Veterans: Enrepreneurship post service in western Colorado |

Veterans: Enrepreneurship post service in western Colorado

U.S. Navy veteran Angela Paul choose to become a licensed real estate
Courtesy Photo |


What: Blanding Small Business Development Center

Contact: 435-678-8177,

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,

Where: 1100 North Ave., Grand Junction

What: Colorado Mountain College

Contact: 970-963-2172, 970-453-6757,

Where: Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, Colo.

What: Colorado Northwester Community College

Contact: 1-800-562-1105,

Where: Craig and Rangley, Colo.

What: Glenwood Springs Chamber

Contact: 970-945-6589;

Where: 802 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, Colo.

What: Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce

Contact: 970-242-3214

Where: 360 Grand Ave., Grand Junction, Colo.

What: Intellitec Grand Junction Business Admin Program

Contact: 866-241-8660,

Where: 772 Horizon Dr., Grand Junction, Colo.

What: Moab Business Resource Center (Moab BRC)

Contact: 435-259-7433, ext. 1811;

What: Small Business Administration

Contact: 970-243-5242

Where: 2591 B 3/4 Road, Grand Junction, Colo.

What: The Business Incubator Center

Contact: 970-243-5242

Where: 2591 Legacy Way, Grand Junction, Colo.

What: Utah State University, Moab Campus

Contact: 435-259-7432,

What: University Of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management


About: Actively recruits veterans for its program

What: Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation

Contact: 970-241-5422

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

Contact: 970-255-2600

Where: 2508 Blichmann Ave., Grand Junction, Colo.

What: Western State Colorado University

Contact: 1-800- 876-5309,

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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