Success Stories

AO Glass

Combining art, utility and passion into a viable business can be a serious challenge. Few know that better than Rich Arentzen and Tove Ohlander, owners of AO Glass LLC, a production glass studio in the heart of Burlington’s Pine Street arts district. Still, they decided to tackle that challenge “in order to take a passion and turn it into a sustainable business,” Arentzen said.

But they didn’t have to do it alone. Arentzen and Ohlander looked to Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Steve Densham “in order to blow glass while making a living,” Arentzen said. The company needed better planning skills and better focus on core business matters and “existential goals,” Arentzen said. They also sought a better understanding of accessing capital, business growth and business life cycle, he said.

The business owners and Densham worked together on these matters and with diligence and time were able to overcome the challenges the practicing the dynamic craft... Read More


Steven Davis of Vermont High Performance Manufactured Housing in Wilder is no stranger to the construction business. He has been building homes for more than 30 years, most recently providing affordable net-zero green home construction services to Vermont homeowners and beyond.

But when he recently decided to purchase a permanent home for his own business, he knew it was time to seek some assistance. Davis was seeking funds to purchase a building to house his home manufacturing business. Once he found a location, seeking funds to purchase that location proved challenging, he said.

Davis quickly sought assistance from the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation. GMEDC recommended Davis contact Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Ross Hart, who shepherded him through the sometimes tedious process of a business property purchase. “Working with Ross (Hart) was great because he was not intimidating,” Davis said. “He helped me understand where I... Read More

Logging and forestry work is a quintessential Vermont industry, but today’s loggers face challenges that those of yesteryear probably never imagined. The days of low cost tools like hatchets and hand saws that required manpower instead of costly equipment are largely behind us. Today’s loggers need heavy equipment to be relevant in a highly competitive lumber market.

Few know that better than Everett Thurston, owner of Thurston Forestry in Clarendon, which began operations last fall. The company utilizes a rubber tired cut-to-length logging machine that is highly efficient in processing timber from the woods. “I have always wanted to my own business and enjoy the logging industry and being around heavy equipment,” Thurston said.

But as one might expect, obtaining an expensive piece of equipment of this size can be a challenge. That’s why Thurston sought the help of Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Brian DeClue. As he sought funding for the... Read More

Brandon Darmstadt, 19, opened up Arnie's Ice Cream in August after graduating from U-32 High School in East Montpelier in the spring of 2015.

By Danny Monahan

Small Business Administration


During the summer when most recent high school graduates are looking forward to going away to college, joining the military or taking some time off, a Middlesex teenager decided to start his own business in Montpelier.

Brandon Darmstadt, 19, opened up Arnie's Ice Cream in August after graduating from U-32 High School in East Montpelier in the spring of 2015.

Since grade school, Darmstadt said he’s had a bevy of business ideas and logos running through in his head, everything from a luxury resort to an armored vehicle company.

In 10th grade he got the idea of starting an ice cream business since Montpelier had not had a hard ice cream shop in several years. To make his idea a reality, he enrolled in U-32’s independent study program where he created a plan to start an ice cream shop.

“While in school, Brandon worked tirelessly from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2015 to launch his... Read More