Borkowski gives lifelong lessons in Manitou woodworking classes

Mon, Mar 23, 2015


DSC09225CCBrad Borkowski has a Midwestern work ethic that seems increasingly uncommon, but he’s committed to passing it along to his students. Borkowski, 26, is nearing the end of his fourth year as an industrial technology instructor at Manitou Springs High School, where he teaches courses on woodworking and is the head wrestling coach. The Sioux City, Iowa, native spoke to the Business Journal this week about his well-rounded upbringing, his love for what he does and what he hopes his students will learn while enrolled in his classes.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you do?

I’m the wood shop teacher here at Manitou Springs High School. We start off each semester with beginning woods. My beginning students are usually freshmen and sophomores who don’t really have any idea what they’re doing in here, so the course is really bare bones when we start off. We show them how to measure, the difference between lumber and plywood … how to use all the different tools, safety measures. … Once we get through that, we start on really basic projects, go through the different types of joinery and then we get to more complicated things, like folding stools. Those are really good projects to start them off and get them used to using the equipment. Once they get used to using the tools, we go into a little bit more complicated projects, like building cabinets … learning different joinery and how to use even more tools.

Then you offer an advanced class?

Yeah, once they pass this class, they can go on to my advanced class. In there, they can pretty much make whatever they choose — large-scale projects like Adirondack chairs, tables, entertainment centers and picnic tables. … I also have a few students who would like to learn how to make money doing this, so I teach them basic stuff, like how to sell stuff and market themselves. I want them to know how to do quality work, so if they ever do try to sell it, it is the best thing they can sell. Students can also come back after that class and take my independent study.

And you’re also a wrestling coach? How do you split your time?

Yes, this is my third year as head wrestling coach. I try to do everything in the fall so that when it comes to wrestling I don’t have to do a whole lot of prep for class. That way I can devote more time to wrestling and still have everything in here set up and ready to go.

How did you become interested in woodworking and teaching it as a career?

My dad taught for 33 years and was a jack of all trades — automotive, drafting, wood work, metal work, you name it. I took and enjoyed almost all of his classes. By the time I was a senior in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I liked what he did and I liked teaching and being able to work with my hands, so I decided to become an industrial tech teacher. So I went to the University of Northern Iowa and got my degree in industrial technology education. Then I happened to find the job here in Manitou and went for it!

Has wrestling also been a longtime part of your life?

My dad was also a wrestling coach, so I was always around it. … I was on the wrestling team from the time I was in fifth grade until my senior year in high school. I always wanted to get into coaching … and it just worked out that when I got here, the head coach had to step into being an administrator. They needed someone to take that job, and I said yes.

I bet your dad’s pretty happy about all of this.

Yes, he is! I’m also very happy to have him for advice, to be able to call and talk to him about my classes or wrestling. … He has been huge to have around for support and for information.

You’re younger than the average teacher. Do you think that’s an advantage?

I think it’s a huge advantage. The kids still look at me as a role model, but someone that’s closer to their age. I know the same music they do, I know the same pop culture as them, I can relate to them more easily and I feel like that helps out a lot.

What do you see in your future?

That’s a good question. I’m not interested in administration, but I would like to continue teaching and maybe even expand our program. Right now all we have is the woodworking, so I’d love to get into drafting, automotive, welding and things like that. We’re currently working on getting this program articulated with Red Rocks Community College, so that my students can get college credit.

What is the primary lesson you’d like your students to learn from you?

My biggest thing is work ethic. … I want these kids to walk away from my class knowing how to work and knowing how to problem-solve.

Continue reading...

After years seeing the nation, Webb insures her Springs now

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Comments Off

DSC02764CCColorado Springs native Jill Webb takes a community-oriented approach to her career. Webb is vice president of CB Insurance in downtown Colorado Springs. She began her career at age 19 in the recruiting business and 13 years later recruited herself to go work for Central Bancorp downtown. Despite her lack of experience in finance, Webb soon flourished and became VP of business development before going to work in insurance, with which she has “fallen in love.” Webb spoke this week about her career, her company, her family and what it takes to succeed as a young professional in the Springs.

Can you tell me a bit about your background?

I was born and raised in Colorado Springs. My dad was Army, so we traveled all over the world and spent a few years in Germany when I was much younger. Eventually, we came back to Colorado and I met my husband. We started our life and our careers at an early age and proceeded to move all over the country for his job. I got started in recruiting when I was 19 years old and spent 13 years in that career, in all levels of recruiting and management. That is actually what sent me to Central Bancorp in 2008.

How did you get into recruiting?

I was looking for employment and stumbled upon a job listing in a magazine. I went in for the interview and found out that it was a temporary placement company and I interviewed for the construction company they were hiring for, but then they offered me an internal position. They said I had a great personality and was someone they saw doing the job very well. At the time it provided more benefits and there was more incentive to go work for the temporary service, so that’s where I started my career.

How did you end up at Central Bancorp?

I was doing some recruiting for [CB Insurance President] Steve Schneider when he mentioned that Central Bancorp was starting this amazing group and that I should go check it out. So I began doing recruiting for them. I got a chance to really see what they were doing here, and it was exciting to me. Then Steve asked if I would come over here to work in a sales capacity. At first I told him no, that I had no interest or background in financial services or insurance. He talked me into interviewing and eventually I decided I would never have that opportunity again, so I leaped. I came on board and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

And when did you transition to the insurance arm of the corporation?

I worked for their title division when I first came on board and actually morphed over into a wealth management position. Then I went into a corporate business development role for the entire organization and ultimately fell in love with insurance. I was licensed in 2011, but I moved to CB Insurance full-time in 2013 and had great success early on. I really love it, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything different.

What do you like about working for the organization?

I think it is certainly the leadership, and having access to everyone on the leadership team. That certainly is a big draw. Employees want to feel connected to the organization and feel like they can influence the outcome. … I also think Colorado Springs is a little bit of an anomaly for the fact that we can compete with the bigger brokerage firms out of Denver and yet we still have that smaller, family feel. We’re doing all the same great things, we just deliver it in a different way.

What does an average day in the VP role look like for you?

We do a lot of troubleshooting and dealing with workflow from day to day. We’re busy all year round, but we do have peak seasons. The quarters are very busy and incredibly stressful, with a lot of high volume, because everyone’s insurance renews on the quarter. So it’s managing the workflow, managing those peaks, doing some recruiting and bringing on new talent. … Right now we’re focusing a lot on recruiting and bringing new people into the fold, because we are expanding. We have around 30 employees and we anticipate bringing on two or three more this year.

How is the industry changing?

I think our clients are becoming more savvy and need more education. So that is forcing our industry to deliver more information to them in a timely fashion. That’s great because we have always been a very technically strong group. … So we’re having to do a lot more education, which is great because the smarter the client the better the product and the better the relationship we have.

Was the Springs a good place for you to develop professionally?

The experience and community involvement that I had while I was with ADD STAFF was invaluable. I think I was very fortunate to land with an organization that already had that community involvement and philosophy, which allowed me to get out and be a part of the community. Then, coming here, it was magnified. Not just because of my changing responsibilities, but also because it is part of our culture. I truly believe that’s what makes our group so special: We’re ingrained and we’re involved.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to completely disconnect on the weekends, so I do a lot of reading, we bowl, we travel with friends, golf, play poker. My husband and I really just fly by the seats of our pants and do whatever tickles our fancy for the weekend. We also do a lot of stuff with our daughter and her friends, which is nice.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

From a young professional standpoint, you’ve got to get connected, you’ve got to be committed and you have to see things through. Instant gratification just doesn’t fly here in this community.

Continue reading...

Merryman forges tech future with expanding Springs firm

Mon, Feb 23, 2015

Comments Off

DSC02617There is a percolating industry of small technology firms in Colorado Springs, and Ben Merryman is right there in the thick of them. Merryman, 27, works as a design engineer for KS Technologies, a local company specializing in the integration of hardware and software for Bluetooth applications. Originally from North Carolina, he is married with two daughters and optimistically looks toward a future with his family and the rapidly growing company he has been with for four years. Merryman spoke to the Business Journal this week about what KST does, what he does for KST and what he loves about his industry in the Pikes Peak region.

Can you start off by telling me a bit about yourself?

I went to UCCS and I have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. I started my career in the test and measurement field working for Agilent Technologies in their logic analyzer department. … I’ve known [KST owner] Bob Kressin via the university. We joke that I was one of his guinea pigs for some of the new classes he was teaching when I was there. He actually worked at Agilent [and Hewlett-Packard] too, where he had spent the majority of his career. We always kept in contact and now I work for KS Technologies as a design engineer. … I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve been in — I love it here and have been here for close to four years now. It’s interesting because I’ve seen the company evolve from three people to eight now (going on nine or 10). It has been a fun trip.

How long have you been in Colorado? How did you get to the Springs?

I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. … My father has lived [off and on] in Colorado for close to 30 years now. He’s from Pittsburgh. Mom’s from New York. Most of my family’s in the East … so it was one of his things to want to move our family out here. I’ve been here for about 14 years now.

What got you interested in tech and engineering?

I’ve always been interested in computers, and I’ve always been one of those guys who likes to take stuff apart. … My dad is a mechanical engineer, and my brother-in-law is in cell phone signal analysis, and I think those guys were pretty big influences — they always got me thinking about things in different ways. I always wanted to take things apart to see how they worked, then in high school I got into computer networking. Even before then I built my own computers … so computer networking and engineering have always fascinated me.

What do you do for the company? How does a typical day look for you?

KST is cool because working for a small business means I’m never stagnant. I’m never locked into a really long, recurring project. … On a day-to-day basis, I’m normally doing raw development for a particular client. So I’ll write code for that client. Some of the companies are more in maintenance mode, so I’ll work on things like bug cleanup for certain big-name clients that we have. I also help bring the new guys up to speed and work with product road map, which entails where we want to take things from our product side. … So, day to day, I’m mostly writing code or doing code reviews or trying to help pioneer the business, which is really split between engineering services and developing our own products. It’s a great place to be!

How would you characterize this business environment for young people?

I think it’s awesome, and it’s really interesting. There are a lot of really good Fortune 500 companies that work here. It’s also cool because I still keep in contact with a lot of the guys that I went to college with. … A lot of them have gone the defense [contractor] route, and I think the opportunity for that is really good here. I love it here. There are a lot of really good companies and a lot of great senior engineers here who have helped me out a lot throughout my career.

What are your professional goals? What do you see in your future?

I’d like to think I’ve been an entrepreneur since the very start, and I’ve always flirted with the idea of running my own business. KST is really a great fit for me and where I want to take my professional goals. Seeing the transition from when I first started here to where we’re at now and where we’re forecasted to go, it kind of fits right into what I want to do. So being a core foundational block to a small business, whether it’s me at the helm or someone else, is right where I want to be.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have two awesome daughters and a wife, so I spend a lot of time with them. I love to snowboard, I love to fish, I love to hunt, which are all three great things to do in Colorado. It’s great, when time permits.

Continue reading...

Lee sees potential for life, tech in Springs

Mon, Feb 16, 2015

Comments Off

DSC02499CCAfter beginning his career in finance and consulting in larger markets, Bryan Lee discovered his niche in the tech industry and a new home in Colorado Springs. Lee, 39, originally from Oklahoma City, and his brother Matt, who still lives there, kickstarted their firm Oscium five years ago. Lee serves as president of the company, which specializes in developing and manufacturing iPhone- and iPad-compatible tools for a variety of engineering and troubleshooting applications. Lee spoke to the Business Journal this week about coming to Colorado Springs, starting a family and meeting an industry need with his company’s ultra-portable oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, power meters and logic analyzers.

Can you talk a bit about your background — personally and professionally?

At the very core of who I am, I am a very God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian who is also in business with his brother. Matt and I started Oscium a little over five years ago, and we have a unique relationship — it’s a sweet partnership. My brother handles the technical side of the business and does all of the implementation to produce all of our products. … I handle the business side: strategic partnerships, sales channels and paperwork. We’re a small company, so we both wear a lot of hats.

How did you land in Colorado Springs?

My wife and I moved to Colorado Springs about six years ago because we wanted to be here. … My wife and I had visited Colorado together and landed here in the Springs — chose it specifically — and decided to stay. We really love Colorado Springs, and that’s pretty much why we’re here.

How did you begin your career, before starting the company?

Before my brother and I started Oscium, I was a consultant for companies like Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery. … Prior to that I was at the Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago.

How did the company come about?

Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So my brother and I teamed up and he’s the one that came up with the idea to start this line of products. That’s why I’m here.

Can you explain what Oscium does?

We transform an iPhone or an iPad into a troubleshooting tool. We make an external piece of hardware that plugs into those devices and then transforms that device into either a spectrum analyzer, or an oscilloscope, or a logic analyzer or power meter. As far as practical applications, the spectrum analyzer is how you optimize your Internet network. … The oscilloscope is a tool that an engineer who has to travel from location to location would use to troubleshoot electronics. They fit in your pocket, so our tools are like an ultimate, portable troubleshooting kit.

Are these products meeting a need that wasn’t being met before?

When our business first released the oscilloscope, the test and measurement industry was using buttons and knobs as the standard interface. So we won an R&D 100 Award in 2012 and they labeled our oscilloscope as one of the 100 most significant products of the year of any technology. The reason why it won that award is because we rethought the interface entirely … using capacitive touch-screen technology. … The other aspect of our business that is significant is the portability of the product — this fits in your pocket. When you have the ability to take a troubleshooting tool that you need to use with you anywhere, it provides you opportunities to troubleshoot that you wouldn’t necessarily have had before.

What has your experience been like developing professionally here?

I’ve had other people in town who have walked beside me as we’ve grown Oscium, and to have folks like that, who care about this town and want it to be successful and want me to be successful, means a lot. Those are the things that help create an environment that is successful for entrepreneurs and for tech.

What is appealing about the Springs for you and people like you?

Colorado Springs really is underutilized. If you look around, it won’t take long to realize that this town has so much potential; much of it is unrealized potential. There are people here in the Springs who have a vision for it to be bigger and better than it is today, and that’s exciting to me. I see the Springs as a place that can realize that potential over time. Yes, Denver is an hour north … but just because you’re in a specific location, that isn’t what makes you successful — it’s the perceived value of that environment and that ecosystem that matters.

What is success to you, and how do you hope to achieve that?

I enjoy working with my brother. I think one goal is sustainability … regarding any disruption that could occur in any specific industry. When I look at our business and think about the future, I look at solving that sustainability question, and I want to be doing it with my brother.

What do you do in your spare time?

My wife Bridget and I have an 18-month-old girl named Adalyn. … She’s a blast. It’s fun being a parent. We love it, and we love being here.

Continue reading...

Maxwell helps Hospice patients ‘not think about their disease’

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Comments Off

DSC01522CC_1It’s a large task to coordinate El Paso County’s terminally ill residents with the volunteers who help many of them through their final days — but Nicole Maxwell has made it her career. As volunteer coordinator for Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care, the 32-year-old wife and mother works every day to arrange visits by individuals who deliver alternative therapies using animals, music, books or essential oils. Maxwell spoke to the Business Journal this week about her seven-year stint at the organization, the fulfillment she receives from her work and how she applies a degree in sociology and English to her work with dying patients.

Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?

I was born and raised in Colorado, grew up in Denver and moved to Colorado Springs 12 years ago. I started at UCCS and in 2008 graduated with a bachelor’s in sociology and English. When I graduated, I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to go — books or marginalized populations. I had my interview with Pikes Peak Hospice the day before my commencement ceremony. … I didn’t know that much about hospice at the time, but I did my research and realized it does involve a marginalized population. No one talks about death and dying, but everyone dies. … I’ve fallen in love with [my job], and I’ve been here for seven years now. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.

Can you explain your role at the organization? What is your day-to-day like?

I’m a volunteer coordinator and work with around 260 volunteers in the local community. Not many people know what a volunteer coordinator does, but it is kind of like human resources on a different level, because we are asking people who are giving us their time for free to do things for us. So you have to have a really good working relationship with your volunteers. … All of the therapies that I oversee are integrative therapies, which means they are all of the alternative therapies that we offer — foot rubs, essential oils, music, dog visits.

Day to day, we work very closely with the interdisciplinary team. … They are the ones on the ground, in the homes, in the assisted living facilities visiting the patients. Those groups consist of doctors and nurses, chaplains, counselors and volunteers, and behind the scenes you also have pharmacists, medical directors and nurse practitioners.

How would you describe the organization’s role in the community?

We recently came up with core principles that were put together by staff of Pikes Peak Hospice across all pay grades and departments. My favorite one, which I feel applies to my job the most, is about hospice care and living: “We see every day of life as precious, as we help our patients and family members celebrate it to the very end.” So the dogs, and the oils, and the music, and just a volunteer visit in general is that celebration. … If someone chooses Pikes Peak Hospice, we’re going to be with them every step they take on their journey, no matter which direction they go — we’ll support them and take care of them.

What was it like starting at a hospice at just 25 years old?

I was really, really excited. I had just gotten out of college with my sociology degree, so I was grabbing it by the horns. … There are moments — when there are patients my mom’s age or really young children in our program — that are definitely hard to witness. But what keeps me going is that I get to send a volunteer into that home, and through them I am able to give them a moment in time when they’re not thinking about their disease …. I love that, and that is what keeps me going. So if I get sad about the misfortune … I always think about the good work I’m doing by providing those volunteers.

We typically hear of YPs moving from here to Denver. You did the opposite. What has that experience been like?

Denver is so big that finding a niche or a place to plant my roots would have been much more challenging. Colorado Springs is smaller and the community is a lot more tight-knit. … This community is always trying to do better and to do more for the people who live here. There are tons of great nonprofits who do great work, and we partner with a lot of them. … I think the interconnectedness is really important and vital.

What do you do in your spare time?

I still love to read all the time — that’s the English degree in me. I also love to paint and do artwork, kind of just to stay sane. But mostly I hang out with my husband Jason, our 4-year-old son Finn, our two dogs and our cat. We also have a pretty large extended family, so we spend a lot of time with the whole clan.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

In May I will … become a certified volunteer administrator. The process is similar to how human resources people get certified in HR. It is not a degree, but it will definitely elevate my standing in volunteer management. So I’m excited about that.

Continue reading...

Jewett: Good balance of quality of life, work

Wed, Jan 28, 2015

Comments Off

Winn JewettWinn Jewett runs his web development company on passion for the Colorado Springs community — and the scientific method. Jewett, 35, owns Oxbow Labs, which specializes in building websites for clients in both the public and private sectors. He came here from New York in the late 1990s to attend Colorado College and fell in love with the region and his future wife Rebecca. Jewett spoke to the Business Journal this week about his company, the local web industry and why he thinks Colorado Springs is a great place to live and work.

Where are you from and what brought you to Colorado Springs?

I grew up in New York City and got my start in the web development industry working at Martha Stewart and iVillage in New York City. I came out to Colorado in part for the beauty and majesty of this place, but also for Colorado College. I was a physics major at CC. I wanted a small liberal arts college, but I’ve always been drawn toward the technical side of everything. CC offered the perfect balance between that liberal arts education where you learn how to think for yourself and to write — that well-balanced education — and also satisfied my desire to understand how the world works.

How did you get into the web development business?

Over the summers throughout college, I would go back to New York and work at various places within the web industry. After I got out of college in 2003 I started doing it full-time. At first I was a freelancer, just doing web development on my own. Then, in the next couple of years, it grew organically. As I got busier I added additional freelancers and eventually decided to take on full-time employees a few years ago. I’ve been slowly adding to that over time.

Does that physics degree translate at all to what you do now?

No. I think what college gave me was that ability to think on my own. The web industry is such a dynamic field and it is definitely a field where you have to continue your education — you’re constantly learning, you’re constantly testing. Part of the reason I’ve called my company Oxbow Labs is because I really do believe that we are in part a laboratory. In that we’re constantly testing new techniques and technologies, we have to stay ahead of the curve and innovate both in terms of techniques and also design, user experience — different ways of communicating our clients’ message to the world. In that way I have brought in some of those science methodologies.

Do you think this is a good place for your business?

I do, yes. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a bunch of local organizations and companies — from the Humane Society to the Sheriff’s Office to the Health Department to the YMCA. What’s so amazing about this community is that it is so tight-knit. … In a city like New York, the proverbial pond is so big that no one company can really dip its toes into every aspect of the city. … It’s really fun to watch the companies and organizations around us grow, and to be able to play a role in that growth.

Can you explain what Oxbow does and what part you play?

We build websites for both nonprofits and for-profit companies. We focus on one technology, one content management system, called Drupal, but we are diverse in the application of that technology. … What I love doing is playing the role of visual strategist. For a lot of organizations, the website is really a defining piece of their organization, so the process of building or redesigning a website is one where you dig deep and try and figure out who you are as an organization, and how you’re perceived by the community. So by going through that process with them, we are able to craft that message and help them better communicate who they are as a company or an organization. That web architecture is what I love doing, but I wear a lot of hats. I started off as a web developer, so I often put that hat on and do actual programming. My official title is web architect, so in that role I work with the customers to help craft a solution to build out their website in the most efficient manner possible — that’s the part that I love the most.

How does developing as a young professional here compare to New York?

I feel strongly that Colorado Springs offers an incredible balance between quality of life and all of that … but also brings to the table a very vibrant technology community. The open-source community here in Colorado Springs is absolutely phenomenal.

We meet regularly to share experiences, to share tips and techniques, and it feels much less like we’re competitors and more like we are in it together to help each other and to help the web community to help the greater community. That is something that feels really special … and definitely something I feel on a regular basis.

Even in the economic downturn of the past few years, it never really felt cutthroat or like we’re all competing for the same jobs. Even though I know some of us are bidding on the same jobs, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like there is enough work to get distributed around.

What do you do in your spare time?

I try to get out as much as I can. In the summertime I like to bike and climb, and in the wintertime I like to ski and climb. … I try to ride my bike to work as much as I can. n CSBJ

Continue reading...

Patterson finds her fulfillment as Westside yoga educator

Sun, Jan 18, 2015

1 Comment

DSC00688CCIn the yoga tradition, the Sanskrit word for “now” is “atha,” which is where Jessica Patterson prefers to spend her time and share her talent. Ten years ago, after becoming a college English professor, personal tragedy and her longtime passion for yoga inspired her to radically shift her career path. Patterson, now 39, since has become a Springs-based yoga educator and opened Root: Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies this month on the Westside. The Colorado Springs-born yogi spoke this week about her 23-year passion, her change in professional direction and the positive effect she hopes Root will have on her community.

Where are you from and how did your career begin?

I was actually born in Colorado Springs and have lived in the area on and off for 39 years. I started practicing yoga when I graduated from Fountain Valley School about 23 years ago and practiced on and off throughout college. I then went to graduate school — both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in English — and I was teaching composition at UCCS. Then, about 10 years ago, my father died and my practice became really important to me. Although I’ve been studying and practicing these things all along, it wasn’t really until I had a crisis in my life that it took on a greater importance. That drove me to taking my studies more seriously in terms of the yoga tradition. So from there I did my first teacher training in the Springs and continued to train in New York and all over the place. … I’ve been teaching in the Colorado Springs area and leading retreats in Colorado for about eight years now.

What was it like to transition from an academic environment to yoga?

It was on the heels of so many other transitions that it actually became the lifeline, in the sense that it was the one constant when things were not feeling constant. It definitely felt like a big shift, but at the same time … the teaching ethos, what guides me, has remained consistent. Part of what happened for me was coming back to the root of things, including coming back to my hometown and allowing myself to explore things at every level. For me there was loss — I went through a divorce, my father had died, I had changed jobs — all of those things shifted. By tending to the root of these things, there was grace … so I founded the Root Education program in response to a need that I saw in our community.

Can you explain the center and its role in your community?

We’re a community-centered space … and we’re dedicated to creating and supporting a sustainable practice for people.  I’m a yoga teacher, but I’m also a certified yoga therapist and nutrition therapist, and my goal is to make yoga acceptable to people in their actual circumstances. The practices should support a person’s understanding of themselves and where they’re at in life. The precept of all yoga teaching is the word “now,” which in Sanskrit is “atha.” … Our goal with Root is to provide a sacred space dedicated to sustainable, relevant practice for people. It is meant to be a sanctuary, regardless of what they are practicing. They can walk through the door and feel accepted as they are and not be seen as some project to be fixed.

When did the center become a reality for you?

I signed the lease at the very end of September or beginning of October and we did construction on the space. It is a former office space, so we did a lot of work and now it’s gorgeous. I started the training program again in October, so we’ve been doing stuff outside of the space, but the official launch of the center was the 5th of January. It’s brand-spanking new.

What do you hope your work will accomplish?

These practices are in place not to achieve something or acquire something, but to remember something. Yoga is meant to remind us of something, and that something is the “oneness of being.” Yoga is a technology that can be used to take you more deeply into whatever it is that reminds you of your highest self — that can be Christianity, that can be atheism, that can be Buddhism, that can be anything. So my job as a yoga teacher is ultimately to empower people and to render them independent. … My ultimate goal with Root is that it becomes a collective and then a co-op; that it becomes something that truly is a community-based response to a need.

What is the business climate like for you here (in terms of competition, etc.)?

We don’t want to operate from a place of competition, but from a place of collaboration. There is a very fundamental teaching in this tradition that the action itself does not mean as much as the intention behind the action. Karmically, there is a greater weight to thoughts than there is to deeds. So I think if the intention is to serve people, there is no place for competition. … It’s not about the different kinds of classes, but whether the vision has relevance or meaning, and in that sense I was not interested in going into something that was “competition.” I was much more interested in doing something that isn’t already happening out there — to addressing that need.

Your development as a young professional was somewhat non-traditional. How would you characterize experiencing that in Colorado Springs?

Because of who I am as an intellectual, as a woman, as a professional, as a spirit, however you want to put it, it would seem like there are plenty of other places better suited for that development. … But the reality is that we need to go where our work is going to be the most meaningful and where it is not being done. …

I really care about this place — because it’s my home. I’ve traveled to and lived in some far-flung places, but I always come back. … It’s so easy to walk away and live somewhere else when you don’t feel that you have a relationship to the place, but I feel like this land raised me. So I stay.

Continue reading...

McCluskey helps BombBomb rise in its success

Fri, Jan 9, 2015

Comments Off

DSC00282CCMichigan native Conor McCluskey, without any formal training, kickstarted a tech firm in 2006 that is among the Springs’ fastest-growing startups. In 2006, McCluskey started a video-email marketing service called BombBomb, which now serves 10,000 paid users and recently moved into the seventh floor of the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Colorado Springs. McCluskey, 37, serves as the company’s CEO. He spoke to the Business Journal this week about BombBomb’s beginnings, its growth and what he hopes will be a “banner year” for the business in 2015.

Can you tell me a bit about your background?

I grew up in Michigan and dropped out of Lansing Community College the summer of 1998, which is when I moved to Colorado Springs. Not too long after that I started a business in the multi-family housing industry and grew that in the early 2000s. We went for broke in 2003 and went broke, so then I went into local media sales. After that I started BombBomb and bought a cherry orchard in Oregon within the same month, November 2006. Now the orchard is a vineyard where I produce Proper Wines … It’s all direct-to-consumer and we have it at The Famous, MacKenzie’s, Blue Star, places like that.

How did you end up in Colorado Springs?

I was on a mountain-biking road trip and broke my headset by driving it through the overhang at the hotel we were staying at, and I didn’t have enough money to fix it. So I was drinking beer at a kitchen table in Fort Collins when the guy across from me said, “Oh, you’re from Jackson, Michigan? I’m from Jackson, Michigan, too. I live in Colorado Springs. Why don’t you come down tomorrow and I’ll pay you $100 to work with me all day.” So we ended up painting the atrium of the Antlers Hotel together. … That’s how I got to know Darin [Dawson]. He said, “Man, you’re a hard worker. You should move out here. I got a job for you and a place for you to stay.” So I sent home for my stuff, dropped out of college and moved to Colorado Springs.

How did that business relationship evolve into what it is now?

After I moved here we started a company that spring, doing everything from remodeling to painting. We built that up to about a $2 million business in three years and had about 60 employees. … In mid-2002 we just ended up getting taken out. I was 23 and we just didn’t know what we were doing, but Darin and I both learned a lot. We went separate ways after shutting down. That’s when I got into local media, and so did Darin in a different way, but we always stayed friends. Then, when all of this came about, I was trying to get his company to build BombBomb for me and they wouldn’t, so finally I just decided to build it myself.

In your own words, can you explain BombBomb and your role in the company?

BombBomb makes it easy to build relationships using videos through email, text and social networking. I’m CEO, so I run the culture, growing the business and strategic planning.

Tell me about starting the company.

I had lost interest in sales and wasn’t doing something I was passionate about. … BombBomb came about because I had built up my clientele base to about 150 local, regional and national clients and couldn’t stay in front of them. So I started thinking, “How can I send Conor to them,” and I went looking for software that could do what BombBomb does, which is build relationships using video. I found there wasn’t anything out there, so I built my own prototype and the day I sent my first video I had like 70 people call me. That’s when I knew I had something.

How has BombBomb grown since then?

We started out with $9,000 in sales and have doubled our sales every year for the past three years. We’ve increased our headcount every year since then and have about 10,000 paying users on our product in 36 countries and in all 50 states. We just did a big partnership in the UK. We mostly work in the residential real estate business — that’s our main focus.

What do you expect 2015 to bring for BombBomb?

Our plan is to double our business again this year, and to bring on some real top talent that we’ve been recruiting for the past couple years to build out the team. We think we’re going to have a real banner year — we’re hoping to make a big dent.

We’re really committed to Colorado Springs. We have a lot of families that live here, including my own, and we have employees in both Denver and Cañon City right now. We have a little office in Denver, but our main headquarters is going to be here. We see it as a competitive advantage to be here. We might not be able to do all our growing here, but build the coolest place to work in Colorado Springs and you’ll get the top talent.

Having built your business here, how would you characterize the market for young professionals?

I think it has gotten a lot better since 2006, when I started up. … It’s what you make of what you’ve got that really matters, and I think there are plenty of opportunities here.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I hang out with my wife and three kids under the age of 3.

Continue reading...

Barad supports local community in role at PPCF, other interests

Wed, Dec 31, 2014

1 Comment

DSC00110CCFor 86 years, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation has elevated the Colorado Springs community through philanthropy, and Sara Barad feels proud to be part of that legacy. Barad, 25, has worked as fund officer for PPCF since May 2012. She spends her days supporting local nonprofits and her nights as a comedian and stage actress, performing regularly at Millibo Art Theatre and on occasion at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. She also serves on the board of Millibo and was honored as one of the Business Journal’s 2014 Rising Stars. Barad spoke to CSBJ this week about what she does for the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, why she enjoys her working environment and the energy and excitement she would like to see grow locally.

Can you tell us about your background?

I was born in San Antonio, Texas. When I was 6, my father, an Air Force doctor, was assigned to the Air Force Academy, so we moved to Colorado Springs. Other than a brief stint at Rice University in Houston, I have lived in Colorado Springs since 1996.

How did you end up in Colorado Springs? What brought/keeps you here?

Colorado Springs is my hometown, and I am committed to improving this community. As a longtime resident, I have had opportunities and built networks that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. Through elementary, middle and high school, I built relationships with organizations such as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Millibo Art Theatre that directly impacted my life. When I attended Colorado College, I strengthened my relationships with those organizations by volunteering, interning, teaching and performing.

How did you start your career?

I began as an engineering student at Rice University. I am a strong student in math and science, so engineering seemed like a logical choice. After only one semester, however, I realized that I wanted to have the opportunity to work with people and make a social impact. Because the engineering program at Rice was not affording me that opportunity, I transferred to Colorado College, where I created my own arts administration major. As I worked with a variety of arts nonprofits as part of my major, I realized that, although many of them do incredible work for the community, the leadership of these nonprofits does not have the skills necessary to run a business. I worked with the college to design my own major that would give me the skills necessary to help arts organizations thrive.

How did you land your position with the Pikes Peak Community Foundation?

As I was finishing my coursework at Colorado College, I heard that the Pikes Peak Community Foundation was looking for a young, energetic college graduate to work as a program officer. I applied and, thanks to my community connections and internship experiences, I was hired! One of my favorite things about working for the Pikes Peak Community Foundation is that I don’t have a day-to-day routine. In a single week, I will do everything from weeding pumpkin patches to visiting nonprofits to developing procedures to streamline accounts payable processes.

Do you feel this is a good environment for developing as a young professional?

Absolutely. Because no two days are alike, I have had the opportunity to learn huge amounts about multiple aspects of the community. I am also lucky to have mentors who include me in decision-making conversations and invite me to attend conferences and workshops to expand my knowledge.

What do you think this town is missing that it needs most?

Positive energy and excitement. I cannot tell you how many of my friends come back to Colorado Springs for the holidays and are surprised that “Colorado Springs actually has some cool stuff” like Shuga’s, the Patty Jewett neighborhood and Ivywild. I think that PR is Colorado Springs’ biggest problem; our community has a lot to offer, we just need people to know about it.

Are you involved with any of the local YP groups?

I am on the Civic Engagement committee for the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am in an improvisational comedy troupe, the RiP, that performs at the Millibo Art Theatre on the first Friday and Saturday of each month. I also perform children’s shows throughout the state. I am the board president for Millibo. I also perform occasionally at the Fine Arts Center (Stuart Little in the 2014-15 season, Play It Again, Sam in the 2013-14 season). When I am not performing or board president-ing, I play the ukulele and knit.

Would you say that PPCF’s goals and values align with your own? How so?

Absolutely. Pikes Peak Community Foundation is dedicated to using philanthropy to improve the quality of life in the Pikes Peak region.

I love Colorado Springs and believe that public and private institutions need to work together to make Colorado Springs a world-class place to live, work and play.

Continue reading...

Jeffers finds medical dream job specializing in cancer care

Mon, Dec 22, 2014

Comments Off

DSC09187Maryland native Kate Jeffers says the first job of her career has become that of her dreams. Jeffers, 27, became Memorial Hospital’s first ambulatory oncology clinical pharmacy specialist in September 2013 after graduating pharmacy school and spending two years in residency at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Having been recently certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties, Jeffers is one of only 16,078 in the world to hold such a position. She broke away from her busy schedule this week and spoke to the Business Journal about what motivated her to pursue a career in medicine, the passion she has found in her role at Memorial and her vision for its future.

Can you tell me about your background?

I was born and raised just outside of Annapolis, Maryland … and lived there my entire life. I did my undergraduate work at Virginia Tech and then went on to pharmacy school at the University of Maryland. Pharmacy school is a four-year degree and you graduate with a Doctor in Pharmacy. Then I did two additional years of residency at Johns Hopkins University. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which all residencies are through, considers the knowledge you gain in one year of residency as equal to three years of practice. The first year is general practice and you can choose a specialty for your second, so I chose to specialize in oncology.

How did you become interested in medicine as it relates to oncology?

My grandmother had lung cancer when I was in high school, and my senior year of high school it ended up spreading to her brain and she passed away. That is what really made me interested in medicine, especially oncology. … It is not common for students going into pharmacy school to know what path they’re going to take, but I knew I was going to do residency and I knew I was going to specialize in oncology. I knew it was my path.

Can you explain your role as an ambulatory oncology pharmacist?

This is a brand-new role for the system. Memorial has always had pharmacists in the pharmacy department who focus on oncology. … What’s different about this role is that it is completely practice-based. … Every new patient that we have who is going to start chemotherapy — whether they’re switching treatments, starting a brand-new regimen or anything — I have an appointment with them. We go through all of the side effects of their medications and how to manage those side effects. … That is the majority of what I do.

Can you tell me about becoming certified in that field?

The Board of Pharmacy Specialties has exams that you can take to become certified in a certain field. So I sat for and passed the Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist exam. In the world, there are 16,078 BCOP pharmacists now. … These certifications prove that you have the knowledge and the training and are pretty much an expert in that field.

What has it been like starting your career and developing in the Springs?

I think Memorial is amazing at making people feel welcome. … Everyone has been very friendly here, which is very different coming from the East Coast. And I think everyone has been very appreciative and supportive of our services.

They’ve really let me develop the role along with my interests, assess needs and develop the practice to address those needs.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’ve been exploring the Springs a little bit, especially with my friends and colleagues who work here. My husband and I like to hike all over, go for walks and take the dog out. We haven’t done a Fourteener yet. (That’s next year’s goal). We are never leaving Colorado — we love it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

If I had to decide what to do for my dream job and I could do whatever I want, it would be to work with the patients in the doctor’s office, basically doing what I’m doing. Another thing I like about what I’m doing and the Department of Pharmacy and the oncology group is that they are all very supportive. … I like that they’re supportive of my own goals and desires.

One of my goals is, within three to five years, to have a [second-year residency program] in oncology here so we can train more oncology pharmacists with an ambulatory focus. I feel very strongly that you have to train people to take your place. … I will be going back for my Master’s in Health Administration starting in January. 

Continue reading...
Older Entries