Clouser Drilling, Inc.

SBDC helps drilling business come out of recession stronger than ever

Family-owned business Clouser Drilling, Inc. was hit hard by last decade’s recession.

“Phones stopped ringing,” said owner Kevin Gill, whose uncle, Leroy Clouser, founded the well drilling company in 1971.

The SBDC helped Kevin and his wife, Helen, weather the recession. They took Small Business Management classes and joined community and professional networking organizations. They later moved onto the SBDC’s Next Level Program, which focuses on existing growth-oriented companies with more than $1 million in sales.

The SBDC helped Clouser Drilling with strategic planning, efficiency and identifying new markets, as well as branding, legal issues, personnel and government contracts.

Kevin said the SBDC forced him and his wife to “look critically at all aspects of our business.”

The firm stopped doing pump work and concentrated on drilling, adding agricultural and geothermal work and larger projects. For the past two years, Clouser has drilled the most water wells of any Oregon company.

“The SBDC staff has so much experience,” Helen said. “They gave us a fresh look at the business and have helped us streamline.”

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Concierge Home and Business Watch

Grants Pass & Josephine County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Winner

Following careers with the U.S. Department of Justice in Kosovo, helping the country develop police services, Julie and Jeff Thomas started a private security company in Grants Pass.

Concierge Home and Business Watch, which launched in 2009, employs more than 30 people, all with police, military or security backgrounds. The company serves more than 500 residential customers and more than 100 commercial clients throughout Josephine and Jackson counties.

Before launching the security service, Julie and Jeff took the SBDC’s Small Business Management class. The class allowed them to do a financial analysis of their business and establish guidelines for service expansion.

“In the course we gained a wealth of information about human resource management, customer service, marketing, technology and much more,” Julie said.

SBDC advisers helped Julie and Jeff write a business plan and develop a marketing strategy. They also assisted the entrepreneurs in obtaining a $25,000 stimulus funds grant from Josephine County.

Concierge Home and Business Watch has received the Small Business of the Year Award from the Grants Pass & Josephine County Chamber of Commerce and a Patriot Award from the Oregon National Guard.

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Fort Vannoy Farms

SBDC helps family farm break into agri-tourism

Having run Fort Vannoy Farms since 1923, the Crouse family knows agriculture.

But when Bob Crouse needed funding in 2012 to develop 200 acres of newly leased farm land, the SBDC helped him acquire a loan.

Fort Vannoy Farms began as a dairy operation. But after Bob took over the farm in 1962, he shifted to crop production. The farm now grows vegetables, berries, sweet corn and gourds. Many of the farm’s crops are organically grown.

To further diversify the family business, Bob added large pumpkin crops and expanded the corn fields. The farm hosts Pumpkin Cannon and Pumpkin Chunker events in the fall. Visitors are also invited to get lost in a corn maze, take a ride on the zip line and travel by hayride to the field to pick a pumpkin.

With the addition of these agri-tourism events, the SBDC helped Bob better market the farm. His advisers have also assisted him with his business plan and cash flow.

The Crouse family sells its crops from a farm stand onsite at 5791 Lower River Road in Grants Pass. They also sell produce at the Growers Market in Grants Pass and Medford.

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Novum Visuals

Young entrepreneur launches media company with one-on-one help from SBDC

Seth Benham was a senior in high school when he launched Novum Visuals, a design and media company.

Located in historic downtown Grants Pass, Novum Visuals produces marketing and advertising content for local companies and works with local businesses to develop social media marketing campaigns.

The media company also uses drone photography and video to promote local events and produces video content for clients throughout the region. In addition, Novum Visuals does wedding video and photography, as well as real estate promotional videos.

When Seth started his business in 2014, he went to the SBDC for help understanding his business model. He built one-on-one relationships with his advisers, who helped him with marketing, promotion, pricing, accounting and more.

“The SBDC has been an awesome resource for me and my business,” Seth said.

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