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Success Stories

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

Trucking Company Finds Success With Innovative Pay Model

After taking over Denis Gray Trucking from his father, trying to recover from the recession, and dealing with a constant turnover of drivers, Michael Gray was "struggling right out of business."

He was accepted to the SBA Emerging Leaders program – a seven-month executive education course for business on the brink of growth – and started making immediate changes to his business.

"We'd been doing business the 'old school' way when you know in your gut whether something is right or wrong with the business," Gray said. "The Emerging Leaders program helped me see what the numbers were telling us, apply it to our gut feeling, and make our decisions from there."

Gray started working for his father's business during his summers as a teenager. He became a driver for the company at age 19, was brought into the office at age 25, and started running the company shortly thereafter.

One of the biggest problems facing his company and most other companies in the... Read More

Ever since she was a six-year-old managing the cherry pickers on her grandparents’ farm, Rita Santillanes and her family have known she was “a natural born boss.”

Now, Rita and her husband John are the owners of four Peppertree Inns – a part of the Best Western Plus franchise – in Spokane, Liberty Lake, Omak and Auburn. The hotels collectively employ approximately 85 people in Washington state including their oldest son, daughter-in-law and John’s sister.

“I love coming to work. This business is always exciting to me. Each day is different and I enjoy working with our employees and seeing them learn, grow and improve their lives.” Rita said. “We have focused on keeping and growing our own talent and have several long-term employees who are key to running a successful multi-location business.”

Following her early cherry picking days on her family farm, Rita had her first experience in the hospitality industry working in her mother’s restaurant. When Rita’s... Read More

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