The Rock Lounge

Marcus Garcia has been the owner of the Rock Lounge (RL), an indoor climbing gym in Durango, since 2014. Marcus had transitioned from being a RL employee, a rock climbing guide, and owner of a small construction company before then. The RL was profitable in his first year, yet he thought there was more potential to be realized. Marcus had sent his business manager to a locally sponsored event which introduced them to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort Lewis College. SBDC is a free resource for entrepreneurs wanting to start, grow or sustain their business. Marcus contacted SBDC and was put in touch with an advisor whose specialty is business operations.

The SBDC consultant instructed Marcus to create a profit/loss system to find where the RL made and lost money. In addition, the SBDC consultant provided insight and structure on financial costs and overhead projections. Marcus saw positive gains over the course of that first year into the next two years. “The SBDC consultant helped me understand how the business worked and what made this business unique.” In March 2017, the property owners sold the building where the RL was located and they had to be out by the end of April. Marcus contacted Region 9 (a non-profit that promotes economic development in southwest Colorado) for a small business loan, but was rejected. This left him unsure of how to proceed. He reached out to the SBDC for guidance. The SBDC consultant contacted Region 9 on his behalf and learned Marcus would need to provide a sales forecast for the next three years to show future profit. Since the RL was profitable during Marcus’ three years as owner, the SBDC consultant gave instruction on how to create a financial spreadsheet which would provide the details Region 9 wanted. During this time, Marcus had friends who had offered him a building location to relocate the RL.

The loan Marcus had applied for would be for interior reconstruction. As the building codes and requirements were being sorted out, the SBDC consultant spoke directly with the loan officer to justify RL’s business model and explain their financial projections. Marcus said that the SBDC consultant’s involvement was an important reason the loan was secured in November 2017. Construction soon began with the help of Marcus’ friends and members of the community. The RL reopened in February 2018. “I learned the importance on how to account for all expenses, including the small ones. From the cost of a computer servicing, paper towels, to knowing the exact point of sale that comes from the swipe of a card.” Due to the loss of time between closure to reopening, the RL is not yet where it was financially from early 2017. “We have been reaching out to the community to let them know our new location (111 East 30th St., Durango). I want the RL to be a climbing community center and a place where the youth of Durango can find who they are through climbing.” Marcus will revisit SBDC at six months’ time from the reopening to review the financial information and stay on course with the projections. The RL currently has one full time and six part-time employees. His present focus is to raise $120,000 to expand by constructing a rope climbing area.

“SBDC being free to the public was the biggest thing for me. They helped get me in the right direction and guided me along the way.”

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Originally from China, husband and wife entrepreneurial team, Qin Liu and Rong Pan graduated from the Leeds School of Business at Colorado University with the dream of starting their own company. The original business idea was from Qin’s Business Plan Preparation class while enrolled in CU. In 2005, they launched their business, drawing upon the 5000-year-old tradition of drinking tea. In 2007, Qin and Rong changed the company’s original name from “The Leaf – All

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