Apr 122009
Authors: Emily Johnson

While the majority of CSU alumni-owned businesses are surviving in a fluctuating and unpredictable global economy, all are developing strategies to maintain a competitive edge.

And those business owners feeling the impact of the economy are turning to the Fort Collins Small Business Development Center, which provides business counseling and informational classes to a now-growing client base.

“Our clients are saying business is slow,” SBDC Executive Director Mary Fisher said. Lately funding questions are most common. “It’s hard to get loans” to compensate for dwindling profits, Fisher said.

However Fisher said there might be some relief in the future with new money available from the economic stimulus package. According to the national Small Business Administration, $730 million has been allotted to the SBA for lending and investment programs that help small businesses.

“The tax incentives and credit stimulus elements of the Recovery Act will truly help small business owners affected by the credit crunch and will provide financing opportunities to help them create new jobs in their communities,” acting SBA Administrator Darryl K. Hairston said. Details on distribution will be revealed over the next few weeks.

In spite of these challenges though, some CSU alumni are experiencing what they call relative success.

Husband and wife team Danielle Gilbert Iglehart and Jay Iglehart, owners of Gilberto’s Gourmet Goodness, LLC in Fort Collins, said they are doing quite well.

“It’s amazing how much support Fort Collins gives to local businesses. Even though we don’t want to grow too fast, providing our products for more customers than we anticipated is always a good problem to have,” Danielle Gilbert Iglehart said.

Even so, the Ingleharts are not completely immune to the hardships of running a business these days.

“Our sales are steady. However it is more difficult to get the help of lenders than it ever has been, mostly due to the economy,” Jay Inglehart said.

Supply costs fluctuating, as well, has lead to an increase in their own product costs. However both are confident that business will continue to grow and be successful.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Danielle Gilbert Iglehart said. “We are confident we can manage more sales and keep the quality of the product the main focus of our business.”

They plan on implementing superior customer service, building a new kitchen, opening a restaurant and marketing their product to a greater population through online promotion.

Already carried in every Whole Foods Market in Colorado, several other stores and restaurants throughout the state and the proud owners of an upcoming deal with King Soopers, Gilberto’s Gourmet Goodness is overcoming market shortfalls.

Rick Click, CSU alum and owner of Triad Services, LLC in Lone Tree provides tax services. He says his business is doing fine.

“The complexity of the ever-changing nature of the tax code is keeping my business strong,” he said.

Click said the only impact he feels from the economy is with his clients.

“A few of my clients struggle to pay their invoices,” Click said. “They have lost their jobs or living paycheck to paycheck.”

Sandy Tanner, CSU alum and owner of Sheridan Travel has only been in business for two years. She’s aware that success does not happen overnight and has experienced some hardships due to the economy.

“I got into the business about the time when the economy started to go sour. Six months ago, (the travel industry) was really dead. But there are still planes in the sky. People are still going places,” Tanner said.

She’s optimistic about the future of her business; She has a few strategies. One is to further develop her “niche.” Tanner specializes in family travel, helping families navigate through all travel details using online resources to find the best deals.

The Internet, Tanner said, is her best strategy for staying in business.

“No business will survive without an online presence,” she said. “Learn how to make the Internet your friend.”

CSU alumnus Nick Diel says his IT business, Engineerity, LLC, is steady but that he needs to tailor his services to help his clients who are feeling the impact of the economy.

“Most clients can’t afford all the services that they need so I help them prioritize projects to make sure the infrastructure stays intact,” Diel said. “I try to save them money.”

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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