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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)

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 industrywith the tools in place to work at home, they

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Vintage Theatre Productions

Starting out 15 years ago in a basement as a touring theatre group for small audiences, Vintage Theatre has grown from that “tiny” beginning to currently reaching over 20,000 patrons each production season. “It has been amazing to see the growth,” beams Cr aig Bond, Founder. Since moving to Aurora in 2012 into an existing black box theater, Vintage immediately added a second more intimate theatre to augment the season’s offerings. Creating a greater draw

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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 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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GradePower Learning

Robert and Olga Mead, the owners of GradePower Learning, started out with a vision to help build children’s confidence and self-esteem. They found an opportunity to do that not only through tutoring students, but also in teaching them how to learn. The LEADING EDGETM Strategic Planning Series was the perfect tool for Olga to test her business model. She graduated from LEADING EDGETM in 2015 and continued on as a client at the Aurora-South Metro

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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

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