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Success Stories

Clay’s Ace Hardware

In 2014, Tim and Julie Kenney purchased Clay’s Ace Hardware, a mainstay of south Fort Collins since the original owners, Jim and Lisa Clay, started the store in 1998. Tim and Julie felt the entrepreneurial call, but did not necessarily want to start their own business, so they began looking for businesses to purchase. Their focus rested on a brand that was recognizable, and an existing business that had a culture built around service to the customers and community. They learned that Tim and Lisa Clay were considering selling their store located on Harmony Road in Fort Collins, however the Clays cared deeply about their employees and customers and only wanted to sell to someone with the same values. Tim appreciated this and said, “It’s the idea that people are coming to our store for more than an item.”

Tim began investigating the Ace Hardware franchise model and discovered it was a cooperative, meaning each store is locally owned, but they still have a national organization with one vote per store. The franchise is particular about the owners it selects, and he went through the process, discovering the support the model offered along the way. Outside of the support from the franchise, Tim made his way in to the SBDC for consulting on the purchase process. The purchase took about a year to complete.

A key recommendation from one of the SBDC consultants was that he simply work in the business for the first few months of the transition. “We were focused on continuing the path of success of the previous owners and made no changes for the first six months,” said Tim. The store is classified a supercenter based on sheer size, with 17,000 square feet of retail space and a team of 31 people. There are approximately 13 full time employees, and the core group of employees have been with the store between 5 to 13 years. By heeding this advice, the Kenney’s were able to make the ownership transition and maintained 100% employee retention. “It’s the same great service with the same great team,” Tim says proudly.

The store remains deeply rooted in the community and regularly hosts fundraisers in it parking lots for local high school clubs, sports teams and others. They strive to maintain a welcoming attitude and create a fun environment with these events, an element other stores struggle to emulate. There are over a dozen events each year at the store.

Tim is excited for the future of the store and the possibilities of expansion. As he has come to understand the history and culture of the store, he has faced challenges, but with the support of the Ace franchise and SBDC consultants the ownership transition has been a success.

Pateros Creek Brewery

When Steve Jones of Pateros Creek Brewery began the journey to turn his passion for brewing beer into a business, he may not have predicted just how long that trip might take. Much like a raft trip down Pateros Creek – an early name for the Cache la Poudre River – the route from concept to selling beer had a few obstacles in store. After trade marking a business name and announcing it, another local

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Spidertrax Off-Road

Thom Kingston helped start Loveland-based Spidertrax Off-Road not in a garage like some startups but in a fully equipped shop at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 1999, Kingston and his former partner and co-founder, Eddie Casanueva, initially snuck into the school after-hours to develop and manufacture parts for the off-road industry until they got official approval and could work during the daytime. “We were manufacturing all of our parts, using the tools of

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Java Raiz

Need a quick boost of healthy energy? Java Raiz can save your day. Made with organic Flame raisins grown in California and 100% Kona coffee from Hawaii, Java Raiz is a healthy treat you can take anywhere. The ingredients are simple, but extremely good for you. Organic Flame raisins are made from red grapes, which include more antioxidants than a typical (Thompson) raisin. Kona coffee beans are grown in volcanic soil, which provides many more

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Avid Product Development

Consulting businesses are often lonely endeavors, constrained by the experience, capacity, and moxie of the owner. When opportunity knocks – in the guise of new technologies, more customers, or economic expansion – many consultants choke, not willing to do what’s necessary to grow. When Doug Collins, owner of Loveland’s Avid Product Development reached that point, it was the opportunities new 3D Printing technology offered that crystalized the dilemma. “I had a good clientele, a good

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Rocky Mountain Westy

You don’t often see a growing business based on a product that hasn’t been made in almost 20 years, but twin brothers Mike and Greg LaBate built this at Rocky Mountain Westy (RMW). RMW designs, manufacturers, and sells camping and lifestyle parts to Volkswagen Vanagon “Westy” van enthusiasts and service centers worldwide. These products help the van owner upgrade or convert the Westy van, often to performance levels above the original factory model, such as

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Clean Bees

Clean Bees Homekeepers Cleaning Up! When Katie Straubel moved from Florida to Colorado in 2001, she took a job doing house-cleaning to make ends meet.  Eight years later, she earned a history degree from CSU, while continuing to work in the cleaning industry. Today, she is the proud confident owner of Clean Bees, a Northern Colorado cleaning company with 35 employees and over $1M in annual sales! Katie says “I worked in the restaurant business,

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