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Success Stories

Father and Son

When Grant Jones spent six months experimenting with different gourmet popcorn flavors in his father-in-law’s garage, he didn’t think the product would be selling in five countries just six years later.

His interest in running a popcorn business started as an idea from Charles Brown, Grant’s father-in-law. “I saw the idea for a flavored popcorn store during a visit to Chicago,” Charles said. “I always liked popcorn as a kid, and the idea just stuck with me.”

He liked that popcorn was low-cost and high-yield to produce, plus it could sustain during difficult economic times. Charles also recognized an entrepreneurial spirit in his son-in-law, who is “clearly smart and thoughtful,” and brought him in on the business idea.

Grant took the lead operating the company with Charles acting as the “bumpers in the bowling alley” to provide guidance as needed. After perfecting some of the more than 21 current flavors KuKuRuZa offers, Grant – with help from his wife Ashley... Read More

After moving to Washington state from India and following in the engineering footsteps of his father and grandfather, Santosh Kuruvilla wanted to be “more than a dot in a large corporation.”

He found success teaching at Washington State University, and worked for a large, national corporation, but wanted to know the people he worked with on a first-name basis. While contemplating entrepreneurship, an opportunity arose in 1998 for Santosh to buy a company, and his business ownership of Exeltech began.

“I was able to buy a business and turn it around by focusing on marketing and re-branding the company,” Santosh said. Competition was tough, and he discovered marketing Exeltech as a mid-sized firm provided the “sweet spot” that helped his company grow in a market saturated with large corporations.

Santosh soon entered and graduated from the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program, a nine-year program that provides training and resources to help small, disadvantaged... Read More

Elite Construction was jump-started when Trini Garibay – the then leading sales person at a Tri-Cities car dealership – was given an ultimatum by his boss.

“My boss at the dealership felt I was distracted from selling cars, even though my sales numbers where still strong,” Trini said. “He said I had to choose.”

Trini had started the business he had always dreamed of in early 2008. The ultimatum proved to be fortuitous and that was the moment Trini and his partner David Magana got serious about the construction business.

With a family to support, it put Trini in a “sink or swim” situation. Fortunately, Trini grew up in an entrepreneurial family and always knew he wanted to be his own boss. By taking that leap in 2008, he and his partner have built what is now a successful and thriving construction business headquartered in Kennewick, Washington with eyes on the world.

“My business experience and the skills I developed in the automotive industry –... Read More

Husband and Wife Find Each Other, Success in RV Business

Shortly after John and Rebecca Asplund first met working together at a RV business, they soon realized they made the ideal pair for business and for marriage.

Rebecca's background in the finance side of the auto industry combined with John's planning and RV general management skills helped get Blue Dog RV off the ground in 2008.

"We did a good job of learning each other's skill sets so we are able to differentiate our roles and know which one of us is best qualified to deal with something," Rebecca said. "We found those niches and trusted each other."

John quit his job at another RV dealership, wrote a business plan, and obtained floor financing with a presentation to Bank of America and GE Capital. They obtained a line of credit at GE, which was essential during the startup phase of Blue Dog RV.

At the time John and Rebecca started their business, the RV market was in trouble. Most dealers focused on more expensive, self-contained RVs. But Blue Dog RV... Read More