Our highly credentialed and experienced business advisors at the RCC SBDC have a passion to work with our clients and see them succeed. They often have stories to report out on how they were able to assist with research that helped the client facilitate a new market option, provided an informative business analysis, increased their online presence by providing resource experts or even helped them expand into government contracting programs. Whatever the story or “success” the client experiences through the assistance of the RCC SBDC, it is better told through the eyes of the client.
Bridge Street Auto & RV Repair
Starting with a dream of owning an auto repair business and the passion to pursue that dream, Mike Dunbar has built one of the most successful auto, truck and recreational vehicle businesses in the Rogue Valley – Bridge Street Auto & RV Repair, . Mike grew up in the Rogue Valley and started repairing and maintaining cars and trucks at a young age. After graduating from Grants Pass High School and obtaining his Automotive Technology degree from Wyoming Technical Institute, Mike spent 14 years honing his skills and knowledge working as a lead mechanic for two different dealerships in Oregon.
Mike has an entrepreneurial spirit and knew that he could provide better and more cost-effective service for car, truck and recreational vehicle maintenance in Grants Pass. This was the start of Bridge Street Auto. “It is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done, and look forward to a bright future.” Dunbar said.
In 2014, Mike reached out to the SBDC to find out more about the SBM program and services provided by the RCC SBDC. Mike has participated in three Small Business Management courses, with each consisting of an intensive nine-month program that provides an in-depth educational experience that blends classroom and peer learning, with individualized advising assistance. During this process, Mike has worked closely with SBDC advisors to complete an overall business assessment that included review of financial performance, employee performance management and improving operational efficiencies.
“I have had a lot of industry training from an out of state agency using online, phone and traveling to the east coast for hands on education. When I checked on the RCC Small Business Management class, I was blown away by the level of experience and credentials the instructors have.” Dunbar said. “They challenge me in my business to make me a better employer, provide better service and provide for my family. I appreciate the training and the SBDC services being a far more cost-effective option here locally.”
Clouser Drilling, Inc
Family-owned business Clouser Drilling, Inc. was hit hard by last decade’s recession.
“Phones stopped ringing,” said owner Kevin Gill, whose uncle, Leroy Clouser, founded the well drilling company in 1971.
The SBDC helped Kevin and his wife, Helen, weather the recession. They took Small Business Management classes and joined community and professional networking organizations. They later moved onto the SBDC’s Next Level Program, which focuses on existing growth-oriented companies with more than $1 million in sales.
The SBDC helped Clouser Drilling with strategic planning, efficiency and identifying new markets, as well as branding, legal issues, personnel and government contracts.
Kevin said the SBDC forced him and his wife to “look critically at all aspects of our business.”
The firm stopped doing pump work and concentrated on drilling, adding agricultural and geothermal work and larger projects. For the past two years, Clouser has drilled more water wells than any other drilling company in the State of Oregon.“The SBDC staff has so much experience,” Helen said. “They gave us a fresh look at the business and have helped us streamline.”
Concierge Home and Business Watch
Following careers with the U.S. Department of Justice in Kosovo, helping the country develop police services, Julie and Jeff Thomas started a private security company in Grants Pass.
Concierge Home and Business Watch, which launched in 2009, employs more than 30 people, all with police, military or security backgrounds. The company serves more than 500 residential customers and more than 100 commercial clients throughout Josephine and Jackson counties.
Before launching the security service, Julie and Jeff took the SBDC’s Small Business Management class. The class allowed them to do a financial analysis of their business and establish guidelines for service expansion.
SBDC advisors helped Julie and Jeff write a business plan and develop a marketing strategy. They also assisted the entrepreneurs in obtaining a $25,000 stimulus funds grant from Josephine County.
Concierge Home and Business Watch has received the Small Business of the Year Award from the Grants Pass & Josephine County Chamber of Commerce and a Patriot Award from the Oregon National Guard.
Jeff and Julie now own and operate the largest privately owned security firm in Southern Oregon.
Fort Vannoy Farms
Having run Fort Vannoy Farms since 1923, the Crouse family knows agriculture.
But when Bob Crouse needed funding in 2012 to develop 200 acres of newly leased farm land, the SBDC helped him acquire a loan.
Fort Vannoy Farms began as a dairy operation. But after Bob took over the farm in 1962, he shifted to crop production. The farm now grows vegetables, berries, sweet corn and gourds. Many of the farm’s crops are organically grown.
To further diversify the family business, Bob added large pumpkin crops and expanded the corn fields. The farm hosts Pumpkin Cannon and Pumpkin Chunker events in the fall. Visitors are also invited to get lost in a corn maze, take a ride on the zip line and travel by hayride to the field to pick a pumpkin.
With the addition of these agri-tourism events, the SBDC helped Bob more effectively market the farm and what it can offer to consumers. His advisers have also assisted him with business planning, financial analysis, and cash flow.
The Crouse family sells its produce crops from a farm stand onsite at 5791 Lower River Road in Grants Pass. They also sell their produce at the Growers Market in Grants Pass and Medford.
Seth Benham was a senior in high school when he launched Novum Visuals, a design and media company.
Located in historic downtown Grants Pass, Novum Visuals produces marketing and advertising content for local companies and works with local businesses to develop social media marketing campaigns.
The media company utilizes drone photography and video to promote local events and produces video content for clients throughout the region. In addition, Novum Visuals does wedding video and photography, as well as real estate promotional videos.
When Seth started his business in 2014, he went to the SBDC for help understanding how to evolve his business model. He built one-on-one relationships with his advisers, who helped him with marketing, promotion, pricing, accounting and more.“The SBDC has been an awesome resource for me and my business,” Seth said.
The Historical Chateau Lodge, Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve
The Chateau at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is located in the mountains 20 miles east of Cave Junction. Surrounded by the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest, this famous National Historic Landmark has been an enchanting destination since 1937. Built in the depths of the Great Depression, it was designed and paid for by Josephine County businessmen eager to create a tourist destination around the “Marbled Halls” of the Oregon Caves. One of Oregon’s three great lodges, the Chateau achieved National Historic Landmark status in 1987, but was not transferred from private ownership to National Park Service until 1999. The Monument remains a cornerstone of regional tourism and seasonal jobs at the Chateau are an important part of Illinois Valley’s economy.
Over the years, Kraai has relied on SBDC advisors to help with business management decisions and strategic planning. “We are grateful for the past support and ongoing opportunities to access the business and financial expertise of our local Small Business Development Center.” In particular, Kraai said the Chateau team was assisted this year by SBDC advisor Tim Busald for employee and manager workshops that, “Impacted our business culture by giving us a new frame of reference for success in the workplace and a language that encourages a productive employee work environment.”
Pro Weld Inc.
Pro Weld, Inc. is an award-winning structural steel fabrication company in Southern Oregon. Our services include all metal fabrication from hand-rails to oil-tight transformers. This family-owned business offers structural steel solutions for residential and commercial projects.
For nearly 40 years, Jim Oberlander, Pro Weld’s founder and master fabricator has welded as a professional in the steel industry. His expertise, and innovative problem-solving has helped many contractors and project managers with crucial attention-to-detail type technical welding jobs, such as fabricating oil-tight electrical transformers.
Shortly after Pro Weld’s inception, Jim and his wife Penny filed the company as a “woman owned" business - a title enabling the company to compete for minority-specific work. The company also received the distinguished certification “Woman Owned Small Business” and “Emerging Small Business” with the state of Oregon and the Federal entities.
The SBDC advisory staff has been engaged with Pro Weld, Inc. ownership for several years. “I appreciated the ways in which our advisor has challenged us as well as provided assistance with strategic planning, market expansion, personnel matters and access to capital”, stated Jim.
“The array of expertise and market-tested wisdom has been life-giving for our company”, stated Penny, “Advisors are encouraging and have helped us navigate the many obstacles involved in running a family-owned business”.