Success Stories

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Dry Dock Brewing Company

The award-winning Dry Dock Brewing Company is Aurora’s first microbrewery. Established in October 2005, Dry Dock is co-owned and operated by Kevin DeLange and Michelle Reding. The brewery began with just two employees in a 900 square-foot space with less than 20 seats in the back of Kevin and Michelle’s homebrew supply shop, The Brew Hut. They brewed less than 500 barrels of beer in 2006. How-ever, Dry Dock has enjoyed tremendous success and growth in a very short time. In 2015, the brewery was producing almost 20,000 barrels of beer each year and over 30,000 barrels in 2016.  It is the largest brewery in Colorado that is only distributing in-state.  At the “South Dock,” there’s a cozy bar with casual seating, a jovial atmosphere and a staff eager to serve. Patrons flock to the bar to taste new and frequently-changing brews. Behind a glass wall lives the brewery’s small production facility, and also on the premises is The Brew Hut, a supply house for homebrewers and wine makers.

With the assistance of an SBDC consultant, Dry Dock secured a $4.5 million dollar SBA 504 loan in 2012. These funds allowed Dry Dock to produce a larger volume of beer to distribute much more widely.

“Working with any government agency can be daunting, so it has been great to have a partner to help us through regulations and training, or just to point us in the right direction if we have questions,” said Kevin.

Dry Dock Brewery may be “landlocked” at South Chambers Road and East Hampden Avenue, but this small microbrewery has the wind at its back and clear sailing ahead in Aurora. In 2013, Dry Dock opened a 30,000 square-foot production facility, “North Dock,” on I-70 and Tower Road where it began canning its Home Fleet beers. In 2014, Dry Dock opened the Canoe Room tasting room at the facility. With the addition of the production facility, the company grew to 24 full-time and 22 part-time employees.

Dry Dock has partnered with their local community, the City of Aurora, in various activities. This hometown business delights in being a part of many city events. They are quick to lend a hand to local not-for-profit or civic groups in need of support. In 2015, Dry Dock hosted the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association to discuss how they worked with the City of Aurora and the Aurora-South Metro SBDC to overcome various obstacles of starting a small brewery.

Since Dry Dock opened in 2005, the brewery has won over 25 Great American Beer Festival and 8 World Beer Cup medals, making it the most medaled Colorado craft brewery in the last decade. Dry Dock has also won at least  40 awards at the Colorado State Fair.

“Dry Dock has grown tremendously, and the Aurora-South Metro SBDC has been with us every step of the way,” commented Kevin.

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Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant

In the restaurant world a successful business often begins with family. When Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant, a new hotspot in Lone Tree, opened, the whole family pitched in to help owners Jim and Lasinda Crane make their dreams come true. Hours after the ink was dry on the restaurant lease, the couple began updating the décor and kitchen with the help of friends and family. Lasinda’s father David, a retired electrician, helped build a bar and rework the lighting system, while nephew Mike rerouted the bar’s plumbing. Lasinda’s niece Lisa helped to write the business plan. At the restaurant’s busy opening on December 26, 2013, Lasinda and her daughter Brittany served as waitresses. Lasinda continues to run the restaurant’s operations and Brittany waitresses three days per week. Jimmy serves as the executive chef, assisted by their son Connor, nephew Merrick, and longtime friend John Sebring, cooking up delicious Italian favorites every day.

“This place was meant to be,” said Lasinda. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this if we hadn’t had our friends and family to help us.”

Both Jim and Lasinda have extensive histories in the restaurant industry. Jimmy started as a dishwasher at Garramone’s in Lakewood when he was 13, progressing from these humble beginnings to chef and general manager of several high profile Colorado restaurants. Jimmy also worked as a restaurant consultant, helping a friend open an eatery and successfully reinventing a struggling steak house. Lasinda brings a wealth of business and restaurant experience to Cranelli’s, having worked in the mortgage industry followed by progressive positions in several restaurants and coffee shops including server, administrator, trainer, and general manager.

After years of helping other restaurants flourish, Jim and Lasinda decided that it was time to open their own. When they found themselves overwhelmed by the process of writing a business plan they turned to the South Metro SBDC. They arrived at the SBDC in search of business plan assistance, as well as help obtaining a loan.

“Our SBDC consultant walked side-by-side with Cranelli’s, investing over 12 hours of consulting in anticipation of their opening,” said Executive Director Marcia McGilley. “We are thrilled with their success.”

From the beginning, a combination of luck and perseverance has made Cranelli’s possible. Lasinda got into a minor traffic accident on the way to her first SBDC appointment. She only had 20 minutes to meet with her consultant, but she returned to work on her plan. “He went line by line and put it into the basics,” Lasinda said. In addition to fine-tuning the plan, the SBDC helped open doors at the Colorado Enterprise Fund, where they ultimately obtained a loan. “Because of that email, they wanted to work with us. It is the connections that make it happen,” said Lasinda. The SBDC diligently followed up with lenders, which ultimately assisted the couple in finding the right location. SBDC counselors warned them that they might not qualify for the loan amount needed for their original location choice. When the smaller amount was approved, Jimmy and Lasinda began searching on Craigslist for restaurants. They discovered a hidden gem, a turnkey location with an existing commercial kitchen where they saw great potential. The entire process took a great deal of work and phone calls, but in the end, it was worth it. “We really had to follow up with everyone to make it happen, but looking back it wasn’t that bad. The fact that we’re successful now reaffirms that it was meant to be,” said Lasinda.

One of the factors behind Cranelli’s success has been Lasinda’s diligent marketing. When a new office building opened near the restaurant she brought fresh garlic knots to the staff, which she plans on doing for other businesses in the area. With her daughter’s help, she has utilized Facebook and a weekly enewsletter to advertise specials. She also provides catering for a local soup kitchen twice per month. The restaurant currently has eight kitchen employees and is in the process of expanding their staff to include more servers to keep up with the crowds. Lasinda plans on planting an herb garden on their newly refinished outdoor patio so that they can illustrate how they use their own herbs in recipes.

The next time you’re in the mood for a family meal, stop by Cranelli’s. As Lasinda says, “At our restaurant it’s a handshake first and a hug after that.”

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Colorado Safety Supply

Starting out as a dream in 2012, Valerie Boyd developed her knowledge and contacts within the safety equipment industry to move forward with confidence in 2014. Valerie started to make the dream a reality. Coming from a family working in the structural steel industry, Valerie’s top priority is to keep families safe by keeping workers safe. Colorado Safety Supply does just that, providing safety training and equipment for construction job sites.

Located in Aurora, Colorado Safety Supply sells a variety of safety products, from fall protection to ladder climbing systems, from roofing kits to rescue and recovery devices. Colorado Safety Supply’s online store makes it convenient to find the right product for the job, and pride in customer service is the hallmark for every product sold and every training experience.

Valerie grew the business by 50% in sales between 2014 and 2015, then by 200% the next year. Valerie was able to grow the company on the profits. Now, in 2017, Colorado Safety Supply works with companies of all sizes and is growing to the point of needing more space to hold both a retail store and training facilities.

The new Aurora facility is under construction near the current location and expected to be completed in 2018. The office site will include a retail store, a supply warehouse and safety training facility for contractors and their employees. She has added an administrative staff member, an internal sales representative, two outside sales reps, and contracted providers for bookkeeping, marketing and web design. Working together, sales have increased by 67% over the past year, obtaining government contracts and increasing her product line.

Starting from scratch with personal funds and a line of credit, how did Valerie go from the start-up to expansion phase in just three years? She explains. “As a small business, I met with consultants at the Aurora-South Metro SBDC and was offered guidance in not only starting my business but giving me direction to grow my business. I attended the LEADING EDGETM Strategic Planning Series in the spring of 2015 and completed my business plan. By doing so, I realized the tremendous opportunity for expansion. The greatest challenge at this time is to complete the new facility from which we can provide more services in safety training and equipment rentals and sales.”

Colorado Safety Supply Company is 100% woman owned, with WBE, DBE, SBE, WOSB certifications. Although not veteran-owned, Colorado Safety Supply Company has tremendous respect and passion for veterans, working with many companies who employ and focus on the growth of veterans who are becoming educated in this industry through training and job exploration. Visit her updated secure website, https://coloradosafetysupply.com, for both products and classes.

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