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.