December 21, 2012

SLV SBDC Success Story



Troy Duran likes making old stuff look good at his new business, AA Detailing & Wicked Stitches Upholstery.  He also likes to make it easy for customers by offering free estimates and locating “hard to find” upholstery matches.  Troy is working with the SLV SBDC (589-3682) to develop his business.  He is feeling the typical entrepreneur pressure of “I’m doing everything myself” from customer service, to bookwork to the detailing.  He has been open just under one year, and is expanding at his location to include a show room.  The business is located on Highway 285, across from CDOT, in the former Lucy Taco’s building.
Troy’s passion for cars and bikes goes back to when he was young and bought a ’55 Chevy at the age of 14.  He discovered he was good at restoring cars, and graduated from Wyoming Tech Institute in 1991 with a special trade in Trim and Upholstery Technology.  One technique that he has mastered is repairing and restoring convertible tops.  One job like that can consume 12-16 hours.  He has restored quite a few vehicles that have been in the Early Iron Festival as well as the local Father’s Day car show.  Troy was interviewed by David Miller during the 2012 Early Iron festival for a potential article, called “Drive What You Build.”
As you enter the showroom, you will also find bar stools, custom chairs, and restaurant booths that he has restored.  Troy is able to locate old car parts, such as a recently found ’38 Chevy pick-up grill.  He has an eye for detail and can match old material to new.
Troy is proud of his 1956 ½ ton Studebaker 4 wheel drive pick-up, that he and his family found in New Mexico in really bad shape.  He’s spent the last 3 years restoring it.  It’s his pride and joy – and he’s happy to show it off in the nice weather months outside of his business.  This past summer he was amazed by the number of people who stopped by to take pictures and tell stories as the truck conjured up memories for them.  Troy can be reached at 719-480-2931.

December 14, 2012

7 Holiday Marketing Tips on a Limited Budget

When we think of holiday marketing - which can be critical to your business success - we often think only of promotions and discounts. But you don't have to cut your margins or break the bank to stand out from the crowd any more. Here are seven budget-friendly steps you should consider to promote your small business while meeting the needs of your customers this holiday season.

1. Host an "Open House"

If you operate a retail business, restaurant or any gift-oriented business, why not plan an open house event in mid-November? Use it to showcase holiday season gifts, menus and merchandise. Offer up a glass of warm cider or mulled wine, and really get people into the spirit of the holidays. This will give customers an opportunity to check out your merchandise or holiday menus in advance. You could throw in a special offer or coupon that customers can redeem anytime up until December 24.

2. Work the Holiday Magic for Your Faithful Customers

Think of ways to generate repeat holiday business from your existing customers. Special offers, sneak previews, free shipping, or secret sales are all great ways to make your faithful customers feel special without breaking the bank.

3. Feature Product/Services of the Day or Week

I love this low cost marketing idea from Ivana Taylor at SmallBizTrends : why not create 12 days of "your product" or a product or service of the month? Feature and market a product or service every day or every week during the holidays. Think about focusing on high margin products or items your customers don't know about. "Companies in the food business use this strategy a lot," explains Ivana. "Think beer of the month, cheesecake of the month, or coffee of the month... Maid service companies could feature an extra cleaning detail each month, trainers or consultants can offer featured webinars, reports or newsletters."  And don't forget to communicate this themed promotion on your website, social media, email, posters, and flyers.

4. Offer Gift Certificates

Whatever your business, selling gift certificates, gift cards and e-certificates is a great way to give your customers a convenient gift option. They also help you generate sales well into the New Year, with recipients often spending more than the value of the certificate.

5. Partner With Other Businesses

It's likely that many of the businesses in your community also rely heavily on the holidays for a good chunk of their income. Is there a way you can partner with complementary stores or restaurants to cross-promote each other's businesses? For example, a cosmetic store and a hair salon might develop a promotion that offers a time-limited discount off each other's respective goods and services, if the customer frequents both. SBA guest blogger Rieva Lesonsky offers more tips in her blog: Forget the Competition, It's Time for Co-opetition.

6. Get Involved in Community and Charitable Events

Getting out there and supporting charities or sponsoring or getting involved in community events is a great way to generate awareness for your business during the holidays. Even if you don't have the budget to donate large sums of money, think of other ways to get involved, such as offering volunteer services, equipment or even space.

7. Use Your Website and Social Media to Promote your Holiday Activities

Your online presence, email marketing, and social media networks are a great way to target and connect with local consumers through timely updates and compelling calls-to-action. Develop holiday themes for your email templates and update your website and Facebook profile picture with a festive look.

Then be sure to channel any offers or promotions through social media. You can even offer deals or events exclusively to your social media fans to help drive foot traffic and generate leads. And don't forget to engage in two-way dialogues. Ask your fans about their holiday activities. For example, a restaurant might highlight a holiday dish of the day on Facebook and ask fans to chime in on their favorite dish or items they'd like to see on the menu.
 
 This weeks tip is brought to you by the Caron Beesley and the SBA

December 12, 2012

Create Your Own Website






Create Your Own Website

Seating is limited.  FREE to Conejos Chamber members.  $15/person for non-chamber members.
Thursday, January 17, 2013  4:00-6:00 p.m.
Conejos County Library in La Jara, Colorado,
17703 U.S. Highway 285,  81140
Just off Highway 285 by the Conejos County Arena
*Website is hosted for free up to one year by Google/Intuit platform.
Please RSVP to Donna Wehe at 719-589-3682 or donna@slv-sbdc.com

November 26, 2012

HOW TO RANK WELL ON GOOGLE SEARCHES




If you want to increase your visibility on the Internet when someone searches for your business, watch this 13 minute video produced by Eric Spellmann.

November 23, 2012






Tax Workshop for the Self-Employed


$20 per person

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Taught by CPA Bob Gjellum

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Depot, Alamosa

 

Please RSVP to Donna at 589-3682 or donna@slv-sbdc.com


November 21, 2012

Start Your Own Business Workshop

      
         Start Your Own Business Workshop
(legal registration, EIN, sales tax and more)

Wed., December 5th 2012
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Del Norte Computer Center – 1025 Spruce Street in the La Hacienda Development
$10 per person; limited seating;
Scholarships available
$5 discount for chamber members
Please RSVP to the Small Business Development Center
 at 589-3682 or donna@slv-sbdc.com

Crestone Telecom is a Unique Business Model



 

        Ralph Abrams is the Executive Director of Crestone Telecom, LLC, is an innovative start-up company that delivers high speed broadband Internet and VoIP phone service to the Crestone/Baca/Moffat area in Southern Colorado.  They also incorporate local community involvement into their business model and offer membership share ownership of different levels in their LLC.
            Ralph often describes his life as hitting all the points of the wheel.  From an early age, Ralph worked the counter in his Dad’s wholesale supply house in Huntington Long Island, learning over 30,000 different electric parts, and how things went together as he helped the electrical contractors. 
            Along the way he learned how to drive a semi truck and eventually started a trucking business in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Often working 60-70 hour weeks, the company grew to eventually have 40 employees and generated close to four million dollars a year in revenue.  The general downtown in business in the late 1980’s inspired Ralph to shift his focus to renovating distressed properties around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan.  Once again, Ralph built a strong business of approximately 75 rental units and a positive cash flow.  Ralph says his skills are to watch the bottom line, get the best bang for the dollar, present a high quality product at a reasonable price, and always go the extra mile in terms of customer service.  These are the qualities instilled in him from the very earliest days working for his father.
            After studying Hinduism, and later Buddhism, he became deeply involved in spiritual communities, managed and directed a number of spiritual centers, which brought him to Crestone.  He started a construction business, building energy efficient, affordable housing, employed local sub contractors, and kept a crew of three working pretty steady until 2009 when the economic downtown hit Crestone and construction job opportunities became scarce.  It was then that Ralph asked himself: “What other economic base can Crestone use to help maintain economic stability?”  The answer was a reliable, high speed, internet service.  And thus began a year of inquiry, research, and grass roots effort that resulted in the formation of Crestone Telecom.  Ralph used the free and confidential services of the SLV Small Business Development Center, along with other local economic development groups in pursuit of developing this company.  You can visit www.crestonetelecom.com to find out about the other founding members and the details of this unique business model.  To request the SBDC’s services, you may contact Donna Wehe at 589-3682.
                                                    http://crestonetelecom.com/

November 20, 2012

Fraud Alert

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler is notifying Colorado businesses of another possibly deceptive solicitation issued by “Compliance Services.” The entity has mailed solicitations titled “Annual Minutes Requirement Statement Directors and Shareholders” to businesses in Colorado. These solicitations offer to prepare documents to satisfy the annual minutes requirement for a $125.00 fee. Though most corporations are required to keep records of annual minutes, they are not required to file these records with any third party.

Although the solicitations contain disclaimers stating that “The preparation of minutes of annual meetings does not satisfy the requirement to file the Periodic Report required by COLORADO REVISED STATUTES Section 7-90-501,” the solicitation is creating confusion. Please be aware, the minutes of annual meetings are not required to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office or any other government agency or third party. In addition, records of annual meetings are separate from the annual report filing with the Secretary of State’s Office, which for most businesses is just a $10 fee, online at www.sos.state.co.us.

If you have any questions please contact us directly at 303-894-2200, then press 2, or emailbusiness@sos.state.co.us.

November 16, 2012

Veterans Workshop



Maximize Your Veteran Status
Free Workshop for Veteran Entrepreneurs
Friday, November 30, 2012
Depot, 610 State Avenue, Alamosa
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Presented by
Andra Hardgrave

Please RSVP to 589-3682
Refreshments Provided

Create Your Own Website Workshop


Create Your Own Website Workshop

1:00 - 3:00 p.m. November 29, 2012

Saguache Visitor Center
404 Fourth Street, Saguache


Please bring your laptop if you have one.

Cost of the workshop is $20 for non-chamber members
 $15.00 for chamber members

Refreshments will be provided.

RSVP to Donna Wehe at 589-3682

November 3, 2012

Photopgraphy Business Relocates in Alamosa



Mario Nicolas loves capturing magical moments in people’s lives by telling a story with their pictures.  He has a professional approach and unique technique which has become his life and his passion.  Whether the event is a wedding, high school photos, or a Quinceanera, Mario's approach is personable and relaxing.  He has spent hundreds of hours on his wedding videos to make them awesome and memorable. He is celebrating his third year anniversary of opening Kariz Productions, formerly located on State Avenue in Alamosa.  

Mario has been using the services of the Small Business Development Center (589-3682) to help him get started and grow his business.  He uses the counselors as a sounding board for business advice as his business has grown and really taken off this past year.  When asked about the photography versus the video, he said the photography is in much more demand but the video services are more unique.  "I don't have as much competition when it comes to the video production side of the business.  I enjoy doing both types, as they each challenge my creativity and skills in different ways."

"We used Mario for our wedding and we are so pleased with his prices and quality of photos," remarked several satisfied customers.  Mario first got into photography as a young boy as a hobby.  He worked all summer to save for his first camera and began by taking pictures of his family and friends.  He realized he was really good at it when he landed his first job, a Quinceanera.  "My equipment was much simpler back then.  I've come a long way."  His favorite events are weddings, Quinceaneras and senior portraits because of the reward of developing a relationship with his clients during such an intimate time in their lives. He is able to provide photography and video shoots for all types of events and wants everyone to know that he has relocated his business to his home studio and can be reached at (719) 580-7758. 
Call me for photo or video needs at (719) 580-7758

October 11, 2012



Learn how to use Facebook to promote your event or business
Taught by Devin Cornwall
FREE to all businesses in Alamosa County

5:00-7:00 p.m. Thursday, November 8, 2012
 Bistro Rialto Restaurant, Alamosa

      RSVP to donna@slv-sbdc.com or 589-3682

September 26, 2012

New heating and air conditioning business opens in Alamosa


John Imre began his HVAC/R career as a US Air Force Missile Maintenance Technician and received professional training at Chanute AFB, IL with further technical training at F.E. Warren AFB, WY. 
In his eight years of active duty service, he has worked on heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment at missile silos, missile launch facilities, missile transporters and portable equipment. After his active duty service, John continued his career as a civilian in Denver and then Alamosa, working in commercial HVAC/R equipment. 

In his 12 years in Alamosa, he widened his experiences in servicing many types of HVAC/R equipment ranging from small residential furnaces and boilers to agricultural warehouse refrigeration for potatoes and large air handling equipment such as in the local colleges and medical facilities, while serving as a US Air Force Reservist and starting his family with his wife Regina.

In 2012, with the help of the SLV Small Business Center (589-3682), John founded Apex Repair Service to provide quality residential service to the people of the San Luis Valley.  He looks forward to helping maintain the commercial equipment that keeps our local economy strong.  He felt that using the free and confidential counseling services of the SBDC helped him through the transition of working for a company to running his own business.
Apex Repair Service offers over 20 years of experience in repair, service, troubleshooting, upgrade and replacement of all residential, commercial and agricultural heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and appliance needs.  John may be contacted at 719-480-3388.

September 21, 2012

QuickBooks for Payroll User Workshop

Donielle VanGieson is a Certificed QuickBooks Pro Advisor

QuickBooks for Payroll Users
Thursday, October 4, 3-6 p.m.
at the Depot
$25
Please RSVP to Donna at donna@slv-sbdc.com
or 719-589-3612

September 19, 2012

Free Webinar for Disaster Planning



How Small Businesses Can Improve Survival, Productivity and Market Share through Workforce Resilience


Tue, Sep 25, 2012 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM MDT



https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/846630481 

July 31, 2012

August 2012 SBDC Workshops Around the San Luis Valley

Workshops around the San Luis Valley for August, 2012

August 14, Tuesday, 3:30-5:00 p.m. "Customer Service Excellence!" at the 4th Street Diner, Saguache, FREE

August 15, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. "Using FaceBook to Promote Your Business" South Fork Chamber, Rio Grande Club, all South Fork businesses are welcome to attend.  No-host dinner optional.

August 30, Thursday, 5:00-7:00 p.m., "Tax Tips for the Self Employed" by Christy Jackson, $20, San Luis in the Public Health Conference Room, Please call for directions.

Contact Donna Wehe, 589-3682 for questions on any of these workshops.

Local Nurse Practitioner Launches Natural Family Planning Business


Article by Peggy Haslar

            Perhaps timing isn't “everything,” but it sure can't hurt.  Michelle Valdez, a local women's health nurse practitioner since 1996, wasn't expecting issues surrounding the practice of artificial contraception to make headlines when she stopped prescribing it in her medical practice last spring.  She saw it as an issue of conscience.  “I wanted to live consistently with my faith,” she says.  “I could not practice in a manner I no longer believed was right, or in the best interest of my patients.” 
            But the US Department of Health and Human Services mandate for contraceptive insurance coverage has revived public debate concerning both the morality and medical risks of contraception.   It's possible that the expertise Valdez has acquired to help women avoid or achieve pregnancy naturally may be in greater demand, thanks to the ongoing national discussion.
            Last winter Valdez began studies with the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska. She is now trained to instruct couples and individual women in the Creighton FertilityCare natural family planning method.  Developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Creighton University School of Medicine, the method helps women understand their menstrual cycles which have naturally-occurring phases of both fertility and infertility, in order to to make decisions regarding avoiding or achieving pregnancy.  But this is not the “rhythm method,” developed in the 1930's and often criticized for its ineffectiveness at preventing pregnancy, assures Valdez.  The result of 30 years of fertility research, the Creighton Model is an integrated educational system with a 96.8 % effective use rate. 
            After resigning her position as a nurse practitioner earlier this month, Valdez launched Servant Song Women's Wellness, where she is available to advise women and train both individuals and couples in the Creighton FertilityCare System.   Her services are reimbursable by many insurance plans, and grant monies are available for couples without insurance.  She will soon have office space at the parish hall at Sacred Heart Church in Alamosa.  But Valdez says her services are not restricted to Catholics. “Natural family planning benefits all women,” she says. 
            How?  Couples who use natural family planning often come to a new respect for each other as they accept and work with the biological reality of the fertility of both the man and the woman, says Valdez.   Their divorce rate is estimated at between 2 and 5%, substantially lower than the rate among couples who use artificial methods of contraception.  “When women take the entire burden of contraception on themselves, men aren't included in some very basic understandings that they could have with their spouse.  Working together to understand each other's needs helps men value their wives on a level not often acknowledged in a culture where artificial contraception is pretty much a given.”
            Extended use of the birth control pill also carries health risks including blood clots, heart attack and stroke.  Natural family planning supports health-conscious women who dislike the idea of taking medication to prevent ovulation. “The Creighton FertilityCare System is not appealing to all women,” Valdez acknowledges, “but it is now available as a viable option to those women searching for an alternative to artificial contraception.”
            The Creighton system also can be used to achieve pregnancy.  Valdez can help couples understand how to time when pregnancy occurs and can refer women who have difficulty conceiving to Integrated OB/GYN, a clinic with expertise in Creighton's NaPro technology.  And while Valdez is launching her business by offering expertise in natural family planning, she has bigger plans for the future of Servant Song Women's Wellness.
            Valdez hopes to expand her services after receiving additional training.  Creighton has   developed alternative treatments for endometriosis and other medical issues treated with birth control pills.  Teenage girls who are prescribed artificial contraception for these issues are at greater risk for long-term side-effects of the pill than women who start these treatments later in life, but without alternative interventions, these young women and their parents may believe that artificial contraception is their only choice. 
            For women in the San Luis Valley, that may not be true for long. 
            Michelle Valdez may be  reached at 588-9432.

July 11, 2012

Dan Hicks Joins the SBDC Counseling Team


Dan Hicks wants to see local businesses succeed.  Because of this motivation and his wealth of knowledge in the business world, he is a perfect fit as a Small Business Development Center Counselor.
  
His focus is to help the entrepreneur on establishing measurable goals with significant financial awareness.  Dan and his wife Glynn Polter own Mountain Lighthouse and Gallery in South Fork.  He has owned his own businesses in the past and was employed as the Chief Operating Officer for a “dot com” startup.  His Bachelor degree was in business and finance from San Jose State University.  

Dan is a wonderful listener, understands how to go from step A to step Z when an entrepreneur wants to start or expand their business.  He is a welcome addition to the dozen independent business counselors working with the SLV SBDC.  One recent startup client had this to say about working with Dan and the SBDC.  “I wanted to add that Dan's help has been invaluable, as it helped me get past some of the State of Colorado registrations without issue.  One item that is more difficult to explain is that sometimes it is just good to have someone listen to your ideas and give you their honest evaluation on your thoughts. This is something I really have appreciated.   Dan offers a wide span of skills to the community and the entire Valley.” To request a session with Dan, you can call the SBDC office at 719-589-3682 or go to the web-site at ColordoSBDC.org.

July 10, 2012

Rustic Log Furniture is a Colorado Business to Watch


On June 22, 2012, Alamosa business owners Randy and Micah Jackson of Rustic Log Furniture were recognized in Denver as one of Colorado’s Companies to Watch.  This competitive process narrowed down the nominations to just 50 companies, which were highlighted in the ColoradoBiz, June 2012, magazine.  As Mike Cote summarizes in his article, these companies are “successful, they’re growing and, chances are, you might be hearing about many of them for the first time.”
Colorado has become one of the "shining star examples" of how to conduct the program, says Penny Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development at the Edward Lowe Foundation, which also oversees Companies to Watch programs in several other states.
"Second-stage companies are an important component in Colorado’s economy and a significant driver of job growth," said Ken Lund, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. "These companies account for nearly 39 percent of the state’s economy in terms of sales and are responsible for 34 percent of all of the jobs created."
Recognizing and celebrating the impact of these companies represents a major step toward ensuring the state creates the proper environment for them to succeed. Second-stage companies are looking for something more than business planning and marketing assistance. And they tend to move fast, Lewandowski says.
"They need much more sophisticated help, services that deliver pertinent information and guidance can play an incredible role," Lewandowski says. "They tend to learn from their peers. That’s where they feel there are trusted sources. Activities that are peer-to-peer are very important them."
Executives in these companies often are facing leadership issues that come with leaping to the next stage, Lewandowski says. "They start to look at management in a very different way because the entrepreneur can no longer be the person that takes care of everything at this company. Their growth issues and their strategy issues are very different than at early stage."
Snapshot: Alamosa-based Rustic Log Furniture manufactures log furniture products using dead standing aspen from the Rocky Mountain forests and distributes them to retail stores across the country.
Leadership: Randy and Micah Jackson were founders of the business in 1996.  Randy served as the Chair for the Alamosa Economic Development Corporation and they also volunteer as speakers for the Leading Edge Business Seminar.  Randy also serves on the Adams State University Foundation Board.  They are graduates from Adams State and are involved in their local church and community.
Work force: Rustic Log furniture ended 2011 with 35 full-time-equivalent employees, a 71 percent increase over the previous year. It expects to employ 45 this year.
Pivotal moment: When Rustic Log outgrew its manufacturing location, the company leased adjoining property that had more acreage and highway frontage. Walk-in traffic surged as a result.
Technological edge: Rustic Log Furniture is connected with most of its suppliers for virtual automation of the inventory-ordering processes. The invoice software is linked to the factory’s batch processing reports that export piece lists for the various work stations. Machinists used by Rustic Log have developed new equipment and modified existing equipment to optimize various processes.
Competitive Edge: Rustic Log Furniture has developed, streamlined, and automated processes to deal with the irregular nature of log furniture. Its product line is the most extensive in the industry, according to the company. Competitive advantages it has realized from collaborating with suppliers and distribution networks have allowed it to price products 10 percent to 20 percent below the competition.
Growth curve: The company’s revenues soared 34 percent in 2011 over the previous year, and it is projecting a 20 percent gain this year.


June 29, 2012

QuickBooks for Beginner Workshop


QuickBooks™ Beginner Class 

Thursday, July 12, 2012
3:30-6:00 p.m.

At the Depot, upstairs

$25 per person
Presented by Donielle VanGieson

Please call Donna Wehe at the Small Business
Development Center
589-3682 to register

June 8, 2012

Jeep Rental Business Opens in South Fork, Colorado


Stephen Matthews is just as busy as a “retired guy” living in South Fork as when he was employed and ran his other businesses.   In fact, Stephen’s email address is “retiredinsouthfork.” But some people just can’t stay retired.  He just opened a new business, Wolf Creek Jeep Rentals, out of the 8200 Mountain Sports location in South Fork, Colorado.  

He contacted the SLV Small Business Development Center (589-3682) for assistance.  Stephen told us about his experience with the SBDC.  “I want to add that Donna and Dan's help has been invaluable, as it helped me get past some of the State of Colorado registrations without issue.  One item that is more difficult to explain is that sometimes it is just good to have someone listen to your ideas and give you their honest evaluation on your thoughts. This is something I really have appreciated. Donna and Dan (SLV Small business Development Center) offer a wealth of information to the community and the entire Valley. “

Stephen moved to South Fork in June of 2011 from Oklahoma.  He has been busy volunteering with his church, the Chamber, Foundation, Visitors Center and enjoys hiking and fishing.  As an entrepreneur, he looked around and saw a void in recreational opportunities for visitors and locals to access some of the beautiful back country in the San Juan Mountains.  After spending some time researching and learning the ins and outs of the industry, he purchased three top of the line Jeep Sarahas and opened his doors officially on June 1, 2012.  Check out http://wolfcreekjeeps.com/ for more information.
Stephen has an interesting background in global education, and was instrumental in a Japanese-U.S. teacher exchange program in the mid 2000’s.  He was also invited to England to participate in an educational technology reception with Parliament. He has enjoyed seeing young adults advance and move forward with their education, but says his leadership was only a small part. “We could not have seen the improvement had it not been for the faculty and staff whom he has the greatest of respect. I never wanted them to feel that they worked for me, but that we worked together as partners and instilled in the students that failure was not an option."  He has been involved in the corporate world and has successfully run other businesses with the same philosophy:  failure is not an option. 

Enjoy the View ! (Million Reservoir, South Fork)
Wolf Creek Jeep Rentals will assist experience or novice back country explorers and will equip them with trail maps, driving tips, area information and operating instructions.  

Call ahead for availability and reservations at (719) 849-8244 if you are interested in this adventure.  

They are open daily from 8a .m. to 5 p.m.  So much for being “retired in South Fork!”

May 14, 2012

New Greenhouse Business Opens in Sanford, Colorado



Paul is instructing volunteers on how to install a drip irrigation system

Paul loves to educate and will give you tips and instructions for keeping your plants alive and thriving.




















"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden...But though an old man, I am but a young gardener."   This quote by our third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, sums up how Paul Niebel feels about his love of gardening after a varied and interesting career.  Paul has been living in the San Luis Valley for about 18 years and in his retirement, decided to turn his hobby into a small business.  He officially opened Kirby House Agro, LLC and just completed the Leading Edge business seminar.  He also used the services of the other business counselors at the Small Business Development Center.  “What I liked most about the classes was that it stimulated my movement forward and provided tools and ideas to better organize and run my business.” His greenhouse is behind the historic Kirby House, a well-known Sanford icon.  In fact, his brother-in-law’s grandparents were the Kirbys and many folks around here remember them fondly.


At Kirby House Agro, you can purchase drip irrigation systems, flowers (both annual and perennial), vegetable seeds, and starters.  He grows everything from seed and only sells what will grow in the dry, alpine climate.  He is not out to compete with other green houses, but to work in collaboration.  His philosophy is two-fold: (1) Have fun and (2) Educate others.  You can purchase some of his products at the Valley Food Co-Op, the GreenSpot and Circle K.  He has recently taught some educational gardening and drip irrigation classes in conjunction with the Alamosa Community Garden organization.
Paul is a Vietnam Veteran who has worked professionally as a nurse, EMT, potato inspector, and outdoor wildlife instructor.  He is married to Delores, who will be retiring from 28 years of teaching and is a native to the area.  They met while attending a dance (Delores impressed him with her waltzing).  His bachelor’s degree is from UNM, Albuquerque in history and archeology, so if you have time, he can also tell you about some of the heritage plants and the story of what makes them special, rare, beautiful and interesting.  He sells the dry bean called the “Manassa Martin,” which was brought to the Valley by the early Mormon Pioneers.
The picture of the plant is the Black Prince Snap Dragon, a very hard to find “heirloom” flower.
The greenhouse is open Mon-Sat, 10:00-6:00 or you can contact Paul on his cell phone at (719) 298-0106.