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SBDC and Other Resource Partners Help Small Business Owner with Business Plan, Access to Funds

Allen Surgeon had a vision to run a mill efficiently and profitably. As owner of Rogue Valley Fuel, he has been in the wood products industry for 20 years and gotten used to rolling with the punches." When drastic changes hit the logging industry and Environmental concerns reshaped the industry, Allen had to diversify. He purchased used equipment from mills that closed, and began offering a wide range of products using small diameter logs. His products are wood blocks, chips, posts and poles, bark and sawdust. His success in business has been guided by extensive industry experience. He continually applies the lessons he learned about the most efficient ways to run a mill profitably.

This success story is a team effort, which includes the Grants Pass Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Oregon Department of Economic Development (OECDD), Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) And Southern Oregon Womens Access to Credit (SOWAC). Roger Harding from the Grants Pass SBDC called SOWAC requesting help for one of his clients who needed to write a business plan in a hurry. Roger and Bruce Laird from OECDD went to visit Allen's business and recognized the possibilities. Allen owns and operates a mill that processes small diameter logs. He needed some new equipment in order to expand the business. The Oregon Department of Economic Development was encouraging him to expand in order to create new jobs and make use of the small logs, which are available for harvest. Bob Bueoy, Loan Fund Manager at SOREDI thought it sounded like a good loan prospect, but needed to see a written business plan before moving forward with the loan application. Roger's call to SOWAC resulted in Allen working with Ruth Painter, one of the business coaches at SOWAC. Working together they completed the plan in four weeks, presented it to SOREDI, followed up with a little more research and writing at the request of the lender, took it back again and got the loan.
Allens operation also qualifies for some grant funding because of its potential to add jobs to the local community. He was able to use the business plan to apply for a grant to fund a Dowelling Mill to add even greater efficiency and more employment.
Since the loan, he has brought power to the mill site, set up a web site, and cleared out semi-trailers of firewood. This product has to be phased out because his orders for wood blocks and post and poles have increased from the web site as well as from many new referrals within the industry. He has gone from two full time employees, plus himself, to four full time employees. One part time position has been increased to two part time slots. His monthly sales have doubled. His goal is to have the mill expanded, rebuilt equipment in place, and ready to supply his wood block contracts in January 2004. Allens business is a real plus to his rural community and continually works with and mentors other loggers in Southern Oregon.