunity to purchase a Polaris franchise was very fitting.

Lance had been in law enforcement for almost 18 years, but due to numerous shoulder surgeries, was now facing a medical retirement from the force and trying to decide what to do next. “I had always wanted to do some kind of business but the right one really never came along. I knew at some point I was going to, but this opportunity came along much earlier than expected” says Lance. Lance and Terri had been long time and regular customers of Gila Valley Cycle and Ski, an off-road vehicle dealership that had been in business for over 20 years. A chance conversation about Lance’s upcoming retirement with the owner caused the future hopes to become current opportunities. “He just asked me if I wanted to buy the business and I told him I needed to think about it a little bit.” But Lance waited a bit too long. When he finally got back to the owner, it was already in process of being sold to another potential buyer, who was also a client of the SBDC. Terri’s casual comment to the owner as they walked out that day was, “If it falls through, give us a call”. A short time later, the call came and the Shupe’s wasted no time in getting things in order.

After making arrangements for personal and private investors to assist in purchasing the business, Lance and Terri approached Eastern Arizona College SBDC Director Kevin Peck in August of 2013 with hopes of getting some assistance in working out all the little details. Terri was referred to the Eastern Arizona College SBDC by her sister, another previous client of the SBDC and by one of their investors. “We had so many things to get organized, especially in trying to get a business plan written that made sense and helped us get things in order”, Terri says. “Kevin really helped me gain the confidence in what I was doing and what needed to be a part of the business plan. He helped me make sense of everything that we needed to address. I always felt confident that we were in good hands and that he was helping us move this in the right direction”.

Eastern Arizona College SBDC provided additional research on traffic counts, demographics and census information as well as assistance working through details for the dealership agreement and application needed for the franchise. The Shupe’s were quickly approved and officially purchased the business in October 2013 and changed the name to Gila Valley Polaris.

Since the purchase, business has taken off, almost doubling historical sales figures and anticipated projections. Because of the increased business, they now have four mechanics, two salesmen, and an inventory manager, not to mention Lance overseeing all operations and Terri doing all the bookkeeping to keep up with growing demand. “Taking the Quickbooks training offered by the SBDC was one of the biggest things I could have done” says Terri. “I was able to get up and operational in a fraction of the time it would have taken me on my own.”

“I can’t think of another business that I would rather have and enjoy as much” Lance says. “We had never been business owners before, no experience and no background in business. Eastern Arizona College SBDC helped us right from the beginning in understanding what our numbers were and what we needed to focus on to be successful. We can’t say enough about all they have done to help us get started in this.”