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Success Stories

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Grandma’s Rockin’ Rolls

It was Laura Neilson’s grandmother who spent hours teaching her children and grandchildren how to bake – while sharing life lessons and family stories. Grandma and her sister-in-law sold cinnamon rolls ‘in town’ to help supplement the farming income. Can you image the commute on horseback during the depression in a Minnesota winter?!

Laura had been making Grandma’s rolls and giving them as gifts and holiday treats for over 30 years. But as Laura’s career in commercial printing was winding down, the idea of baking and selling cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and other ‘sweet treats’ came to the forefront.

Laura recalls, “Attending the LEADING EDGETM program in 2015 was probably the smartest move we could have possibly made. The curriculum was interesting, detailed and informative.” They learned about a host of resources available to businesses. By the end of the series, Grandma’s Rockin’ Rolls was formed. Rolls are freshly made in small batches, from scratch, all natural with no preservatives.

The Neilsons began with one farmers market in 2016 and grew from there. The beauty of this humble beginning was the ‘face-to-face’ sales experience. Customer feedback, product testing and surveys allowed them to grow their product line, improve packaging, streamline labeling and create a true one-of-a-kind customer experience.

They quickly outgrew the Cottage Industry requirements – as well as their tiny kitchen. Rather than spend money on renting a commissary, Randy Neilson remodeled and installed a commercial kitchen. By the end of 2017, they placed Grandma’s Rockin’ Rolls in 90 markets, and they registered with the FDA, allowing them to ship product in the continental U.S. The business grew by 440% in the first year!

By 2018, they realized that their best fit is selling at special events. Randy did the build out on a concession trailer. Their business model is straight forward: “We bake and wrap items in our kitchen. We then pack, ship and sell rolls and beverages from the concession trailer.” Laura does the baking, purchasing, sourcing and scheduling, while Randy (who still works full time) takes care of taxes, web development, kitchen and trailer repairs, and setting the trailer up at events.

“The Aurora-South Metro SBDC has helped us every step of the way. Their team assists with surveys, financial analysis, and resources for business growth. Sometimes when we are ‘stuck’, we can call, email or stop by for brainstorming, and always leave with a solution or idea.” Their product has been tested at CSU Food labs for shelf life, packaging and product stability.

The Neilsons are currently doing research on automated production to grow business capacity beyond the current 24% growth rate (over 20,000 rolls). They plan to work with the SBDC’s Small Manufacturer’s AdvantEDGE program. This has been the experience of a lifetime for the Neilsons. “Our goal is to leave an indelible impression on the people who enjoy Grandma’s Rockin’ Rolls.” (GrandmasRockinRolls.com)

Prieto’s Catering

Prieto’s Catering is an Aurora-based food truck selling authentic and delicious Mexican food.  Prieto’s serves a variety of tacos, including the famous birria tacos that everyone is excited about!  They also serve other popular Mexican dishes made fresh, such as tamales, tortas and burritos.  Fully aware that the business needs to be responsive to customer needs during the pandemic, they offer home delivery and pick up from 9AM to 3PM daily. As a family business

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petersen
Petersen Custom Glass

After 15 years in the glass industry, Kris and Valerie Petersen opened Petersen Custom Glass, LLC in 2014. Kris has extensive experience designing and installing custom glass products. His specific areas of expertise include high-end frameless shower enclosures, ADA accessible showers and other custom glass projects. With his leadership skills gained from the military and her executive skills, Petersen Custom Glass has become a successful local business in Parker, CO, serving a 25-mile radius in

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Rustic Nomads

Starting a business in 2020—during the COVID-19 pandemic—has been a journey to say the least, but the owner of Rustic Nomads, Nathan Wiersum, will have bragging rights for life.   “The support received from the SBDC is why I continue to move .” With a loan from DreamSpring to purchase a food truck, the rest of the business has been self-funded.  Originally, the plan was to grow into a restaurant as soon as possible.  With the pandemic, goals were reevaluated.  The

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dry-dock
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

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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

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Banh & Butter Bakery Café

“The SBDC helped me better understand and prepare my business plan. Growing up in a family business, a business plan was all about going with the flow.  I never knew what a cash flow was, but support from the SBDC has increased my business knowledge.” – Thoa Nguyen   CEO and owner Thoa Nguyen is a pastry chef by day and a culinary chef by night.  Branching out from the family’s restaurant, she studied baking and

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