Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Sarah & Thaddeus Shrader - Bonsai Design - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group - Episode 13

April 14, 2021 Sarah & Thaddeus Shrader Season 1 Episode 13
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Sarah & Thaddeus Shrader - Bonsai Design - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group - Episode 13
Show Notes Transcript

You'll be inspired by Sarah and Thaddeus Shrader of Bonsai Design in this month's Full Circle Podcast!  From their work building world class adventure courses, to their commitment to the outdoors, to their role in the development of Riverfront at Las Colonias on the Colorado River, these guys are doing incredible work in our community and beyond!

Check out their website to learn more about them!

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The Full Circle Podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert, Christi Reece and her team here from the movers, shakers and characters of the Grand Valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the Full Circle. Welcome to the Full Circle Podcast. I'm Christi Reece, and I'm really honored today to have our guests, Sarah and Thaddeus Shrader. Welcome

Speaker 2:

From Bonsai Designs and riverfront development , business parks . So we have a lot to talk about because there's a lot going on and you guys have more energy than most people. I know you've got three boys and a couple of businesses and you're teaching at the college and at the university, excuse me. And , uh, wow. How do you do it all wine? I would say what we , uh, don't do it all. Well,

Speaker 3:

I dunno . I, I think that we're dreamers really, honestly, that's the deal. And so living in this town for the last, almost 18 years now, we have seen what it could be and , and there's , you know, the potential just continues to ring through , uh, different areas. And so I don't know, a little bit each day we just keep growing in that direction and somehow all of this stuff continues to happen.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think it helps also to have a supportive group of friends and community. Um, you know, when I don't know what's happening at one of my kids' schools, I have friends that call me up and fill me in and remind me of dates and important times. Right. And we have an incredible , uh, crew at Bonsai Design. I mean, they are just an incredible group of people that just always keep us on track. So we're very lucky that way. That's awesome. Can't do it alone. That's right. That's right. Well, let's circle back a little bit to the beginning of your story in grand junction. And how did you land here? Do you want me to tell that story? Okay. So we moved here in 2004 from Prescott, Arizona. Um, we moved here because that is Scott , uh, his first airline job. He had a lifelong dream of flying airplanes for a living. And so after his time teaching and going to school at Embry-Riddle aeronautical university in Prescott, we moved here for the first job with Mesa airlines. We had a 22 month old and a six week old at the time, our first two kids. And we , um , were here. We thought we'd be here maybe two years. Yeah . And then we'd move on to a bigger , um, sort of airline or , or a bigger job prospect. Um, about a year after we were here. So summer of 2005, my brother showed up on my doorstep. Um, he was the, was the family member and I'm sure that most of our listeners will know that everybody has a family member like this. That was just like really, really smart, but barely graduated high school. Um, and just , uh, you know, it was doing the thing where he was traveling the country and also working on the side when he couldn't travel. And he was rebuilding ropes courses, climbing towers , um, uh, zip lines at summer camps in, in Michigan and in Ohio and somebody, this rich landowner in Alaska asked him to build a zip line tour. Zip line tours were not really a thing in North America. What year was that? That was 2004 when they , when he was first asked to do that. And so he took his van and his dog, and four of his friends up to Alaska to catch Ken. And he built the zip-line tour that then this very wealthy landowner , um, uh, you know, used as an offering on the cruise ships. And as soon as he was done building that one, he had three requests to build more. So he showed up on my doorstep with a box full of receipts and said, I need help starting this business. He had like $50,000 in uncashed checks and probably $10,000 in unpaid bills. And I said, wow, you need a little help. And I don't, you know, I didn't have my , um, the , I didn't, I didn't know anything about business. I had my undergraduate degree in public policy and my graduate degree in education and working here at the time, I was subbing at the schools and raising my kids. And , uh, and I said, okay, I'll help you start your business. And , um, you know, I think we thought at the beginning, it would just be, you know, me sort of with my flip phone and my, my laptop running logistics of this hobby sort of business out of my basement while my kids napped. And it turned into much bigger than that. It turned into, you know, first, first we had one crew, one job at a time, and then it turned into two crews and two jobs. And once we got to this critical mass , um, my brother was like, I really, I want you to work full time. And, and then we both sort of hatched this idea that fattiness should join us. And it , it took a lot. It took a couple of years for us to convince him to quit his lifelong dream of flying airplanes for a living.

Speaker 3:

Well, at the same time, I'm paralleling. I had been progressing in the airlines and got my captain's papers and was now flying left seat and , uh, was gone quite a bit more, what is left seat ? So that's where the captain sits. Um, so , uh, we, I was gone a lot and the , the airline industry has a very high rate of, you know, family problems because you're absentee so much, there's 70% divorce rate, I think still, yeah,

Speaker 2:

At this point it was 2008 and he was flying for Frontier. And then, and then he was in five nights a week, but

Speaker 3:

I put myself through school being, I grew up in construction. And so I was a superintendent and, you know, went through school and then taught at the school. I was actually an instructor and an aerobatics instructor and a construction superintendent on the side, trying to cobble it all together. But I had a lot of experience in construction. And so I think that's really why Sarah and John were like, you know what? This is, this is taking off. It's , it's really moving. Um, and, and during that time, while I was in school, I studied engineering and apprentice as a machinist. And so that this little fledgling industry really didn't have its own parts and pieces. So John would come home with these ideas and we'd back of a napkin something, and I'd cut everything out and we'd put it together. And we started making parts for his , uh, his tours

Speaker 2:

Parts for things he's like, you know, I really need a such and such a better break , a better zip line trolley.

Speaker 3:

We'd put that stuff together, literally in the garage. I still have a machine shop in the garage. And , uh, you know, we just sell them to ourselves, basically, like we make enough for him to use and folks started asking us, Hey, can you make some of those for our , you know, there was other companies that were also putting these things in. And so I had been in and around the business just on this peripheral and, you know, in chats with you guys, when you're talking about running jobs and , and you were right, do you know both of you? You're like, man, it would be so nice if you were home more and this thing is going and we could make this work.

Speaker 2:

And I think it was also a natural fit. I mean, not only that I have way more experience in construction construction than either John or I had, but we both come from families of entrepreneurs. I mean, both of our dads were entrepreneurs and , um, and business owners. And I think it takes a certain kind of , um, we don't know how to do that, but we'll figure it out. Yeah. I mean, we, we, none of us are risk averse. We're pretty where people that sort of follow a vision and, and, and we get excited about it. And maybe it's a little bit of naivete and a little bit of stupidity and a lot of courage. I'm not really sure the exact mix, but it's definitely not what you envisioned for your family. When you moved to grand junction, you were going to fly and you were going to stay at home, maybe teach, and while things have changed shot, I would go back to the classroom pretty quickly. And so that was a , it was really interesting

Speaker 3:

At the same time, Sarah's parents are lovely and they want to be around the family all the time. They were constantly coming and they convinced us to buy this larger house so that we could have them over all the time. But that afforded us space to start the business in the basement.

Speaker 2:

I mean, there was in our basement before, but it was really small. We built this gear shout-out back. And so we got a bigger house with really a mother-in-law suite that we turned into our office. Cause at my best time, I had hired two employees for the headquarters. And so I was really running the headquarters. And then when dad came and joined us, he was, you know, John was in the field. Most of the time fad was in the field and at headquarters probably 50 50. So he still traveled, which was fine. We had , we figured out how to do that. Um, but , um, yeah, it was, it was a much better situation and on four acres. So we could put up several different , um, zip lines as R and D facilities to test the new products we were making. And so it just sort of what , you know, how jealous that makes everybody else around here, like the kill , all the kids are like, can we have a zip line in our backyard ? I want to ask, cause I've known you guys for a long time. And I remember one of the things that I have this little spark in my brain about was you talking about some of your favorite places to fly and conditions to fly because a lot of people are scared to fly those little planes in Colorado, but you loved it. Right?

Speaker 3:

It was so much fun. Yeah. So I was when w so I was one of the first few pilots when frontier started their , uh , Lynx operation and it was their regional carrier. They stole a bunch of us from Mesa airlines. And , uh, we were flying these Q4 hundreds into these little teeny mountain airports in the Aspen and Kinison and Hayden, and basically doing all the winter flights for everywhere. And it was, it was a blast and we would have so much fun because it would be nasty clouds and you know, all the weather and blizzarding, and because we weren't in the big jets, we're kind of in this medium size, you know, oversized , turbo prop , uh, you'd be able to get in really close and then just dump it over and dive for the field and make it, and it would freak everybody out, you know , everybody's hanging in their seatbelts, but then when they got in and they found out everybody else went missed it, like, Oh my gosh, thank you so much for getting us into the airport. It's Christmas Eve. I'm going to see my family who, all the things, it was tons of fun. It was great.

Speaker 2:

Wow. Okay. So when did it become apparent that John didn't want to do what he was doing anymore with Bonzai ? Yeah. Well, I think there was sort of a couple of things that happened first. We got really big and we got so big that we had to move. We had that last year, we were in our mother-in-law suite, which is like this 1500, 1200 square foot apartment in the basement of our house. We had 10 people come into the office every day. I mean, yeah. I mean, it was not the best situation. And so that's when we bought the union station building downtown and set up shop there. And that has been our home up until, you know, in a month we're moving into a new home or a few weeks we're moving into a new home, but that , uh , building really helped our company grow a lot. And honestly, when fad joined us, you know, we used to really be sort of a niche business and because the way the industry was growing and when that joined us, we started to really think much bigger instead of just doing these like sort of mom and pop canopy tours and trees for somebody who owns a bunch of land or was gifted land by grandfather. And didn't want to build a home development. We started building for large corporations, big ski areas. Uh , the boy Scouts of America had there ,

Speaker 3:

John had infused this sense of very high-end fit and finish, and every detail is considered. And so he and Sarah built this brand around bonsai, that was, we are going to do it right. And we are going to nestle into the natural environment and it's going to feel like it was meant to be there. And so that actually, I , I feel like as much as anything else set the stage for folks to seek us out and , and that really to be what , what set us off.

Speaker 2:

And do you feel like Bonsai had a big hand in changing what ziplines would become from just like a couple of ropes strung up between some trees with a very small little wooden structure or a platform to some of these gigantic structures that you're, you're actually building from scratch today?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Uh , well, I'd say the Genesis of that was John's love for the natural world. And so even when he's bringing, you know , folks out for the first time, he would always make sure to spend a lot of time on each platform and he would want to pick trees or be in spaces that had some unique Jewish for that spot. And then he'd leave you there for a minute and you get the , so all of a sudden you'd notice the sounds and the sights and the verbal and creak and , and it would sort of take over. And so you'd have a sensory experience that had nothing to do with the thrill and the whoosh of zip-lining . Everybody's like, Ooh, I want to go with , get my hair blown back and maybe be a little bit scared. That's what they're after, when they throw down the cash for the ticket. But once you're out there, you have this whole other experience. And that I think is, is what he really started to bring to the industry as let's make it this immersive educational experience where sure you're learning about the natural environment, but you're also learned about something that's inside of you. And so that little spark I think is , is what , uh, is really, I feel like is the Genesis of bonsai . And the , the thing that I brought to it was this really, I had a very strong desire to , to also celebrate art and architecture and where we only built in trees. And that was it. And what it's all about the nature I started to say, well, if we want to keep all of these crew busy arguing all year long, we're not going to find clients for just that one thing it's too narrow. Let's also do these really wild structures and, you know, shooting and jutting in all different directions and let people climb in clown where you don't climb around on that sort of thing. And , and so that, I, I feel like complimented what was already there that , that says to these guys.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I think also too , the whole company really started focusing on, or we did from the beginning is what that just brushed on before is showcasing the unique features of each person's project. So, you know, it doesn't matter if you're in 300 foot tall Redwood trees, or if you in , uh, the Plains in, in Eastern Canada, both places have these really unique features that bring out that what's that word Topophelia, you know, that love of place where you, where you have this , um, real appreciation when you're done with the tour. Like, wow. I, it's not just about the, the, the thrill that's . Yeah , yeah , yeah. But back to your original question, we totally got sidetracked. So in 2015, it was pretty apparent that John was sinking , that he wanted to do something new. I think, you know, he built his whole adult life around this business before he asked me to join him. He was doing it as a sole proprietor, just, just on the road a lot. And I think he just was ready for something new. And so , um, he , um, to spend time on this. Yeah. So anyway, we, we, yeah, that was when he sort of transitioned out and then fad and I were , you know, we're really focused on sort of digging in deeper roots into grand junction and the grand Valley.

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Did you think about going other places? Did you feel like grand junction was the home for this business, or did you think maybe you needed to go somewhere else? I mean, once you bought the building, you were pretty committed here, but were there thoughts about moving the business

Speaker 2:

In 2015? Uh, we got an offer for somebody to buy that building. And originally we were like, we're not going to sell the building, but it was one of those things like nothing's for sale, unless the price is right. And we, and we also just really supported the vision of the buyer of the building of what he wanted to do with that whole , um, train station area in grand junction. Um, and we started looking other places. I mean, honestly, we, we, there's a lot of great things about living here, but there are some also challenges. And so we were like, well, we might as well look. Um, and so we did, we looked at a bunch of different places in India .

Speaker 3:

We've always had our top five list and we're like, you know, these areas of the country would also be fun. And when we sold the building, it got around that our business was kind of a free agent. And so we started actually hearing from other cities saying we'd like you to consider us. And so one of those cities was in or near one of our top five. And so we started really wondering, is this the time, I mean, do we, did we go ahead and leap?

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Yeah. And , um, before we move on to like the next steps, talk a little bit about your environment, environmental promise and your mission at Bonsai. Like, and , and how did that develop? Was that something that John really brought and you guys expanded upon, or did it change when John left the company?

Speaker 3:

Uh , I dunno . I think that , uh, w the company has continued to evolve and grow and react to market pressures and so on and so forth. I mean, we used to John and I together , uh, decided we didn't want to run diesel fuel. And so we had all of these massive, these huge duly diesel trucks to pull these huge trailers full of thousands of pounds of cable to install these courses. And I personally outfit them all to run off of old waste vegetable oil, and our employees were so excited. We would pay them to put on the onesies and go sneak behind whatever restaurant they were in near and put the stinger in and suck out all the grease . There was some sneaky I'm not ashamed of it . And they , our employee was a , they , they would be so proud of the fact that they'd gone 12 to 2,500 miles over to, I know , somewhere outside of Detroit and never stopped at a gas station the whole time, other than for chips and salsa. But , uh, so, so we went that far in that hard with it, but everything from recycling materials and always bringing home every bolt that we didn't use saving it, and then using it on the next job , um, picking up pieces of lumber. And I mean, really just the idea of reduce, recycle, reuse has been extremely central.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I would say that John really brought a , uh, a very core value of , um, an , uh , sustainability, environmental prism . You know, he only use what you need. My, one of my favorite stories about him is when he built that first two are in Alaska and he had the owner up on one of the platforms. It was still halfway built, you know, but he's taking the owner through and there was a , a hex bolt on the platform and the owner kicked it off the platform and John was living it . He was like, now I'm going to have to go find that . Cause now it's , it's on the forest floor. Like now I'm gonna have to go find it. And sure enough, he spent another hour looking for that next night . So I, you know, that sort of idealism, it might seem unrealistic to some people, but in the end, it is the core of why we do what we do. We put people in these natural environments where they have a little bit of thrill and a lot of there's no way you cannot come off a tour without appreciation of the natural world. And we're getting people up off the ground, which already sort of challenges them in ways, emotionally, mentally, physically in ways that they didn't know it was that they didn't know it would be possible for them. And it really sort of ignites this appreciation. I mean, a huge mission of ours is to have everybody come off a tour or a steward of the environment, you know, that they actually care more about the tree that they just learned about while standing in the platform.

Speaker 3:

It's a bit is really the secret sauce. I mean , uh , you know, corporate retreats , uh , it's , it's, it's not a new theory, but you take somebody outside of their comfort zone and you put them in an interesting, weird situation where they're a little bit disoriented and then the sauce we bring to it has put them in some someplace . That's very beautiful next to a guide that's educated and can tell them about that Eagle or that mountain peak over there, and the history of this little Valley. And you just sprinkle that in slowly throughout an entire tour. And by the end of it, they're glazed over with why it takes them weeks to actually digest the effect that you have one simple three hour tour hat on.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I mean, yeah, I, yeah, I think that in the end we are becoming a society, a human race that does not spend nearly enough time outdoors. And so any little bit we can do to be a part of that, it will solve so much not only health and wellness issues in this country, but also , um,

Speaker 3:

You know, and it's one of them , you question the norm, like maybe they're not going to , you know, the cancer's not cured from going on a tour, but the , it just sparks a little bit of curiosity again, and we need that curiosity

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Finally . So let's transition a little bit to the Las colonias business park , um, which super excited we've been talking about it , uh , here at the Christie Reece group, because we are going to be one of your tenants in the new building down there, but how did you come up with the idea? And when did you say we need to move forward with this

Speaker 3:

Right. For years before we ever said anything to anybody about it, Sarah and I, I mean, we live on the other side of the Colorado and drive across the bridge every day, going into work and back and forth. And Sarah and I would have these conversations about, Oh my God, with the riverfront around here, it's blighted , nobody ever goes down there. It's old junkyards and underutilized . And we go to these little mountain towns on vacation, you know, it's Aleida BV. And all of these guys have figured out, man, that is just the moneymaker down there. You, you build that up and make it gorgeous. And people flock to it in droves, and we have this huge underutilized resource. Right. And , you know, running through the middle of town. And so,

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Yeah, right near the downtown core and where in Colorado is riverfront property, not at a premium.

Speaker 3:

Right, right, right, right, right. Um, so how so I want to make sure I don't get this out of order, but I was thinking about some research that I'd done in Denver about how their riverfront was the same way it was these nasty , um, burnt out warehouses. And now it's some of the choices to real estate and, you know, in the whole front range over there , uh, right along the Platte river and, you know, beautiful homes down there. And we kept thinking, well , we can do that here. I mean, it's just waiting to hatch. I mean, I wish somebody with money would actually do something about this and, you know, we're driving our old beat up, whatever it is at the time. And , and , um, anyway, so just to kind of skip around and hopefully it makes sense. We started getting shocked a little bit when the business was at large, in these other towns where like we have these areas and we're redoing these old industrial, like we were at this one city and they said, let me take you down to this old packing district. And we have all of these loading docks and we're rehabbing the whole area. And there was a little river and I started to get all glowy and like, wow, we could put some amazing outdoor stuff here. And our manufacturing would go right there. And there's other outdoor rec manufacturers here. We could make a whole campus out of this thing. And they started putting together these big, you know, really fun plans . And , and I don't know if this is common knowledge, but cities shop companies all the time and they try and bring lots of people. So to add to their own economy. And anyway , we were getting shocked and , and I don't know how they found out, but somehow grand junction found Mr . Pollard found that . Right.

Speaker 2:

And she called us immediately and said, we really want you to say, and let's look at some property. And I mean, I think, I think the other thing is, you know, around this time the federal government started measuring the outdoor recreation industry as a percentage of the roast domestic product in the United States. And they realized at the time that it's 2.2% of the GDP and $887 billion of consumer spending per year, which is like three times what we spend on fuel in this country. So it's a huge economic powerhouse and growing economic powerhouse. And I think we were, we are and have been growing steadily all over these years. And so I think that was the other thing is the future of the community is really recreation based, not just with companies like ours, but just people moving here for the quality of life, for the access to the outdoors. And so, yeah, we toured some property and then fad just, you know, woke up at two in the morning and hatched this idea.

Speaker 3:

But what w what, so again, with the paralleling in bonsai , we had started selling kind of larger site development plans to clients. And it became apparent that not only were we going to install the thing that we're good at, but we needed to help them master develop or develop a master plan for how the whole site is going to flow. And so actually we should put a parking lot over here and the main welcome center should go like that. And then when people get out, there's path moves in this direction and it just flows better.

Speaker 2:

So in addition to your , um, airline experience and construction experience, now you're getting into a little urban planning,

Speaker 3:

So much fun though, and it's fun, really isn't work. So, but, but , uh, yeah. And, and so when we were driving along down and, you know, we looked at the old train yards and kind of wandering along the Colorado there, well, this property's available, that one's not. And so we come down to around the fifth street bridge and these huge swaths of where it used to be the toxic waste dump. Um, but it was rehabbed by the DDA. Yes, no, yes . I have the DDA, the, the , uh, BP .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So , I mean, we are not , we're not unlike many rural Western and Southern communities all over the country and Northern communities all over the country where we just, in the industrial age, we like really used our riverfront as a trash heap. I mean, it was a place of commerce. And so, you know, you look at communities that are transforming those areas and they're , it's happening all over the country, you know, from, from , uh, you know, San Antonio to Asheville to bend to Duluth, Minnesota it's happening. And so I think the idea was in the eighties, when they started cleaning up all the waste and the department of energy spending , you know, and then they started to clean up, you know, everything wants an Island, all the, all the old dead cars that junkyard in there. And so really the city needed sort of, they had several master plans, but all of them were just parks. And it's hard to come up with that kind of money in a city. That's been so dependent on sort of the boom and bust cycle to come up with that kind of money to do all of the horizontal, to put in a park. And so ,

Speaker 3:

And I had touring another city. I was like, why we can do that here? I mean, we already have the industrial complex, or we have amazing steel shops , uh, machinists. We w we , we have all the things you need to actually be a manufacturer here. We just need a really cool place to do that. And maybe we could attract people to this bond . And so I started drawing up different layouts and different ways to make that happen along the riverfront. And I think Christy invited , uh, the city staff to our, our offices, right ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It was right after Greg got his job. So right after grad came and started and they were so receptive and so supportive. And I mean,

Speaker 3:

Like immediately we just jelled and we thought we could make this happen.

Speaker 2:

Right . But you were surprised, right. Because that really hadn't been the atmosphere around here in grand junction, like city getting behind projects and public private partnerships and all of that. And, and really, I mean,

Speaker 3:

All of us were new to it. Honestly, the city hadn't done a lot of private public partnerships that I knew about, and this was our first round at it. And we all had , uh , tons of, of , of hope and , uh, tons of expectations. And , uh, but it made for a really great environment because things moved quickly , uh , through the design phase where I was able to do a lot of a really fun, interesting layout that brought a lot of whimsy to , to the whole park. Um, and then the city just was able to run with it. I mean, they, they , uh , they, they made things happen very quickly. It was , it was great. So

Speaker 2:

The city was a major in helping get this done, who else was majorly involved and , and who do you want to say? You know, thanks to this person, the DBA , the DBA really funded the bond for the entire project. And so that was pretty crucial. Um, the state of Colorado outdoor rec industry office was very important there in, Oh , edit there in that office of economic development and international trade. And they helped really facilitate the whole thing. I mean, both of the banks we work with Timberline and Alpine have been fantastic and wonderful. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Christie , I mean, Christie really Christine told it to GGF and was really the rallying. I mean, she, she ran around and rallied everybody and, and , and kind of assembled the team and made it all.

Speaker 2:

We did. The grand junction economic partnership was fantastic. Um, I would say also, you know, the river access was like a problem in this community before sort of we designed, you know, we had this design for , uh , a beach and river access, you know, people to be able to get into the water in a safe way, other than a concrete boat ramp. And, you know, that project was really supported by our senators at the time. And , uh , and our governor at the time. And so, you know, this community has been the outdoor rec coalition was a huge supporter of the project still is, and really has helped the community transition from sort of this boom and bust cycle to , uh , a much more diversified economy. That's really focused on outdoor recreation. And I mean, that's why people are moving here. People want to live here every day because of their , uh , their unsurpassed access to outdoor recreation. I mean, it's one of the only places in Colorado that you can rock climb, fish ski, and paddle the river and mountain bike all in the same day, if you wanted to. And we started early enough, world-class in almost every , every case

Speaker 3:

We have, we have world-class climbers live here because they've got unabated access to some of the best rock in the world within hours at this place. Yeah. But there's jobs here

Speaker 2:

And it's affordable. It's an affordable place to live with a lot of space, you know, there , we don't have a ton of traffic because we're, there's a , there's a lot of landmass, so we're spread out. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

You know, when we're talking about the big list of folks to think, w I can't stop without talking about the initial hurdles that were really scary to start walking through with us fish and wildlife and a little bit the army Corps and , um , the who's the wild ones protector around here. Um, so another three letter acronym. Okay . Um, anyway, so we w there was some concern don't be down here because we have these endangered species and , and here's, here's why we want to try and minimize everything that you're doing. And here's why we don't like the plan. And through the course of several meetings, we developed a really close relationship with , um, BLM and, and , uh, us fish and wildlife to , uh, around the idea that this is going to be our little portal where folks will want to come down and actually fall in love with the river. And it's like, Sarah was talking about earlier, folks in grand junction really don't have a relationship with the river because they can't get to it other than maybe tubing a little bit up at , uh , Clint Palisade. Yeah. And, and, you know, skip to now, or last summer, lo and behold, there's a conga line of people there using it like crazy. It was outrageous. And it's really hard to tell people they should worry about protect the river and Delta or trash in it if they don't know it at all, but if they're down there and they're playing in it and they enjoy it. And that was the conversation that really started to evolve with these controlling agencies. And the , it was so much fun because the lights really went on. And these folks who were like, well, here's all the reasons why we can't do that too . How can we make this work? And, and it just, it, it was a wonderful trip.

Speaker 2:

I would say, also this , I mean, the city of grand junction staff has been nothing but so supportive. I mean, Trent Paul is probably the unsung hero in this, in this project. He has been, I mean, and he, and that had so much fun just working together, you know, that had all these big ideas. And I mean, what other city in the entire country has a sh uh , a pond, a Lake shoe shaped like a butterfly. I mean, that's just, and really the reason behind that butterfly Lake is, is this, it's just a real sign of transformation. I mean, we were sort of coming out of the Chrysalis here and really spreading our wings. And I mean, I always think like the reason why we do that is to lift everybody up, right. We've had such an issue with poverty in this community. We've had such an issue with underfunded schools and , um, kids on free and reduced lunch and homelessness and hunger. And the idea is bring in businesses that can provide jobs, create a space that where we have economic stability, sustainability, and growth, and you see that as the economy becomes more sustainable and grows in a much more sustainable way, you have more better graduation rates in high school, you have way less numbers in free and reduced lunch. You have, you know , better post-secondary , um, uh, education rates and that all creates social mobility. And so that's what we're really like when we start to think about, well, we're running our own business, but this is how we're trying to contribute to the community is really sort of lift everyone up. It's . Um, so can you describe the building and the site and the zip line and everything that's going to go together there and how excited are you?

Speaker 3:

Yes. Uh, doing all of this, getting started and, and play at putting all of our funding together and , um , working through the designs was all wonderful and a little bit scary, and then COVID hits and we were already underway and the really scary, honestly, and we broke ground after , uh, you know, the , the scourge started. And , um, we're now within weeks of finally opening the building and it looks like it's going to be okay. And that , that just saying those words out loud is a huge relief, and I almost don't want to jinx it, but , um, you know, our, our contractor has done a tremendous job dealing with all manner of weird idiosyncrasies. It turns out if you don't just build a square building that most people, subcontractors , uh, engineers, everybody is , uh , it created a whole host of additional things to consider. And so it's been a huge learning experience.

Speaker 2:

I would just say one really quick thing. One of the reasons why we really wanted to build our own building and create a space for our company in a beautiful place is because we have our zip line , like our R and D facility in our backyard . So we have a giant swing back there to zip lines. We've got all sorts of stuff going on in our backyard. And then we have our warehouse in a building that we don't own. We just rent. And then we have our offices in another building. And so what we really wanted to do is bring everything together and also like have a flagship course, zip line , giant swing, whatever it looks like it's still in design right now , um, for our community, so that people can take their kids and have their birthday parties there, or they can have corporate retreats there, or we can test our products there, or our clients can fly in and sit in our offices and talk to us about their project and then zip on our zip line . So all of those things sort of came together in this project. And I think that's, you know, the idea for anybody relocating there, any business relocating there is that you, you know, if you make paddleboards , you can have your office and your warehouse on the riverfront, and you can take your paddleboard on butterfly Lake or on, on the Colorado river to test it. And that's the idea is really, I mean, not that not that only out direct companies will be loud there, it's not like that, but I just think it's a great, it's a great space for it's a great industry to attract to grand junction with all the resources we have.

Speaker 3:

No , we were talking about the building and there's, there's several things that come together there that just back backing up a minute, the city of grand junction believed in us, and they were enough to match an incentive package that we were, we were thinking about that , that wasn't from here. And part of that was help to build the building. And so one of the things that I've , that we realized is this is hard in small businesses. Don't just happen magically. You pull on the oars all the time, and we decided to take a huge risk, but, and , and that risk was outside of our core business, which is design and building outdoor aerial adventure, like, you know , business planning , business park development, isn't our core competency. And , and, and doing that in , in a way that would also create a tax base that the city could then start to realize, and in generate more tax revenue off of, at all as this bigger pot puzzle pie. And so I felt it our responsibility to build a building too big for ourselves, because other companies that are small and they're making their new thing, and they're, they're trying to break into market share. Can't also build a big building. I mean, if this business park was going to get started, the way that I had envisioned we needed to provide that first landing pad for people to come in and for small businesses to come use a little bit of space, and then they grow , grow, grow, and pop, and then go off to their own spot. But it all happens here in the grand Valley. And so I think there's been some question about, you know, that's a really big building for just bonsai , but it was absolutely on purpose so that we could provide a little bit of that, you know, initiation space and compliment the , the way that that can happen.

Speaker 2:

And it has worked. I mean, we have two businesses brand new to the Valley that are moving in our building. Um , and we have more poking around. I mean, I think once our building is full of five different companies , both six different companies, seven different companies, we're , there's going to be this critical mass of people down there. And it really creates a great situation for more businesses or developers wanting to come in, pop up more buildings. And that's a place of, it's a great place to work. I mean, you can like go stand up paddleboard at your lunch break or go for a bike ride. We're going to have team paddleboards at our office. Perfect. Are super excited about that. And I'm already envisioning , uh , the video that we're going to create. Uh , me talking on the phone up on the Hill saying, I gotta go to work [inaudible] for that, what a great way to showcase the namesake of our town. Like our town is named after the Colorado and the Gunnison river, which is like very close to that. Yeah. That spot. And it's so great that we have is that we're going to have a zip line that goes across the river, my daughter skateboards. And so we've been up at the orchard Mesa skateboard parking lot, and it's such a beautiful spot up there. And we don't have tall Redwood trees here in town, but we have this beautiful bluff overlooking the river. I mean, it's such a perfect situation, just come right across that. And it's going to be gorgeous.

Speaker 3:

She's probably passed this by now, but they're complimenting a lot of that. Like that's a , you can get, get after it pretty hard in that skate park up there. They introduced an introductory skate park down in R and

Speaker 2:

Oh, she's been there. Oh yeah. It's pretty neat.

Speaker 3:

So I , I think that the city has done a great job in, and actually Sarah UMass headed the idea that we needed to have a wave or a whitewater park of some sort in , in that area. And I think that those things will prove to be very instrumental in the whole, the whole thing coming together, having access to the water, having, having some sort of moving water right there, adding, you know, connecting the bike trail so that you can go all the way from Palisade to Fruita right, right. From the front door of this business park. Um, all of those things put together and I very much think the thing is still in its starting stages and it's just getting going. But yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I would say one last to sort of summarize where we feel like our role has been in this project is that in the 1980s and nineties, the department of energy cleaned up this site and then the lions club and the riverfront commission continued to clean it up. And then the riverfront commission , um, and, and created the river trail, which connects Palisade all the way to Loma now and, you know, great outdoors, Colorado invested in our community with lottery money over and over and over again with, with in our riverfront. And so, and then the city of grand junction as been writing grants and decided to put up an amphitheater and then really got behind this idea of , uh , of a whitewater park , uh , a river park that is less whitewater , but more lazy river and access gives access to all families, not just one, not just one kind of person. And, and so you have like this incredible momentum over years, 30, 40 years, 50 years. And so when I , when we talk about our role, I think, well, you know, everyone else drove the 900 miles. We're , we're just pulling the car into the garage. And so, you know, it really feels like that for us to effort. And a lot of people over a lot of years working towards, they didn't really know what, but let's try to clean this place up. Let's clean up downtown and I'm really excited. And my team's really excited for the potential that this gives that space between main street and Colorado in this core downtown area and the riverfront, because there's some good space in there and, you know, there's going to be great businesses and housing that fill in there over the years. And I think we need a trolley down seventh street and, and maybe this will lead to the white part whitewater

:

Park too .

Speaker 2:

Right. Well, yeah. And on another stretch of the river where it's more lends itself to that, I mean, I completely agree that the river, and then connecting with Jen Taylor's vision of this, of this , of dos Rios. I mean, that was, you know, for us a total happy accident, cause we didn't even know she was working on that. And so it sort of really became this thing where you have huge stretch of river. Now that's going to be developed really sustainably, beautifully preserving the historic sort of legacy of our community without , um, you know, and, and just celebrating it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, it really does bookend the idea of a river district for grand junction, which the, I it's interesting. It's it's I still feel like in some areas of the community, we're , we're lifting people's perception of what can be up and , and there is this idea of us or them, but I just, the more you talk to more people, they understand that the more blood flow we have in the downtown area to , and from the river, the more blood flow you have and the more people come down there and the more it's just on their radar and we're going to grand junction and that's it. Yeah.

:

Well, thank you, Sarah and Thaddeus, there's so much more we could talk about. I could go on forever and there's a lot of things I wanted to ask you about Sarah and what you're involved in right now. We'll have to save that for another time, but , uh , want to thank you and congratulate Bonsai designs on their success. And we're super excited to be a tenant in your building and see it all come to fruition and

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] . Thank you. Thanks for being thanks for having us,

:

Please , um, share this with your friends, everyone that's listening and watching. Uh , we'd love for you to , um, shout out about the Full Circle Podcast a little bit more and let's spread the news. Thanks. And we'll see you next time. Thanks for listening. This is Christi Reece signing out from the Full Circle Podcast.