Horatio Castillo and Maria Chavez were born and raised in the rural state of Michoacán, Mexico. Both came from traditional families that valued hard work and authentic food. Independently, they migrated to southern California as young adults seeking a better life. After a few years in the hustling environment of Orange County, Horatio and his uncle took an eighteen-hour bus ride to Caldwell, Idaho, in search of employment opportunities in 1994.
“I still remember getting off the bus the morning we arrived, looking around and thinking, wow, this is it,” recalled Horatio. “The open space, beautiful mountains and rural lifestyle was just what I was hoping for.”
It didn’t take long for Maria and her two daughters to join Horatio in Idaho. Both Horatio and Maria found employment and began to save money. “Our wages were not high, but we settled in and made ends meet,” said Maria.
Horatio worked at a number of different jobs while Maria started working at a local Mexican restaurant. There, she learned about the food service industry and the local clientele.
In 2005, Horatio and Maria had saved enough money to open Janitzio Restaurant in Caldwell. “Because our money was limited, we worked tirelessly to remodel and open our original location in a very small, modest building,” said Horatio.
It wasn’t difficult for Maria to come up with a menu since she often prepares traditional recipes that have been passed down from her mother and grandmother.
“I like to prepare food that is healthy and in the style found on Janitzio Island in Lake Patzcuaro,” stated Maria. “This is very near where I grew up and it makes me happy to share this food with our customers.”
It didn’t take long for Janitzio to develop a loyal following as many of their patrons would stop by for lunch. And although Horatio continued to work a second job, the restaurant was able to be modestly profitable.
Earlier this year, knowing that their current lease was not going to be renewed, Horatio started looking for a new location for Janitzio. It didn’t take long for him to find a potential site across the street from their current location, so Horatio visited his banker in hopes of getting a loan for the restaurant.
“Although our business is profitable, our banker recommended we get additional business training from Micro Enterprise and Technical Assistance Counselor Carlos Duncan,” said Horatio. “Carlos was so helpful in guiding us to the many resources to assist our business. He introduced us to Sylvia Morrow of Certified Development Company Capital Matrix who helped us get an SBA 504 loan.”
Once again, Horatio and Maria went to work remodeling the new location to meet their individual needs. After several months of long hours, Janitzio opened in April of this year.
“We are a small, family-owned and operated business,” said Horatio. “With the help of the SBA loan, we are confident we will be able to continue to offer a clean, friendly restaurant where people can come and eat authentic Mexican food.”
Some folks dream of the bright lights while others will make great sacrifices for the peaceful lifestyle found in a rural community. Traditionally, manufacturers gravitate to industrial centers where they can benefit from the proximity to support services, especially if they plan to export products worldwide. Well, High Country Fusion bucked that paradigm by blending their global business with a small-town atmosphere in rural Fairfield, Idaho.
High Country Fusion was formed in 1994 by Steve Wilson and his step-son, David Hanks, to provide fused high density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) in all shapes and sizes. The two had been working together for a similar company that had been sold, so they decided they would take on a new challenge of starting their own business.
On a vacation in central Idaho, the family fell in love with clean air, recreational opportunities and slower paced lifestyle. So in June of 1994, Wilson and Hanks moved High Country Fusion to Idaho. After a short stay in a small, rented shop in Hailey, the company settled in their current location of Fairfield, Idaho. With the help of an SBA 504 loan, High Country was able to build an 8,000 square foot warehouse and office.
“It was a great decision for us to locate to Fairfield,” said Wilson. “No doubt, the decision went against conventional wisdom, but it really created the ‘How can we work together’ culture that defines our company today.”
In 2003, High Country secured a second SBA 504 loan to expand their Fairfield facility by an additional 5,000 square feet giving them nearly 24,000 square feet of total space. And of course, as the firm’s revenues increased, so did their employment as the High Country’s activities were supported by 18 people.
Although High Country had participated in projects worldwide, the firm’s primary focus had been domestic customers. In 2010, they were invited by an Australian client to open a facility to support the expanding liquefied natural gas industry. Since that time, High Country’s export revenue has increased over tenfold. The company has completed projects in almost every continent and has worked in hard to reach locations such as Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Saudi Arabia.
In order to support their rapid export growth, High Country secured an SBA Export Line of Credit in 2012 that allowed them to offer payment terms to international clients.
“We are confident the future is bright at High Country Fusion especially in the area of exporting,” said Wilson. “We have a great team with over 50 employees. When people ask us why we stay in Fairfield, I always offer the same response - because we can.”
Dan Todd has always thrived in a team-oriented atmosphere. At a young age, he was introduced to team sports and his passion for the athletic camaraderie continued into college. At home, his father regularly socialized with fellow small business owners and their conversations would always migrate to ideas of how they might collaborate on various projects. The Todd family regularly vacationed at Henry’s Lake, Idaho to spend time at Henry’s Lake Lodge which was owned by Dan’s parents.
Dan’s family moved to Ketchum, Idaho in 1992. Shortly after their arrival, Dan’s brother and father opened the first Smoky Mountain restaurant as they recognized the need for an affordable family friendly restaurant to serve both visitors and the local clientele of Sun Valley and Ketchum. Due to the hard work of the dedicated team that originated the first Smoky Mountain, the restaurant quickly became a popular local eatery.
In 1995, Dan was completing a Human Resources degree at Boise State University. During his final year of school, he had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for the Small Business Development Center at Boise State. There, he was exposed to the many resources available to support aspiring entrepreneurs as well as existing small businesses in need of counsel. Additionally, Dan was able to network with many of Boise’s finest and successful small business owners.
As Dan approached graduation, the Todd family was in the final stages of preparing to open a second restaurant. In fact, the day Dan graduated from college they opened the second Smoky Mountain restaurant in Boise’s bedroom community of Eagle, Idaho.
“I didn’t have much time to relax and celebrate my graduation,” recalled Dan. “Fortunately, I spent time working at the Sun Valley location so I knew what I was getting into.”
With the support of his family and an amazing team, the Eagle location flourished and the Todd’s set their eye on expansion.
“At our Smoky Mountain restaurants, we strive to create memorable experiences people love. Building long lasting relationships with friends and neighbors within the communities we serve has always been a priority for us,” commented Dan.
As Smoky Mountain continued to grow in popularity, it became apparent to the Todd’s that the family business should be restructured in order to “fine tune” their internal and external business processes. To help with that initaitive Dan turned to SCORE in 2001. One result of this new business alignment was Dan being named the president and CEO of Triple T Enterprises dba Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill.
“We were confident our business model was working and we wanted to formalize our company structure by assembling a successful, integrated team of vendors, suppliers, bankers, accountants and designers,” said Dan. “Same with our management team, as many of our key people have been with us for over 15 years.”
As the result of their strong team, Triple T has proved to not only be a survivor of the recent recession but is a unique success story in the restaurant industry which is known for high turnover rates. Through the recession, the Smoky Mountain team worked hard to strengthen their foundation. Due to the experience of the team, strategic management and long term planning through this recessionary period, Triple T was able to expand and take advantage of the current real estate trends. The company has increased staff by opening two new restaurants and hired 49 new employees since 2008. The most recent expansion in Eagle was funded by an SBA 504 loan in 2012 and the new location has been a huge success. Today, the company has grown to include nine restaurants throughout Idaho and Utah with 260 employees.
“Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill Restaurant is very proud to have celebrated its 20th year anniversary in 2012. Our partnership with SBA has been critical to our successful growth. We strive to develop long lasting relationships by fostering personal connections with our guests, our employee teams, and business partners like the SBA,” said Dan. “At Smoky Mountain, it’s all about the team.”