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Success Stories

Avalanche Roofing

Jesse Russow became an entrepreneur before he could even drive. He grew up on a small farm and through daily hard work; he developed a mindset that he could do anything. When Jesse was 13 years old, he started doing landscaping in his hometown of Joplin, MO. When Jesse was 15, he was heavily involved in sports at school. No matter how busy he was, he was also driven by the entrepreneurial spirit; he started working nights and weekends on appliances. At 16, he was taking service calls by himself. Then, when Jesse turned 19, he opened his own appliance service and repair business. When asked why he was so driven at a young age to be a business owner, he replied, “Simple. In school, I saw a statistic that said something like 97% of millionaires were self-employed. So, I always knew I would be self-employed”.

Little did Jesse know that he would later start a highly successful business in roofing and exterior remodeling in Colorado.

After completing high school, Jesse attended college for a couple of years and studied engineering at Missouri Southern State University. He supported himself through school by owning and operating an appliance sales and service company. In 2005, he was recruited by a roofing company from Oklahoma. Jesse was hired to do sales for the company, but quickly learned that he had been hired by one of the many ‘stormers’ – companies that move from city to city offering low cost roofing services that often prove to be low quality. The company left town soon after, leaving Jesse without a job and without earnings still owed to him.

It was at that point that Jesse decided to start his own roofing and exterior repair business. In December of 2007, Jesse started Avalanche Roofing & Exteriors.

Jesse’s business was doing very well in Colorado Springs, but he knew that he needed assistance to manage his fast growth the right way. He had questions about sales retention, business entity, and he knew he was going to eventually need a loan. Jesse had known about the SBDC in MO, so he knew to look for onein Colorado Springs for business assistance. Jesse contacted the Colorado Springs SBDC in July of 2010.

He attended business training classes offered through the SBDC and met with volunteer counselors for assistance with tracking sales and retention, outsourcing, and intellectual property. He also received assistance with preparing for a business loan. Through the assistance of the SBDC, he was approved for an SBA 7(a) loan in February 2011 in the amount of $500K.

Jesse also credits his success by asking questions, reading a lot of business books, and having the confidence to surround himself with knowledge and not be intimidated.

Future plans for Avalanche Roofing & Exteriors consist of continuing an excellent customer service, and an expansion of services including siding, stucco, gutters, paint, windows & doors, and attic insulation. He knows that this includes still working long hours every week, but states, “I believe in putting your time in and paying your dues. After 10 years, I’ll be able to step back and the company will be running itself.”

Potato Potato

Potato Potato Mobile Foods started as a joke between friends. Kevin Johnson, Owner/Operator/Emperor of Potatoes knew that poutine (the mobile food’s specialty), was popular in Canada but not the United States, and mostly unknown in Colorado. It was then; Kevin thought that an “International House of Poutine” style concept would be both successful and unique in the Colorado market. Kevin visited the SBDC to help make his idea a reality. “SBDC counseling has helped me

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Bump on the Head

When Austin Shepard was 10 years old, a thrown baseball changed his life. Austin was in a coma for two and a half months. When he came out of the coma, he could barely walk, talk or do many of the things he used to do as a young, well rounded athlete. One little baseball changed his life forever. It was when Austin turned 17, his principle and Psychology teacher asked him to speak to

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Jewell PR

Resilience In Small Business: SBDC Helps Creative & Veteran Entrepreneur Vernon Jewell by Dean J. Miller Vernon Jewell’s path to business success as a creative in Colorado Springs is as much a story of grit and self-motivation, as it is a powerful story of resilience in reaching for the American dream. The youngest of two brothers and four sisters, Vernon gained interest in the arts in his youth by drawing his own comic book heroes

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Ascension Engineering Group

Ascension Engineering Group reaches for the stars Written by, Dean J. Miller Fascinated by all things technology in their youth, neither Andrew Dark nor Dan Wilson would have anticipated a future as leaders of one of the hottest space systems engineering start-ups in the nation. Today the founders of Ascension Engineering Group, LLC. support America’s warfighters with high tech by prioritizing the most basic soft skills. At Ascension, taking care of people is a foundational

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Brian Siravo thought about starting his own business for a few years. After he was presented with some life challenges (loss of employment due to company cutbacks), it was the last lever that needed to be pulled to launch him into moving in the right direction. With 20 years of experience in business continuity and personal preparedness, Brian wanted to share his passion for these topics with more businesses across the country. Brian started learning

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Venture Surplus

Jeffry Radspinner opened Venture Surplus on January 1, 2015. It is an online Army surplus store that provides government issue uniforms and mil-spec gear for soldiers, veterans, hobbyists, and preppers. Venture Surplus is customer centric, a major differentiator from competitors. Venture Surplus offers a satisfaction guarantee and free returns on all products. Furthermore, while most surplus stores sell general military surplus, Venture Surplus specializes specifically in army surplus and carries one of the largest sections

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