Success Stories

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option
SBDC Banner2


Burgers and Brew

omg RestaurantWith over 30 years in the restaurant business, Kimberly and Rodney Burt decided to open their own restaurant instead of running other people’s restaurants. “We just decided to go for it,” said Kimberly, “and it worked amazingly well.”
Their unique menu of delicious custom burgers was eagerly consumed by the community — and they keep coming back for more! More of the fresh, never frozen 100% all natural beef that can be ordered bunless or lettuce-wrapped as well as with a gluten free individually wrapped bun. And that’s just the burgers.
“LivePlan business planning software helped us prioritize what we needed to do to make the business work. The plan kept us on track with a list of items that needed to be accomplished in order to open.
Our Blue Mountain Community College Small Business Development Center advisor Terry Becktold was very optimistic and supportive of our business plan and gave us great tidbits of information to help us open our business quickly and efficiently. She supported us for the Jump Start loan which was a critical piece enabling us to purchase the equipment we needed.
After that, it was a success with 14 employees already and a great cash flow early on.”
— Kimberly Burt, Owner, OMG Burgers & Brew


The Wisdom House

Success Story Wisdom House
Thank you SBDC as I couldn't have done it without you.
Thank you Jeff Nelson, for being so approachable and
believing in my dream on my quest to build a
successful business”.
— Veronica Johnson, Owner, The Wisdom House


Veronica started working with Blue Mountain SBDC Business Advisor Jeff Nelson in May of 2015. Veronica had purchased The Wisdom House — the oldest house within the Historic District of Baker City. It was built in 1878 during the gold rush boom by J.W. Wisdom, one of Oregon’s early senators, with splendor and luxury rarely seen during this era. Over 100 years of abuse and neglect had turned The Wisdom House into an eyesore.
Veronica fell in love with its character and architectural complexity and had a dream of restoring this treasure back to its glory. With a lot of hard work, Veronica’s vision became reality and in just one year the community celebrated the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting. The Wisdom House has been a success ever since, with continuous guest occupancy.
Veronica has participated in several PubTalks and continues to take classes offered by the SBDC to enhance her business acumen, including QuickBooks and Social Media. She has taken training on doing a Community Public Offering and plans on remodeling the attic to make a sleeping area in the future.
The Wisdom House has been the venue for several summer events from weddings to family reunions to community gatherings and is a regular item on the monthly 1st Friday art walk that showcases local artists.
“At the very beginning of my venture I had the dream — a vision and the motivation — to create my business and make it successful. Very quickly I learned that there are many steps in making this happen. There I was, with a vague idea of what to do, not knowing what to ask or who to ask because as we know 'we don't know what we don't know.' As I searched for answers, I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Jeff Nelson from the Blue Mountain SBDC, who quickly guided me in the right direction. SBDC’s continued guidance, positive attitude, and motivation have been a great support to my success. They have been there for me and my business through community activity involvement and networking, including ribbon cutting, PubTalks, and other promotions. 


Baker City Vape & Theresa’s Treasures

Theresa's Treasures_1Theresa Ball started with the Blue Mountain Small Business Development Center program in January of 2014. She started a small vape shop in the back of another operating business on 10th Street in Baker City. Within the first six months she realized she needed to be out on her own and found a building on First Street with enough room to open a sub business as well, called Theresa's Treasures.

Theresa expanded into gifts and apparel for the new venture. The Baker City Vape steady cliental base gave her the opportunity to find little niches to expand Theresa’s Treasures successfully.

Theresa was one of our featured PubTalk speakers this year telling her story and her plans to expand and hire at least two more employees in addition to her current staff of four.

“SBDC has been a huge help from the beginning — three years now from when we opened our business to the community. I could have never done my business and planning without their help. They are so positive and want to help you succeed! So many unanswered questions that they were able to help me with. SBDC has continued to keep my business involved in all the local classes and community events. Thank you SBDC for all you have done to help me grow within our community!”
— Theresa Ball, Owner, Baker City Vape & Theresa’s Treasures

Baker Botanicals_1

“The SBDC counseled me on licensing, advertising, and
signage and helped me with bookkeeping. Gene Stackle
went above and beyond and I owe a great deal of Baker
Botanicals’ success to him.”
— Tammy Dowell, Owner, Baker Botanicals.

Baker Botanicals

Tamara (Tammy) Dowell became a Blue Mountain Small Business Development Center client in 2012 with an idea for a business to sell more local organic products to area gardeners. In 2013 she opened Baker Botanicals and has been expanding every year since — over the past three years she has continued to increase her inventory selection and her sales.
Tammy has now expanded into different types of gardening techniques from hydroponics to aquaponics. With the short growing season for our area she has been able to grow though indoor gardening. In this last year Baker Botanicals has started carrying landscaping materials such as bark, top soil, and compost in bulk. Tammy continues to look for possible complimenting inventory to increase her business.
Over the past two years Tammy went through several SBDC programs including GCAP Contracting. She has attended and participated in several PubTalks and has purchased two large pieces of equipment (a fork lift and a utility tractor) through the IDA program. Tammy has worked hard to make her business a success and is now at a place where she is going to add to her staff so she can have a little time off.

Eagle Cap Grill

Eagle Cap Grill
Blue Mountain SBDC Business Advisor Jeff Nelson
was great in coaching me as to what and how to make
this work and was always there to give advice and
answer my questions. We are lucky to have this
service in our community.”
— Kristi Hensley, Owner,
Eagle Cap Grill Steak and Seafood

Kristi Hensley became a client of the Blue Mountain SBDC in May of 2016. She was looking to purchase a restaurant that was going to close and wanted to turn it into a fine steak and seafood establishment, so we began to look for loan options.
We went to one lender who would loan Kristi the capital but wanted too much collateral and the interest rate was higher than had been discussed. Then we went to our local Community Bank, but they could only loan up to 70% of the asking price. Next we talked to Northeast Oregon Economic Development District about some gap funding and with the partnership between NEOEDD and the SBDC, Kristi was not only able to purchase the business, but do a complete remodel! Kristi has participated in our SBDC PubTalks and is an advocate for our services. On September 23rd she had her Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting. Kristi has hired 4 full-time and 6 part-time employees. She is making a difference in Baker City. Come to the Eagle Cap Grill Steak and Seafood for the finest steak and seafood dinners in Baker City.

Cheri Cook - Quilting

Success Story Cheri Cook - Quilting
“I would refer people to the SBDC because Terry
taught me how to start a business. A person
needs to learn what it costs to run a business
and Terry gave me the tools to do that!”
— Cheri Cook, Owner, Cheri Cook Quilting

I started designing my quilting business in my head several years ago. Then a year ago my husband was transferred to Hermiston and I had to quit my job to make the move. I was then eligible for the unemployment SEA Program and was referred to the Blue Mountain SBDC for help in putting my business plan together

I had no clue how to put together a business plan and it was way more work than I had thought but I knew it was necessary — I have watched other business owners go out of business because they did not have a plan. Terry Becktold, my SBDC Business Advisor, helped me with the SEA Program process and writing a business plan. I learned how to structure my business properly and how to go about marketing and networking to get started. With some money I had saved I was able to buy a little building to do my quilting in and a used long-arm quilting machine. I have since taken several classes and have quilted many quilts at no charge so that I could learn how to quilt professionally. I am now charging for my quilts and am starting to get referrals for more projects.

Blue Door Inn

Gaynelle Nielsen - Blue Door Inn

Gaynelle Nielsen has transformed her business in the historic district of Baker City into a high-quality bed and breakfast called the Baker City Blue Door Inn. The inn has four guest rooms, an inviting lobby and visiting area, and a traditional dining room where guests enjoy breakfast.

Gaynelle opened the Baker City Blue Door Inn for the annual Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally in July, 2015. She began working with Blue Mountain Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the end of April, 2016. She initially met with Blue Mountain SBDC advisor Jeff Nelson because she needed help integrating her web and social media pages and in developing a plan for online marketing. Jeff recommended several web developers in the Baker City area and asked another Blue Mountain SBDC adviser, Phillip O’Reilly, to meet with Gaynelle to discuss online marketing strategies.

A series of stunning, professional photographs transformed her website, accurately depicting the warm, inviting atmosphere of the Baker City Blue Door Inn. Additionally, she incorporated some suggestions from Jeff and Phillip to encourage guests to book reservations directly through the inn. These direct reservations save over 20% in booking fees — after subtracting credit card processing charges — on each stay. Gaynelle has also hired a part-time consultant to assist with managing her Facebook, email, and other online marketing.

These efforts have paid off! Business at the Baker City Blue Door Inn has increased markedly in 2016. Her reservations are up and revenue has increased significantly even after factoring in the September opening in 2015. The Baker City Blue Door Inn currently employs 1.5 people year around as well as an additional seasonal employee during summer months. Gaynelle plans to hire at least one other part-time employee in the coming year because of the increased workload that accompanies higher occupancy rates.

Gaynelle has continued to work with Jeff and Phillip to create personnel manuals and hone her internet marketing strategy. She has also signed up for several classes through the SBDC. Her goal for 2017 is to increase revenues by at least 25%. Gaynelle anticipates leveraging the services of the SBDC in the coming months to develop her business plan and begin the loan application process.

"I heartily recommend OSBDCN services to small business owners who want to make their business as effective as possible. No matter where a business is in its development, the SBDC has a service, a class, or a network to offer knowledge, suggestions, or alternatives for an optimum result."

— Gaynelle Nielsen, Owner Blue Door Inn

Burnt River Watercolors

Patricia Bradford - Burnt River WatercolorsPatricia Bradford (Patty) has always had a love for art. She has a particular passion for painting. Being born deaf and with a learning disability, Patty has turned her passion into a successful business. Working with Vocational Rehabilitation, Patty and her advocate Marilyn Parry learned about some possible funding for businesses for owners with disabilities. They were referred to the Blue Mountain Community College Small Business Development Center (BMCC SBDC) in January of 2015 and began working with SBDC business advisor Jeff Nelson.


Since joining the SBDC Patty and Marilyn have been participating in events and workshops sponsored by the organization. They have grown Burnt River Watercolors with workshops including Social Media Marketing, Driving New Business with Social Media, and QuickBooks. They have also attended several PubTalks and plan on being featured speakers at our next PubTalk event.

Patty and Marilyn have utilized tools the SBDC has to offer including GrowthWheel and LivePlan to apply for and receive grants from NEOEDD and Vocational Rehabilitation. Patty plans to apply for our local Soroptimist group Woman-owned business grant that will be available in 2018.

Burnt River Watercolors has expanded from selling Patty’s watercolor paintings of local historic barns to selling custom artwork, calendars, and postcards. Patty is participating in local art shows and has several pieces of her work on consignment at local stores in Baker City.

Burnt River Watercolors is a true Success Story. Patty with her passion for her art has overcome remarkable obstacles and is a true inspiration to all of us. Patty and Marilyn are an exceptional team and have shown that with hard work and seizing opportunities they have turned a dream into reality. The SBDC has worked with me throughout the process of establishing my business. Jeff’s direction and support has guided Marilyn and myself through the steps of doing business plans, financial statements, and numerous other reports. We have attended several SBDC classes that have been very helpful – especially the one on social media. I look forward to Jeff’s continuing support. If I ever need anything he is only an email away! — Patricia Bradford, Owner, Burnt River Watercolors

Rugged Country Lodge

Success Story NadeemNadeem Akhlaq bought the Rugged Country Lodge in October 2017 after working as the manager of the motel for 3 years. Built in the 50’s, it was first known as the Pioneer Motel. It fell into to disrepair and was remodeled in 2004. Now it is a place that features a warm, peaceful, home-like atmosphere where guests become old friends according to Nadeem.


A friend of Nadeem’s suggested that he go to the Blue Mountain Community College Small Business Development Center for guidance on how to buy the motel. “My SBDC Business Advisor Terry Becktold assisted me in making an exceptional business plan with LivePlan, an easy-to-use software.

The classes I attended through the SBDC were very helpful when it came to my marketing and website planning.

Terry further guided me through the maze of applying for a loan, obtaining a lawyer for my LLC, and community networking. She gave me the strength and courage to talk to the business owner and convince him to sell the motel to me. To buy a business, as an immigrant in the United States for only 3 years, is like a dream come true. I believe that all the credit goes to the SBDC and my advisor Terry Becktold. Now me, my wife, son and a housekeeper are the employees of a small business.” — Nadeem Akhlaq, Owner, Rugged Country Lodge

Trailer Trash Coffee

Staci Picard - Trailer Trash CoffeeA Wallowa County native, Staci Picard lives in the Enterprise home her forebears built in 1899. An employee at the county sheriff’s office for over 20 years, she decided it was time to try some new ventures after a personal family tragedy. Demonstrating the pluck and perseverance of her pioneer ancestors, Staci set out to make her vision for Trailer Trash Coffee a reality.


Staci’s original business idea was to travel with her fiancé, Wes, to rodeos throughout the West – Arizona, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon – and sell coffee to rodeo participants out of the front end of a large horse trailer. She and Wes knew from first-hand experience that there was a need. They would seal the front part of the trailer off from the horse quarters and ride the circuit.

SBDC Business Advisor Rick Bombaci helped Staci and Wes adjust their plans. Learning the health department would frown on a coffee vendor sharing the same trailer with livestock, they opted for a separate, smaller trailer for the coffee business. Because most of the states they want to work in require licensing on a county-by-county basis, Staci said, “We are going to narrow down our working area,” to simplify the licensing. She added, “After we get this first season under our belt, we will re-exam how far I want to travel and which events I want to attend.”

Then came the long process of finding coffee equipment and retrofitting a second horse trailer to house it all. Wes’s many skills came in handy as together they designed a custom trailer, complete with a pink flamingo logo. Staci also had the foresight to work as an employee with friends who sell coffee in their business, so that she could get the details of coffee service down. “I am finding that the combination of drinks is crazy,” laughed Staci, “and with a small space to carry supplies, this training is going to be beneficial in knowing what flavors I need to have in stock.”

After a full year of construction and experimentation, Staci was able to announce, “I have FINALLY gotten all the bugs worked out and am able to make espressos!” Staci has been generous with her thanks to SBDC, saying, “Thank you for all your hard work, Rick. I am very grateful for all you've done.” But the truth of the matter is that it was Staci who stuck with her project and made Trailer Trash Coffee a reality! Trailer Trash Coffee — Staci Picard, Owner

R. Sorensen Construction & Inspections

My husband and I have started a home inspection business. I came to the Blue Mountain SBDC because I had applied for a VIDA savings grant and was directed to first write a business plan. I had no idea how to write one and I felt that it would be too tedious on my own. I knew which direction I wanted to go with the business but did not know how to get there.


My SBDC advisor, Terry Becktold, signed me up with LivePlan and it helped me immensely with getting the business plan done. It was simple and, after she explained how to use it, I got it done quickly and easily.

I plan on getting together with Terry again soon, as I know that I have just scratched the surface on all the services that the SBDC provides. I also plan to attend some of the classes offered in the near future, specifically dealing with marketing, since we just launched our website.

I have told many of my friends that are looking to start a business to get in touch with the SBDC as they are very helpful and have many great services. And by the way, my application for a VIDA savings grant was a success – I have been contributing $84 a month to the VIDA savings account and they match it $3 for every $1 that I contribute! — Rachel Sorensen, Owner, R. Sorensen Construction & Inspections


Royal Artisan

Royal Artisan Success StoryKate Reid and her family purchased an historic building on Main Street, Baker City. Working with her mom—recipient of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Downtown Revitalization from the Oregon Main Street Program for restoration of the Haskell Building—they restored the building to its former grandeur of the early 1900’s, turning the street floor into an Art Gallery and Custom Framing shop. This project brought back the historic character similar to the building’s original 1895 facade based on a historic photo and cues from similar downtown buildings.
Jeff Nelson of the Blue Mountain Small Business Development Center worked with Kate to create her business plan and encourage her to start networking with other business professionals and local businesses. Jeff also guided Kate in designing a consignment agreement form for local artists and vendors as well as increasing her business knowledge on inventory turns and the importance of networking with the businesses in the community.“Jeff and the SBDC has been a great resource for connecting to the community. They have helped me promote Royal Artisan and bring forward other business contacts. Their mentoring continues with suggesting future business classes and meeting 1 on 1. Being aware of the resources and possible advancements in business is what small town companies need in order to be successful. Thank you Blue Mountain Community College SBDC for everything.”
— Kate Reid, Owner, Royal Artisan LLC

Gifting Smiles and Tears


Success Story Amy RamirezAmy Ramirez was looking for something to generate winter income, since Keepin’ It Simple LLC, a lawn care business that she operates with her husband Joseph, is seasonal. In addition, it was important that she be able to keep their young daughter with her while working. Amy had made a few pieces of stamped jewelry for family and friends, and received rave reviews.
“Everyone was telling me; you should sell these!” Amy says. So she decided to transform her hobby into a business.
Amy was already familiar with SBDC’s services, as she had been taking advantage of them for her lawn care business. It was simply a matter of making an appointment with Blue Mountain Community College SBDC business adviser Kristy Athens who was able to address both businesses in one appointment. She also attended one of Kristy’s marketing workshops.
Gifting Smiles and Tears jewelry is handmade and individualized for each customer. Amy talks to each person buying a necklace, keychain or other piece of jewelry in order to learn about them and/or the person for whom the piece is intended. Most pieces feature a set of metal tags on which Ramirez stamps special messages, names of loved ones, and so on. She can also add small stones and other accents.
Kristy helped Amy hone her branding, packaging, presentation, and approach at gift shows. Amy worked with a Wallowa County-based designer to create a logo and packaging. She wanted every person receiving a Gifting Smiles and Tears package to feel as special and unique as the piece they had received. Creating custom work presented a challenge for gift shows, where people are used to purchasing products on-site. Amy and Kristy worked out a plan so Amy could connect with as many potential clients as possible for custom sales.
“Kristy really made me think about how I operate at gift shows,” Amy says. “She got me oriented toward turning potential customers into sales, rather than just handing out business cards.”
Amy’s sales have continued to increase in 2018, and she has shown her work at some of the area’s most prestigious gift shows. What started as something to keep her busy during the winter has turned into a successful side-business.“I would recommend SBDC services to anyone who wants to hone their concept and increase sales,” Amy says. “Kristy has been instrumental in directing my focus. Because Keepin’ It Simple mainly advertises by word of mouth, I was unfamiliar with branding. In working with Kristy I have learned the value and importance of branding, logos, and target markets for a completely different business model.”
— Amy Ramirez, Owner, Gifting Smiles and Tears



Success Story Debbie LindD.Lind, PhotoArtisan, is a photography business that shares views of Wallowa County via "art cards," framed prints, and large-format prints. Owner Debbie Lind makes her work unique in a number of ways: She transforms some photographs following a "fractal" pattern that creates new images, such as a tulip image that Debbie designed into a butterfly. Her greeting cards are 5-1/2” x 8-1/2”, vibrantly hand-printed, and include a tab and clear sleeve to hang on the wall. Each card features a short story on the back that describes Debbie's connection with the subject or situation that led to the photograph.
Debbie has been a photographer since the age of 15, but she decided to start meeting with Blue Mountain Small Business Development Center advisor Kristy Athens in 2018 because she wanted to move from the hobby realm into the business realm. Since then, Debbie has re-worked her branding and marketing plan; considered whether her overhead costs were covered by her unit prices; and considered new markets, such as the local farmers' market and working with her son to create an online store.
"Working with Kristy has given me the confidence to pursue art as a business," says Debbie. "There's a whole big world out there, and Kristy has given me an opportunity to determine what to explore. She also got me thinking about my approach at shows —focusing on transactions rather than simply talking about my work."
Debbie's farmers' market sales exceeded her expectations, and she gathered a new list of fans to reach out to as well. Debbie's "Fractal Fascination" was even a featured exhibit at the Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, Washington, garnering newspaper attention, and Debbie has had offers at other galleries for the coming year.Debbie recommends SBDC advising for anyone looking to move their business to the next level. "110%!"
— Debbie Lind, Owner, D. Lind, PhotoArtisan

Pendleton Ground-Up


Success Story Pendleton Ground-UpI bought the Pendleton Ground-Up, a drive-thru coffee business, in December of 2017. At the time the daily sales average was very low and I could only afford two other very part-time employees. As a new business owner I felt pretty isolated and didn’t have anyone else invested in my success to talk to. I made an appointment with Terry at the Blue Mountain Community College Small Business Development Center and she helped me focus on running my business instead of it running me.
We worked on goals both long- and short-term which really helped me. Terry also let me bounce thoughts and ideas off her and determine which made the most sense to focus on. Since its purchase I increased the daily sales average over 200% and increased from 2 part-time to 5 part-time employees. I focused on social media marketing of my business and making sure we had a consistent product to increase sales.I recommend SBDC because for many small business owners there is no one to really talk to who is actually invested in your success. They provide a variety of great resources and if they don’t know the answer they know who you should talk to. It’s been a great experience and I highly recommend any small business whether new or old consider setting up a meeting with one of the advisors.
— Christiana Gunderson, Owner, Pendleton Ground-Up

Hurricane Coffee Company

Success StoryEricSinclairIt all began with a craving to serve up hot biscuits and gravy that you could hold in your hand, along with a good cup of coffee. One craving led to another, and now you can stop at Hurricane Coffee Company in downtown Enterprise, Oregon, for a wide variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks, and breakfast foods.
Eric Sinclair, a seasoned entrepreneur with a successful tree services business, recently turned his attention toward a long-empty commercial lot on the main street in Enterprise, Oregon, pop. 1,916. Eric purchased the property—site of a former service station—and re-purposed the existing building as a base of operations for his tree business.
Then he put the parking area to better use, enlisting additional investors, some of whom are also skilled carpenters, to build a beautiful new coffee and breakfast drive-through.
After over a year of planning, working with local permitting agencies and regulators, contractors, and acquaintances in the coffee business, Eric and his key partner, Duncan Galvin, opened Hurricane Coffee Company for business on August 1, 2018.
Business has been brisk since Day One, with a steady stream of customers pulling in to order from a menu that includes coffee, Italian sodas, smoothies, and other beverages, as well as breakfast burritos ("the best I've ever had!"), egg sandwiches, muffins, and yes, biscuits and gravy. Eric and Duncan are especially proud of their cold-brewed coffee drinks, which are smoother and less bitter than iced coffee made with hot brews.
Even in a county popular with tourists, "way more locals" than visitors frequent Hurricane Coffee Company. There have been many repeat customers, who tend to sample the entire range of menu items.
Sinclair took a local Blue Mountain Community College Small Business
Development Center class, Accounting Principles, taught by SBDC business Duncan Galvin (left) and Eric Sinclair (right)
advisor Rick Bombaci in early 2017. After that he and Galvin met on a regular basis with Rick, getting advice through the planning, construction, and operations phases of the business. "Meeting with our SBDC advisor has been tremendously useful," says Sinclair. "It's extremely beneficial to get another set of experienced eyes on our business."
In order to build and launch the business, Sinclair and Galvin put together a creative financing package including relatives, cash and in-kind investors, as well as personal and commercial loans. The business now employs eight part-time employees. Advertising has been exclusively through social media; the company has hundreds of followers on Facebook and Instagram.
So the next time you're in downtown Enterprise, drive down River Street and look for Hurricane Coffee Company. Roll down your window and ask for biscuits and gravy you can hold in your hand. You'll get that and a whole lot more.
— Eric Sinclair, Owner, Hurricane Coffee Company

SBDC Website 

Phone: 541-278-5833 Email:

SBDC Pendleton
2411 NW Carden Ave.
Pendleton, OR 97801
Morrow Hall, Suite M-11

SBDC Hermiston
975 SE Columbia Dr.
Hermiston, OR 97838

SBDC Milton-Freewater
311 N Columbia St.
OR 97862

SBDC Baker City
2005 Washington Ave.
Suite 102
Baker City, OR 97814

SBDC Wallowa
Wallowa Resources
401 NE 1st St.
Suite 13
Enterprise, OR 97828