Success Stories

Launch Pad Brewery

The end of an unexpectedly volatile 2020 is a great time to tell the success story about one of Aurora’s prized businesses.  David LeVesque spent about a decade perfecting his technique of home brewing with some help from The Brew Hut and visiting Colorado breweries.  The idea of opening a business location started ‘brewing’ about six years ago, and Launch Pad’s mission came together after working on the start-up’s financials over several meetings with an SBDC consultant.  A loan for working capital from Aurora’s Revolving Loan Fund also helped with the purchase of equipment, and Launch Pad Brewery was officially ‘launched’ in 2015.

The loan was quickly paid off thanks to success as a start-up.  The hard work and natural marketing prowess of Owner and Founder David Levesque, along with business partner,
Co-owner and Founder Henry Rusch, have made Launch Pad Brewery a favorite destination for locals, Buckley Air Force Base personnel and lovers of micro-brews.  Launch Pad has a unique military theme in both brews and décor.  Launch Pad is veteran-owned and operated.  Both business partners are Air Force veterans, and the staff is either active military or the spouse of a military veteran.

Expansion plans began with the help of SBA loans, through both Colorado Lending Source and Independent Bank, and a stepped-up marketing plan.  The brewery went from 2500 sq. ft. to 5800 sq. ft., increasing occupancy from 84 to 184.  They also expanded distribution to over 45 local bars and tap houses, necessarily pivoting during 2020 to reach more customers while social distancing, offering an online store for curbside and indoor pick up, as well as offering gift certificates.

The co-owners won the U.S. Small Business Administration Colorado Small Business Person of the Year Award at a soft presentation on March 27, 2020 and officially at a very small gathering on September 24, 2020 to receive the physical award at Launch Pad.  SBA’s Colorado District Director Frances Padilla, the District’s SBDC Coordinator David Benavides and Lead Lender Specialist Steve White were on hand to outline all the ways that Launch Pad has contributed to the business community with innovative outreach and consistent quality.  One of Launch Pad’s SBDC consultants, Chuck Hahn (retired), was there to not only speak highly of Launch Pad’s hard work, but to also receive the Small Business Advocate of the Year Award.

Henry Rusch has presented some of Launch Pad’s secrets of success as host to the SBA’s Veterans Small Business Week in 2018 and 2019, in conjunction with the Aurora-South Metro SBDC, the Aurora Chamber and the Veterans Outreach Center.  The educational panel has given a wealth of advice to veterans interested in growing their businesses.  The team at Launch Pad credits the SBDC, “We treasure the advice and working relationship with the SBDC.  The SBDC team, the City of Aurora and the SBA have been supportive of our business from the beginning, and we are truly grateful.”

ContractsRx

ContractsRx is on a mission to make legal contracting seamless, accessible and repeatable.  Shannon Leonard and Ramon Rhymes, co-founders, make it their aim to reduce the time, cost and risk associated with business contracting and business outcomes.

The abrupt uncertainty that COVID-19 brought to ContractsRx and other small businesses resulted in an overnight shift from the known to the unknown.  
While Shannon and Ramon are fortunate to be in a technology industry
with the tools in place to work at home, they quickly realized that they would
have to pivot their skill sets and adapt to their clients’ current needs.  Their sales pipeline dried up quickly as businesses were just trying to survive—something that, today, many small businesses have in common.

ContractsRx started out in 2015 as a legal consulting firm representing clients of all sizes in a host of business-related matters.  Their client base increased as
they began to realize their potential to improve contracting processes and help
small businesses achieve efficiency through expert business contracting. Besides deploying a contracts analysis tool, they also honed new skills:  online event
management, webinar creation and content development, as well as two new
contract SAAS tools to meet the demands of the rapidly changing COVID-19
business landscape.  Their new products reduce the time, cost and risk associated with business contracting.

“Running a small business requires focus, discipline and wearing many hats.  As entrepreneurs, we have the drive and, with the Aurora-South Metro SBDC as partners, the expert insight in developing and managing our internal corporate structure and processes.  The SBDC was also instrumental in helping hone and refine our messaging and business story.”

Uncertain times have a big impact on finances and cash flow.  To ease the
financial burden on their clients, they deferred and eliminated payments to
help ContractsRx clients continue business with their clients and
vendors.  ContractsRx received funding from the SBA’s PPP and EIDL loan programs, allowing the company to remain focused on its mission to help businesses drive better contracts.  The pandemic provided Shannon and Ramon with a unique opportunity to build on important aspects of business that were just too easy to put on the back burner.  They are also seeing smaller companies recognize the need to normalize their contracting activity.

With true entrepreneurial spirit, Shannon and Ramon are growing their business during difficult times.  They will come out stronger on the other side of this pandemic with even greater ability to help their clients grow their businesses and produce greater certainty in their contracts.  ContracsRx will help diagnose and fix your contracting issues.  To find out more, visit their Web site: https://contractsrx.com.

Aurora AutoPros

The Aurora AutoPros mission guides owners Edgar and Reneé
Leon’s daily operations:  to provide the
highest quality mechanical repair solutions in a professional, honest, and
transparent manner.  They keep their
environment clean, educate car owners and are family-friendly.  Their customers value AutoPros’ personalized
service given by ASE certified technicians.  As a TechNet Professional Repair Shop, AutoPros’
customers receive a nationwide 36-month/36,000-mile warranty on all repairs
that also includes roadside assistance for all invoices of $25 or more.

With
just two bays at the start on April 1, 2013, over the last seven years, they’ve
added four full-time employees and two more bays, working on 150 cars per month
on average.  They also started a towing
business, Regal Towing, LLC, in 2019. 
With a lot of questions at the beginning, they could lean on the expertise
and support of the Aurora-South Metro SBDC. 
Reneé Leon explains, “The SBDC staff was fantastic about following up
and answering questions—from understanding financial statements to marketing.  The consultants’ passion for helping grow small
businesses is evident in how they present ideas and look for helpful
opportunities.”

The
Leons realize that people are keeping their vehicles longer, so they build on
their customer relationships, receiving glowing reviews and referrals.  They hold their competitive edge in several
ways.  Aurora AutoPros keeps up with ever-changing
advancements in automotive technology by updating their equipment.  They are members of the ASA (Automotive
Service Association).  They offer six-month
no-interest financing to those who qualify. 
Most importantly, they maintain high-quality repairs and quick turnaround
with their fleet accounts and individual customers.

Their
goal is to add another technician and eventually purchase a building.  Aurora AutoPros is an active member of the
Aurora Chamber, and they serve on the 7-20 Memorial Foundation.

During the trying times of the COVID-19
pandemic.

The Leons have adapted to COVID-19 by keeping family, health and community as top priorities.  Automotive repair was deemed an essential business, and Aurora AutoPros is grateful to be able to support the community by providing access to reliable transportation.  They immediately updated their procedures to ensure safety to both customers and workforce.  In addition to their practice of wearing gloves, they disinfect keys and fobs, use disposable floor mats, steering wheel and seat covers, and disinfect each vehicle.  They’ve eliminated many face-to-face interactions by using text and email, sending digital inspections with videos and photos, accepting payment on the website, and more.  They added pickup and delivery service to those who need it, especially during the pandemic for first responders, medical professionals, and other essential businesses and their employees.

Pictured: (lft-rt) Owner Edgar Leon with employee Jose

Leatherneck Precision Machine

 

Leatherneck Precision Machine is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that specializes in precision machined components for the aerospace, defense, medical, dental, injection molding and other commercial industries that need precision machined parts for their product lines.  Sometimes people’s lives depend on special machine parts, such as aircraft structures, automobiles, and human-rated spacecrafts, and Leatherneck is an AS9100D- and ISO9001-certified company able to do that technical work.  He also has SDVOSB and SDVBE certifications (for small disadvantaged veteran-owned small business).

Anthony Marshall, Owner and President, is a US Marine Veteran who served in Somalia in 1994.  After leaving the Service he became a CNC Machinist working at companies such as Lockheed Martin, Space X and several other tier 2 aerospace suppliers.  He has worked on several high-profile projects like the Dragon 1 & 2 spacecrafts, Falcon 9 and Falcon heavy rockets, The Orion Spacecraft, Mars 2020 spacecraft, F35, F22, C130, 767, Delta and Atlas rockets.  Anthony started Leatherneck Precision Machine in October 2017 to help Veterans transition from the military and learn a valuable skill set that will lead to significant employment for the rest of their lives.

Leatherneck’s first CNC milling machine was delivered in late July 2018 to their facility in Englewood.  Anthony worked with a local nonprofit lender to fund a second CNC milling machine added in November 2019.  This machine allows the company to do twice the work.  “The SBDC has helped with my business education from the beginning, including, small business events, half-day workshops and one-on-one consulting.  The Aurora-South Metro SBDC are Rock Stars for the aspiring entrepreneur, a very valuable resource for the business community.”  The Small Manufacturers AdvantEDGE program proved valuable to help get his space ready for business.  In fact, Leatherneck Precision Machine was host to the City of Englewood’s Manufacturing Day celebration in 2019. The industries that are integral to the company’s success are booming.  As a result, expansion plans are to add a CNC lathe and a Coordinate Measuring Machine in 2020, inspection equipment as needed, as well as hire one or two employees to help with the work load.  Eventually, Anthony would like to grow large enough, doubling or tripling in size in the next year, by buying his own building and hiring wounded veterans—and yet stay small enough to stay in touch with his customers and employees.

Trunk Nouveau | Squadron

Trunk Nouveau /t^nk/ ‘nju:’veo/ noun:  A curated monthly showing and sale from an independent maker who offers handcrafted wares.  Trunk Nouveau in Aurora started with a remarkable dream:  a busy aviation studio, industrial in nature, doused in the smell of engine oil and creativity.  In the back, a room with steam trunks and suitcases filled with forgotten treasures–the kind that people hold on to, handcrafted and meaningful.

A trunk showroom was created at Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace–packed full of love and local, a curious place to discover and explore.  Suitcases are packed with jewelry, cards, charms, gemstones, wooden toys, and other unique gifts from talented local and regional artists.

Although their businesses Pandora on the Hill and Soul Haus have been in operation for over 20 years in Denver, Trunk Nouveau is young, celebrating its third year, and Squadron Co is celebrating its first anniversary at Stanley Marketplace.  Who knew that a business in the middle of a field with no major intersections could succeed, along with 50 other businesses, in the local economy.  In fact, Trunk Nouveau has now exceeded sales over their businesses in Denver.  When a second space became available at Stanley just before the holidays last year, owner Chris Bacorn jumped on it, and opened Squadron Co, a men’s gift and clothing boutique.

Owner Stephanie Shearer recalls, “Before Trunk even had a name, we met with Aurora-South Metro
SBDC to review our finances to make sure that we were liquid enough to open this new venture in a location with zero financial history.  The SBDC helped us trim and tuck, with reserves in place for growth.”

The SBDC gave advice on traffic patterns and location quirks and suggested a rolling suitcase feature filled with products geared toward men.  “It’s that brainchild of Aurora-South Metro SBDC that proved to us that we needed a men’s shop.”  In the Fall of 2018, Squadron Co was born and now has the fastest growth pattern of all four shops.

Trunk Nouveau started with the owners plus two staff on a bootstrapped budget.  Today, the two businesses employ seven full-time, three part-time and several seasonal positions.  Since opening, sales have increased 12% (nearly tripling the national retail growth of 4.6% for the same period), and gross profits increased 11.5%.  Net worth has increased, also.

Stephanie and Chris have community heart in hand demonstrated by their donations to local nonprofit organizations and being an environmentally aware business.  They are both proud children of Veterans, and they built Squadron Co as a tribute to their fathers, grandfathers and Chris’s grandmother, who served our country.  They proudly hire veterans at Squadron and offer military discounts.

Trunk Nouveau and Squadron Co have one mission:  to do business honestly and ethically, while serving the community.  “As we say in our ‘Stanifesto’, we’re here for good.”

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