Value Stream Mapping Boosts Productivity for Awning Maker

Rader Awning shade sails

Rader Awning shade sails; courtesy Rader Awning

Sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective — and expertise in lean manufacturing — to help a respected manufacturer streamline productivity and increase profitability.

The owners of Rader Awning & Upholstery Inc. requested that type of feedback when their 70-year-old company, New Mexico’s leading supplier of quality custom awnings and shades, faced challenges satisfying growing demand.

The company asked New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to evaluate its operations and offer ideas for improvement. And the rewards of the collaboration were tangible: Productivity improved by 20 percent per salesperson, production defects decreased by 15 percent and installation corrections dropped by 25 percent. Continue reading

Aztec’s Retail Incubator Aims to Nurture Downtown

By Finance New Mexico

The incubator's first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

The incubator’s first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

Aztec isn’t the only town in New Mexico whose residents want a vibrant and stable downtown business district, but it’s one town where leaders are moving forward with plans to create that environment.

Spurred by the city’s economic development advisory board, the Four Corners community is opening a retail incubator in a downtown building to nurture fledgling businesses until they’re ready to stand on their own.

The Aztec Business Incubator (also called the Aztec Business Hub) will host businesses in various stages of development and provide member businesses access to the expertise of service providers from the Small Business Development Center, WESST, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Four Corners Economic Development and the San Juan College Enterprise Center. A representative from each of these organizations will staff the hub one day a week. Continue reading

Makerspaces Nurture Business Development by Offering Workspace, Tools

By Finance New Mexico

FUSE Makerspace

Photo courtesy CNM Ingenuity Inc Facebook page

Uncertainty about the commercial viability of an innovation or idea — in addition to the cost of renting or buying the machinery needed to build a working prototype — has stifled many an entrepreneurial impulse. But the makerspace movement that’s gaining a foothold in several New Mexico communities is trying to change that.

Makerspaces offer access to expensive equipment and expert mentoring that innovators need to turn a concept into something tangible. Their advocates see them as cauldrons of entrepreneurism and economic development — as early-stage business incubators. Continue reading

Written Terms: The First Step Toward Avoiding Disputes

Signing a contract

By Finance New Mexico

A legal contract that spells out the responsibilities and relationships of partners in a business venture protects the interests of all parties involved, and it can guard against the messy disputes that can potentially sever friendships and family ties when an entrepreneur relies on friends and relatives to be his initial investors or workers and things don’t turn out as expected.

A term sheet can serve as a template and preliminary document for such a contract. Commonly used by professional investors when negotiating their involvement in a business venture, a term sheet can also be used by small-business owners to start discussions of investment and responsibility terms with family members. Continue reading

PNM Investments Drive Economic Development Initiatives

By Agnes Noonan, President, WESST

By Agnes Noonan, President, WESST

PNM and the PNM Resources Foundation contribute more than $3 million to New Mexico nonprofits and community partners each year to support economic, educational and environmental initiatives in the communities the company serves.

One of its core partnerships is with WESST, a non-profit small-business development organization committed to cultivating entrepreneurship throughout the state through training, consulting, incubation and lending.

“Through our economic vitality giving efforts, we focus on economic-development collaborations, support of local chambers (of commerce) and providing assistance to low-income-qualified families through programs that increase their energy efficiency options and reduce their utility bills,” said Amy M. Miller, director of community, environment and local government for PNM. Continue reading

SCORE Offers Entrepreneurs Free Mentoring, Low-Cost Training

Albuquerque SCOREBy Finance New Mexico

Considering all the business smarts stored in the brains of seasoned executives, it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

SCORE gives entrepreneurs the key to that stored knowledge by pairing them with volunteer mentors who have decades of expertise in all aspects of starting and running a business. It also hosts workshops and seminars that teach basic and advanced skills that are crucial for a business owner to have. Continue reading

Conference Enlightens Veterans About Business Opportunities, Resources

VBOC logoVeterans come to the private-sector workforce with a lot to offer, including advanced training in specialized fields such as logistics, security, information technology, personnel management and administration. They understand the complexities of doing business with the U.S. government and the importance of following instructions and protocol.

Veterans have a mission-driven mind-set and work well under pressure. They appreciate the need for teamwork and leadership. Continue reading

LANS’ Fund Gives Native American Businesses Traction for Growth

By Kathy Keith, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Relations and Partnerships Office

By Kathy Keith, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Relations and Partnerships Office

After a successful trial run of its new arts and farmers market last October, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council Inc. (ENIPC) solidified plans to make the markets a weekly event each Saturday this year from July 9 through the Columbus Day weekend. To maximize the economic benefits to market vendors — Native and non-Native farmers and artists from Northern New Mexico ENIPC — knew it needed to expand marketing to reach potential customers during the busy tourist season.

So ENIPC applied for — and received — funding from the Native American Venture Acceleration Fund (NAVAF), a pool of money distributed by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, and the Regional Development Corporation to help Native enterprises create jobs, increase their revenue base and diversify the Northern New Mexico economy. Continue reading

Accion Teams With National Craft Brewer to Coach Local Entrepreneurs

By Justin Hyde, New Mexico Market Manager, Accion

By Justin Hyde, New Mexico Market Manager, Accion

Nico Ortiz needed money in 2001 after exhausting the startup capital that helped him launch Turtle Mountain Brewing Company in Rio Rancho two years earlier. But without a five-year track record, he said, “no lender would touch me.”

Loan officers suggested Accion New Mexico, and there Ortiz’s luck changed. “It wasn’t a big loan,” he said. “Maybe $20,000. But it enabled me to get over the hump” and sustain the business until its fifth birthday, when traditional lenders were willing to lend. Today the company employs nearly three times as many people as it did in 1999, and its gross revenue has quadrupled.

“Accion is critical, because the (business) failure rate for zero to five years — especially for restaurants — is ginormous,” Ortiz said. “They help fine companies survive.” Continue reading

Old-School PR Can Raise Business Profile Without Stretching Its Budget

By Sandy Nelson, Team Member, Finance New Mexico project

By Sandy Nelson, Team Member, Finance New Mexico project

Small businesses that lack the bloated advertising budgets of their larger competitors can raise their profile with some old-school public relations techniques. Before launching a PR campaign, however, they should understand that PR is different from advertising.

When a business advertises, it pays to place its message on a highly visible medium — a newspaper, magazine, Internet website or billboard — or it pays for airtime on radio or television. It has complete control over the message, as long as the content doesn’t violate industry standards.

By contrast, the public relations approach aims to generate positive news coverage about the business by presenting newsworthy material to a media outlet in hopes an editor will reprint the press release as written or assign a reporter to write an original piece. Continue reading