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Success Stories

Mueller Construction Services  |  Great American Sod Farm   
Kiss n' Make-Up
| Brigi, LLC | Dos Foo Foos

Joe Mueller

Joe Mueller has been in the construction business for over 20 years with experience ranging from building single-family residential homes to rehabilitating multi-million dollar dams for the Federal Government. While he was an operations manager for local residential and commercial builder in Glenwood Springs four years ago, his dream of business ownership began to take shape.

Eventually, in July of 2003, Joe founded Mueller Construction Services, Inc. (MCS) a construction company based on the values of honesty and following through on promises. Joe’s fifteen years of experience in the heavy and civil realm, coupled with his five years locally in the commercial and residential markets, have given him the knowledge and expertise to successfully build nearly any project he is able to procure. Yet, Joe felt a need to shore up his business skills. He wanted to establish a company that was well equipped to manage construction projects from inception to final completion by organizing all pieces of the construction process to deliver a completed project. So, he enrolled in the Glenwood Springs business planning workshop. It was the first such workshop that was conducted in the area during the previous several years. In this workshop that began in January of 2005, Joe worked tirelessly on his business plan. He soaked in the information provided by the workshop’s guest presenters from a wide range of professional disciplines that support small businesses.

Since graduating from the workshop, Joe has made great strides in growing his company and reaching the goals he established in his business plan. For example, he hired an additional project manager and part-time administrative worker. He also achieved larger goals of moving his operation into its own office space and purchasing an additional company vehicle. He prepared for anticipated significant growth by acquiring a large line of credit and by refinancing his operating line of credit. As a result of this renewed energy, MCS has secured a number of major construction projects totaling several million dollars.

Joe’s primary goal for the future is to establish the reputation of Mueller Construction Services as the premier commercial general contracting company in the region. He credits the Leading Edge Workshop with giving him the confidence and determination to reach this goal. “It made me focus on many of the aspects of establishing and growing the business. It created an awareness of important, but not necessarily urgent, items such as marketing and establishing business goals that I needed to address. The weekly sessions helped keep me in focus and offered support and encouragement. It also exposed me to the proper way to create a business plan,” he says.

He happily admits that the course motivated him and helped clarify the path ahead by working on the business plan. “It forced me to work on the business, not in the business.”

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Debbie and Bill Puckett

In 2004, Debby Puckett created the idea of developing a sod farm on over 450 acres of land on the banks of the Colorado River west of Glenwood Springs, in the town of New Castle. At the time, she knew virtually nothing about sod farming but her research into the industry quickly developed into a dream that she shared with her two partners, John and Kristin King.

In an effort to make this dream a viable reality, Debby enrolled in the business planning workshop. It was the first such workshop that was being conducted there in the previous several years. In this workshop that began in January of 2005, Debby proved to be a quick study and worked diligently on creating one of the best business plans of that class.

Her business plan reflected an optimistic, yet reasonable set of goals for the first harvest season of the business. Her original plan was to start selling three varieties of sod by June 2005. However; irrigation problems that resulted from equipment failure destroyed much of their first crop and delayed harvesting until September 2005. However, as a result of shear determination and having a solid business plan to begin with, A Great American Sod Farm made the necessary adjustments to their planting and growing schedule, so that, by August of 2005, they had a crop ready for harvest. Says Debby, “The business plan helps us keep the focus of the business especially when obstacles are thrown at the business.”

The growing success of the Great American Sod Farm provides a significant benefit to the local economy. Since starting operations, the company has been able to provide two full-time and five part-time jobs. It also provides an unexpected additional benefit to the community by allowing its unused land to be used as a site for receiving excavated earth from local construction sites. By allowing construction companies to deposit soil on its excess land, it helps to save time and fuel that was being used to transport this material to sites much farther away. This additional soil will be used to grade the land slope for future seeding of currently unused land that the company owns.

Of her learning experience in the business planning workshop, Debby says, “It was the best decision I have made for our company!"

Jelle Jerles-Blackwelder

For as long as she can remember, Kelly Jerles-Blackwelder had a dream. That dream was to expose the beauty in others by creating a make-up line and opening a boutique to sell cosmetics, fragrances and jewelry. As time passed, that dream became a passion until Kelly came to a realization that she was in the right place at the right time to take action. She  decided to found Kiss n' Make Up.

Yet Kelly had the foresight to realize that a passion without a well-executed plan was, at best, a wish and at worst, foolhardy. So she decided to find out what help she could get to make this plan a reality. Under the expert guidance of  Kaye Jacobson and with the guidance of counselor, Tom Fleming, she was able to refine her concept, acquire funding from several sources and open her doors in October, 2005 with an initial investment of less than $100K.

Of the help that she received, Kelly says, “I feel I always have somewhere to go for counseling when I run into road blocks or experience a situation in business that I do not understand.” One of the salient benefits she received from her counseling is her decision to establish her business as a limited liability company rather than as a sole proprietorship.

Since opening her doors, she has hired four employees who, together, work less than part time. And although her business is still in its infancy, she plans to hire an associate in the near future and expand her presence throughout the resort areas of western Colorado, starting with a second store opening within one year. This goal appears to be within her reach already because her business plan has been praised for its high quality. Of her experience with the staff, Kelly is very grateful and enthusiastically states, “I am creating something special because of their advice and validations. On the insecure days, I feel better knowing the services arethere. Many people who start businesses come from other careers, as I did. I was a teacher, not an entrepreneur. I advise anyone to run, not walk to these guys when considering opening a business. There is so much more involved than the fantasy of having a successful business. I kicked and screamed all the way through my business plan and projections and now I realize how invaluable the process is. It needs to be honored and nurtured. I couldn’t have opened without them.”
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Local Designer Conquers NYC

Aspen, CO, 24 August 2006 – Bridget MacTavish, owner of BRIGI, LLC and designer of luxury pajamas for women, made a splash at the prestigious Lingerie-Americas trade and fashion show from 31 July through 1 August in New York City.

This Lingerie trade show is one of the largest of its kind in the United States and is the counterpart of the largest lingerie show in the world, the Lingerie-Francaise in Paris. Even with an exhibitor roster of over 250, this show, which heralds the start of Market Week in New York City, is considered one of the most selective in admitting designers and Bridget, an Aspen resident, considers herself very fortunate to have been selected as her pajama line continues to receive a growing recognition from retailers of high-end luxury wear and from the leaders in the fashion industry.

Of her participation in the show, where she had a booth that won the praise and admiration of many and where she featured garments in the three-day fashion shows Bridget says, “This is a big honor for me to be selected for this show and it gave me the opportunity to talk to all of the buyers where I wanted to place my PJs.”

Jean-Luc Teinturier, one of the show’s principals, said he was very impressed with Bridget’s participation and described her as a very hard-working designer. This review assures her continued participation in the show with some of the biggest names in the lingerie industry.

Another honor that Bridget received in conjunction with this show is a centerfold feature of her company in the August issue of Body, the “magazine of record for the body fashion industry.” Unable to enjoy her recent honors, Bridget immediately began preparing her line for the Boutique Lingerie show that starts on 11 August in Los Angeles. Bridget’s line is carried locally in Amen Wardy’s of Aspen. For more information, you may contact Bridget at Bridget@brigipj.com or view her line at www.brigipj.com.

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The Foos

The godDess Is alive and magic is afoot!

The “Foo” girls, Charmaine Boudreaux (Uno Foo) and M.J. Lerch (Foo2) have known each other for over ten years and have been business partners since 2004. Dos Foo Foos creates robes that are meant to be seen. Their first product line is the Goddess Gowns Collection, a lightweight, kimono-style dressing gown designed with lively colors and sensuous materials–a very fun robe. Each gown is complemented with individual, matching travel bags for ease of carrying from one exotic location to another. MJ designed the prototype gown based on a Japanese robe her father received almost fifty years ago. MJ loved the way the robe lasted–its quality–and they designed this durability in their Goddess Gowns while keeping the gowns soft, comfortable, and luxurious. Their goal is for their clients to enjoy the same sensual feeling of the original while adding a colorful twist.

MJ also had the clever idea of attending a business plan class that Jerry Pradier was instructing and seeking additional counseling from Tom Fleming. With a solid business plan in hand and additional knowledge of the financial aspects of growing and running a business, they were able to secure a small business loan. In addition, the Dos Foo Foos business plan won the Governor’s award for the best plan in the State of Colorado in 2006!  Today, Dos Foo Foos is selling Goddess Gowns at several high-end retailers throughout Colorado and has recently expanded its market to include resorts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The owners of
Dos Foo Foos claim they would not have journeyed this far, so fast, without the training and guidance they received from resources within the Institute for Civic Achievement. You can own your very own Goddess Gown by ordering online at www.dosfoofoos.com or email Charmaine and MJ at dosfoofoos@bresnan.net and they will be happy to help you select that “just right” Goddess Gown. Wholesale inquires are welcome. “The Goddess is alive and magic is afoot!”

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