Veterans: Enrepreneurship post service in western Colorado
What: Blanding Small Business Development Center
Contact: 435-678-8177, www.sjc.usu.edu/htm/sbdc
Where: Blanding Utah
What: Central Michigan University Beer Brewing Certification Program
About: Voted veteran friendly for six consecutive years
What: Colorado Mesa University
Contact: 970-248-1020, www.coloradomesa.edu/business
Where: 1100 North Ave., Grand Junction
What: Colorado Mountain College
Contact: 970-963-2172, 970-453-6757, www.coloradomtn.edu
Where: Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, Colo.
What: Colorado Northwester Community College
Contact: 1-800-562-1105, www.cncc.edu
Where: Craig and Rangley, Colo.
What: Glenwood Springs Chamber
Contact: 970-945-6589; www.glenwoodchamber.com
Where: 802 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, Colo.
What: Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
Where: 360 Grand Ave., Grand Junction, Colo.
What: Intellitec Grand Junction Business Admin Program
Contact: 866-241-8660, www.intelliteccollege.com
Where: 772 Horizon Dr., Grand Junction, Colo.
What: Moab Business Resource Center (Moab BRC)
Contact: 435-259-7433, ext. 1811; www.moab.usu.edu
What: Small Business Administration
Where: 2591 B 3/4 Road, Grand Junction, Colo.
What: The Business Incubator Center
Where: 2591 Legacy Way, Grand Junction, Colo.
What: Utah State University, Moab Campus
Contact: 435-259-7432, www.moab.usu.edu
What: University Of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management
About: Actively recruits veterans for its program
What: Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation
About: Veterans with service-connected disabilities only; call for appointment as local representative is required to do field case work
What: Western Colorado Community College
Where: 2508 Blichmann Ave., Grand Junction, Colo.
What: Western State Colorado University
Contact: 1-800- 876-5309, www.western.edu
Where: 600 S. Adams St., Gunnison, Colo.
For three Western Slope veterans, the idea of a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job after they left the military just didn’t hold any appeal. So they took another road and became entrepreneurs.
Shawn Sullivan, 35 — a U.S. Army veteran of Glenwood Springs — was originally planning on going into law enforcement, but he realized he hated big cities. Today he is a general contractor and owns two businesses, Element Home LLC, as well as a hobby business.
For Dallas Hanson, 30, the initial step was driven by a close relative’s terminal illness right as he exited the U.S. Army.
“I needed something flexible for family reasons, and my mother already had a hobby business, Wildflower Tech., so it was natural development for me to take it over,” Hansen said.
Angela Paul’s path took a few more years, but almost a decade after she left the U.S. Navy she set her sights on becoming a licensed real estate agent. Today she works with Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties.
Regardless of their separate routes, all three agree on one thing: it takes more than just hard work to make it in their world; you’ve got to use your brains and be dedicated.
It was tough in the early days, working 70-80 hours a week and often seven days a week, according to Sullivan.
“It was also hard to find our niche in the market, and one of the hardest things was getting our customers to understand the difference between what they wanted and what they needed,” he explained.
Both Paul and Hanson agreed with Sullivan that finding the “niche” was a key element for them as well.
“Our business was founded on the idea of letting the customers express their imaginations,” Hanson said. “We want to do what’s right for you, not us.”
Paul also relies heavily on the Facebook page for referrals.
“One of my favorite roles is assisting military families moving into the Grand Valley,” Paul said. “Many of them are wrapping up 20 or 30 years of service to their country and some have never owned a home before.”
And they often have a lot of questions:
• Can my daughter finish her welding certificate at the high school?
• Can my son get the degree he wants at Colorado Mesa University?
• Can I use my G.I. Bill to get my pilot’s license anywhere locally?
Paul also has one piece of advice for veterans thinking about avoiding the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. world.
“Get an education; use your G.I. Bill as soon as possible,” he said. “It may be tough, but it will pay off.”
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