This week’s #SmallBizProud selections are all about growing businesses close to the heart. Award-winning filmmakers, Trisha Dalton and John Sears, courtesy of Capital One Spark Business, traveled from Utah to Colorado to Idaho exploring a handful of small businesses that are a testament of unwavering determination. Whether it’s falling in love with a career and switching businesses, growing crops and their businesses on land that they love, or serving the heart of the community, these #smallbiz owners are driven to work for something greater than themselves.
For a farmer in Utah and a couple who own a vineyard in Colorado, it’s not just about loving the acres they own, but growing the community around them, too. The owner of ski shop in Utah learned the business ropes the hard way, through failure, but a love of the sport keeps him going. And, for a mom and speech pathologist who helps children overcome challenges in Idaho, running her business is a passion and commitment that’s like having another member in her family. These amazing small business owners inspire others with passion for what they do, and their devotion to the land and communities where they work is living proof that love and hard work thrive in the heart of successful businesses across the country.
Petersen Family Farm: Riverton, Utah
Most businesses make it their goal to be the number one, big name in their field. But for Luke Petersen, hearing members of his Utah community call the Petersen Family Farm “the farm” is the highest praise: it means that people think of his farm as their own. Petersen and his family faced incredible challenges in building their business. A four-lane highway built in the middle of his farm, rough economic times that threatened to shut them down, and neighbors quitting and leaving made things seem bleak. Instead of working against the community, Luke decided to with work it. His farm began growing fruit and vegetables based on demand, and the next thing they knew, they had 70 acres worth of veggies. As Luke sees it, sharing the farm with the community is how they will preserve it. It’s why the Petersen’s started a farm-based preschool, where kids have chores on farm, get to know animals and crops, and see the cycle of life starting with baby chicks and goats. As Luke puts it, agriculture, like art, is close to our hearts as people. It’s about way more than money. For Luke, a reward you can’t put a price tag on is hearing people say that their favorite thing about living in the area is his farm.
Get to know Luke and his amazing farm and farm-based preschool:
Whitewater Hills Vineyard: Grand Junction, Colorado
What do computers and a glass of red wine have in common? For Nancy Janes and John Behrs, former software and electrical engineers, it’s all about the love of the challenge. Drawn to winemaking by a love of the wonderful wines being made in Colorado, the Behrs took the leap from wine festival attendees to business owners, buying property in 1998. When they found the land, grapevines were already planted and it seemed like it was meant to be. But the road ahead of them was not easy! The land was empty; other than dead beech trees, there was nothing there. Despite the fact that, as John puts it, “we didn’t know anything,” the brave couple dove in to their new business. Today, they work together at juggling the romantic side of the business—wine made from their very own grapes—to the things that keep the business going that, for Nancy, “aren’t as much fun.” But they are fueled by their passion and love of what they do and their community loves seeing their vineyard create “something out of nothing.” For John, who loves being outdoors and solving problems every day, the rewards are rich. His advice for anyone is: “if they have the chance, you should take it, and do what you want.”
Hear how Nancy and John made the leap from office space to wide open spaces:
DPS Skis: Salt Lake City, Utah
“Chasing storms and really good mountains:” adventure and a love of skiing is what drives Stephan Drake of DPS Skis. After going to Europe with friends in the early 2000’s, SD came to the realization that the equipment they wanted didn’t exist—and neither did a celebration of the “vagabond” ski culture. So he decided to pursue creating equipment worthy of that same passion that was also performance-driven. His goal? To create an “inanimate object that has a spiritual connection:” skis that perform at the top of the line for adventurers experiencing natural wonders on the mountains they ski. Stephan started making skis in 2003, and DPS started in 2005. In between were two challenging years when Stephan fell hard and learned from his mistakes. His initial failures taught him about the business side, and now Stephan considers the company “my MBA.” The favorite parts of his job? Solving the “brain puzzle” of tinkering with new ideas. And of course, making a product that will make people happy when they’re skiing!
Learn about Stephan’s skiing adventures and great business journey:
Children's Therapy Place: Boise, Idaho
Sondra McMindes’ business is like a member of her family: as she puts it, “if something goes wrong in the middle of the night, you have to take care of it.” A passionate speech pathologist, Sondra gives children without a voice the chance to speak at the Children's Therapy Place, one of the first establishments in Boise, Idaho outside of hospitals to be a comprehensive environment for children struggling with fine motor skills, speech and other challenges. Sondra and her team of 70 employees help children ranging from a three year old struggling with pronouncing his name, to children with cleft palates and cerebral palsy. Sondra loves working with parents to see the children she works with improve. She also loves business and figuring out what else she can do to make her business a comprehensive “one stop shop” where you can get all the services needed for the children she works with. As she says, there are “always new problems to solve, but that’s part of the fun of business, you never know what’s going to happen next.”
Meet Sondra and learn more about the amazing work she does for children:
You can catch up on other past short features (warning that will have you glued to your computer! but are super short) as well as follow the team in real time by following their mapped out route, their YouTube channel and their social media feeds: Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
Capital OneDisclosure: The #SmallBizProud content series is sponsored by Capital One Spark. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Capital One.